When creative production house Thackwell & Whittaker was invited to pitch for pay-TV broadcaster SuperSport’s Olympics 2012 campaign, they came up with the concept of using past Olympians.
Says Gareth Whittaker: “Our concept is based around the beauty of the stories that have touched the Olympic Games in the past. The next step was to identify some iconic Olympians to re-tell their magical stories.
“In this campaign you will see Ehtiopian long distance runner Haile Gebreselassie, American swimmer Mark Spitz, South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, British rower Sir Steve Redgrave, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, runner Vivian Cheruiyot and footballers Victor Ikpeba and Daniel Amokachi, among others.’
The first shoot was with South African swimmer Penny Heyns in a studio at SuperSport in Johannesburg on 4 April, while the final shoot with Sir Steve Redgrave took place in the UK on 1 June. In the course of these two months Whittaker and his team shot in Austin, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, London, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Eldoret in western Kenya.
“Filming in Ethiopia was tricky as construction work was in progress next to the hotel we were shooting in. Thankfully, Haile Gebrselassie was very accommodating and came back at six o’clock the same evening so we could shoot without background drilling and hammering. Filming on the African continent is fantastic; filming African heroes in their hometown is all the more incredible,’ notes Wittaker.
The campaign was shot on Canon EOS 7D (shooting 1920 x 1080 at 25 frames per second) with a Carl Zeiss – Planar T* 1,4 / 85 mm ZF.2 lens on a Nikon to EOS mount.
As to which Olympian he personally found most inspiring, Whittaker responds: “Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry is an African Olympic legend. The way she inspired the people of Zimbabwe during a difficult time in her nation’s history, is to me, what the games are all about. I am inspired that she continued to represent the people of Zimbabwe at a time when it would have been a lot easier for her to represent the US. She is one of my sporting heroes.’
Only limited digital visual effects (VFX) were required in post-production. This was expedited in-house at Thackwell & Whittaker.
The theme music for the campaign is Coldplay’s Fix You.
Screen Africa magazine – July 2012