GGT lined up 125 cameras to bring the city to a halt, Anne-Marie
OK, so Capital FM is a big London brand, but would the city really grind
to a halt if it went off air? Can you even imagine London at a
This was the challenge the GGT creatives, Erik Kessels, Johan Kramer and
Tyler Whisnand, set themselves when dreaming up a campaign for the radio
station, Capital FM.
The team wanted to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between the
city and its biggest radio station. They hit on the idea of a London
that changes immensely when Capital FM stops broadcasting.
The 30-second branding spot - called ‘static’ - shows London at a
standstill against a soundtrack of radio static. The camera pans across
a freeze-frame city in which everything has been stilled: commuters
running for trains, pigeons in Trafalgar Square, a boy and his dog
playing football, all suspended in action.
Kramer, the copywriter, takes up the story. ‘We began by thinking: what
would happen if Capital FM was missing from the radio? Well, London
isn’t London without Capital FM. People would stand still, frozen in
But how do you stop pigeons in mid-flight? How do you stop the traffic
on Regent Street? How do you stop the Underground? And what’s more, how
do you do all that on a budget?
The Paul Weiland Films director, Frank Budgen, and his producer, Paul
Rothwell, thought they had the answer. They’d heard of a technique that
can show one instant, one fragment of time, in a movement of a few
seconds. The images appear frozen as the camera moves past them.
The process is called ‘time-slice’ and was developed by a Bristol-based
freelance photographer, Tim MacMillan. The technique uses small photo
cameras positioned in series on a rig. They are all exposed at the same
time and therefore capture the same instant from multiple view points.
Rothwell had seen a ‘time-slice’ reel and had been so impressed that his
initial reaction was to try to keep the technique a secret. However,
when the script for ‘static’ came in he knew just what to do and called
MacMillan immediately to commission him to build a camera for the shoot.
MacMillan built a rig that was longer than any he had ever used. The rig
used 125 cameras in which 35mm film was cranked through, one frame for
each camera. One shot was exposed, then the film was cranked 125 frames
The commercial was shot in and around London with Londoners as the
stars. To curious passers-by, the camera looked like a long brown metal
bar with a crank handle at one end and lots of duct tape.
MacMillan had just ten days to come up with the goods. Rothwell had also
allowed one day of test filming before the ad was to be delivered on
deadline a week later.
In the event, MacMillan couldn’t get the camera to London in time so the
shoot slipped by a day but, happily, this did not lead to major
problems. Rothwell is unwilling to talk budgets, but admits that the
camera was ‘very good value’.
‘Static’ was a genuinely innovative spot and the odds are it won’t be
long before this intriguing technique appears in other great ads.