May 21, 2007
Source: Audi AG
- Not a trick: two Audi A5 models steer a stunt kite
- Unusual shoot in the Namibian desert
- Music for the 40-second ad composed by the band Yello
It might have needed a bit of a warm-up but then everything ran like clockwork. Two Audi A5 models steer a stunt kite in the new Kite advert, which will be broadcast on free TV from 25 May. This is not a trick, all the images are real, says Jagoda Becic, Head of Advertising at Audi. Authenticity, she says, was the essential requirement. If it hadnt been possible to navigate the kite by car in reality, then we wouldnt have implemented the idea. It was indeed possible and led to spectacular images. They were filmed in the Namibian desert which showcases the Audi A5s highly accurate driving characteristics in a striking manner. The message of the film, which will be aired in a 30- and 40-second version, is Driving Redesigned. The Swiss group Yello provided a new type of music for the A5 advert.
For Gerhard Kiefer, who manages all Audi promotional films, it was also clear from the beginning that: Honesty is a point of honour. We couldnt have produced well-known adverts such as the ski jump or the wakeboarder if our vehicle technology had not been equal to the task. This also holds true for the stunt kite scenes. Nevertheless, intensive preparations were required. Audi and the Berlin advertising agency HEIMAT came up with the idea of the unusual crowd-puller last autumn. The initial tests were carried out with two Audi models towing a stunt kite on an airfield in Manching, Bavaria. Thats when we realised that we could not just start driving and expect the kite to fly straight away, says Kiefer.
Speed, wind conditions, the size and material of the stunt kite, the length and thickness of the control ropes and, of course, a professional navigator: these were all aspects that had to be considered and tested.
Audi found the perfect kite pilot in 20-year-old Marcel Mehler from Velbert (North Rhine-Westphalia), multiple German champion and European vice-champion in kiting. For him and his parents Ilona and Thomas Mehler, almost everything revolves around flying stunt kites. The Mehlers not only provided valuable information on handling the sensitive piece of sports equipment but later also drove the A5 models during shooting in Namibia.
Three days of practice was also carried out on an airfield in this Southern African country prior to the shoot, in order to familiarise the team with local climate conditions. What had worked well in Germany did not work at all in the African desert at first. No matter what we did, the kite crashed immediately but we didnt know why, stated Kiefer. Nerves were building because the day of the shoot was drawing closer and closer. The mystery was solved on the evening before filming began. It was the final attempt before darkness fell, he recalls.
Wind conditions in the desert were completely different to what they had been during testing in Germany. The wind was very strong and blew from all possible directions, which made it difficult to control the kite. In the end, the problem was resolved by using a stronger tow rope and a heightened speed. The stunt kite stabilised at 70 kilometres per hour. Armed with this knowledge, shooting was no longer a problem.
The first take could finally begin in the desert at Swakopmund and the long, painstaking preparations now paid off. It worked on first attempt. The two Audi A5 models got the stunt kite in the air and pulled it behind them for two kilometres, travelling at a speed of 70 kilometres per hour. Had it not been for the director shouting cut, the kite would have flown further. No-one has managed this before, reported Kiefer from the shoot location. Not a single stunt kite crashed during the three days of filming in Namibia.
The kite, which has a wingspan of four metres, was attached to a specially constructed tubular support using two 100-metre ropes. The support was then attached to the two coupés.
The spectacular images created during this driving and flying exercise were captured by three 35-millimetre cameras, a special camera crane and a helicopter. 440 minutes of film footage was created in all, which was then used to compile the 40-second advert.
The crew consisting of 80 people filmed for up to 16 hours a day at temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius. No wonder that the 400 bottles of water and 60 litres of juice consumed per day were just as gratefully received as the 80 bottles of SPF 100 sun cream that were emptied during filming.
The results of this unusual shoot can already be seen on the new Audi tv brand channel at www.audi.com/tv. Kite will be broadcast on free TV starting from 25 May and includes music composed by the Swiss group Yello. Dieter Meier and Boris Blank, the creative minds behind Yello, are seen as pioneers of electronic music and have created a progressive sound composition to accompany the advert.
Hans-Christian Schwingen, Head of Marketing Communication at Audi, comments: The Audi A5 opens up a completely new model series for us, combining excellent design with a unique driving experience. We want to express this with this advert and throughout the entire campaign.
An overview of the A5 advert
- Name of advert: Kite
- Length: 30 seconds and 40 seconds
- TV launch: 25 May 2007
- Directed by: Daniel Barber (London)
- Camera: John Lynch (Barcelona)
- Production: Tempomedia Filmproduktion GmbH; 440 minutes of footage was filmed
- Post-production and 3D animation: Glassworks, London
- Agency: HEIMAT, Berlin
- Music: Yello
- Duration of shoot: Three weeks of preparation, three days of filming in Namibia (February 2007)
- Location: Namibia, in a desert area near Swakopmund with temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
- Team: 80 crew members, mostly from Germany, England, Namibia and South Africa.
- Vehicles: Two Audi A5 3.0 TDI models in Ice Silver, metallic.
- Stunt kite flier: Marcel Mehler, multiple German champion and European vice-champion in kiting. He was supported by his parents Ilona and Thomas Mehler on location.
- Stunt kite model: 75 stunt kites with a wingspan of four metres were specially produced for the shoot, including 4,800 metres of rope in various thicknesses (2-10 millimetres); used in lengths of 50 and 100 metres
- Photo Gallery: “Kite”
- Web Video: A5 “Kite” Commercial (Quicktime)
- Web Video: Making of the A5 “Kite” Commercial (Quicktime)