The door to a modern flat opens as Manchester City's Mario Balotelli casually invites the viewer in like an episode of MTV's Cribs. As the star football player introduces the viewer to his space, keys, chains and other objects float past him in the hall. He makes his way to a set of billiard balls and effortlessly touches the cue ball, sending the rest spinning slowly and gracefully in the air.
He walks through a hallway, bouncing a football gracefully on the tip of his finger, passing a beautiful woman in the hall. He grabs a pair of shades floating nearby and puts them on. The filter on the shades subtly trans- ports Balotelli into a custom-designed shoe display closet, where we see the anti-gravity source coming from the new Nike Air Max Lunars.
The spot is instantly recognizable as 1stAveMachine Director Asif Mian's style, with his ability to ground narrative in reality, with just enough fantasy to make the surreal feel possible.
"The guys at Nike came to us directly with a great script and were also open to collaboration in the details." says Mian. "I did a ton of research on films made by astronauts of how an object free-spins in zero-gravity. In order to make the effects believable, it was necessary to develop an instinct for the right speed and move- ment. I love to experiment with different in-camera rigs, and combine that with 3D enhancement to create an effect that transcends medium." Mian's science and sculpture background often come through in his work, and this latest piece is no exception.
The live-action, done with Stink, and post-production were both done in London. Visual effects were done at 1stAveMachine's new London boutique studio, opened this year with Technical Director Michael Merron. "Although we've worked together on several projects, this was a nice one to break-in the London location." Merron says. "There were quite a few challenging shots in the piece, with a lot of physics that needed pay- ing attention to. Creating perfect reflections of the environment onto floating, spinning 3D objects took a great deal of calculation and patience to get just right."
1stAveMachine's co-founder, Serge Patzak, speaks highly of the relationship with Merron, "Michael is an incredibly talented artist. He has been a part of our team in various capacities on projects for several years. We're thrilled to bring it to the next level by opening the new studio in London with him. The Nike Lunar spot demonstrates not only Michael's discipline and attention to detail, but also the strength of Asif and Michael's work together."
Mian is happy with the outcome. "Nike is a brand that I've wanted to work with for a long time. The process with the creatives was seamless from the first meeting, and I couldn't have asked to work with a better team."
Asif Mian had been the recipient of numerous awards such as the ADC Young Guns. Mian has directed many award-winning commercials and music videos, with work that has been featured at Slamdance, SXSW and OneDotZero.