Master Anamorphics broaden Coke spot

"Make Someone Happy," Coca-Cola's Christmas campaign, directed by Max Blanco and produced by Landia Spain, is a holiday "feel good" story. Featuring the iconic 1960s song made ubiquitous by Jimmy Durante, Doris Day, Judy Garland and others, we see scenes of people infused with the spirit of the season – and the taste of Coca-Cola – doing good deeds and making people happy.

"It's an idea that works wonders," says cinematographer Mischa Lluch, who shot "Make Someone Happy," his fourth collaboration with Coca-Cola and Landia. "One person's unexpected action changes another's mood. There were a lot of locations and situations with people of all ages, and it's Christmas so everything is very emotional." Lluch brought the tableaux to life with the ALEXA XT capturing ARRIRAW, and a full set of ARRI Master Anamorphic lenses.

Coca-Cola "Make Someone Happy" Commercial

“Make Someone Happy" Coca-Cola's Christmas campaign, directed by Max Blanco and shot by DP Mischa Lluch with ARRI / ZEISS Master Anamorphics on ALEXA XTs from ARRI Rental in New Jersey.

"I was very clear about shooting with the ARRI ALEXA XT and ARRIRAW," says Lluch. "I really love the dynamic range, its color rendition, skin tones. We also had some CGI composition. It was great for post-production to be able to work with all the metadata generated by the camera and lenses. I also love the in-camera filters, to me one of the greatest new features of the ALEXA XT."

In pre-production, Lluch and Blanco explored shooting anamorphic. "At the beginning, the director didn't think it was the right project for anamorphic," says Lluch. "Ordinarily, anamorphics have this older, vintage look, and we wanted a modern look for the campaign. But I got a chance to see the Master Anamorphics at [ARRI Rental] in New Jersey (formerly ARRI CSC), and found out just how very clean they are. I was convinced the director would love them, and he trusted my opinion.

"To err on the side of caution, Lluch also tested out many available anamorphic sets. "In advertising it's important to consider what might be in the agency's and client's mind and be able to give them options," he says. What the tests proved was that the ARRI Master Anamorphics were the ideal choice. The production shot with the 35mm/T1.9, 50mm/T1.9 and 75mm/T1.9.

"These new Master Anamorphics are the most unique anamorphic lenses I have worked with," he adds. "I think they open a new era. Before, working anamorphic meant accepting a huge amount of restraining factors. I found ARRI's Master Anamorphics to be almost perfect; they are very close to the Master Primes, yet anamorphic. You can really stop them all the way, wide open. Their close focus, weight and size make them perfect for any kind of shooting situation. They almost don't flare at all, and have beautiful bokeh."

The challenge in shooting "Make Someone Happy" was, says Lluch, “finding the right mood" for the visual storytelling. "We wanted to find a certain cinematic look, powerful and very emotional; we also wanted a film with a narrative power rather than a atmospheric one, to stay away from clichés," he explains. "It's a Christmas commercial so the emotions had to be in actions and acting performances, and the cinematography had to be very realistic yet underlining the emotion of what was happening."

The campaign was shot at the beginning of May in Budapest, Hungary. "Pretty much all situations were magic hour or night," says Lluch. "Nights were already quite short, and the sun was far from a beautiful winter sun. In many scenes we had to fill the frame with artificial snow."

During the shoot, everyone was very happy with what they were seeing on the monitors. "With anamorphic, there are usually some distortions – and the client would notice – but with these lenses, they were happy with what they were seeing," says Lluch. "ARRI's Master Anamorphic look is the opposite to that of a vintage anamorphic lens. There's no vertical or horizontal aberration, no chromatic aberration. I think they are going to be the lenses for narrative work as they're so subtle and easy to work with."

Lluch also comments on the synergies of using the ARRI ALEXA XT and ARRI Master Anamorphics. "When I worked with ARRI's newer lenses with this camera, it was an amazing tool," says Lluch. "I haven't shot with any other camera than the ARRI ALEXA for a year and a half. For me, it's really important that the ARRI camera has a 4:3 sensor the same size and shape as a Super 35mm film frame. With the ALEXA XT, you have filters between the lens and the sensor and I love that style. ARRI makes a great camera and they make great lenses – so both tools together is very powerful."

Having completed the "Make Someone Happy" campaign, Lluch sums up his experience working with the new ARRI Master Anamorphics. "When shooting anamorphic what I like most is that it makes you think differently," he says. "I really like to tell as much as possible in a single frame. This is a personal feeling. The lens becomes a way of expression, a relationship with space. After I started working with anamorphic six or seven years ago, it changed the way I relate to what's in the frame."

"Make Someone Happy" will air in 100 countries this Christmas season. "It was so beautiful to work for so many different thoughts, emotions and traditions around Christmas," says Lluch.