The Mill have posted the new long-awaited Levis ad directed by Ringan Ledwidge for BBH. ?‚àö√ë‚àö‚â§Dangerous Liaisons’s, which launches the brand’s spring summer collection.
We begin with a young girl dressed in 19th century Levi’s work wear nervously waiting for her lover. He knocks and is invited in, and the couple proceed to undress. As they pull off their shirts and jeans both reveal more updated versions of themselves – he cleaner cut wit different hair and clothing, she similarly transformed. The spot is backed by the haunting strains of the Little Annie tune strange love, which Ledwidge says he found, rather nerve-rackingly, at the 11th hour.
“Bit of a tricky one really,” Ledwidge said of the spot. “I think my biggest concern before attacking the technical side of it was that I felt for it to be a stand-out ad. The key (like all great Levi’s commercials) was the casting and that the relationship between the couple drew you in and in itself was exciting to watch. That way I felt the transitions would be smoother and more surprising. It had to be story about a couple not clever transitions.”
Shot over two long days, one 22 hours, Ledwidge kept as much as possible in camera. “For instance, the guy pulling of his wig whilst pulling off his shirt to reveal short hair. Whipping off bedspreads by hand whilst the camera panned away so that when it panned back it had changed. Obviously there was more complicated stuff but the guys at The Mill told me I could shoot it the way I wanted ‘loose’ and that through planning we could make the more complicated parts work by doing before and after plates.”
The initial concept for Dangerous Liaisons was to create a series of scenarios which showed the Levis product through various decades in history. The different senarios were agreed before The Mill got the script, so the challenge for the team here was how to show these transitions, but with minimal obvious visual effects. It was agreed that there should be at combination of at least 1 or 2 shots with visual effects and some with whip pans or off camera changes.
Once Ringan and BBH had decided which scenes were to be transitions, The Mill set about shooting tests that showed this effect in ways that would create a trick to the eye, but not necessarily be so obvious as to say: ‘how did they do that?’. As with all work that Ringan undertakes, the effect should never over power the narrative, so with the two scenes agreed, The Mill tried to create a look that would appear as seamless as possible. Hair and make up, the art department and also Wardrobe elements were critical in helping to achieve these transitional shots.
On set, Mill VFX Supervisor Phil Crowe soon realised that the tests we had shot were acceptable as static camera shots, but it became obvious that the best way to achieve the desired effect was to get the actors to repeat their moves as no two moves could ever be exactly the same. Near but never exact. Following this the team back at The Mill would find the right pieces of film to make the two shots work and realise Ringan idea for the piece.
The Mill started working on these two shots as early as possible after the shoot, and gave the Editor and Agency two ?‚àö√ë‚àö‚â§near-finished’s transitions after only five days of work. The team at The Mill finessed these shots ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® also replacing reflections in mirrors – then worked on correcting the grade in Baselight. This was no easy task as very subtle changes were required all the way through the spot to achieve the desired effect, without feeling obvious or forced, to the naked eye. Again, all the elements within the spot, Art Department, Hair, Make Up and Wardrobe all contributed to sublimely blend with the Post Effects to create the finished spot.
Dangerous Liaisons is one of Ledwidge’s first ads since he finished work on his feature Gone. The film, a thriller about a British couple traveling in the Australian outback, is due for release on March 9 in the UK.
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