The latest Honda commercial, ‘Difficult is Worth Doing', was produced by production company North One in collaboration with 4Creative.
It was shot in Spain, lasted three minutes and ten seconds and aired on Channel 4 at 20:10 on Thursday 29 May. Crucially, it was live and produced by a television production team.
Featuring sky divers spelling out the word Honda, it utilised thirteen cameras, including six mini-cams and three helmet cams - each with RF radio transmitters - strapped to sky divers and inside two aeroplanes.
19 rehearsal jumps were made over a three day period. One was recorded as a back-up in case of technical or weather problems. According to director Tim van Someren the biggest problem initially was not being able to talk to the skydivers.
“People thought the problems would be technical,” he told Broadcast. “But we quickly realised the problem was going to be timing. It's not a case of having a floor manager in the plane saying cue, as it doesn't mean a thing if the plane isn't over a landing zone.
"All we can do is say ‘we'd like you to jump at some point from about now'. And then the parachute leader decides if it is safe to exit the aircraft. From a live television point of view it was slightly nerve racking.”
van Someren said that to make the live event work he tried to manufacture a bit of luck for himself. “45 minutes before we were due to go on air the cloud was looking good and the jump looked likely so we gathered everyone together,” he said. "I asked everybody to not think it was going to be alright. But to take this hour to check every battery and every cable and go through what their job was going to be for the three minutes.
“I think my exact words were: ‘If this goes wrong let it be because it's cloudy or because something that nobody could have any control over happened but please don't let it be because you forgot to change a battery or you didn't check that cable.' Hopefully that made a lot of our luck for us.”
John Nolan, executive producer and head of commercial programming at North One, said because the changing weather in Spain nearly stopped proceedings in their tracks making the commercial was an amazing emotional rollercoaster. “The weather was patchy on Thursday,” he said. “But we caught the most perfect possible conditions for the live broadcast.”
Nolan acknowledged that timing was everything. “We had a window of opportunity and we knew that was 40 to 50 seconds into the commercial,” he explained. “And we knew how long it took for the aircraft to get to the jump zone. We could be confident if we hit ‘wheels up' then we knew how long we wanted on pre-jump to build the drama, we knew how long the jump took. And we knew how long between deployment of parachute and landing.”
The Honda “Difficult is worth doing” commercial is a North One production in association with 4 Creative.