How to: All the Bonds in 90 seconds
In our constant striving to bring our readers information beyond the bare headlines and contents of Google-feed we aim – wherever possible – to go the extra mile for CommanderBond.net. In doing so we’ve already covered numerous stories going deeper into the works of Bond on page and screen. Now it is high time we talk about that nifty piece of promotional art ingeniously produced for the start of SkyMovies007 HD. Exclusively for CommanderBond.net our member Simon Firth interviewed Sky Producer David Millard, who kindly shed a light on the tricky background of this campaign. It’s far from easy to get all the Bonds in one place and translate this claim into 90 seconds of the most stunning impact.
Please discuss the clip and this interview in this thread.
David Millard is one of a number of Producers at Sky who create the promos for the new channels and programming – he has recently completed the advert for the upcoming 007 Channel that debuts on Sky Movies in October.
Can you give us a brief potted background to your career?
I initially trained at Virgin Media and have been a Producer now for the past 3 years – most recently at Sky. In fact the Head of Creative at Sky Movies (Scott Russell) originally trained me at Virgin Media and so we’ve always had a great working relationship. I’ve freelanced since 2011 until now but am hoping to go into something more permanent here at Sky.
What is the decision process to get to the current advert from a management perspective?
Scott, the Head of Creative, was given the heads up at the end of last year for the Bond channel and it was at that point that he and the department had to start thinking of ideas. The Channel teams and Marketing sit together to produce a brief and once this brief agreed, it is sent to Creative, which is us. There then begins the Brainstorming process. Thing is with this, we already know who the target audience is so in some ways it is less onerous than other briefs.
The Key message is ‘All the bonds in one place’. And to sell this, we wanted to show all the excitement and adrenalin from all the Bond films – and to show it with Every Bond actor from the last 50 years in the same scene.
When it came to choosing the car chase as the main thrust, the decision came down to George Lazenby’s one film. At the end of the day, because of his one film, there weren’t that many things that he got to do when compared to the sum total of all the other actors’ films and scenes where each actor would have multiple examples of love scenes, car chases, etc.
However, before we decided on the car chase, we were asking ourselves, what were all the common things that Bond did? So, there were the car chases, there were the card table scenes and there was the making love to the women.
We discarded the seducing of the women idea because it would seem a bit strange to have all the Bonds sitting in one room making out! And even if it could have been done, it would probably have been a post watershed advert only!
The card table and poker idea seemed fun, all sitting round the same table, sussing each other out, donning their poker faces. But there was just no way it was going to compete with the adrenalin of the car chase. There was a gag in one of the Austin Powers movies where there was some joke about all of rural England looking like the Californian hills – referring to the fact that so many Bond films seem to have car chases in a hillside environment. We figured we could probably glue the car chases together so they could look as though they were, in this case, all on the same track. So with this in mind, we went for a daylight car chase that took place on mountain type roads and tracks. And then it began to take shape with a whittling down of various chases – however, we knew from the start we wanted the Lotus as it was just so cool.
Once decided, how was the chase configured – was it all designed by you or Storyboarded/scripted by A.N.Other?
Well, we wanted a contemporary feel so we started off with the QoS chase, and the idea was to fit all the other Bonds into that, rather than creating a whole new chase. The narrative of the promo’s car chase is the QoS chase and that was what sold it to the marketing people. It was never seen as a promo where a montage of scenes are glued together, it was meant to be a scene all of its own. A genuine James Bond car chase like you’ve never seen before.
There weren’t any storyboards even though it can sometimes be a good idea to do that for this type of work. Instead I searched through the footage, reviewed it all, and experimented with it to see how I could create interaction between the different Bond actors, in a way that would keep to the QoS chase narrative and pace.
There were many versions where we had Moore win at the end. For example we had an edit where Moore escaped into the sea – for the Lotus to become a submarine – and Brosnan catching up with Craig. The final edit has Brosnan sliding to a stop on a corner and he exits the narrative. But in the end, we stayed with the original concept and kept to the Craig QoS chase narrative.
What were the difficulties?
I guess I kept getting sidetracked with the problems of securing the interaction. I tried to make it look believable in terms of this interaction. You mentioned earlier the Moore and Brosnan shots being flipped where they nod and smile to each other. Actually, much of the footage is flipped. I’d say about 30% of the total footage is flipped. All the Moore shots are flipped apart from his external shots, making it look as though he is actually driving a left hand drive. This was an amendment that had to be done in order to uphold the continuity of the scene.
In this same nodding scene, the problem there was also to cut out the female in the Brosnan shots. Aside from Bach, it was just the Bond’s that were interacting with each other. Bach was kept in as a small homage to Roger Moore for almost always having the Bond Girl in the passenger seat in all his car chases.
The other problem in terms of the creation of a scene narrative, were the establishing shots. We wanted establishing shots where each of the cars would be introduced to the audience, but in same scene. So for example, in the Lotus shot where Brosnan’s DB5 is introduced, and Bach looks back, as it is now we only see the impression of a car following them through the rear screen – it could be any car. Originally, the establishing shot was to have been the DB5 superimposed in the Lotus’ rear view mirror.
In fact, we had an original edit where 16 superimposing shots were taken to a well known special effects company to superimpose the cars into the same shot. In essence, we wanted to do a Ford Puma Steve McQueen advert equivalent, but with the Bond cars. However, as part of the review process with Eon, we were told that we could use any shots, we could edit and grade the footage however we liked – but we could not superimpose the cars into each other’s film footage: meaning that we had to solely rely on a well devised edit to create the chase.
How long did it take to do the edit / whole process?
