STORIES

LEXUS

December to Remember

Crafting a Holiday Trilogy of Tall Tales

For the launch of its annual “December to Remember” Sales Event, Lexus and Team One partnered with Mirada to create a trilogy of holiday “tall tales.”  

Each film shares an imaginative glimpse at how Santa delivers Lexus vehicles—with each introducing a different winter wonderland where impressive magic moments unfold. In bringing each story in this ambitious campaign to life on an ambitious deadline, Mirada’s team created the kind of large-scale cinematic grandeur usually reserved for a holiday blockbuster.

For each of the three films, Mirada artists used a high-end visual aesthetic—blending a child’s imagination, Santa-inspired magic, and feature film-caliber visual effects. The challenge, of course, was that each story begins in the heightened landscape of a tall tale, so each winter wonderland—and everything in it—had to be built from the ground up. “These are three very different films; each had its own stylistic and dramatic demands,” explained Creative Director Jonathan Wu. “What they have in common is they each need to work on two levels: the storybook world of ‘tall tale’ magical realism in the first half. And the more grounded reality of the second half, with the beautiful cars, and the warmth of family interactions around them. Each half had to elevate the other.” 

Capturing the scope of three holiday epics on a tight deadline required the full force of the Mirada’s creative and technical might – but the result is a trio of films that draws viewers in with big visual storytelling, and leaves them inspired by the kind of magic that only the Lexus “December to Remember” event can deliver. 

Explore each of the films in detail below:

CHRISTMAS TRAIN

“Christmas Train” begins with an iconic locomotive winding through snow-capped mountains, on its way to deliver a new Lexus IS F SPORT Sedan.

Aside from the live-action elves that guide the Lexus to its new home, Mirada artists designed, crafted, and animated every element in the film using CG – from the picturesque landscape, to the iconic train, and the beautiful Lexus it delivers.

Detail was key to capturing the story’s impressive scale. “There was no room for shortcuts,” said VFX Supervisor Zach Tucker, “We built in as much depth as possible – extending out the forest, the valley in the background, building the actual surrounding neighborhood, and adjacent streets beyond it. Audiences don’t necessarily catch it all on a first viewing, but it adds up to something that feels idealized while still looking real.”

For the train itself, the design team envisioned something bold and evocative, with slightly futuristic touches. They arrived at a stylish Steampunk retrofit of a classic locomotive; something Santa would be proud to ship his most important gifts on. From there, artists took painstaking efforts building the all-CG train, focusing on its mechanics, and adding rich cinematic detail—like when it brakes, and a spray of sparks from the rails causes steam to rise from nearby snow.

MAGIC BOX  

“Magic Box” opens on Santa himself, delivering a tiny gift box to a driveway. Then, the box opens—magically transforming into a full-sized Lexus ES Sedan.

The film’s core challenge was making the story’s almost impossible magic box transformation spectacular-yet-plausible—and here, just as in “Christmas Train,” Mirada artists built an entire winter wonderland from scratch. In designing and creating the film’s centerpiece, the team began with a set of rules to guide the physical transformation of the magic box into a full-sized vehicle. Eschewing endlessly expanding animation, artists embraced an approach grounded in real-world engineering and conservation of mass.

Throughout this process, the design and animation team worked hand-in-hand with the editorial team to create a transformation that almost functioned like a Swiss watch—a complex, well-oiled, well-crafted clockwork mechanism—operating at a magical speed. CG Supervisor Michael Shelton describes the process: “We knew we had to end on a beautiful all-CG Lexus. The challenge was working backward from that; our design and animation used real CAD data once the car was bigger, but the steps to get us there needed to feel credible. We wanted each component to be faithful to the real vehicle as it clicked into place – only falling back on the ‘magic’ in how fast things happen.”

TELEPORTER 

“Teleporter” follows a Lexus RX luxury crossover as it navigates a nighttime forest, through a magic teleportation machine, onto family’s driveway.

Like both other films, artists designed the world and all its signature elements— including everything from the entire winter wonderland, to the magic teleporter, and even the house exterior behind the fully-CG Lexus in the driveway.

In the opening moments of the film, the team worked to heighten its vivid storybook feel. This included photographing live-action animals on set, then composting them into the landscape in post to create fun moments where wildlife reacts with surprise to the magic happening in the middle of their habitat. Likewise, in creating the fantastical-yet-believable teleporter, the design team worked to give it a realistic and distinctive sculptural form—as if it had been carved from one, giant block of ice. Then, once the team arrived at an iconic look for this magic machine, animators then added a pulsing energy effect to give it life, making it appear lit from within.

BEFORE & AFTER