NOTE: Director Andreas Nilsson was kind enough to answer a few questions about the production of this spot! I’ve updated this post accordingly.
I’ve often said that a simple shot executed well is better than a complex shot executed poorly. Then again, a complex shot executed well can be absolutely riveting.
This Volvo commercial consists of a single, continuous shot. I wondered what kind of rig was used to support the camera for this kind of motion, and Andreas Nilsson, the director of the commercial, told me that he used a “Russian Arm. It’s basically a car with a techno-crane type thing on it.”
The camera work, the motion of the trucks, and the action of the actor (Jean-Claude Van Damme, for you youngsters out there who didn’t grow up watching “Bloodsport” and “Lion Heart”), work in perfect sync. Even though the scene is backlit by a rising sun, the lighting on the trucks and the actor is flawless. I had suspected that HMIs or reflectors were used, but Nilsson told me that, actually, it was lit only by ambient light! The spot was shot on an Arri Alexa, and graded by The Mill in London. I’m amazed that they were able to pull so much detail out of an entirely backlit image.
Really, really nice work!
Thank you again, Andreas Nilsson, for sharing the production details with us.
UPDATE: Here’s a sort-of-behind-the-scenes video. I say “sort-of,” because it is behind the scenes, but it doesn’t show anything technical. It is entertaining though.