Mercedes SLS Shot at 160MPH in 3D

Posted on Jul 15, 2010 by Alex Fice

Pursuit Europe’s Toureg with Pursuit Crane and Mercedes SLSIn© Word is an agency that sells large scale editorially ideas to companies that usually feature high end motorsport and glamorous locations. The idea is to bring together journalist talent to come up with the ideas, then pitch those ideas to broadcasters, newspapers and media companies. The ROI is the coverage gained for the client. It’s almost like watching the features on Top Gear but without the cherished presenters.

In© Word have clients like Mercedes and Jay Leno. Recently they made a film in LA with Leno on a secret racetrack in the hills driving a new AMG Mercedes SLS. They put the video online and got six million hits, voila everyone’s happy. Director Jeremy Hart talks about a new film with Mercedes in the Isle Of Man: “Mercedes asked for an idea with the same car here. We came up with the idea of getting permission to close off part of the TT Motorcycle course on the Isle of Man. Before we decided on the ex-racing driver David Coulthard we did think about a couple of rock star drivers, but Coulthard is now doing a lot of BBC stuff.

“We hope the Sunday Times will run a piece on what we did, Fifth Gear on Channel 5 are running a segment on what we did, the Metro Newspaper is doing stuff, a lot of editorial is coming out of it. Sky TV 3D are going to run seven or eight minute edits on the new 3D channel next month.

“The cutting edge bit of it is the 3D rig we put on the second SLS. We fitted two SI2K cameras to the SLS  shooting the first SLS in a chase sequence at 160MPH on this mountain road. It just looks amazing, they’re within about three or four feet of each other doing three miles a minute!

Extreme Facilites built this unique rig on the chased SLS shooting the chaser car“There will a number of different edits coming from it. Mercedes Benz Korea for instance were having their SLS launch in Seoul and featured some edits from our shoot on an 18 x 8 metre 3D LED screen. We’re then doing a seven or eight minute edit for Sky”. LG will also show the film at point of sale in 300,000 stories in 100 countries.

“The shoot was originally going to be 2D but we thought about 3D as there were a lot of production outfits in London that said it was possible.

“The reality was that we only had six hours to shoot it as that was the time we had the road closed for. So we decided that rather giving a load of cash to another production company that we’d pull together our own team. So we used HFS (Helicopter Film Services) for the helicopter and the pursuit vehicle, we used Extreme Facilities who had experience in on-board cameras for movies and TV shows, they came up with a rig to fit the cameras to the back of the SLS. We worked with Axis On Sight for stereography, cameras, rigging and the post, Inition supplied quite a lot of extra kit and stereographers for it and we brought in Geoff Boyle as the DoP because of his expertise in 3D on the film Dark Country, Jonathan Smiles was the DIT and looked after all the data. The director was Pete Woods who hadn’t worked in 3D before.

The TT track was closed for six hours to allow the shoot“So it was pretty cutting edge as we were shooting 3D at 160mph. We’re now planning to set-up an extreme 3D offering and we’ll pull together the expertise we had on this particular film and take it to market. So if you want to shoot a 3D film with F1 cars for instance or planes, roller coasters, anything that pushes the envelope. That’s the next step. The other really important thing is the time frame we were able to shoot it in. Up to 10 mins of finished footage in six hours using four different rigs on the side of a mountain on the Isle of Man. What we want to show is that 3D has the potential to become more mainstream. The first edit for Korea was done within four days. So very fast turnaround, the budget was very competitive as well and to do it in extreme circumstances was very exciting. We can offer the film to any global 3D broadcaster.”

Geoff Boyle was was overall DP on the shoot: “I was brought in to this shoot as the overall DP and stereo consultant/stereographer. I worked with Pete & Jeremy to establish how we should do this and who we should get to supply facilities.

I worked with Frame Forge 3D Previz software to try and setup some camera moves around the car in advance. We then tested at Dunsfold airfield, the Top Gear base.

Jeremy Braben of Pursuit and Andrew Schaale of Extreme Facilities were there as well as Campbell Goodwille from Inition. We tested mounting the Element Technica DC rig on the Pursuit vehicle with great success, the moves worked and it was looking good, Andrew managed some extremely stable rigs for us and we discussed how much farther we could take it!

This lead us to the Isle of Man with Pursuit providing their chase vehicle with its largest crane arm and a helicopter equipped with a Nettman Stab C stabilized head. This head was used on both the helicopter and the Pursuit vehicle, equipped with REDs on the Helicopter and a ET DC rig on the pursuit vehicle. An additional DC rig was operated by Felix Forrest in his MKV-AR rig.

The DC rigs were supplied by Inition and OnSight each coming with its own stereographer, Campbell in the case on Inition and Geoff Harrison in the case on OnSight, as I’d worked with both before things went surprisingly smoothly!

We had hoped to rig a DC mirror rig on the back of one of the SLS but decided that we’d probably lose our mirror that way so Andrew did a great rig for us with side by side SI’s.

Jonathan Smiles was inundated with data, he was based in the railway signal box along the TT circuit and all material was shipped to him on a regular basis for backup and copying. Of course the copying on all the material went on well into the night!

Although the material was to be used in a number of ways we shot everything to conform with Sky’s pretty conservative rules. This meant that in post we needed to push the convergence back to make the cars “pop” more for the version that was to go into stores. Of course as we had shot everything parallel and oversize this was very easy to do.”

Inition are gaining a reputation for 3D in the UK and Andy Mills commented on their part in this shoot: “We provided production services which were one of the main camera systems and technical expertise, stereography. Our SI2Ks went on the Pursuit Crane and the vehicle mounted stuff. It was good collaboration actually, ourselves and Axis On Sight are probably the two leading suppliers of 3D and we’re trying to pool our resources on a number of things.

“I think in 3D there will be more collaboration between companies. We run an SI2K system here but we only have one complete system. There are very few cameras that you could have done that with, really small but high quality.

“This is a fully integrated 3D camera system. Two separate mini-heads with a recorder and monitor. You’ve got all the 3D previews modes you need and instant 3D playback. It’s the way forward for 3D cameras. It all hinges on the Silicon DVR software that we helped develop.”

David Coulthard was chosen to drive the SLS over some rock star drivers

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