We have added the culture of each city to the Absolut ad: Akshat
Absolut released its limited edition India bottle last year and wanted to showcase how the bottle derived its inspiration from elements all over the country. Supari Studios, which is a digital media production studio based in Mumbai got the mandate to make the new brand film, which was targeted towards the digital audience. The Absolut India Journey is a tribute to the cultural melting-pot that exists in this country and the bottle design highlights India’s vibrancy and ecstatic chaos. Pandolin spoke to Akshat Gupt, one of the co-founders of Supari to understand the process involved in the making of this ad film.
What was the brief given to you by the Absolut India team?
We got the brief from Maxus, the agency. Absolut had launched special limited edition bottles for specific countries. And they had launched the Mango flavoured bottle for India keeping in mind the Indian palate and audience. Through an online platform, Absolut had asked talents and designers from across India to share label designs for the bottle and best design was chosen from it. Now they wanted to celebrate the design and the brief for us was to launch the limited edition Absolut bottles and showcase its journey through India.
Explain the concept behind the ad and how did you’ll come up with it?
It was an amalgamation of different ideas. We have taken inspiration from different films and created something in our own style. We used techniques like match-cut, double-exposure and motion graphics. To get more into detail, we traveled across four cities with about seven locations in each city. Every location that we went, we matched the distance between the bottle and the camera, used the same lens and eventually tried to match the positioning of the bottle. So when we cut from different places, the bottle remains the same and the background keeps changing. Everything was shot and none of it was done in post-production. That was the match-cut procedure.
We also applied double exposure, which is a technique when you expose two parts of film on an image. As the shape of the bottle is also an important aspect to the brand, we shot a lot of visuals keeping in mind the shape of the bottle. So that you can put the visuals of the city shots on the bottle itself.
Another technique that we used was motion graphics, which are illustrations that are animated. With this technique, we tried to bring alive each city. In each city, we looked at the people, food, language, public transport, anything that is resonant of that city.
Which cities did you’ll shoot in and what is the story behind choosing them?
We were trying to give a visual and aural experience so that people understand that it’s a journey across the country. We chose the Red Fort and Qutub Minar in Delhi. Moving to Bombay, we showed Victoria Terminus, Marine Drive and the Sea Link. In Kolkata, we showed Prinsep Ghat, Victoria Memorial and Howrah Bridge. And we shot 100-feet road and Royal Palace in Bangalore.
What is the percentage of VFX used in the film and for what portions?
There was a lot of post-production because we had to do a lot of double exposure and motion graphics. So about 50-60% was done in post production, in terms of the finishing touches. But people wouldn’t believe that we actually shot the bottle in all these locations. And it was quite disorienting because I was getting up in Kolkata, shooting and passing out in Delhi, followed by Bangalore and so on. We actually covered four cities in four days. We made about 10-15 illustrations per city, animated the illustrations through motion graphics and then edited it all into the film.
Coming to the music, what factors were you’ll looking for?
We got on board a DJ/producer called Suhrid Manchanda who’s popular as ‘Su Real’. We told him that the bottle is the most important aspect of the film. And he came up with the idea that we should start something with the bottle’s noise. So what you hear in the film is the actual sound of a spoon hitting the bottle. To further accentuate it, we tried to keep the motif same throughout but we also tried to add the culture of each city to it. Like we added Nashik Dhol to Maharashtra, Bhangra to Delhi etc. Also, we used the fabric and tone of each city like ‘Pudheel Station…Bandra’ for Mumbai, ‘Oye guru, Macha’ for Bangalore.
How many iterations did you go through before the final one was approved?
The iterations were mostly internal. Luckily, the client gave us a pretty free hand on experimenting because they themselves hadn’t seen something like this. We did about 3-4 versions internally before sending it across to the client. We submitted a film for each city and there is a master film which covered all the cities. The client found the film pretty exciting so there wasn’t really much of back and forth.
What mediums were chosen to showcase the ad and how was the traction on those mediums?
Essentially, this was a digital campaign and was pushed on YouTube and Facebook.
Tell us about Supari Studios and the other work done by you’ll.
Supari Studios was started by my brother Advait and I, in 2012. The idea was to create compelling digital content for the brands that are looking to get presence online. We worked relentlessly for the last three years trying to build the brand and get a creative presence online. We have worked with L’Oréal, Godrej, Nike, Volkswagen, Asian Paints. We got some mileage and recognition through the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list and that changed the game for us. We started with Maybelline, with a video called Baby Lips in 2013 with Alia Bhatt. We then did a video for Loreal Paris called ‘Jad se Judein’. These two films changed the landscape of how films were treated on digital platforms. That was the first time we used cinema cameras for digital. Our outfit has now changed from a production house to a digital consultant of sorts. 70-80% of our work now comes directly from the client and this has happened because people have realized our expertise in digital.
Do you consciously want to create your niche in live action or animated films?
If you see my work as a director, I have gone across the border in terms of genres like emotion, humor, music videos, animation etc. I am still trying to figure out my niche in that sense. For Supari, there is a conscious effort to just create good content. It doesn’t matter if it’s animation or live action. We are trying to marry both the worlds of live action and animated videos.