Time-lapse 3D
April 8, 2011

Time-lapse 3D

A commercial breaks new boundaries in stereo
Internationally acclaimed director Paul WS Anderson of the Mob, (www.mobfilm.com) has brought the full force of his 3D expertise to bear on the breathtaking new commercial campaign for Deutsche Telekom. A groundbreaking piece of work, the project is the first use of 3D time-lapse.

Creator of box-office gold, such as the multimillion-dollar grossing Resident Evil: Afterlife (lauded for its 3D), Anderson has built around himself an elite team of the technicians, using the best equipment—a perfect storm of talent which Anderson has now orchestrated to produce a commercial masterpiece.

Reading Tribal DDB’s script for “A Thousand Little Things” (for the new Entertain TV package from Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile Worldwide), Anderson was inspired by the immense creative possibilities of shooting the ad in 3D. While many commercials have been successfully converted to 3D, this is a landmark piece of advertising, actually filmed truly and correctly in 3D. Shot on location in LA over 5 days (with additional filming in Berlin), the vast and varied cityscape perfectly lent itself to this tale of freedom, independence, and liberation—taking control of our viewing time by using the Entertain package. And Anderson’s artists’ eye ensured the contrasts and unexpected beauty of the city were perfectly captured in 3D, thanks to his specialist knowledge of both technique and location.

In collaboration with his production team at the Mob (Manchester & LA) and the team he has grown while directing Resident Evil and the forthcoming Three Musketeers, Anderson swung into action to create a visually and emotionally immersive experience—the everyday actions of ordinary people around the globe being played out using images of quite extraordinary loveliness.  Strong creative relationships came into their own as Anderson and the teams worked to achieve the creative vision for the ad.  

Anderson's long-time, award-winning DOP, Vern Nobles comments: “Paul set us quite a challenge on Telekom, shooting high speed, time-lapse, and aerials all in stereo. Shooting in Berlin and Los Angeles with as many as 30 set-ups a day, we also needed to get the gear tested and ready over the Christmas holiday. There was not one camera system that could do everything Paul wanted, and we had to invent some new tech along the way.” Tom Hallman from Pictorvision put together at short notice a stereo gyro stabilized helicopter system that the team developed after Resident Evil 4, “and we couldn't have done it all without the help of Vince Pace and the Pace fusion 3D system,” he adds. “Vince and Jim Hays opened their doors and gave us complete support, letting us come in over the Christmas holiday and build the systems.”

According to Nobels, the group ended up using Arri Alexia on the Pace Fusion rig for stereo time-lapse, 24 fps and 60 fps in Los Angeles with master primes and Red MX and master primes in Germany for High Speed and 24 fps, with Red MX and 17-80 zooms in the helicopter. The Canon 7D system with ultra primes was used for time-lapse when objects were not too close to the camera.

Postproduction was at Topix in Toronto, using the most cutting-edge techniques available to apply 3D, effects, and a glorious grade to the film. The film was off-lined  at Therapy in LA, using the editing expertise of Doobie White and executive producer John Ramsay.

As well as capitalizing on the creative shorthand among the technical team, the piece de resistance was the casting of Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz who, again, has worked closely with Anderson on the Three Musketeers. Anderson’s subtle direction and understanding of Waltz allows his spirit to infuse the commercial, underscoring the freedom that is the central message of Deutsche Telekom’s Entertain package. 

The whole is an homage to Anderson’s complex and theatrical body of 3D work, as audiences are literally absorbed into the piece, walking among the crowds, being sucked down into the subways, and following the mundane, daily activities, which become epic in nature and significance thanks to Anderson’s portrayal of the little acts that bind us together, wherever we are on the globe. 

A 60-second version of the commercial will air in cinemas across Germany, and a further four product-based cut-downs will go out on television. The full 90-second version will show be shown worldwide at trade shows, exhibitions, and festivals--and a piece of advertising history is born.

Anderson's commercial producer John Brocklehurst adds, “The pre-production on 3D is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my professional career, but the first time you put the glasses on and look at the monitor, you realize what all the fuss and hard work is about. There are many so-called 3D ‘experts’ in film and advertising, but, in my opinion, you need to have actually shot using it to be able to talk about it. And this puts Paul in a league of his own—he has shot two huge movies, with the best rig and the best crew in the world. Not only that, we had a great time and I am looking forward to our next 3D extravaganza!”

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