Petronas ad doubles Japan, Malaysia and Hungary for global locations
Malaysian oil company Petronas has filmed a new ad in Japan, Malaysia and Hungary to promote its involvement with the recent Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. The spot shows ordinary motorists around the world using F1 cars in their everyday lives.
Doubling was the name of the game throughout the shoot, mainly to keep costs down. At the same time the spot’s settings had to be countries where Petronas oil is actually sold. China, London and India were the initial choices. China ended up losing out to Japan’s urban sights, while London was too pricey. Malaysia won out over India due to time constraints.
Hungary was used to double up for various European cities like London, Paris and Rome, in addition to Brazil. The landscape and buildings there were perfect to double up as these other cities. In Malaysia, various parts in Penang were dressed to look like London and New York.
Michelle Fung, Producer
Michelle Fung, of Leo Burnett Malaysia, said: “Hungary was used to double up for various European cities like London, Paris and Rome, in addition to Brazil. The landscape and buildings there were perfect to double up as these other cities. In Malaysia, various parts in Penang were dressed to look like London and New York, whilst the road at a sugarcane plantation in Perlis was used to double up as a highway in South Africa.
“There was a small road used near a rubber estate that was used to double up as a country road in Vietnam. In Kuala Lumpur, we also shot in a house (for the opening garage scene) and at a car wash that had a Western influence so it could have been in Europe, America or Australia. Tokyo's Shibuya district was used as the Shibuya district because it's unmistakable.”
In a perhaps unexpected twist, the Japanese leg of the shoot was affected by local Yakuza haunts. Initial plans to film in the Harajuku district of Tokyo were abandoned to avoid having to secure permits from the local gangs.
Budapest was easy to double for several European cities with few set changes. Making Penang look like London and New York was more of a challenge, but existing terraces of old colonial buildings did the trick, along with subtle changes to street lights and vehicle number plates. Having actors in the right clothing completed the effect.
Ramesh Ramakrishnan, with Director’s Think Tank in Malaysia, said: “For Malaysia, we covered some scenes that represent Malaysia itself and since it is the homeland of Petronas we also featured its Petronas twin towers in the background. We also shot not only in Kuala Lumpur but in some other states of Malaysia that gives us different landscapes and architectures that resemble some other countries.”
The car itself proved a different challenge as it was only available for the Malaysian scenes. Fung said: “It is rather fragile and we had to be very careful of road conditions and weather. And because it was a show car there was no engine. We had a group of F1 car technicians who modified the base of the car to include a hook that we could tie a rope to in order to pull the car so as to make it look as if it were moving. The technicians had to really pull and run to make the car move and under our hot Malaysian sun it was truly a challenge.”
In a perhaps unexpected twist, the Japanese leg of the shoot was affected by having to avoid local Yakuza haunts.
A digital 3D model of the car was used for scenes shot outside Malaysia, so planning was crucial in making sure the vehicle could be flawlessly composited in post-production. A metal ball was used on location to take lighting readings to help with this process.
Ramakrishnan concluded: “The challenges were more to overall logistical management. We did get a lot of excited crowd gather around the shooting locations - it was an F1 car on the street after all.”
Agency: Leo Burnett, Malaysia
Agency Producer: Michelle Fung
Production Company: Director’s Think Tank, Malaysia
Producers: Pat Singh, Heng Tek Nam
Production Service Company (Japan): Onion, Inc
Production Service Companies (Hungary): Tivoli Film Productions, Budapest, Berger Productions, Budapest
Directors of Photography: Paulo Ares, Ivan Kovax (Japan)
Directors: Sling Ng, Rajay Singh
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