CLOSE-UP: CRAFT - O&M's new ad for the Ford Fiesta plays tricks on the eyes, Rachel Gardner says

The Ford Fiesta is a little car whose advertising has come a long way in the past year. A year ago, we had the office worker daubing lipstick measles on his face to get the day off so he could take a spin in his "fun to drive" Fiesta. Fast forward to February 2004 and we have the Ogilvy & Mather ad, "pinball", which positions the Ford Fiesta as a car with character.

It was crafted with painstaking accuracy, using a real pinball machine and a life-size car. It is eye-catching and fun, while emphasising the car's "rock solid" credentials.

Directed by Partizan's Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, who was responsible for Honda's "cog", the ad depicts a gutsy car overcoming giant obstacles on a pinball table.

Working with the O&M creative team Mark Hendy and Neil Elliot, the production team used ground-breaking post-production technology to create the illusion of a full-size Fiesta driving around a real pinball machine.

The team spent four hot days in a studio in Acton filming the action on a specially lit pinball machine through an endoscope lens attached to a normal camera. A wire model represented the car.

According to Barnsley, also known as The Mill's Flame artist Andrew Wood, the full-sized car had to be scaled down 86 times to "fit" on the pinball machine.

"The only major problem we had was that the small lens would only shoot the pinball table at three frames a second," he says. "This is considerably slower than a normal camera and meant we had to use around 300 extremely bright lights.

"We had three air conditioning units under the table to keep it cool, but it would start smoking if we filmed for more than ten seconds at a time."

Once they had shot the footage, the team spent seven days meticulously logging and filing every shot from the cigarette-sized camera, ready to be fused with the footage of the life-size Fiesta.

This was shot using three real Fiestas - driven by a stuntman from the James Bond films - in a considerably larger studio in Prague.

The live action sequences were shot using the camera angles, distances and lighting from the pinball machine footage.

Barnsley says: "Everything had to be measured just so, to ensure that the result looked as natural as possible. And we're pretty pleased with the end product."

The finishing touches were added by the 3D artist Russell Tickner. In order to create convincing light and shadow patterns for the final cut, he computer-generated an exact replica of the table and fed in the lighting patterns from the pinball table footage.

He then fed a computerised Fiesta through this, along the same course chosen for the live action shots. The software then added the correct light effects.

Finally, the results were fed through Flame, the special-effects programme, to boost the reflections and shadows and give the film a lifelike feel.


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