This ad is only running in Canada, but it's cool enough to show to everyone in the States as well. Read the behind-the-scenes on how they pulled this off after the jump.
Movie Clip [Nokia.ca]
More Behind The Scenes (2nd Link on the right) [Heliozilla]
We started out with the idea that we needed to make something that was visually stunning, and then build a concept around that. Secondly Nokia is a fairly refined brand, and the piece needed to have a a certain grace to it to reflect that. The idea of blowing things up came fairly quickly, and we visualized a slow-motion ballet of assorted electronics being destroyed, and then reassembling into the phone. Shooting on black and lighting the objects as if we were shooting a jewelry ad gave a nice polish to offset the violence of the explosions.
Then it was off to the internet to research the technical site of shooting at really high frame rates, looking at sample footage and finding the right camera. Shooting film was simply out of the question, as the look of the explosion we wanted required shooting at frame rates of about 5000 frames per second. After looking at numerous high-speed video options we settled on the Photron Ultima cameras, which could shoot as fast as 6000 frames/sec at 512 x 1024 resolution. The Ultimas connect directly to a laptop via firewire, which controls the camera and downloads footage from the camera buffer. With the camera in standby mode it continuously records footage to the buffer, and when you hit the trigger it will retain a specified amount of pre-trigger footage and then continue recording until the buffer is full.
Next challenge was lighting. Because of the incredible speed of the explosions we had to shoot with a 1/10,000 shutter so the fragments wouldn't blur. Combined with a 6000 fps we calculated we'd need close to 100,000 watts of light to adequately light a target area of about one square meter. On set we could only leave full lighting up for about 60 seconds before our props would start smoking.
Most of the props were modified shells of actual items. We had purchased several of each so we could do multiple takes, and had two cameras running for each take so we had lots of angles and footage to work with. We used shells of flat-screen TV's so the screens could be replaced with tempered glass or breakaway glass (each gives a different effect), and the props were filled with bits of circuit boards, assorted parts and bits of glitter. The phone model was built at 300% scale, as blowing up a little 10cm phone would look a little underwhelming.
The pyro we used was primarily detonation cord, we didn't want too much flame. Being able to review a take and reshoot allowed us to adjust the amount and placement of the charge for each shot.