For those unfamiliar with the production of automobile sized soap bubbles, success requires a great deal of skill in any case, but especially when working in unfavorable weather conditions. I have been blessed to know and have met both of the following guys, and count them as my friends and inspiration.
Late last year, Adam Berg, the award winning director, produced this Citroen (French automobile) TV commercial that has been airing in Europe. Sterling Johnson and Brian Lawrence were the bubble wranglers for the video. Brain acted as “Wind Whisperer” to Sterling’s sorcery.
We shot footage in Marin and Half Moon Bay (both Pacific Ocean venues in the San Francisco area), and also near Mono Lake, California (just eastof Yosemite National Park), and areas near Lone Pine, California which are often used for movies involving Westerns (cowboys) and some Star Trek locations, and various other movies. Our objective was to make the biggest bubbles we could in various outdoor locations, regardless of adverse weather conditions (low humidity, snow, blowing winds). Of course the director wanted bubbles to float a certain direction, generally not the direction the wind was blowing, and we had to improvise. He wanted huge bubbles when conditions would only allow small bubbles, and he wanted moderately large bubbles in windy conditions where I thought that was impossible. Potential bubble wranglers, beware: if a director sees you making big bubbles once, he expects he should have them on call.
Working conditions included rain, wind ( in some cases over 20 mph!), snow and elevations to 7000 feet and sub freezing weather . Some scenes required Sterling to be held in place against a hill side while delicately manipulating the 12 foot tri string wands in the swirling wind to produce the big bubbles on command as the film car matched speeds!
In addition to cuing Sterling to the upwind wind conditions, Brian also prepared special bubble juice formulas, each matched to the requirements of a particular scene. Some of the formulas were heated to extend the window of opportunity in temperatures as low as 17 degrees! Part science, part alchemy enhanced by decades of experience brought success.
And here is the Director’s Cut re-edit:
“for what he wanted to show (unhampered by the limits of commercial time slots). I think he captured a better sense of the bubbles, letting them flow more slowly, not needing to cut quickly from scene to scene. I like it much better.
I hope you enjoy it.”
Perhaps the next team effort will be the creation of an Imax movie? We can only hope!