’Anything can happen in an instant,’ is the proud boast of WCRS’s
latest campaign for National Lottery Instants. It is an endline that the
director, Simon Levene from Pink went to extraordinary lengths to
illustrate, using a new technique to create a frozen moment in which
anything can happen.
The ads combined the ’time-slice’ technique with live-action footage,
which allowed the star of the film, James Nesbitt, - of Cold Feet and
Waking Ned fame - to move freely around an otherwise still world.
Time-slice was used for the first time in 1996 in ’static’, an ad
created by GGT for Capital Radio which illustrated how London would be
brought to a standstill without the radio station’s soundtrack.
The Instants campaign marks the first occasion that time-slice has been
combined with live action footage to create the 3-D frozen effect around
which Nesbitt can actually move. In ’highboard’ a young man bounces
tentatively on a diving board and as he prepares to jump, the film
Nesbitt appears and guides the audience around the frozen scene,
speculating on the possible outcomes of the diver’s actions.
The film technique also enabled Nesbitt to overtake runners in a
marathon while the film is frozen, and to catch a falling egg during an
egg and spoon race.
’Highboard’ differs from the other executions in that a lot of the
scenes are already frozen when they open. To achieve this, the cast had
to pretend to be frozen and were hired on their ability to stay very
still. Some were mime artists.
In one scene, a woman looks as though she has been frozen while throwing
down a towel by the pool. To achieve this effect, the towel was made of
metal to enable it to stay completely still. Some of the cast were also
given stands to prop themselves against which were later painted out in
post-production. These scenes were shot at a much slower speed than
normal to assist the actors. This ensured that it was more difficult to
see tiny movements like the flickering of eyes.
In ’marathon’ Nesbitt appears to duck in and out of the path of the
other runners but, in reality, he did the shoot alone. His part was shot
first and then the runners (who were given specific marks to follow on
the ground) were planned around it. In ’egg and spoon’ the extras were
filmed first and Nesbitt’s moves were planned around them.
Levene’s approach to each shoot was determined by the constraints of
individual scripts, but the basic method was applied to all four
The crew used a bank of up to 80 stills cameras which were attached
together in an arch and programmed to shoot at specific times, one after
Because of the way the stills cameras were positioned, the footage gives
the impression that the viewer is moving around a frozen subject while
the background is also moving. A live-action camera was then positioned
at either end of the bank to enable the director to switch between the
two formats. ’It took me about three weeks to get my head around the
techniques involved,’ Levene said. ’It was incredibly complicated.’
Edited by Claire Cozens. Tel: 0181-267 4895