The Saab ‘Blackbird’ Conundrum

I first posted about the Saab Blackbird video as soon as it came online on the Director’s own website, back on the 6th April. I’ve received a couple of emails about it since then so I thought I’d post again as some people may have been away with thoughts of Easter bunnies and eggs and stuff.

To start us off right, here’s the YouTube version, though if you really want to experience it properly, go to the original site and see the full res version. It’s worth a click.


Now, the question is – what do Saab do with this?

First of all, this clip wasn’t made by Saab and to the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t made at Saab’s request. I emailed the director, Joseph Kosinski, to congratulate him on the clip and he replied:

Thanks Steven, I appreciate it…I’m hoping that SAAB picks this spot up and runs it on air or in theaters…they have such a cool brand with so much potential…J

Joseph’s a film guy and it appears that he’s made this clip at his own initiative to showcase his talents. If Saab fulfill his wish then he gets to recoup his investment and his talents get the widespread showcase they deserve.

I’m sure Saab have seen the clip by now. It’s been all over the web and I also emailed a contact at Saab USA to get their thoughts on it – no reply to that email yet. They know that it’s out there and if they’re doing their free market research, they’ll know that the reaction to the clip is overwhelmingly positive.

This is a great clip that sets the brand off with class. This is a clip that captures your attention and I’d hazard an educated guess and say it’d spark some interest that would lead directly to showroom traffic.

But there lies the rub.

What happens if people see this clip, decide to check out their local Saab dealer and ask to see that gorgeous white car that was in the clip. All your local Saab dealer can do is show them a 9-3, a 9-5 or a 9-7x. Could you possibly desecrate such a beautiful clip with a disclaimer saying that the car shown is a concept only?

And even if Saab wanted to use it, could they?

GM have advertising contracts with various agencies for various brands and I can’t help but think that in the somewhat letigious United States that those contracts would be drawn up to be as tight as a drum. I know we have a few legal eagles that visit the site, perhaps you could share your perspective?

Perhaps Saab could convince their advertising people to come up with a proper voiceover to accompany it. Perhaps they could work with Joseph Kosinki to produce an edit that includes a current vehicle as well. What if the Aero-X is referred to in the voiceover as a car of the future and they show it pulling up next to a MY2008 9-3, referred to as the classic that you can have now?

Just an idea.

I’d just hate to think that such an engaging and classy clip would go to waste.

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  1. when i watch the youtube version i dont like the commercial, i dont appreciate it. though when i see it in hi res it makes the video soo much better and lets you appreciate all the cool concepts. best saab video imo next to the double helix and state of independence ads

  2. Swade,

    Lowe Partners Worldwide (Lowe New York & Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm) both subcontract work out to other film companies, etc.

    For instance, Smoke & Mirrors in London did a number of Aero-X pieces including the Aero-X microsite, and not Lowe.

    Smoke & Mirrors also did the Saab “Double Helix” ad as well that I have featured previously.

    Go to Web & Virals for Aero-X and to Commercials for the “Double Helix” ad for Saab of Italy.

    The advertising history continues to be researched as time permits. Enjoy.

  3. Here is the information from their website for you about how the Aero-X project was made.

    “Saab Aero X Website & Exhibition Launch Film

    Lowe Tesch Sweden enrolled the creative eye of Director Yann Secouet through Mark Murrell’s London production company 76 ltd. Secouet designed content for the site, along with a complementary Aero X launch film for the Geneva Motor show which also shares content. For the exhibition film 76ltd worked with creatives from sister agency Lowe Brindfors Sweden.

    To realise his vision Secouet turned to London-based Smoke & Mirrors’ Senior Flame Artist Jon Berridge , who supervised the digital effects from pre-production through to completion. Berridge worked in parallel with Smoke & Mirrors’ 3D team, led by Andy Steele, who created photoreal renditions of the vehicle, in keeping with Secouet’s art direction, using Autodesk’s Maya with Mental Ray for rendering.

