The new Liberty television commercial, Paycheck, takes the viewer on an
emotional journey across four decades, through the eyes of a pensioner.
The ad, which was conceptualised by Grant Jacobson from advertising agency
FoxP2, and executed by Jeremy Holden of Riverstone Films, cleverly conveys the
true-life story of an unfortunate pensioner – Liberty founder Donald Gordon’s father,
Holden says that the brief from FoxP2 Johannesburg was to create a commercial
that remained true to the recent legacy of Liberty commercials.
“The story was simple and powerful… Grant was very clear on what he wanted to
achieve with the commercial. However, the process was incredibly collaborative,’
The commercial starts in 1965 in Johannesburg, where we meet Nathan Gordon,
struggling to purchase his monthly groceries on his pension cheque. After a lifetime
spent working hard, Gordon retired on a paycheck of just R28.00 (roughly R1 942 in
today’s money). His son watched his father suffer, unable to afford retirement,
which led him to introduce Liberty Umbrella Fund in South Africa – allowing
businesses of any size to offer their employees a comfortable retirement. The
commercial ends with a pensioner in present-day Johannesburg, shopping with a
smile on her face.
A time-lapse sequence was used to efficiently display the passing of time. “The
agency wanted a single shot to transport us from 1965 Johannesburg to
Johannesburg today, where we meet the second pensioner,’ Holden explains.
Having previously worked on the Liberty Shoes commercial, Searle Street Post was
contracted to handle the post-production once again. Heino Henning, VFX producer
and supervisor at Searle Street Post explains that the time-lapse sequence was
constructed by a combination of in-camera and post. “Riverstone Films consulted us
during pre-production to solve the technical challenges a time-lapse like this poses…
We brought Erik Kruger from Luma on board to help plan the shoot and camera
moves, as well as to liaise with the motion control camera operator to realise
“Erik used Softimage to create a CGI previz (previsualisation) of the time-lapse
sequence, based on the actual dimensions of the set,’ Henning continues. “The
wonderful thing about motion control is that it allows you to replicate the exact
same camera move, with different performances and different props that can be
“We opted to shoot at 25 frames a second, which results in super long takes with
good edges, ideal for isolation and compositing. A big part of this project was to
create subtly different motion blur effects to apply to various elements during the
final compositing stages,’ Henning concludes.
Naomi Anderlini from Searle Street Post was the lead compositor working in Flame
and was assited by VFX artists Graeme Armstrong and Theuns van Rensburg.
DOP Werner Maritz, shot the bulk of the commercial on a single lens using the Red
camera and a motion control rig in a warehouse that had been turned into a large
studio. “The technical complexity of the project and treatment that searched for as
much to be in-camera as possible, required that we shoot in a controlled
environment. The street that the camera travels down, is one continuous set that
was constructed,’ says Holden.
By Chanelle Ellay