Inspired by the light trails left by cars in long exposure photographs, Volkswagen Canada’s launch campaign for the all-new 2012 Jetta GLI shows performance in a whole new light. Forgoing Hollywood-style, computer-generated effects for a more authentic achievement, the spot exhibits a “painting” created by the headlights and tail lamps of the 200 horsepower GLI, the high-performance version of Volkswagen’s popular Jetta model, as it streaks around a darkened parking lot.

In order to help keep it real, Red Urban Canada, one of Volkswagen Canada’s advertising agencies, brought in Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Hubert Davis to direct. Davis and his director of photography, Adam Marsden, developed a filming technique employing two different cameras – one video and one still camera – focused on the same image using a beam splitter, a device usually reserved for 3D filmmaking. Armed with a couple of these unconventional setups, one situated at road level and the other 14-stories up, the team was able to capture both the high-speed manoeuvering of the Jetta GLI as well as long-exposure photographs of the resulting light trails from the exact same angle.

“When we first started, the question was: can we do it for real?” explains Christina Yu, Executive Creative Director of Red Urban Canada. “Since no one had light painted with a car before, we were forced to figure out the solutions as we went. Such an innovative undertaking felt pretty suitable for what we think is a really innovative vehicle. Needless to say, the process was just as exciting as the final product.”

The final product, a 30-second spot airing on television and online, features the Jetta GLI acting as brush and a rain-slicked parking lot serving as the canvas. The performance culminates with a shot, taken from 150 feet above the parking lot, of the car completing a light painting of the Volkswagen logo.

See also the making of video.

Agency: Red Urban Canada
Creative Director: Christina Yu
Art Director: Joel Pylypiw
Copywriter: Dave Barber
Agency Producers: David Isaac, Andrea Hull
Account Supervisor: Sonia Ruckemann

Production Company: Untitled Films
Director:. Hubert Davis
Executive Producer: Lexy Kavluk
Line Producer: Tuula Hopp
Director of Photography: Adam Marsden

Editorial: Rooster Post
Editor: Dave De Carlo

Post Production: The Vanity
Compositor: Naveen Srivastava

Music and Sound Design: Eggplant
Music Producer: Adam Damelin


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glossy I crate publicity and marketing for advertising and creativity. I blog, make amazing pierogi and cannonball at pool parties.