Avolution, 2011


Booooom! It’s a photo shoot with an explosion, thanks to Avolution.

It was a fine day in early-mid of 2011. Bates, one of HM Sampoerna’s advertising agencies, called me to come to their office to have a brief of new Avolution campaign. Avolution is a slim clove cigarette from Sampoerna, whose target audience is mainly young people in big cities. It always has a bold, innovative, edgy and out-of-the-box personality. Let’s say, a kind of brand that fits me so well ;).

Sampoerna has been my client for 10 years. And I have known Bates for many years. It’s an agency that I always like very much. So it was such a pleasure to meet up with the creative team again. When they showed me the layout, I was thrilled. Awesome, I thought. The idea of the new campaign was to show an edgy reborn of ‘you’ through an dramatic, explosive transformation. It was about a rebellious attitude, with a class. I instantly fell in love with the idea. It was a kind of layout that many photographers would have been dying to do. It was technically challenging, vibrant, full of excitement and had a real wow-effect.

The preparation was pretty short and simple though. My team contacted some model agencies and started casting them, while I concentrated more on the technical aspect of the shooting. After some discussions with some post production experts, I decided to combine photography with 3D rendering to create the shattered pieces in the picture, instead of using Photoshop digital imaging (thanks to 3d artist Alcy Muluk).

I shot the model with really slow shutter speed, 0.5 to 1 second, on a tripod. The lighting was a combination of flash and continuous light from the modelling light of the flash heads. The reason using continuous light was to record the movement during the long exposure. The result was a blurry effect around the models, reflected on the lit part of the models while they were jumping and moving. The sharp part was made with the flash.

The original shots of the movement

These are the shots for 3D modelling guidance postures

The key was the combination of right poses and timing. I had to experiment with many movements and pressed the shutter at the best moments to create nicely composed ‘freeze’ effect. The movement of the wardrobe was also very important, as it might create not very pleasant composition if I didn’t get it right. The whole shooting took about 4-5 hours, which was considered amazingly fast by the ad agency.

The next challenge was the 3D post production. It involved a lot of discussion about angles, materials (plastic, steel, carbon etc), directions of the explosions, lighting effects and so on. I always enjoyed working with great people with different skills.

After the 3D was done, last but not least, we still worked on Photoshop to add the background patterns, erase-and-add little fragments of the shattered-pieces effects and enhance the overall color and tonality.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present you, Avolution’s Crosstroversy and Liberaction!


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