CRAFT: CRAFT SECRETS; London stands still for Capital Radio as airwaves fall silent

GGT lined up 125 cameras to bring the city to a halt, Anne-Marie Crawford says

GGT lined up 125 cameras to bring the city to a halt, Anne-Marie

Crawford says

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

their tracks.’

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.

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