Framestore CFC defies gravity

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Creatives are continually on a quest to find the spot that will make viewers want to watch a second time, but with help from London's Framestore CFC's effects artists and some inspiration from illusionist illustrator M.C. Escher, BBH/London's Dean Wei and Joseph Ernst conceived a spot for Audi's A6 that can exhilarate and intrigue even after several looks. "Illusions" features an A6 driving through a simplistic metropolis, but at the end of each shot performs a maneuver that is physically impossible. At a gas station the car drives behind a more distant support beam and a maze of highway; an overpass reveals itself to be a tunnel; a bridge shot shows gravity working in two different directions; and the final shot shows the Audi emerging from a solid pillar to the tagline "Whatever the road holds."

These physical impossibilities could only be achieved through effects, where artists often had to reconcile contradictory information. "I don't think it made my head spin-more just fall off my shoulders," says VFX supervisor Ben Cronin. "Most of our work involves trying to make a particular effect look utterly real so that viewers think it's come straight from the camera. With Audi we were putting something in the middle of a shot which made no sense and defies physics, but most importantly, it had to sit in the shot perfectly so that you don't question its presence in the location."

Directed by Anthony Atanasio of Amarillo Films, the shoot took place on location in Sao Paulo, where the crew scouted locations and planned for a week before filming in the second week. The most difficult shot to composite, according to Cronin, was the maze, where Atanasio filmed the roads on one day, then worked with Cronin to map them out with sandbags in a deserted parking lot to film the cars. "We built the road structure as a neater and more detailed version and composited the cars on top. It wasn't as technical as some of the other shots, but there were a lot of cars and therefore a lot of interaction and layers." Another difficult shot was the final one, which features a stadium fa‡ade with wide pillars. As the Audi mysteriously appears from inside a pillar, it scatters a flock of pigeons, which were filmed separately. After collecting all of the information, Cronin returned to the UK to manipulate his Brazil Flame work on the Inferno for three weeks. The spots aired in Europe during the Euro 2004 soccer championships.

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