French telecommunications service provider Orange is illuminating its ever-growing
presence in South Africa with a new TV commercial to kick off the New Year.
After successfully launching a local online store in 2014, Orange’s 2015 plans
include opening a number of branded retail stores nationwide beginning in Cape
Town, and launching as an internet service provider. The spot was conceptualised
by creative agency Publicis Conseil in Paris.
The ad, which was produced by Cape-Town based Bird Films with producer Alan
Lawson at the helm, portrays a build-up to the 2015 New Year’s Eve countdown. In
a colourful parade of culture and diversity, masses of people are drawn together
from dusty rural roads, the stairwells of apartment blocks and the corners of the
city to sing, dance and usher in a New Year.
Moments before the clock strikes midnight a power outage casts a gloomy shadow
on their celebrations until, one after another, their phone’s light up with New Year’s
text messages. The once still and dark crown begins to twinkle with spots of light,
and the party rages on. As Lawson explains: “This spot was more about emotions of
people coming together and the drama of celebration.’
Shot in July 2014 in Durban and surrounds, the commercial includes approximately
200 extras which form the massive crowd that fills the town square and spills out
into tributary alleys and side streets.
According to Lawson, this effect was created using crowd replication and plate shots
– techniques applied in post-production by the visual effects team which entail
layering and replicating footage of a small group of people onto background shots of
a scene’s location to create the illusion of a larger crowd. The grade was done in
Cape Town at BlackGinger using Baselight, but all VFX work and post-production
was executed by Prodigious Post-Production in Paris.
Lawson adds that director of photography Eugenio Galli chose to shoot the
commercial using an Alexa XT camera with a Cooke Xtal Anamorphic lens as it
offered RAW capabilities for plate shots and (using its 4:3 sensor) was able to give
a cinematic widescreen look to the footage.
Additional key crew members who worked on the production included director Grant
de Sousa, first assistant director Neil Uys, steadicam operator Michael Carstensen,
first assistant cameraman Garth Scholtz, grip Thomas Wahl, gaffer Bruce Thomas,
art director Margaux du Preez, stylist Allison Basset and editor Christiaan
By Carly Barnes