    Steel acquired technical specification in the form of CAD wire frame models for the prototype from the Saab product team. As the prototype vehicle was actually constructed during the same period, with the Saab design team passing updated wire frames to Steel as they progressed, Smoke & Mirrors created the photoreal CG model without sight of the real vehicle, they saw the finished vehicle for the first time the day before all digital assets and edits were delivered. Both the prototype and digital renditions were delivered for the Geneva Motor Show. The hangar environment featured on the site was also created in Maya, with Secouet designing alongside the agency creatives, taking cues from Saab’s history in aviation.

    Once the various 3D layers were rendered out they were composited by Berridge within Autodesk’s Flame, during this process the lighting and grading was adjusted and finessed to perfectly match the car into the environment. Seamless atmospheric and lighting effects such as dust, particles and lens flare on the headlights were generated in Flame for added realism and a high end filmic finish.

    The site opens to reveal a striking image of the vehicle in the hanger, navigation is controlled via a time line marked with various views to generate a 360 degree rotation and various animated sequences which enable the user to open the roof and experience the interior.

    The site employs filmic techniques and generated digital effects to control the lighting and atmosphere, the car is often represented in abstract form through use of light and shade in the dark environment reducing it to graphic details and enhancing the form of the bodywork through sweeping highlights.

    As the viewer navigates through the site various hot spot options appear over the car, which when selected lead to graphic sequences focussing on different features. Smoke & Mirrors combined graphic textures and elements, shot by Secouet, with CG renders and animation, which were then blended in Flame. The exhibition film, produced in parallel, which is available to download from the site, constructs a sense of narrative and expands upon the content and mood of the imagery available on the website. CG assets and animated sequences were multi-purposed across both projects.

    The film is evocative of experiencing a journey through and over a Scandinavian landscape and plays with scale, pace and movement juxtaposing graphic textures with fast travelling shots and wide flying vistas of a crisp snow clad environment, all shot by Secouet in Sweden .

    The edit was rendered and post-produced to TV resolution quality, then converted for web use.

    Smoke & Mirrors turned both projects round in 5 weeks. The car makes its North American debut on April 12th at the New York International Car Show as the GM Design Europe team’s latest innovative development in association with the Saab brand team”

  4. It’s not just a video — it’s a compelling image of what the Saab brand could be, or aspires to.

    It’s a great campaign, but “Born from Jets” doesn’t capture the elegant, modern sophistication of the brand. (Although jets are modern and very cool, and they convey energy and passion).

    This video does a good job of combining the technical appeal and energy of Saab with the modern elegance of high-end contemporary living.

    It would be worth the money for Saab to throw the filmmaker some money and snap up the rights to this. There’s a lot here for them to work with.

  5. I like the clip.

    I think that it’s too finished to be the speculative work of a free lancer working without direction from someone at Saab, an advertizing agency pitching to Saab, something.

    As far as his statement ‘hope Saab picks it up’ or whatever he said, I’ll bet that he’s involved in trying to win advertizing, creative work from Saab and this is a promotional work to demonstrate his capabilities and vision. Or someone at Saab or Saab’s ad agency paid him a small amount to produce this and he will realize a larger fee if they actually use the clip.

  6. I am curious how this individual got the RAW Aero-X material, footage (ie. wireframe 3-D object, etc. in order to execute his own promotional film. This kind of material is guarded heavily one would think.

    The raw material came from somewhere, and certainly not from scratch for a 1 minute promo video just to see “if someone picks it up”

    It’s rare that people would go to such extremes, professionally without getting paid for such work.

    I look forward to finding out the how, why, when, etc.

  7. Saab could run this ad as a “future car” ad, in the same vein as the Sony PS9 advert a few years back. Sony isn’t going to release a game system with spores that go up your nose and it’s unlikely this car will ever see production in its concept form. What’s wrong with running an ad for the “2018 Aero X” ?

  8. Saab could run this ad as a “future car” ad, in the same vein as the Sony PS9 advert a few years back. Sony isn’t going to release a game system with spores that go up your nose and it’s unlikely this car will ever see production in its concept form. What’s wrong with running an ad for the “2018 Aero X” ?

  9. SG:

    “It’s rare that people would go to such extremes, professionally without getting paid for such work.”

    Well, look what Swade is doin with this site… 🙂
    I think that Saab is a brand of passion, so it could well be that someone has done it for the fun of it. Should be interesting to find out.

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