Ground-breaking, start-up (and Tesla rival) CHJ Automotive launched their extended-range electric vehicle – L.I. One – last week in Beijing with the help of a carefully crafted, CG commercial directed by NERD Productions’ Peter S.
Commissioned by creative agency forpeople, NERD’s challenge was to produce a trailer-like ad for the worldwide unveiling of the brand-new car, which was co-founded by the man that brought us the luxury Nio. Until now, the launch has been a mystery with very few images appearing online, and so the brief asked for drama and suspense – while avoiding anything too ominous – and ultimately ending on an uplifting note to highlight the manufacturers’ innovative designs. They also wanted to highlight the multiple “journeys” throughout the film – the sense of discovery as a driver, the reveal of each intricate design detail and the seamless technology which combines with luxury and comfort to bring the car together as one super-vehicle.
For both Executive Producer Milana Karaica and Peter S, this project was a dream. Milana, a self-confessed “car junkie” and Peter, an avid observer of car commercials throughout the years, not only relished the opportunity to finally make their own, but were excited by the fact that this was an international brand, new to the market, who were already known for their forward thinking and fresh, innovative approach to manufacturing and technology. They couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the pitch process.
“Aside from the usual written and verbal treatment, I assembled an edit of a mood film to better illustrate the direction I wanted to take the project. I dedicated a day to rendering a VFX shot that included one of the car’s signature features; a halo-like LED strip that wraps around the car’s front and back end. The work paid off, and within a week, we had won the job against two of ad land’s leading production companies in the field. We were off and running!” Peter
Behind the Scenes: Process & Challenges
Director Peter S gives a behind the scenes look at the challenges faced when creating a CG commercial within a tight timeframe of four weeks, across three different time zones:
“The shoot went remarkably smoothly. The little boy in particular proved very photogenic and imbues the film with a lovely sense of wonder. It was the FX work, in the way of fine monofilament circuits that seem embedded in the skin of the vehicle, which was the greatest technical challenge on the project. We wanted to portray an element that was dizzyingly complex, but also very elegant. Many conversations revolved around the notion of a spider web. Its construction is incredibly refined, but it subtly lends itself to being almost invisible. In the end, we were able to build a raft of controls into the circuitry system allowing us to dial the complexity up and down, depending on the shot and composition.Once the FX and camera were well in hand, we needed to address the tone of the film, as carried by the lighting of the vehicle. Here too, it proved challenging to balance our natural inclination to keep things clean and simple, with a hint of the car reflections suggesting the vehicle travelling through an urban environment. It came down to exhaustive trial and error, to find environments that were abstract enough not to distract the eye, but evocative enough that the audience could get a sense of the steel and glass skyscrapers that must be just off screen. We were exceedingly pleased when the agency allowed us to push the mystery of the lighting even more, which kept in line with the dramatic tone and mood of the film.
Finally, we looked into the music and sound design. From the beginning, we really wanted to keep the music at a minimum, at least for the first half of the film. Too much music would tip off the audience as to how we want them to feel, and spoil the mystery of the film’s tone. We hoped to lean on other-worldly sound design to excite the audience, while the music slowly began to present itself. Once the ad had revealed itself to feature a new high-tech car, we could let the music swell, and establish a warmer, more organic tone. It was essential to keep the music organic and inviting, in order to balance the colder aspects of what is a very sophisticated piece of machinery.
Despite the demanding four-week production cycle, and teams working in three time zones, the final product is every bit what we all dreamed it could be. It’s rare that a project is allowed to stay entirely true to its initial vision. Everyone involved, respected the potential of the film, and we arrived at one singular achievement that we feel will age very well with time.”
See more of Peter S’ work here.
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