IRVINE, CALIF.â€”With members of the automotive press corps standing by in eager anticipation, Nissan revealed its all-new 2009 Maxima at the New York Auto Show in spectacular fashion. A 40-foot wide high definition video screen lit up with dramatic views of the car muscling through pristine all-black and all-white environments. Punchy graphics proclaimed its dual nature: â€œpowerfulâ€? yet â€œsophisticated,â€? â€œexhilaratingâ€? yet â€œelegant.â€? â€œThe 4-door sports carâ€? it said, â€œlives.â€?
The video, produced by Irvine, California-based M2G Media for the global marketing firm George P. Johnson, was the product of cutting edge filmmaking rivaling anything coming out of Hollywood. The video was shot in an aircraft hangar in Tustin with the car placed inside a giant half-black, half-white â€œPhotobubbleâ€? covering some 22,000 square feet. A state-of-the-art Red ONE digital camera recorded the imagery in crisp 4K. Post work, meanwhile, was carried out by an ideal world, Santa Ana, which performed first-pass color correction on the set using a laptop and and final 4K compositing in its studio using Appleâ€™s latest 8-core Mac Pros. The time frame for the project from the start of production through delivery spanned a mere seven weeks. â€œWe did everything in-house from concept to completion,â€? said M2G Mediaâ€™s Jeff Granbery, who produced the video. â€œIt was a large project for us and it gave us a chance to show capabilities on a large scaleâ€¦but there were a lot of challenges.â€?
The idea behind the video was to show the car in alternating black and white environments to underscore the point that the new Maxima combines the performance of a sports car with the comfort of a luxury sedan. Normally, the best way to shoot a car in a limbo environment would be to do so on a special effects stage. But in this case, Nissan wanted the car to be moving and making pinpoint maneuversâ€”something even a very large stage would have trouble accommodating. The solution came in the form of a Photobubble, a handmade plastic tube, custom built by a company of the same name, measuring the length of several football fields, supported by huge fans, and large enough to hold the Maxima, a pair of camera cars (one equipped with a Russian crane) and a fair sized stretch of tarmac. Half the bubble was black and the other half white to give the camera crew the proper backdrop for each scene. â€œIt looked like a giant Tylenol pill,â€? said Granbery. â€œIt allowed us to control the lighting and the environment, and saved us a lot of time in post production. There were no trees or buildings to remove. We had a smooth interior.â€? Lighting used inside the bubble was of a similarly gargantuan scale. The set up included a pair of 90,000 watt BeBee â€œsuper unitâ€? lights. â€œWe ran enough power in an hour to run a home for a year,â€? noted Granbery. â€œHowever, we made every effort to be â€˜green.â€™ Among other things, we ran as much gear as possible with biodiesel generators to lower our carbon footprint.â€? The Red ONE camera allowed director/DP Craig Barker to shoot the car at a resolution equivalent to film but at a substantially lower cost. More importantly, it allowed the production team and their clients to review material immediately after it was shot. That process was furthered enhanced by an ideal world. Artist Sharon Diaz used a laptop and RedCine Beta software to perform initial color grading as sequences were shot. â€œIt was instant gratification,â€? Granbery said. â€œThe gentleman who designed the car for Nissan was on the set and I was able to show him the car with basic color correction just a few minutes after it was shotâ€¦ it looked gorgeous.â€? By eliminating film processing, the Red ONE camera also saved crucial time. â€œThere is no way we could have met our deadline had we shot film,â€? Granbery observed. â€œThe negative would have had to be rushed out, weâ€™d have had to schedule a telecine transfer and then have it scanned to 4K. That would have cost us a week and we only had five weeks for post.â€? At an ideal worldâ€™s studio in Santa Ana the 4K files from the Red camera were transferred to the companyâ€™s RAID for editing. â€œThe offline was done in Final Cut using the 2K proxies,â€? explained an ideal world visual effects supervisor Robb Hart. â€œThe idea of using 2K to offline was amazingâ€¦and it went really well.â€? â€œOnce we had our offline locked, we created an XML of the timeline. We brought it back into RedCine and used it to output all of the files as 4K dpx files,â€? Hart added. â€œWe then took the dpx files into Shake.â€? Hart and his crew used Shake to create composites and to clean up the imagery, removing imperfections in the backgrounds caused by seams in the Photobubble and other factors. â€œShake was very well prepared for working with the 4K dpx files, and that was no surprise, as it comes from the feature world,â€? Hart said. â€œWe were able to bring in the 4K images and run them down into RAM. We could then work with the images with great freedom, scrolling and rotoscoping fluidly. We never felt that we were encumbered by the size of the files.â€? an ideal world also used Shake to create artificial camera moves. â€œOne shot in particular was created entirely in post,â€? Hart recalled. â€œThe original shot was a wide shot of the side of the car and we decided that what we really needed was a pan from the front backwards. We planned the camera move in Final Cut, then reproduced it in Shake and it looked beautiful. Because the final output medium was HD, the 4K gave us that much marginâ€”it was a tremendous tool.â€? For the final assembly, Hart output the dpx files in HD resolution, which he then imported back into Final Cut using Glue Tools. While it was the first time that an ideal world had tackled a project in 4K, Hart said that the workflow they employed performed exceptionally well. â€œIt was a very efficient route and it allowed us to preserve incredible color depth,â€? he said. â€œThe ruby red of the carâ€™s speedometer was so striking on set and it was really pleasing that we were able to preserve that to the end.â€? â€œWhen you work with technology as we do, these new tools are not too scary,â€? Hart added. â€œThey just open up new possibilities.â€? Both the 2009 Nissan Maxima launch video and a behind-the-scenes video showing how it was made can be viewed at
. In addition to the New York Auto Show, the Nissan Maxima video will appear at other automotive trade shows. It also screens at the Nissan "Live Setâ€? music events. M2G Media is located at 15215 Alton Parkway, Suite 300, Irvine California 92618. For more information, call (949) 502-7601 or visit
. an ideal world is located in the Artists Village of Santa Ana at 209 N. Bush St., Santa Ana, CA 92701. For more information, call (714) 953-9501 or visit