It's not unusual for agency folks to be caught spending too much time on their video game consoles. In the case of Messner producer Daniel Fried, his reputation for being something of a game freak actually turned out to be a big plus for the agency's new "Pop Culture" campaign for Volvo, which attempts to bring the brand into the embrace of a hipper, younger set. While one spot takes its cues from the music video world, via clips maven Dave Meyers, the second, produced by Fried, takes an even more innovative turn, straight into the video game universe of the upcoming Xbox game RalliSport Challenge 2, which features, among other vehicles, the Volvo S40. The spot follows a red model as it swerves through various landscapes-looking, feeling, and sounding like a real racing game, as if someone forgot to switch the monitor back from game mode. That's because instead of tapping an effects house to create the spot, Fried went directly to video game gurus to recreate the footage for the commercials format. "It was a completely unique way of producing a commercial," Fried notes. "I really didn't know going in, how I was going to approach it." Fried originally got in touch with Dice, the creators of the game on which the spot is based. Too busy getting the new title on the shelves, they referred him to another gaming company, Seattle-based Valkyrie Entertainment, which ultimately signed on to the project. Unlike traditional effects or animation, creating the footage wasn't a frame by frame process. Basically, Valkyrie directors Joakim Wejdemar and Luke Anderson held marathon sessions playing the game, recording every move digitally and then sending those out as dailies to Fried and Mad Mad Judy editor Steve Hamilton. However, the footage featured the decal-decorated blue car from the actual game, while the client wanted a logo-free red model for the spot. Luckily, giving the car a new paint job was almost as simple as pushing a button. "Because we were dealing with a video game environment, they were able to just inject the new car into the video game engine so that it just literally replaced the car without having to change all the scenery or do any rotoscoping," Fried explains. "Most of the spot is game footage. The only difference from the game is that we remodeled the car from the ground up." Only a few scenes had to be created from scratch: one, the unavoidable product shot that highlights the car's interior and ultra-slim center stack and the unavoidable Volvo "safety" shot, in which a driver emerges from the car completely unharmed, even after some serious flips and tumbles. Achieving the latter clearly illuminated the disconnect between the gaming and advertising world. "The communication process was certainly different," Fried recalls. "I had to clarify very basic terminology because sometimes a word in our business meant something entirely different in theirs. For the driver scene, we'd been talking forever about how the great thing about that scene is that it's seamless. When we said there wouldn't be any cuts, they took that to mean there wasn't going to be a cut in the action, that the action would continue but we could cut to a different angle." There were other nail-biting moments, like when in the 11th hour, Fried got a call from Valkyrie saying that the race track they had recorded "broke." "We had absolutely no understanding of what that meant," Fried now laughs. "We got on the phone, 'Can we fix it?' To this day I couldn't tell you exactly what happened, but they went back in, found the same tracks, played the game again. They couldn't get the exact moves but they knew where on the track they needed to be and how to get the same angles. They're good enough gamers that they were able to recreate almost identically the shots that we needed."