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Nerve Films Lincoln “Elevator” Commercial Sparks NFL Banner Campaign


Boutique Hermosa Beach Shop Outbid Major Post Players To Deliver Eye-Catching National Ad on “Aggressive� Deadline

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif., Nov. 2, 2007 ―

Nerve Films


Ash Beck

and his team are taking a moment to stop and smell the roses now that the studio’s


commercial for


is well into its’ successful fall run.  “We had to be ready for the September 6 NFL season kickoff,� recalls Beck, who served as visual effects supervisor, designer and co-compositor for the 30-second spot directed by

The Cronenweths

.  “It was an insane deadline – we had one month from the time we were awarded the project to completion, including live action.�

Beck’s Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based Nerve Films is known throughout the industry for its ability to deliver spectacular visual media under intense deadline pressure without compromising the creativity of the client’s concept.  This is based partly on the company’s human-scale size – which Beck says allows for tight handling – and an open-studio philosophy.  The latter enabled Jim Stano, Senior Vice-President of Y&R – Team Detroit, and Jim Mahu, Vice President Associate Creative Director of Y&R  – Team Detroit, to take up residency on-set and enjoy hands-on involvement.  “Because we’re small, the client doesn’t have to navigate the levels of bureaucracy you find at most VFX studios; there are no barriers to me and the creative heart of our operation,� says Beck.  “There’s a lot of conversation, a lot of back-and-forth.�  In fact, the finished product was enthusiastically received by Y&R – Team Detroit.

The “Elevator� spot is a dynamic, incandescent visualization of
Lincoln’s “Reach Higher� campaign in which the

Lincoln MKZ



ascend to the pinnacle of an urban landscape, rising atop two transparent, rotating cylindrical structures.  These self-generating skyscrapers boost the shimmering vehicles ever higher, until the two emerge through retracting domes to claim their position on top of the world.

When he was called upon by the directorial team of The Cronenweths – he’s been collaborating with brother Jeff Cronenweth for nearly 12 years – to oversee visual effects for the spot, Beck envisioned a minimalist approach. “I said to Jeff and Tim, ‘Let’s do something pristine and beautiful, with fantastic light and reflections.’  We based everything on the cars’ innate hero angles – the point of view from which the car appears most iconic.  Then we created the surrounding space in CGI to complement those angles.  In the edit, I was able to control the pace of the cars’ rotation and ascension to achieve this very fluid upward movement.�

This fluidity reflects Beck’s efforts to de-emphasize both the mechanical underpinnings of the automobiles and the device sending them skyward.  “When we have the ability to present a more organic view, we do,� he says.  “If the forms are overly structured, the eye doesn’t believe it.  In the Lincoln spot, even the platform the cars are sitting on – the mechanism responsible for their vertical movement – has organic undertones.  We went with natural shapes wherever possible and relied on 45-degree angles, which Frank Lloyd Wright used throughout his designs.�

It’s no surprise that Beck is a fan of Wright as much of his work bears the influence of architecture.  A fine-art photographer as well as a Clio Award-winning digital-effects wizard (and live-action director, visual artist and industrial designer), he reveals that the matte painting lending depth to the “Elevator� cityscape “uses buildings I shot all over the world and adapted for this project.�

With the Lincoln “Elevator� project, Beck once more proved himself equally adept at art and science.  Viewers of the spot do indeed see “something pristine and beautiful, with fantastic light and reflections.�  Underlying that, however, is a technical apparatus that encompasses not only digital sleight of hand and matte painting but also optics, dome-structure studies and the fabrication of materials.  Additionally, every shot was comprised of more than 40 composite layers of precisely balanced detail, which was pushed further in the corresponding 4K print campaign created by Beck.

Still, it’s neither art nor science that Beck credits with producing such an exciting, effective commercial at nearly the speed of light; it’s relationships.  His relationship with The Cronenweths, with whom he communicates so fluently that precious days are shaved off their shared production schedule.  His relationship with Y&R – Team Detroit, whom his own team kept briefed via painstaking previsualizations.  “We made sure they were able to say, ‘I get it,’� he notes, “which allowed them to report to the client with complete understanding of where we were in the process.� And perhaps, most importantly, his relationship with his Nerve Films family.

“We don’t work nine to five; we put in whatever hours are necessary to get the job done,� Beck says, “which means you really have to like the people you’re working with.  I think we get so much repeat business because our clients know that, aside from our ability to take their concept from A to Z and provide them with the highest level of artistry and finishing in the business, we’re good people to work with.�  Beck is a consummate collaborator, constantly highlighting the work of others (including production designer Brian Branstetter, compositor Greg Scribner and CGI artist Rusty Ippolito).  He describes Nerve’s organizational culture as “molten creativity, where everything flows together and perpetuates itself.�

His zeal for his work and commitment to Nerve’s clients suggests a lifestyle more than a career.  “Each project we do is an extension of the studio,� Beck reasons.  “And the studio is an extension of us as individuals coming together for a greater creative good.  I think people come to Nerve because they know that when they do, the entire studio will be working toward a single cause, and that cause is their project.�

Nerve Films: Everything Visual.