Computers are great for accomplishing visual tricks, but sometimes they leave behind that artificial sheen. The easiest way to make action seem real is to make it real. Well, not the easiest way—it can be just as laborious, but the process is refreshingly physical rather than virtual.
Take this new Swedish ad for If Insurance, from agency Forsman & Bodenfors and director Adam Berg. It takes place in a burned-out toy shop, with the owner rushing in, horrified to see her business a charred ruin. But then, as she turns to survey the damage, half of the store suddenly appears as good as new. She turns again, and the other half is magically repaired, too. The message being: We'll repair things as if by magic.
Now, it wouldn't be a great hardship to patch different shots together and get a similar effect. But as you can see in the making-of video (posted below the ad itself), the agency built whole separate sets that rolled on wheels, and swapped them in and out as the commercial was shot. It's a more theatrical approach, and more magical, in a way, than CGI. The viewer won't definitively know the difference (and may assume computer trickery), but surely there are subtleties that are captured using this method—the seamlessness of the lighting and shadows, for one—that would be hard to reproduce virtually.
Berg, anyway, is a fan. His Grand Prix-winning "Carousel" spot for Philips is famously astounding visually, yet 90 percent of it was captured in camera. (See also Berg's recent TalkTalk spot from the U.K. with the dolls yearning to connect.) Not that there's anything wrong with tweaking things in post-production. This insurance ad, in fact, could benefit greatly from digitally removing the creepy ukelele player on the rocking horse.
Client: If Insurance
Spot: "Toy Store"
Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
Copywriter: Richard Hallberg
Copywriter: Jacob Nelson
Art Director: Samuel Akesson
Agency Producer: Magnus Kennhed
Production Co.: Camp David
Director: Adam Berg
Producer: Rickard Edholm
Post Production: Redrum Post
Post Production Supervisor: Richard Lyons
Service Production: Stillking Films, Prague
Music: Martin Landqvist
Sound: Magnus Andersson Lagerqvist
Grading: Mark Gethin
Account Manager: Joachim Levin
Photographer: Linus Sandgren
Account Supervisor: Daniel Smedfors
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Grading: MPC (The Moving Picture Company)
Media Agency: MEC