Director Jose Gomez gets smart.http://www.vimeo.com/21485502
In this new campaign, “A Big Idea” for smart car, you can watch the beautiful walls and cityscape of Buenos Aires transform with whimsical characters telling the story about love, curiosity and individuality. Jose Gomez the director, talks about how these spots were made and how he brought life to these vignettes.
Sheina: Hi Jose. These smart spots show some awesome views of a modern city. How did you decide to shoot this piece?
Jose: BBDO came to us with a concept of having these black and white illustrations on the walls. Not an entirely new concept, but what I loved about the project was that we could breath life into the characters and make them unique. Their script and story was so clever and we were lucky enough to be given the task of interpreting that script and making it a distinct smart story. It was really fun to come up with the different actions and vignettes to keep it simple and smart like. The agency wanted to make sure that the spots came off simple and to the point. And what I love doing is creating that simplicity of the action in storytelling.
Sheina: Do you think simplicity makes it an easier or more difficult guideline to work within?
Jose: It doesn’t make things simpler. Ton Hollander, the Creative Director from BBDO in Germany, wanted to focus on the simplicity of the spot because everything about the smart is about simplicity. We wanted the idea to transcend. Less about being generic but about being pure and paying tribute to the smart brand. The best products in the world are simple, refine, and elegant. And those aspects were emphasized in the drawings to look more mature and artistic versus cartoony. We went through a lot grounds to find the right action, take away, and tone. It was a laborious process of hitting the right mark and stripping things away to find the purest form to tell the story. We didn’t want any superficial or secondary action to complicate it. Although it looked simple we had to refine it and it was as hard as any other project we worked on. We refined it continuously until we felt we had the perfect execution.
Sheina: What was the process in shooting?
Jose: This project was something completely new for me. It was a test in patience and faith, that you were getting the shots that you needed. We shot the footage on a Canon 5D camera in a series of digital stills. Rather than video, it was captured in full high resolution 4k digital files. The overall process was pretty labor intensive. We got to Buenos Aires and immediately scoured the city to find the right angles and walls to match our storyboards. We had to make adjustments along the way because we couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for. We were running around the city for 8 days with 3 full crews in 3 different locations at once. I would drive, set up the camera at one location and than jump to another after another and finally would return to the first crew and we would rotate to another location and do it all over again. For some of these shots, we got to use a pretty innovative technique using these interesting dolly heads with motion controlled rigs to shoot the time lapse, which was really cool.
Sheina: It’s interesting that you shot the spot with a digital camera. Do you have a specific reason for doing so?
Jose: To achieve the stop motion effect, you need to shot the spot using still photography. The inconsistency of the characters is best achieved with still photography by way of time lapse. Stop motion is a collection of still frames jumping in time. So, we didn’t really need to shoot video and we used the Canon 5D because it has one of the most robust production backbone.
Sheina: What was the illustration process? Who did you work with?
Jose: We worked with a bunch of illustrators but the main character designer is Ken Lee. His drawing sensibility hit the nail on the head. He and I worked closely to get the characters looking right. We have over hundreds and hundreds of different reiterations of the drawings between the agency and us. From changing the hair style a few times, to the size of the shirt, and the flipping of the shoes, it was a million different details going back and forth. We also worked with Brian Covalt, for the stop motion animation of the characters. We wanted to get that animation feeling just right.
Sheina: How was the overall process and collaboration of this project?
Jose: This has been a long and successful project over the course of a few months. Ton Hollander and I have been working closely together at every aspect. It’s rare that I worked closely with a CD from the agency as much as I did with him. We’ve been all over the world together. We shot in Buenos Aries, color corrected and composited in Los Angeles and we did a color session in New York too. We’ve been in the four corners of the world and back over the last three months. The agency was great to work with and it’s been a lot of fun working together.