Mazda's Soul Red Paint Process Creates a Handcrafted Look with Motion Capture
Photo: Mazda

Photo: Mazda

You may be familiar with motion capture (“mocap”) suits used to create animation from human movement. In a motion capture session, movements are captured dozens of times per second, and recreated from that sample. The infamous Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks was generated via motion capture, as was bad guy Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Mazda used this technique in the process of formulating their Soul Red Crystal paint color. Working closely with the master painter and color designer, engineers captured the handcrafted paint strokes and translated that into robot movement that could be copied over and over for mass production. Typically, this kind of stroke-by-stroke attention is reserved for concept cars, and Mazda discovered a way to transform the painting method.

With this process, called Takuminuri, robots were taught to duplicate the techniques of Mazda’s best artisans. Soul Red Crystal is a three-layer progression, starting with a reflective/ absorbtive layer with high brightness small-aluminum flake paired with light-absorbing flake; then a translucent high-chroma layer; followed by a clear top coat.

Read more about this process on Inside Mazda.

Kristin Shaw
Thinking About Adopting a Pet? Subaru and the Chicago Auto Show Have Furry Friends on Site
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Heading to the Chicago Auto Show this weekend? Subaru is hosting a pet adoption event at their exhibit on the show floor. Through partnerships with two local animal shelters – ALIVE Rescue and Hopeful Tails Animal Rescue - Subaru wants to help pets find their forever homes and owners to find a furry friend to love.

The Subaru display is dog friendly, with an archway shaped like dog bones, soft turf, and plenty of chew toys. (The puppies in attendance for media day looked tuckered out by the afternoon after some journalist snuggling!)

If you’ve been considering adopting a dog or puppy, this is a great opportunity to meet pets who need a home. Even if a new pet isn’t in your plans, Subaru is hosting a homemade rope-toy-making area for those who want to make a toy as a donation, as well as custom pet tags. All of the activities at the booth are free for attendees, and donations go to ALIVE Rescue and Hopeful Tails Animal Rescue in Chicago.

This is a perfect fit for the Subaru Love Promise, which is their commitment to make the world a better place by being a positive force in every community they touch. Subaru Loves Pets is a complementary initiative within the Subaru Love Promise. For more information about Subaru Loves Pets, please visit www.subaru.com/pets.

“The Subaru Love Promise is just that. A promise. It is a promise to do right by our community by partnering with nonprofit education, health, community, environment, and animal organizations - to set Subaru apart through our deeds and the deeds of our partners. To be unlike any other car company by doing what is right and good, just for the sake of doing it.”

The hours during which you can hang out with these sweet puppies and dogs this weekend include:

ALIVE Rescue

  • Saturday, Feb. 16, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Hopeful Tails Animal Rescue

  • Sunday, Feb. 17, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM


Kristin Shaw
Watching the Super Bowl? Don't Miss These Commercials from Automotive Stars
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The Super Bowl is a spectacle in itself: the enthusiasm, the pageantry, and the fierce pace of the game itself. Whether you are rooting for the Patriots or the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, one thing we can all agree on is that commercials have come a long way since the game’s beginnings. And being automotive people, we’re especially exited about the ads from the industry, so we created a short watching list just in case you miss them.

Superbowl 2019 Automotive Commercials

We don’t know which firm Ram Trucks uses for its advertising, but they are scoring every time. Ram knows its audience well, and it shows every time they air a commercial.

In the same family, Jeep’s ode to America is creative and a perfect way to kick off the big game:

Jason Bateman + Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance online buying program: touchdown!

Toyota gave us chills with this feature on female football player Antoinette (Toni) Harris. Nice tie-in and support of an athlete who defies assumptions.

Mercedes-Benz cleverly promotes its A-class sedan along with the new MBUX voice-command infotainment system:

You may have caught this Walmart famous-car romp during the Golden Globes, but it’s worth a re-watch or 10!

Dodge will get your heart pumping faster with this one:

This one from Audi may be a little startling, but it brought us a chuckle:

Kristin Shaw
Our Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Story Featured by TODAY Parenting!

by Kristin Shaw

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As an automobile fanatic, and one who historically prefers fast cars and big trucks to small cars and vans, a minivan didn’t excite me. We had a few vans when I was a kid, plus a station wagon, and although the memories of that time period were good, there was no love in my heart for the vehicles themselves.

It was my nine-year-old son, accompanying me to a local auto show, who turned my head toward the possibilities.

Read our full story at TODAY Parenting

Kristin Shaw
Why Are Today's Cars Safer? In part, It's as Simple as ABC: Air bags, Belts, and Chassis.

*This post is sponsored by SMDI. All opinions expressed in this piece are my own.

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My dad introduced me to 50s cars when I was a kid, and I have been a fan of classic cars ever since. Bel Airs from 1955 make my heart sing, 1956 Crown Victorias give me palpitations, and 1959 ‘Vettes cause me to stare in awe. I have, admittedly, extolled the virtues of “big boat” cars for safety.

