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Storm Over Frankfurt

27 September 2009 6,955 views No Comment

Back in August, The Mill gave me a new challenge. There was a new job coming in to create a viral for Audi and they wanted me to lead and act as VFX supervisor on the shoot. To be fair, I’d been pestering them to let me do this for ages, so it was great to be given the chance.

The brief was pretty simple. We had to create a lightning storm over Frankfurt and show a direct strike on a bridge over the river. We were told to “Just make it look awesome!”. Sure, we can do that!

I’ll write a post soon on how we made it. But for now, here’s the finished piece, as published on YouTube:

So it turns out that one of the best things about doing a viral is that you get to see some feedback from the public in the comments they leave on YouTube. Most people spotted it as a fake, and I really don’t mind as they were quite complimentary on the whole. If we’d kept it totally within the bounds of reality the piece wouldn’t have been so effective. The point of the viral was to make sure that it got everyone’s attention.

Other people totally bought it.

“Your all f******s. Why would someone fake something like this? What’s the point? Wow I faked a lightning storm for 100,000 views? This is most likely real. But the dudes who shot this are idiots for being in the water during s lightning storm”

One guy thought it was fake and started making assertions such as:

“actually, if you look closely, you can see they are not in the water – they are driving on a road at the riverside!”.

Nope, we were definitely in a boat! I think it’s amazing what people convince themselves they’re seeing.

This made me laugh too:

“Oh my god, is this REAL?

And can Audi protect me from lightning?


Finally, this one’s probably my favourite (which only makes sense if you’ve seen Total Recall):

“haha, is the governator on that boat? are they on their way to ze mines to turn on the reactor….damit cohagen you know the reactor makes air, why don’t you just turn it on? Quaid….Quaid….’start the reactor’ “

Overall the campaign was a success. At the time of writing this, the spot has had well over 288,000 hits, the vast majority of which happened in the first week of it being posted. There was a lot of press coverage too, particularly in the automotive press as you’d expect. It was all to publicise Audi’s new e-tron concept car. The e-tron has one battery, four electric motors, and an insane amount of torque which means it can go from standing to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds.

You can read The Mill’s article on the job here.

In addition to “Storm Over Frankfurt”, two other virals were shot. Minimal post production was needed by The Mill except for some rig removal work. They’re great spots and very funny, so I’ve embedded them below for your convenience. Enjoy!

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