How do you create a BMW commercial when you can’t shoot the cars? Mill Director Andrew Proctor reveals all

Work September 6, 2021

Mill Director Andrew Proctor teamed up with Goodby Silverstein & Partners to deliver a spot for BMW’s summer sales event created entirely from existing running footage, CGI vehicles and stock elements. We sat down with Andrew to know more about his creative process, the differences between working remotely and on-set, and how he successfully created a summer filled automotive extravaganza during a global lockdown.

What was the initial brief for BMW? 

The initial brief was to create a spot to promote BMW’s Summer On Sales event. Our partners at Goodby Silverstein & Partners wanted summer to be at the forefront of this campaign but, in the midst of a global lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they came to us with the challenge on how to complete such a feat. Since live action shoots were suspended, our solution was to use existing stock footage and innovative CG methods to create an all new film!

Talk us through the creative process of creating a spot entirely with heritage and stock footage. 

Our plan for these BMW films was to create an edit using their vast global catalogue of previously shot footage, inject it with some summer inspired stock and then bring it together by overlaying it with computer generated versions of their latest vehicles featured in the summer promotion. One of the unexpected challenges in this process was the decision making of what pre-existing footage to use. Victor Jory, Head of Editorial, took on this mammoth task head on. There was an endless amount of possibilities and footage for him to sift through and it was challenging to whittle it down into a cohesive story that connected with the audience.

Were there any other challenges you faced during this process? 

Other than the challenge of nailing down the final heritage and stock footage selects, we had our hands full with creating three specific CG cars (the BMW X5,X3 and 2GC) from the ground up. Typically on auto shoots we would have a VFX Supervisor go to set and collect extensive data on lighting, camera lens information, how the car reacts to the specific environment, etc. Since this was all done remotely, that data had to be created from scratch. CG Lead Artist, Yarin Manes, created the most impressive renders of the BMW 2020 lineup that were just spot on matches to their predecessors in the heritage footage. His renders were essential to the project, seamlessly integrating the CG cars into the older footage.

Were there any new techniques or technologies used? 

We utilized our standard toolkit of Maya, Nuke, and Flame throughout this project but it took a lot of exceptional artistic talent, traditional VFX knowledge and methods to achieve these shots and make them look believable. This campaign is a great example of what we can do virtually. It’s almost a masterclass of digital craftsmanship and ingenuity!

Check out more of Andrews’s work on his Creator Profile and view a full list of credits here.