From the moment we started assigning footage to a time line, it took a week to 10 days. However, the preparation before the edit commenced took two weeks of continual looking through footage. We watched approximately 15 of the movies before the final six were chosen; so, roughly three to four weeks in total. Once we had completed it, we took it to Eon for a review and final approval where we were then asked to make a few minor changes. Where Dalton’s truck crashes into the wall, we originally had a much more impactful shot of the truck sliding along the wall in the tunnel, but it was thought to be too aggressive, so that had to be shortened. Another shot that had to be removed in entirety was when Moore manages to accelerate up the hill and squeeze in between two trucks. Originally we had the crash between one of the chasing Alfas and an oncoming truck from the QoS chase with Moore appearing to rush past it, but that again was thought to be too aggressive. However, if people are paying close enough attention and again from the point of view of continuity, at beginning of the promo’s car chase there were two Alfas chasing Craig, but by the end there is just the one with no explanation of what happened to the second. The original edit explained that.
There are actually two versions of this promo; 90 and 60 second promo. There aren’t dramatic differences to these two promos but upon completing the 90 second promo and commencing the process of shortening it to a 60 second promo, I had to cut out half a second of every shot which saved roughly 10 seconds. I then had to lose another 20 seconds so I removed several of the establishing shots. Ultimately, the 60 second promo is nowhere near as finessed in my opinion. The 60 second promo is going into the cinemas at the time of Skyfall’s release. But for my part, I will always prefer the 90.
Were there any effects involved in the work then if superimposition was not allowed?
Yes. Once the edit was agreed with Eon, we took it into a suite called Mystika, a special effects suite. Due to all the different lighting, the ages of the footage, the times of day, differing lens, and some older scenes that involved back projection, we graded all the shots to make them appear to be all part of the one scene. We also added camera shakes. Following the idea that the QoS chase provided the backbone and the style, that was what we aimed all the shots towards in terms of style. The Dalton scene saw quite a lot of movement added. Moore’s Lotus scenes also had slight shakes added. We also spotted camera techniques in the QoS chase that we emulated throughout. For example, when the DB9 flies past close to the camera, the camera wobbles due to the rush – this was an element we added to other footage. In the Brosnan establishing shot where the car comes close to the camera, there was a 10 frame [less than half a second] camera shake before cutting to the next shot. You wouldn’t notice it unless you knew it was there, but it’s these kind of tiny amendments that made the chase believable. All these effects and manipulations took three nights with a single Mystika engineer – 4pm to 10pm for three 3 nights.
What was your favourite scene/edit?
Everyone loves the Moore Brosnan head nod. But I like the individual shakes and things that others don’t consciously notice.
Was there any sound manipulation along the lines of the Mystika edit?
Well, the Sound design is an all new design. None of it came from the movies in question. Radium is the sound design studio we used. We would often send them the latest cuts for which they made the sound, sort of on the hoof. All the sounds were from the correct sources which is to say they used a real Lotus car for the Lotus on the film, only they made the cars gruntier; we would give them all manner of references such as the tunnel shots sounding similar to Top Gear, when the presenters would gun their sports cars in tunnels for a thrill. To be honest, I consider them – Radium – to be the unsung heroes. We were told that they had gone to a car collector with a DB9 and a Lotus etc to record all the cars. They also went to a firing range for all the gun sounds. A pretty cool job!
The reason for all this clean sound was that, even though the master we were working from was all split track dolby, the centre track, which is usually clean, had the music in it. No matter what we could have done, the ears would have picked up the underlying noise or music. So we made sure to put money aside to commission our very own sound track.
Were you already a fan, was there a reason you got this job?
I do like the Bonds, and watched them a lot growing up with my brother who is a genuine Bond fan, but I am more of a sci-fi guy if I am honest. I don’t think I got the job for any specific reason, other than I am a bit of a film geek.
Was there any ongoing process of approval, not just with Eon but within Sky?
Well, I am lucky that the Head of Creative and I have always worked closely, so all the changes and edits had an on-the-run approval. Marketing and Channel heads were involved at the beginning and were always sold into the idea, I think they always had faith in us. The Eon final approval was very quick. Eon did ask if the Bonds could be introduced in chronological order but we said not really as that was impossible to do that and keep the QoS narrative. There was one other thing; when Craig opened the boot at the end of the promo, we had done an edit, or version, with Jaws wedged inside but this was one of the superimpose shots so in respect of Eon’s wishes, the idea was out. In fact, at one point, we were wanting to do five different versions of the promo with a different villain in the boot in each…
How was the Voice Over chosen?
The VO was Colin Salmon. We wanted a Bond actor or actress from current or recent films, so that they would be recognisable to both young and old audiences. Also someone in London would have been more sensible. It came down to three people but Colin just had this amazingly powerful voice. We were actually asked on the internet if it was Patrick Stewart’s voice that we used. Talking about the internet, the response was insane, by the second day after its release, it was in the Guardian’s top ‘Viral of the week’ list. By the weekend it was in the Mail on Sunday, Radio Times and was even being tweeted by Empire Magazine – my absolute favourite magazine.
What other adverts are coming up?
Yup, there is another spot next week but this is more of a marketing promo. ‘If you want to Upgrade’ etc.. It basically shows some nice Bond moments, then ‘To Upgrade….’ It centres around the gadgets and Q and is a montage as opposed to a scene. I guess you could say it is a sell technique, rather than a ‘check us out’ advert. We’ve also been discussing ideas for the future. Nothing finalised yet but, you never know. Watch this space.
Grateful thanks to CBn Member ‘Simon’ for providing this.