Vision Q&A: Quiksilver's Danish Blast

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Due largely in part to its relaxed-yet-athletic lifestyle vibe, surf culture has managed to infiltrate locales where waves are about as plentiful as unicorns. The middle of Copenhagen is one of these places. We spoke to CD Simon Wooller at Saatchi & Saatchi/Copenhagen about how he made waves in the city center for the "Dynamite Surfing" viral.

Where did this idea come from?
Simon Wooler: The core of the idea came from the fact that there isn't really any surf culture in Denmark, and Quiksilver's origins are as a surf company. So we came up with this concept of urban surfers - for countries that don't have any surf, you create your own.

Where in the city does the spot take place?
There are artificial lakes right in the middle of Copenhagen, which is part of the old moat that used to go around the city. It's probably the flattest water you can find in the world. [Laughs] So it was an ideal spot to do it.

How much, if any, of the action actually took place in that water?
Well, we're talking about some hardcore CGI. The big question on everyone's mind is whether it's real or fake. Let's just say we didn't do anything illegal. There was an explosion and there was a wave, but it's more than likely that the explosion, the wave and the live action weren't all done at the same time. The guy in the wetsuit in the water was real.

What was the biggest challenge in creating this spot?
Waiting. We shot it in October and we had to wait three months before it was finished, because it was sort of a night job for everyone. Normally these things move along relatively quickly and you'd expect to finish it in a month. The thing about viral is that you're always scared someone's going to pop out with the same idea. Because things move so quickly on the web, if you wait that long to get stuff out you can often find something very similar. The cool thing about viral as well is that it's not an ad. You're creating content and you've got to be careful not to slip into a 30-second-spot way of thinking. Ultimately, viral is the most retail form of advertising because if it's not liked, it will die immediately.

How difficult was it to make the wave look real?
The interesting thing about it is that it's ugly CGI, which is actually quite difficult. It looks a bit like an amateur handheld camcorder, but most of that effect was done in CGI by Jan Tvilling at Sonne Film.

Were you tempted to make it a monster wave, as opposed to a more realistic one?
From Quiksilver's point of view, they're all about looking for the perfect wave. But you have to resist that challenge because what makes this interesting is the fact that it's believable. I did hear some Quiksilver people say the wave maybe should've been bluer and more perfect, but if you read the discussion on various blogs, it's all about figuring out if it's real or fake. And that comes down to the fact that the wave couldn't be too perfect.
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