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Audi: Projecting Greatness

Audi’s “Projecting Greatness” campaign produced a stunning commercial spot recognized with the Silver Award in 2017’s Advertising and Design CCA. In truth, the story behind the making of this spot and them professionals who created it would likely make a thrilling film itself. A team of creative experts utilizing ground breaking technology in a precarious environment amidst sub-zero temperatures; it sounds as if Tom Cruise should be among them, speeding on a snowmobile. With all respect to Mr. Cruise, Cinematographer Byron Kopman was the action star who captured the amazing visuals which led to the award-winning status of this production. His work and that of the entire team displayed a new direction for the industry as well as stunning viewing for Audi and consumers. The journey that began with the brilliance of Sherpas Films and director Dave Mossop resulted in a dazzling commercial spot which is a testament to the artists in this industry.

In an era of CGI ubiquity, this production went against the status quo to take a deliberate classic approach even though they were using new advancements to do so. Kopman, director Dave Mossop, and crew aspired to create something truly revolutionary and awe inspiring for “Projecting Greatness” and they more than met this self-defined challenge. At first viewing, you’d likely blink and second guess that you were watching software create the incredible imagery so brilliantly captured by Byron but incredibly, every bit of footage was done in camera and manifested by the crew. Projecting mapping on the face of a mountain with 20K projectors and capturing it with the world’s first attainable low light cameras, all while driving an Audi Q7 in the mountains; the preparation and testing to coordinate such a feat was herculean. The fact that this was done in the mountains of Alberta in temperatures of -13F and below, in the dark…only exacerbated the discomfort, danger, and challenge for those involved.

Kopman describes the details of what made this production so exciting and revolutionary for himself and the industry, stating, “This was ground breaking in the cinematography world because it achieved a number of previously never before attained goals. Shooting with moonlight as your only source of light is a new thing that has only been possible in the last two years; literally only becoming available months before we shot this. Pairing this with projecting mapping on a mountain in the dead of winter and using the snow as a canvas, it was definitely biting off a lot to chew. No one to my knowledge had done that combo precisely due to its great difficulty.” The notoriety received by Kopman in the industry among his peers is a result of his immense talent as well as his embrace of challenging productions and circumstances. Many professionals begin their career with ability but it’s those like Byron who continually push the envelope in regards of what is possible behind the camera that transform the talented into gifted professionals with a visible and desirable style. Kopman’s reputation led to his enlistment as DP on this production but he proved what makes him exceptional as a cinematographer by finding new heights of performance for himself and his crew.

Due to the sensitivity of the new low light cameras, many other factors (headlights, reflective material on the automobile, etc.) had to be adjusted to compensate and blend in, requiring rigorous & numerous camera tests. This is perhaps the easiest part of the process. In a scene that is almost unbelievably not CGI, the Audi seems to split into two different versions of the same automobile and then merge back into one. Byron explains, “Both of these shots were done in camera. For the car splitting, we had a graphic pre-made of the car and built a 300-foot long snowbank to project it on. We had to then match the car’s driving speed to the graphic. The graphic merging back into the car at the end was done by mounting a small projector to the camera gimbal which was attached to a crane in the back of a truck. We had to play the graphic and time the swing of the crane and the speed of both the lead and follow vehicles to get it right, all while driving. It was a lot of work but the whole crew took it as a source of pride that we could achieve this through our own skill and abilities rather than ‘cheating’ it.”

The resulting product is subconscious in the way the eyes accept the motions on screen. There’s a palpable organic quality to the imagery that is hard to define but permeates the entire commercial spot in a way that says, “I know this is right but I can’t explain how I know this.” The subtleties are so intricate in their communication, the way the graphics have slight manipulations brought about by every little bump and twig on the mountain…the effect almost appears to be motion and painting combined. Whereas CGI is sometimes detectable as being overly perfect, the analog vibe of “Projecting Greatness” is warm and flawed…in the most benevolent way. Zak Mroueh (Chief Executive Officer at Zulu Alpha Kilo) declared, “When I saw it, I had trouble believing my own eyes.” Audi’s “Projecting Greatness” does just that, projects greatness. The duality of this moniker applies to the immense talent, foresight, and hard work of Byron Kopman and his deference to skill over fixing it in post.

Author: Kelly King

Audi: Projecting Greatness Reviewed by JaamZIN on 5:14:00 AM Rating: 5
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