Audi A5 Stunt Kites
The Audi A5 was recently showcased in “Kite”, a TV ad in which two sports cars steer a stunt kite in a desert area near Swakopmund, Namibia. Music is provided by Swiss group Yello (Dieter Meier and Boris Blank). The 30 second and 40 second TV advertisements end with the tagline, “Driving Redesigned”.
“This is not a trick, all the images are real,” says Jagoda Becic, Head of Advertising at Audi. “Authenticity,” she says, “was the essential requirement. If it hadn’t been possible to navigate the kite by car in reality, then we wouldn’t have implemented the idea.” For Gerhard Kiefer, who manages all Audi promotional films, it was also clear from the beginning that: “Honesty is a point of honour. We couldn’t have produced well-known adverts such as the ski jump or the ‘wakeboarder’ if our vehicle technology had not been equal to the task. This also holds true for the stunt kite scenes.”
Click on the image below to play the video.
Audi and Berlin advertising agency Heimat came up with the idea of the Kite stunt in autumn 2006. Initial tests were carried out with two Audi models towing a stunt kite on an airfield in Manching, Bavaria. “That’s when we realized that we could not just start driving and expect the kite to fly straight away,” says Kiefer.
The production team needed to consider and test speed, wind conditions, the size and material of the stunt kite, the length and thickness of the control ropes, and find a professional navigator.
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Stunt kite pilot was 20-year-old Marcel Mehler from Velbert (North Rhine-Westphalia), multiple German champion and European vice-champion in kiting. Marcel and his parents Ilona and Thomas Mehler, almost everything revolves around flying stunt kites. The Mehlers not only provided valuable information on handling the sensitive piece of sports equipment but later also drove the A5 models during shooting in Namibia.
The team familiarized themselves with local climate conditions by practicing for three days on an airfield in Namibia prior to the shoot. They discovered that what had worked well in Germany did not work at all in the African desert. “No matter what we did, the kite crashed immediately – but we didn’t know why,” stated Kiefer. Nerves were building because the day of the shoot was drawing closer and closer. The mystery was solved on the evening before filming began. “It was the final attempt before darkness fell,” he recalls.
Wind conditions in the desert were completely different to what they had been during testing in Germany. The wind was very strong and blew from all possible directions, which made it difficult to control the kite. In the end, the problem was resolved by using a stronger tow rope and a heightened speed. The stunt kite stabilised at 70 kilometres per hour. Armed with this knowledge, shooting was no longer a problem.
The first take could finally begin in the desert at Swakopmund and the long, painstaking preparations now paid off. “It worked on first attempt. The two Audi A5 models got the stunt kite in the air and pulled it behind them for two kilometres, travelling at a speed of 70 kilometres per hour. Had it not been for the director shouting “cut”, the kite would have flown further. No-one has managed this before,” reported Kiefer from the shoot location. Not a single stunt kite crashed during the three days of filming in Namibia.
The Thor’s Hammer kite, which has a wingspan of four metres, was manufactured by Olaf Frank, “Der Spielmann”. It was attached to a specially constructed tubular support using two 100-metre ropes. The support was then attached to the two Ice Silver, metallic Audi A5 coupés.
The spectacular images created during this “driving and flying” exercise were captured by three 35-millimetre cameras, a special camera crane and a helicopter. 440 minutes of film footage was created in all. The crew consisting of 80 people filmed for up to 16 hours a day at temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius. No wonder that the 400 bottles of water and 60 litres of juice consumed per day were just as gratefully received as the 80 bottles of SPF 100 sun cream that were emptied during filming.
“Kite” has been broadcast on free TV since 25 May and can be seen online on the Audi TV brand channel at www.audi.com/tv.
The Audi Kite films were developed at Heimat, Berlin by chief creative director/art director Jürgen Vossen, chief creative director/copywriter Guido Heffels, creative director/art director Tim Schneider, creative director/copywriter Till Eckel, manging director/strategic planner Andreas Mengele, managing director/account manager Matthias von Bechtolsheim, graphics designer Andreas Grill, account managers Sebastian Marx and Marcus Bank.
Filming was directed by Daniel Barber via Tempomedia Filmproduktion GmbH and Knucklehead, London, with director of photography John Lynch, executive producer Vera Portz, producer Nadja Bontscheff, co-producer Lindsay Turnham (Knucklehead),
Post-production and 3D animation were done at Glassworks, London