Brand New School Bring Coke to LA Live

Brand New School recently created a series of profoundly energetic, decidedly athletic films for a new Coca-Cola installation. The films will be featured outdoors at L.A. Live the 5.6 million square foot Los Angeles complex that includes apartments, ballrooms, bars, concert theaters, restaurants, movie theaters and a 54-story hotel and condominium tower.

In addition to their formidable production and post production talent, Brand New School’s efforts on the project included design of a 50-foot long Coca-Cola logo and the casting of more than 40 highly-skilled athletes, including tennis players, skateboarders, yoga practitioners, and more.

“We were asked to create approximately two minutes of content for Coke,” says Jens Gehlhaar, Creative Director at Brand New School. “Specifically, the content is intended for an installation outside the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live. The theater is adjacent to the Staples Center and will be the site of the Grammy Awards. Outside the theater, there are large columns holding 14 huge, vertical screens, as well as one wide format screen over the entrance and another LED billboard on a neighboring building. It is a wacky assortment of 17 different-sized screens, but we have experience with these sorts of installations. The specific instructions from Coke gave us a lot of leeway. They wanted things very specific to the L.A. lifestyle, multicultural in look and feel, and not patronizing in any way. They wanted the focus to be on the active people involved.”

The short films reveal various athletes interacting with a huge white Coca-Cola logo backed by a special purple-red-orange gradient that breaks with the traditional Coca-Cola red in favor of a more L.A.-inspired hue.

Supported with engaging music composed by Machinehead, golfers, soccer and tennis players, wall climbers, and many more athletes all interact very physically with the immense logo. In an age when so much entertainment is achieved through computer-generated models and background, the logo is all the more astounding because it is real.

“After careful consideration, we realized that it would be more authentic to have our live actors interact with a real sculpture,” says Gehlhaar. “It is 15 feet high and more than 50 feet wide and everybody was extremely impressed with it, so much so that Coke insisted on keeping it. We did a timelapse film of its construction, just to commemorate the act.”

The engineering of the structure would eventually be put to the ultimate test, as the cast of some 40 skateboarders, climbers, and others climbed it, jumped on it, ran into it, etc.

“The logo never faltered,” says Gehlhaar proudly. “It was insanely sturdy in the end, especially considering what we put it through. We used no wires on our athletes, so there was no interaction or impact that was faked. It was all real action. It’s filming this kind of elegant, completely realistic live action that has given Brand New School such a great reputation for these kinds of jobs. Also it is rare for an installation job of this complexity to be produced in-camera; traditionally the solution would be more animation-based. There are very few companies that can pull both off.”

The job was not entirely without technological aspects however. The entire two-day shoot was shot against a blue, rather than red, background, and the final edits held more than 70 shots requiring significant keying and compositing work by the Brand New School team, all of which were then composited into a signature gradient environment.

Behind The Scenes – The Making of Coca Cola LA Live

“This was a very challenging and unusual job, but those are the ones we are most excited about,” says Gehlhaar. “Brand New School is getting very good at alternative media installations, and we are eagerly anticipating more opportunities like this. We want to be a market leader in this area.”

With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Brand New School is a bicoastal directing collective working in all fields of commercial art. Ever evolving, the studio continues to cultivate a sense of wonder and exploration. For its artists and clients alike, BNS represents an opportunity to play at work, to conduct experiments in image-making, and to feed the inspiration that drives the industry.

Brand New School:Jens Gehlhaar & Ludovic Schorno

Shot on stage in Los Angeles

Production & post production:
Brand New School, Los Angeles
David Wolfson
Director of Photography:
Ottar Gudnason
Assistant Director:
Patrick Finnegan
Key Grip:
Steve Strausser
Vision Scenery Corporation
Christine Wada

Wakako Ichinose
Still Photographer (banners):
Ian Brook

Graeme Pereira
Flame Artist:
Philip Ineno
Post producer:
Craig Houchin

Mark Gethin, MPC, Santa Monica

The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta

Installation: Machine Head, Los Angeles
Montage: Beyond Music Library


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