All throughout the world, Bilstein are synonymous with high tech engineering in shock absorber technology. Since 1873 Bilstein have become a household name and after entering the motorsport sector in 1961, they’ve been producing shock absorbers for Formula 1, Rally, Touring Car, Paris Dakar, Le Mans, Nascar – pretty much any motor racing that requires suspension.
Creare are proud to present our recent collaboration with Bilstein in producing their new promotional video:
As part of their continual development, it’s not uncommon for racing teams to approach Bilstein requesting something more custom to suit their vehicles and suspension setup, enter OX4 Racing. OX4 Racing are an established racing team with over 17 years racing experience and over 10 years racing with BMW Mini in various classifications. OX4 Racing contacted Bilstein for a custom-built suspension kit for their Mini Cooper S, their latest entry into the 2014 race calendar.
So where do we fit in… Bilstein approached us for a promotional video to document the process for the aftermarket division, for social and viral potential, as well as being used for internal use throughout the company.
The main objective was to convey the journey from production line, to testing, assembling and eventually to the race track. Scheduling wise the shoot would take 3 days at 3 different locations over the course of 5 months. This gave us more time in between shoots for detailed planning and prep.
Day One – Oxford Shoot – Mini Headquarters
An early start for myself and Production Manager Sophia, in order to beat the useless Oxford traffic, to get down to the Mini plant where the team’s based. We met with Bilstein representative Aaron Quilter, Eibach representative Greg and two of the team’s five engineers – Chris Fryer and Chris Oakham.
After an initial breakdown of the morning shoot (limited shoot time of 3 hours) we got underway. As we were inside in the OX4 garage, weather wasn’t an issue. Lighting was a bit on the dark side but this is where the Canon 5d mkIII really came into it’s own. Combined with the 50mm f1.4 we were able to get some quality footage of the guys assembling the kit and some great beauty shots.
‘A’ camera was our 5dmkIII and ‘B’ camera was the 550d. We recreated the exact process in which they would’ve installed the kit along with a couple of staged shots.
We embraced the natural sounds of the environment while the team were working (the clanging and rattling of tools, the tightening drill etc) as we wanted to stay away from the polished music video style. This raw sound gives a great overall feeling of the garage and surroundings.
Because there was a large portion of time in-between shoots, it meant I could get the footage onto the timeline a lot quicker and get a real feel for the edit.
From the Oxford rushes, I was able to put together a short teaser. It was in no way reflective of the final edit, but after engaging people’s reactions, we kept some of the structure from the teaser which then went on to form part of the final edit.
Day 2 – Racing Circuit Shoot – Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground
Another early start to get to the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground location. This time providing extra hands, fellow Videographer Jon joined Sophia and myself. Our weapons for the day:5dmkiii, 550d, 70-200mm f2.8, 24-135mmf3.5, 50mm f1.2, 16-24mm f2.8, 2x Go Pro HD Hero 3+
We were outside for the entire day and unfortunately sunshine was not on the agenda. The natural elements seemed to be against us in the form of rain and very heavy wind. To add further insult, the OX4 Racing team had broken down on the M1 which added a horrendous delay to the shoot.
When the team finally arrived there was no time to lose, we’d lost half a day due to the delay and had to be incredible economic with shot setups.
The driver preparation was an integral part that needed to be captured on the day. The suiting up of the helmet and gloves resembled a soldiers armour and I wanted to recreate a raw, natural feeling as if the viewer were actually alongside about to get into the car. I shot with the 50mm handheld. No image stabilisation on this lens, but the rough unstable look coupled with the shallow depth of field creates the subtle metaphor of focus.
For in car sound, we’d be using our Zoom H4N duct taped into the back off boot of the Mini (incredibly professional I know) as well as internal audio captured from the GoPro’s. We also used our Rode VideoMic Pro for outside audio.
It was the second time that we’d be using our Go Pro Hero 3+’s for something car orientated, having completed a recent video for Bruntingthorpe Events.
We knew we wanted to cover the car from all angles, both inside and out. We already had our two GoPro Car Suction mounts and purchased the Jaws Flex clamp from GoPro, which meant we were able to get some great angles on the roll cage of the car.
We used the 70-200mm f2.8 beast on the Canon 5dmkiii and the 135mm on the 550. The crop factor on the 550 meant that it would actually be a focal distance of about 216mm. Even with that reach, both Jon and I wanted to be even closer to the action, which meant getting closer to the track. Not having a death wish we spoke to the drivers about the exit of corners and where not to stand, which meant we were able to get a lot closer but still be out of harms way (damn health and safety!)
For the follow shots in the car, it meant jumping in the boot of the clients (Aaron Quilter) rental car. I was secured in with both belts from the rear and the camera/monopod was secured to myself with cable ties incase I dropped it! By using a nice wide lens, slow drivng pace and extra stability from the monopod, I was able to get some great shots.
Towards the end of the day, the weather changed drastically and the sun was starting to shine through the clouds. We had an incredible backdrop of the sky, as well as a selection of commercial jets that we’re half torn apart which gave a real industrial look to the frame.
Day 3 – Bilstein HQ – Leicester
Our third and final shoot would take place at the Bilstein plant, not too far away from us in Leicester.
A relatively straight forward shoot compared to the previous two, but also one of the most interesting as well. We were taken on a tour of the building and then through the production process of how a shock absorber is produced.
We even managed to put the GoPro’s to good use again in the testing chamber of a shock absorber. Love those bloody cameras.
With a total of just under 180GB of footage from all three shoots, there was a lot to cram into a 2 minute video.
From our brief we were filming the journey of production through to race track and approached the edit slightly different to the process e.g. shock absorber made > fitted to car > race track. By adopting an approach of re-order meant we kept things a little more interesting. In this case the edit actually goes back in time. We start with beauty shots of the car and then through to driver prep and then to the circuit. We’re then taken on a journey as to how the car has got to the track.
The end result is something we are collectively incredibly proud of. From start to finish we’ve loved every part of this production and immensely happy that Bilstein chose us to tell their story.