Utopic editor Suzie Moore has been tasked with cutting a two-minute film for Nissan called Red Thread, out of agency inVNT, that plays on large screens at Worldwide Auto Shows in six cities across the globe. Each show offers a different stage, screen size and shape. For example, the screen in Frankfurt is rectangular while at the Detroit show the screen is 6K and wraps around.
This is Moore’s third season working on the film, the purpose of which is to grab attention at an event packed with competing auto manufacturers revealing concept cars and new technologies to the press. The prepro started in August 2015 and delivery of content began at the end of September and will run through April 2016. Moore and her team are on call day and night throughout the project to trouble shoot and make sure the film plays as expected in each city.
Chicago-based Utopic’s job is shepherding the large-screen format film from prepro to graphics to edit. Moore and team will be in constant contact with the Nissan production teams in all six cities — Frankfurt, Tokyo, Detroit, Geneva, New York and Beijing.
We reached out to editor Moore to find out more about the project, her work and the specific challenges of a project like this one.
What was the project shot on, who shot it and who directed?
We received finished/generic masters for the spots that we used in the film. When the film features executives speaking about the cars, it was typically shot on Red at 4K and directed by the creatives from InVNT.
Interviews were filmed at Nissan’s corporate offices in Japan with the help of TBWA/Hakuhodo. They were also shot in La Jolla, California, at the Nissan Design Center and in various locations in Europe and South America with the help of the Nissan Newsroom team. We source content/commercial spots from all over the world. It’s interesting to see how the brand is represented in South Africa, China, Russia and Brazil.
What did you use for the edit and can you talk about resolutions?
I use Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s the perfect program for this material because I set my sequence setting to whatever size the screen is. For example, the Detroit screen is 5760×896 — so long and thin. Coming from the standard 16×9 rectangle, this is a totally different window, which necessitates a different process. Especially because the material that we are using is 16×9. So the challenge is taking all these parts and making them into a new whole while maintaining the integrity of the brand story that we are telling for each specific region.
How did you work with the client on the edit? Were you mostly left alone to do the edit or was the client with you?
We’re on our own a lot. The agency comes in for a few days in August when we brainstorm. We then have a kickoff for each show about six weeks out, followed by conference calls and postings. The creative/account teams for InVNT are always on the move. When we supervised one of the interview shoots, the shoot was in Japan, the creative was in Russia, the producer was in Detroit, and I was in Chicago. The global reach that this project has is one of the reasons why I love it.
What were the challenges of working on a project of this scale?
As mentioned above, while I do love the global reach, the time zones present a challenge. Japan is 14 hours ahead, so that shoot I mentioned was at 4am for me (6pm Japan).
For the Sao Paulo video last year, we collaborated with a CG team in Japan. This also presented a language barrier. I would get emails first in Japanese, then we would have a translator translate.
The biggest challenge though, by far, is the edit itself. Making 16×9 footage fill a 6K screen without blowing it up, then delivering the final piece in puzzle pieces to be reassembled on site because the screen is different every for show — so it’s never the same video twice. It might have similar elements, but it’s always changing, so it’s a challenge to keep evolving it and making it better and better each time.
The edit at times is layers upon layers and nests within nests. I feel like sometimes I hit the “end of the equation.” Like what I want to accomplish pushes the program to its limit. It’s a different kind of editing… very process driven. The creativity comes once I figure out the process for the edit.
What kinds of VFX were involved and how many shots?
We decide on the graphic treatment at the beginning of each year in August. We typically have a mix of 2D and 3D elements that we use which are created in Maxon Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. Last year the concept was based on the lines of the car, so we used 3D strokes and lens flares along with some 3D shape elements. This year, it’s 3D tendrils and chevrons. So these graphics elements open and close the film and are used as transition moments throughout.
Other credits on the film include Yessian, which provided sound design, music and audio post.