IDEA: Sony's 4K Ultra HD television, with four times the resolution of regular HD, literally stops people in their tracks. Filmmaker Garth Davis saw one at the Sundance Film Festival and ended a conversation in midsentence to go look at it. That eureka moment led to 180LA's new 60-second spot for the TV, directed by Davis, who also stars in it and does the voiceover. Filmed with Sony Cine-Alta F65 and F55 4K cameras, the ad features Davis ruminating on how the beauty and clarity of 4K help close the gap between what he can imagine in his mind's eye as a filmmaker—illustrated by the ad's grand and surreal visions—and what he can actually show on a screen. "My brief was very simple," said Davis. "To bring to life my imagination with no boundaries as long as it celebrated
the colors aqua and red, and there were scenes epic enough to show off the 4K resolution."
COPYWRITING: The agency wanted to explore what such amazing visual resolution would mean to a director. "We literally asked Garth to imagine what kind of world that kind of detail might inspire him to dream up," said 180 copywriter Zac Ryder. "He came back to us with a bunch of ideas, and we worked together to shape them from there." Watching TV at home, Davis looks down to see a small bluebird in his hands. Looking up, he finds himself sitting on a chair in a vast ocean. He sees a woman in a red dress; a giant spaceship; a floating house; dozens of people in period costume climbing huge ladders; cannon warfare among a throng of ships.
"The sea connects to our inner world and can be deeply emotional and surreal," said Davis. "I also love how the imagination can be so random, and the connection in the scenes are somewhat there but not understood. … I looked back for inspiration at Salvador Dali, J.M.W. Turner, Fellini and Andrew Wyeth, all of which reminded me to be bold, mad, elegant and precise." Davis' voiceover ends with the line: "Now there are no more barriers between the world that I see and ones I can show you. Only on a Sony 4K Ultra HDTV." The spot ends with the Sony logo and tagline, "make.believe."
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Davis—who also directed Coke's "Sleepwalker" and Schweppes's "Burst" ads—filmed for four days outside Auckland, New Zealand, in a few feet of water in a giant bay. The cinematographer was Claudio Miranda, who won an Oscar for Life of Pi and had worked with 4K cameras before. Davis wanted real water—no CGI. "That meant putting all of the camera equipment, lighting rigs and generators on rafts while we shot, and then moving all of the equipment in and out with the tides," said Ryder. "It was pretty time consuming. But the end result looks incredible."
The 4K version of the spaceship, built by MPC in real-world scale at nearly 300 meters in diameter, is the largest digital asset ever created for a commercial, the agency says. It's no coincidence that the spot has strong splashes of color. "One of the things that is unique to Sony, obviously, is color," said Davis. "So, not only are we telling a story that's surreal, we're also trying to capture moments of intense color."
SOUND: An original score by music house Human is a mix of piano and orchestral sounds, changing from scene to scene. "We wanted to create a track that would replicate what's happening in Garth's imagination," said Ryder. "So as Garth is imagining new worlds, the melody begins to evolve and find itself."
MEDIA: The ad is running on national broadcast TV, in cinemas and in rich-media banners online.
Vice President, Brand Experience Marketing & Direct Visual Merchandising: Patrick Bewley
Director, Brand Experience Marketing: Christine Gately-Evans
Senior Manager, Brand Experience Marketing: Ken Byers
Agency: 180, Los Angeles
Executive Creative Director: William Gelner
Creative Directors: Dave Horton, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts
Copywriter: Zac Ryder
Art Director: Adam Groves
Head of Production: Natasha Wellesley
Producer: Emma Starzacher
Account Director: Nancy Bernacchi
Account Manager: Mike Slatkin
Account Coordinator: Sarah Lynch
Planner: Mitch Polatin
Production Co.: Reset
Director: Garth Davis
DP: Claudio Miranda
Managing Director: David Morrison
Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
Head of Production: Jen Beitler
Producer: Karen Sproul
Production Designer: Kim Jarrett
Costume Designer: Barbara Darragh
Casting Company: Catch Casting
Casting Director: Linda McFetridge
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors LA
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
Producer: Alexandra Zickerick
Effects Company: MPC LA
Creative Director: Paul O'Shea
VFX Supervisor: Andy Boyd
2D Artists: Miles Essmiller, Paul O'Shea, Martin Hall
Concept Artist: Robert Brown
Matte Painter: Kristin Johnson
3D Artists: Andy Boyd, Scott Metzger, Ross Denner, Aaron Hamman, Atsushi Imamura, Steward Burris, Jean-Dominique Fievet, Jonathan Vaughn, Rick Walia, Hayley O'Neill, Mike Wynd, Dustin Colson, Ian Wilson
Telecine Artist: Mark Gethin
Telecine Asst: Derek Hansen
Executive Producer: Asher Edwards
Producers: Nick Fraser, Diana De Vries
Recording Studio: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Jeff Payne
Asst Mixer: Ben Freer
Executive Producer: Caroline O'Sullivan
Original Music: human
Sound Design: human