However, if you take a look at how far the automotive industry has progressed in the last 50 years when it comes to features that save lives.

Seat belts and air bags have been crucial additions to modern cars, of course. When my dad lost his arm in a car crash when he was 16 in 1959, he was thrown from the vehicle onto the pavement. He says he’s lucky to be alive.

Automakers have also made incredible strides in research and testing as it relates to the chassis, too. When cars were first made, they were built on wooden frames, which is what the people of that age knew from carriage and wagon structures. In the early 1900s, the Dodge brothers created the first all-steel body automobile, pioneering a process we now take for granted.

Designing a rigid, energy-absorbing structure of steel protects the driver and passengers from harm in a crash. Now with over 200 grades of steel available for automotive use, steelmakers have discovered ways to innovate by making steel lighter and stronger than ever before, and they continue their research to keep improving. Consumers today demand more fuel efficiency, and automakers require high-performance materials that are lighter to achieve higher MPG targets.

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Metallurgy, the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification, is also chemistry, and understanding how elements work together. Do you remember your high school chemistry class? Steel consists almost entirely of iron, but also contains carbon, manganese, phosphorous, sulfur, silicon, and sometimes nickel and chromium. So, if I recall correctly, that’s FE + C + Mn +… and so on.

Jody Hall, vice president of the automotive market for the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), has a Doctorate of Philosophy and Master of Science in materials science and engineering as well as a Bachelor of Science in metallurgical engineering. In short, she knows her metals. She told us in an interview at the North American International Auto Show that today’s steel absorbs energy during impact in a crash. If you’ve seen the movie Black Panther, Shuri creates a new suit for T’Challah after his defeat by Killmonger and explains the way it absorbs energy to keep him from harm and then sends it back out. If you think of steel as a Black Panther suit, that could give you a great deal of comfort as you hit the road in your vehicle today.

What’s really interesting about today’s steel is that it’s recyclable, making it greener than you might think. Did you know that more than 14 million vehicles were recycled in 2006? According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, the steel industry recycled enough steel in old cars that same year to make 13.5 million new ones. Scrapped cars also make utility poles and other steel elements in our communities.

Now, I’m not planning to give up my love of classic cars any time soon. They’re gorgeous and timeless. However, when it comes to safety, today’s cars are much safer and stronger. In 1970 – the year I was born! - only a few grades of steel were available to automakers. Now with more than 200 grades of steel, automakers have the right grade for the right application to maximize performance. 

Steel grades that exist in today’s cars weren’t available even 10 years ago, so it’s going to be fascinating to see what is developed in the years ahead.

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Kristin Shaw
The 2019 Houston Auto Show's Roshelle Salinas and Team Launch Havana Nights Public Gala and More

by Kristin Shaw

Eight years ago, Roshelle Salinas’ first day at a Houston-based advertising agency was to attend the Houston Auto Show. Four years later, she had left the agency started working for the Houston Automobile Dealers Association full time as the public relations director.

“I love the variety,” she says. “It’s always something new; I get to learn and be the resource and get to work with phenomenal people. It’s like a little family in itself, and the family-owned dealerships bring you into their circle, too.”

A mother of three, Roshelle has seasons of ebb and flow as the show season develops, and family is important to her. She shared her pride in family and career on the TODAY Parents community page:

“I’m happy with my work/life balance and proud that I’m able to enjoy my career and my children. I don’t feel bad about leaving to go to the office every day, especially when my son says ‘mommy work and me school.’ I’m proud he sees me as a working mother and is already making the correlation that you have to work to earn money to live.”

This year, Roshelle and her team added a new element to the Houston Auto Show: a public preview gala. Proceeds from the Havana Nights-themed party benefit Texas Children’s Hospital. In past years, the preview party was invite only. For the Tuesday, January 22 event, the public is invited to purchase tickets and enjoy everything from professional dancers, cigar rollers, and even two vehicle reveals from Aston Martin and Ram Trucks. A portion of the tickets is tax-deductible as a charitable donation.

What makes the Houston Auto Show different from the rest? Roshelle says it’s partly that Houston is such a driving market.

“The people who come to the auto show are truly consumers and not just auto enthusiasts. People drive a lot in Texas, and it makes the atmosphere a little different.”

A Ride & Drive attraction will feature more than 70 cars to test drive, and the Aftermarket Expo will offer specialty parts of all kinds. The show will also bring back an extensive classic car collection; more than 50 classic vehicles will be on display in the NRG Center lobby and on the show floor.

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An excerpt from the Houston Auto Show site:

When you buy a ticket for the preview party, Havana Nights, you're benefiting Texas Children’s Hospital and helping kids like Nolan achieve their dreams! Nolan loves to play sports and is a survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Currently in remission at the age of 6, he maintains a healthy life by also staying active with biking around the neighborhood with his brother and riding his four-wheeler! $100 of each $250 ticket is tax-deductible as a charitable donation, so help out a worthy cause while partaking in a lavish night of food, fun, and music.

Join us! Thrills and Wheels will be there.

Kristin Shaw