Nissan shoots vfx desert spectacular

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Some eye-catching visual effects lift this new Nissan Patrol tvc – sent to us by Amsterdam-based creative production studio Ambassadors – above the ordinary.

TBWA\RAAD Dubai and Ambassadors commissioned German director Nico Kreis to shoot Take no Sides for the launch of the Nissan Patrol 2017. Visually no cost or expense seems to be spared in this epic in the desert. “We created a virtual city that exceeds imagination,” Kreis said.

Kreis was nominated by Shots in 2005 for New Director of the Year, and is a winner of Young Lions awards. “In sky-high desert temperatures not every film technique is possible, which brings our visual effects team into the picture,” he said.

Ambassadors designed the visual effects to create an apocalyptical feeling. Producer Paul Sluimers recalls: “When we were approached to produce the commercial for Nissan, there were already a few ideas on the table. Together with the agency and Nico Kreis, the director, we came to the result that we have now – an epic commercial that is visual stunning and vfx heavy.

“The battle between desert and city is the leading narrative, when the Nissan Patrol handles all terrain and does not choose sides. I feel we got that down.”

CG to the rescue
Every projects has its challenge, this one is no exception. Shooting in the hottest time of the year in Dubai brought complications for the crew and the material. “For example the drones partly malfunctioned because of the heat when we wanted to shoot the city plates – so we decided to design the whole city in CG,” Sluimers said.

Generating a storm is not an option in real life, but designing one in CG is not an easy job either. “Dealing with large scale simulations like the ones in this film is quite challenging,” he said. “From a technical point of view, there is just never enough computing power to calculate these effects fast enough, but especially creatively, partly because of these slow revision times.”

Lead CG artist Mark van Berkel said: “Spicing up a giant dust storm to look as dramatic as possible on camera takes a combination of patience, intuition and production experience to get right in typically tight commercial timeframes.”

Not only the city and storm, but also the car got a VFX touch. “The creation of the reflections is an art on itself and the consumer knows the aesthetics of this car precisely,” van Berkel said. “That definitely formed a challenge when designing full parts in CG. So we are prepared to take bets on which parts are shot in real life and which parts are designed in CG.”

The Star Trek lens
Leading visual effects artists Sil Bulterman and Mark van Berkel are the vfx supervisors on-set advising on the spectacular footage that needed to be collected.

“A big part of the film is timed around sunset, so together with DOP Jan Mettler I made a lot of shots at the end or beginning of the day with a special, anamorphic lens,” Bulterman said.

“That same lens also defined the look of for example Star Trek and other sci-fi movies.”

The heat was a recurring challenge. “With 55 degrees the sand becomes so loose that it is hard to correctly choreograph and film the cars, especially with a heavy ‘Russian’ shoot-arm on a roof, but it was definitely worth it,” Bulterman said. “The positive collaboration and trust of the director really shine through in the final result.”

Sluimers said: “We can be very proud what the team pulled off and I am very happy I could have been a part of that. We are already very much looking forward to the next challenge as we are always hungry for more.”

  • See the visual effects reel below

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