A52, A Visual Effects Powerhouse, Creates New Audi ''Rain'' Commercial

Posted Nov 18, 2000 by Roger Darnell
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA. – Visual effects and broadcast design powerhouse A52 announced details of their visual effects work for director Mehdi Norowzian and Chelsea Pictures for McKinney & Silver’s Audi “Rain” spot. The :30 commercial along with another :30 spot for Audi’s new TT Roadster featured the innovative use of A52’s visual effects supervisor and Infinity artist Simon Brewster’s talents to blend color and black-and-white cinematography lensed by ICM’s Zubin Mistery.
“Mehdi had a very particular look in mind for the whole campaign,” said A52’s managing director and executive producer Liz Roewe. “He wanted to use black-and-white film stock and add subtle amounts of color back in the post process.”
“Simon took Mehdi's already incredible film to another level of quality, by taking each scene and bringing out the subtle elements that the eye is drawn to but that you might have otherwise missed,” said Joni Madison, senior vice president and chief of operations for McKinney & Silver. “Through this process, Simon did a great job of creating unusual focal points within each scene.”
After meeting with Norowzian and the creative team during pre-production, Brewster started doing some explorations of the color in Inferno. The process involved discovering the right color tones and hues. “Fortunately, “ Brewster explained, “one of the great things about the Inferno is you can do as many color corrections at the same time through as many different masks as necessary; you’re not limited in any sense to how deep or complex you can make the colors.”
“Any time you mess with color it’s a big challenge,” Brewster continued. “For example, when it came to compositing the rain, Mehdi shot different angles on the rain and we layered them in, adding depth of field so that some of the close-up drops are nicely out of focus, then sharpening the ones closer to the girl. I had to layer those in seamlessly, color them and add-in the correct feeling of light going through the de-focused droplets. So you put all those raindrops in and create a balance in bringing it all together; if you take them out you’d know they’re missing, but you put them in and they’re integrated and they’re see-through and they’re sparkling with the rain and the light that’s happening in the scene.”
“Four years ago, McKinney & Silver started working with Simon for his color-grading, and he’s built a great rapport with them,” Roewe added. “Since then, they’ve kept him in the creative process and continued to help brand Audi’s look with the director’s and with Simon’s contributions. Audi’s campaign reflects the magic of the masterful color-grade; the compositing of the raindrops, the conform, the blending of the graphics…that’s Simon doing what he does best, by himself with a creative team.”
“We worked very hard with Mehdi, A52, Elias and everyone else to make everything in the spot the best it could be by letting it play its appropriate part,” stated McKinney & Silver’s Madison. “No one creative element outshines another, and there’s not one scene you might notice over the other. By watching the complete spot, you really get the joy of the child. The mastery is really revealed when you don’t really notice it…you’re just enjoying the spot.”
McKinney & Silver’s creative team included Christopher Wilson, group creative director/copywriter and Ralph Watson, art director. Hollywood-based Chelsea Pictures’ project team was led by executive producer Alison Amon and producer Maria Gallagher, and A52’s project team was led by executive producer Liz Roewe and producer Cassie Hulen. Santa Monica’s Company 3 performed the telecine transfer while editing was handled by Andrea Macarthur of London’s The Whitehouse. Music was created at bicoastal Elias Associates.