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18th July 2013
Hands up and freeze!
Title of film: NZ Telecom, The Waiting is Over
Director: Michael Spiccia
Production Company: Goodoil Films
Sydney-based director Michael Spiccia delivers the anticipation of high-speed antics in a sequence of frozen moments for NZ Telecom’s ultra-fast broadband. Goodoil exec producer Juliet Bishop explains how the spot was created

What was the original brief for NZ Telecom Ultra Broadband’s commercial, The Waiting is Over, and how did it evolve?

Saatchi & Saatchi NZ gave us an opportunity to create something epic, visually and narratively arresting, putting the audience right in the middle of the action. Our challenge was a five-week schedule from award to a fixed on air date. Madness!

The original concept captured the story in a single take. To widen the scale of the narrative, director Michael Spiccia decided to employ a series of cuts and integrated transitions to maintain the sense of a continuous camera flow but allowing us to embrace epic scale scenarios alongside more intimate scenarios.

How were the camera movements worked out in pre-production?

The key to anchoring the project and making it logistically and technically possible was producing a detailed pre-visualisation (see in Related Content) during pre-production. We worked closely with long time collaborator VFX supervisor Nicholas Ponzoni (Blackbird Studios) to develop the visual language and to execute a pre-vis which worked effectively as our final edit.

The pre-vis allowed us to replicate the locations technically pitch perfect in 3D so that Michael could then design his shots ahead of the shoot. It gave us the flexibility to create a technically accurate blueprint for the final edit which the VFX supervisor could then hand over to his CG team to commence all the particle simulations and 3D asset building that would eventually become the smoke, fire, glass and debris elements that we see in the final result. Given that the post-production schedule was a little over 10 days in total a lot of the creative process that goes into crafting the final pictures with seamless FX work needed to be resolved before shooting commenced.

The pre-vis also meant the VFX supervisor could work closely with Michael and our fabulous crew – Crighton Bone (DOP), Oli Harris (Key Grip) and Guy Treadgold (Production Designer) to ascertain how much could be achieved practically with rigging as well as what kind of lensing and camera gear was going to be needed on the day. It also was an essential tool to ascertain the limits of the 50-foot techno crane used in the wide reaching shots.

How long was the shoot? Was there pressure to move from scene to scene quickly and were all the scenes set up prior to the shoot?

Having mapped everything out in the pre-vis, we shot everything in Auckland over the course of three very busy shoot days. Due to such a tight schedule we did not have time for a rehearsal day or pre rig day, and it is credit to an incredibly talented and experienced crew that we got this shot, given that we had to shoot a series of 15-second live action spots alongside the 60-second frozen moments!

What cameras and gear were used?

The spots were shot on Arri Alexa Plus 4:3 Camera with Primo anamorphic lenses. As we were shooting all in camera elements in the same take we predominantly shot at 48fps to enable us to smooth out any slight movement of the talent or props in post.

Everything was dressed in camera aside from CG smoke, flare, fire, dust and some flying glass elements.

Where did you find the cast with an ability to not move an eyelid – apart from the intentional last shot?

We cast people who had good core body strength, stuntmen, actors, plus a few background extras who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Stringing them up on wires, stands and other devices, and basically making them freeze and hold the same position for every take.

The clothing, hair and props were sculptured in pre-production to simulate a frozen frame mid-action. Production designer Guy Treadgold assembled a crack team of modelmakers to conquer the enormous task of producing all the props, clothing and hair within our two-week pre-production.

Telecom Ultra Broadband, Waiting is Over
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand
Client: Telecom New Zealand
Executive Creative Director: Antonio Navas
Creative Director: Nathan Cooper
Art Director: Arnya Karaitiana
Copywriter: & Phil Hickes
Agency Producer:  Jane Oak
Business Director: Ben Fielding
Account Director: Jen Murphy
Account Manager: Kate Taylor
Planner: Ben Fielding
Production Company: Goodoil Films
Director: Michael Spiccia
Executive Producer: Juliet Bishop
Cinematographer: Crighton Bone
Production Designer: Guy Treadgold
Editors: Drew Thompson / Michael Lonsdale
Post Production: Blackbird
VFX Supervisor: Nick Ponzoni
VFX Executive Producer: Anya Kruzmetra
Music Composition: Elliott Wheeler / Turning Studios
Audio Post: Franklin Rd