Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Branding and design agency Troika Design Group and The CW television network created a week-long co-branded on-air and web takeover campaign for the 2012 Ford Focus, shot on the ARRI Alexa.
|Ford’s takeover aired two, unique 30-second spots per night Monday to Friday, and involved the network’s primetime stars from shows like ‘Smallville’, ‘90210’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries’. Production centred on eight 30-second live-action comedy spots set in a CW branded environment developed to highlight the Focus and The CW’s stars. Viewers were prompted with a 10-second intro to stay tuned and see who will be in The CW Show Room, followed by spots airing on the night of the featured actor’s show, and then directed to a dedicated website for a chance to win a new Ford Focus.
In all, a team of 15 at Troika conceptualized, wrote, shot and produced the eight spots for the campaign, built in After Effects, Cinema 4D and Final Cut Pro. The design package is based on the network look Troika created with The CW, and includes opens, closes, lower thirds and in-program promotion.
“In a six-week creative development process before storyboarding and shot planning, we worked out how the two brands would co-exist in a mutually beneficial way. Integrated marketing opportunities are essentially partnerships. The CW was the physical space that could bring this partnership to life,” said Connor Swegle, Troika’s executive producer.
Troika’s clients at the CW, the agency and Ford all had a say in the final creative and had to approve the complex, delicate brand balance. Teams worked on script approval, the CW organised the talent, and the creative team designed out the set with the Art Department and DP. As the scripts and talent were locked in, storyboards and animatics were created for the week-long takeover experience. The director, creative director, illustrators, and designers fleshed out scripts for all eight spots over two weeks, sketching them out multiple times to finalise the movement and direction, and met with clients.
On stage, they dealt first with lighting the talent, who had natural charisma but needed to suit the brand and fit the personality of the characters, and second with lighting the Ford Focus, the product. They had two of the cars moving on turntables with talent in the foreground, a complex lighting set up that the DP designed for space and quality. Fisher lighting covered most of the fill lighting.
The shooting set up was two Arri Alexa cameras, a technocrane and automobile mounts. “We shot straight to a drive, working through the day to capture over two hours of footage per scene. The shot selection ranged from beauty passes on the talent and car, to dialogue and performance. With a quick turnaround to complete the eight spots, we brought in footage the night of the shoot and had two shifts of editors working,” said Connor.
The Alexa camera shoots on to SxS cards or, in this case, onto a hard drive, typically the KiPro. The file format is Apple ProRes 4444 which means the files can be brought directly into Final Cut Pro. If the camera is shooting 60 fps, like some of the slow motion footage, the record format at 60 fps drops to Apple Pro Res 422 to allow more frames at a similar file transfer bandwidth.
In the edit system the footage looks washed out and gray. The Alexa shoots with 14 stops of latitude in the material. A filter needs to be applied in Final Cut. Alexa user Nick Shaw in London has created the Alexa LogC filter, which applies a default LUT to the footage to get it close to what was originally shot. From there, the usual colour correction and grade is applied.
“Our time with the high-profile CW talent was tight and to get through eight spots, multiple packaging elements and behind-the-scenes were literally down to five minutes per shot,” said Conner. “Because of the short turnaround, everything had to be done practically, although initial concepts had involved composited elements. Furthermore, beyond Troika’s spots, the CW created numerous packaging elements, online elements and brand elements that used the footage. For a consistent look and implementation, keeping everything in camera was the best strategy.”
To achieve the essential link over time and between platforms for viewers, consistency was a priority. The opening cut is the same for each spot, using lighting, colour palette and editing style to make the ‘Showroom’ a familiar place - a simple, recognisable CW environment that would put the focus on the car and the performances.
The campaign had to feel like a ‘takeover’ that lasted all week, integrating Ford, the CW and each night’s programming and linked to the viewer’s interest in the talent and their character. The workflow developed to integrate the two brands happened in the creative development phase. “Brands can tell captivating stories for consumers - the CW is fun and dramatic, the car is attractive with features CW viewers like.”