Automotive Intelligence - the web for automotive professionals and car enthusiasts
May 23, 2007
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 didn’t 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.”
All Photos: Audi
(May 21, 2007)