Stink/Psyop: Audi “Synchronised”

Taking a cue from some of the human-pixel videos on the web, this new Audi advert from Stink and Psyop for Berlin-based agency HEIMAT blends live action and CG imagery into a beautifully complicated package.

The level of choreography it took to pull this off is pretty astounding. In addition to managing over 100 performers during the live shoot in Berlin, there were several layers of visual effects direction that had to line up perfectly. I really like how the end product slides between two modes of presentation—I can’t always pin down where the live action ends and the CG begins.

UPDATE: Here’s a little Q&A on the project from Glossy:

What was the creative brief from the agency?

The task was to show the principle of synchronicity. We were asked to find interesting ways to create real images of driving using thousands of perfectly synchronized humans holding cards. We worked closely with Guido Heffels, from Heimat Berlin, to further develop this idea. We were asked to push it from a design and technical level. It had to be epic and spectacle, but also believable. We were also asked to feature certain characteristics of the Audi Q5 as well as some design details.

So, Psyop proposed to take the idea of perfectly synchronized cards in the hands of Audi engineers to the next level. By combining acrobatic engineers with real time human pixel animation, we set out to create dimensional shapes from people holding cards.

In keeping with the creative brief of the features of the spot, we chose to start with simple images that evolve into landscapes and eventually created a dimensional Audi Q5. The evolution of the spot is from real time human pixels performing in 2d space, to a dimensional version of the Audi Q5 created by acrobatic engineers flipping cards. The faster the cards flip the more the image becomes real. Ultimately we wanted to show people creating images at the very edge of the possible. Far beyond the simple wave, these people would create the ultimate performance art.

What type of feel/aesthetic were you going for? What did you bring to this job creatively?

We were really excited to see how far we can go with the idea of people creating images using cards. Again, we were looking to create something fantastic, something that is almost impossible. This was our main area of interest.

First we explored many different ways of creating dimension. We talked to our choreographer to find ways to throw people in the air, to create human pyramids and synchronous summersaults. It was important that everything could actually be created by people. The scene had to feel human. We wanted to shoot as much as we could in order to blur the line between real and CG.

The idea of acrobatic engineers fit nicely with the perfect synchronization of the Audi Q5 and for us illustrated the concept of thinking outside the box. It explored new ways to demonstrate Audi’s incredible performance capabilities. These are engineers who literally do the impossible by working together to form the shapes, images, and finally the Q5.

This spot pushes the idea of people working in synchronicity to the next level, surprising the viewer with methods that are on the edge of impossible, or in moments even beyond.

To further support the idea, we thought it was important to understand, that this is an actual show set on a very big theatrical stage. We wanted to create the illusion, that this is something that was created and performed through huge effort and scale. So the design became a process of landscapes that could be created in a real theater space.

How was the spot created? Tell me about the mix between live action & CG?

Basically, we combined a green screen live action FX shoot with CG people animation. It was important to see the people close-up, see their faces, see their expressions. The spot starts by introducing the humans behind the cards. Then we cut to wide shots in which we introduce depth by creating waves in the placards. Cutting back to live action, we show see our engineers jumping, flying, doing acrobatics; all while holding their placards. We kept the effect very real by shooting all of the foreground people performing actual acrobatics. In the wider shots we filled in the backgrounds with CG people to get the massive size of the group. The trick is that we always use real people as foreground objects.

Were there any challenges?
Yeah tons. Cloning people, matching CG lighting, getting the design approved, making flipbook animations that work with the concept, and making everything actually look real. Beyond that we had to making an awesome spot! This is always a challenge.

What tools were used?
Panavision Genesis, XSI, Maya, Flame, After Effects.

AUDI Q5 “Synchronized”

Agency: Heimat, Berlin
Creative Direction: Guido Heffels
Creative Team: Guido Heffels, Nico Ronacher, Tim Schneider, Till Eckel
Planning: Andreas Mengele, Sebastian Marx
Account Supervision: Frank Ricken

Production Company: Tempomedia / Stink, Berlin / Psyop, New York
Executive Producers: Vera Portz (Tempomedia), Nils Schwemer (Stink)‚ Boo Wong (Psyop)
Producers: Gunnar Meyer (Tempomedia), Susanne Ehlers (Stink), Jen Glabus (Psyop)

Director: Psyop (Marco Spier, Eben Mears)
3D Lead: Florian Witzel
3D: Alvin Bae, Andreas Gebhardt, Dave Barosin, Heiko Schneck, Jae Ham, Jonah Friedman, Lee Wolland, Pakron Bupphavesa, Pat Porter
Look Development: Marco Iozzi
Flame Lead: Jamie Scott
Flame: Chris Staves
Lead Compositor: Doug Purver
Compositor: Jason Conradt
Flame Assist: Dan Boujoulian, Jeen Lee, Leslie Chung
Design: Anh Vu
Editor: Graham Brennan, Cass Vanini
Roto: Alejandro Monzon, Brian Dangren, Chris Riemann, David Marte, J Bush, Joe Brigati, Jordan Harvey, Will Frazier
Storyboard Artist: Ben Chan
Additional Design: Pete Sickbert-Bennett
Tracking: Joerg Liebold

Music/ Sounddesign: Drazen Bosnjak, Q-Department


About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



Nicely executed but what’s the point? Oh I know, “Synchronized engineering” and all but it still seems like a pretty useless advert and an even weaker animation concept. Also, card flip? Really?

Ok I’m done hating.


Looks as if Psyop just took the Mills’ Audi spot spot and fed it crack. Except where the Mill was elegantly minimal, this piece sort of wreaks of mograph maximalism… same agency?


It makes a lot of sense and it’s extremely well done, 5 stars without any negative comment from me.


Have to agree, beautiful but dull.


I really liked it. I thought the execution was pretty good and the blending of live action and CG was pretty ambitious. Would any one know of a how-to or workflow or any info as to the making-of? Thanks!


what i dont quite get, why are they flipping the cards of the car at the beginning (on the road) yet the car stays static…

von pixel


Its good looking if your not really paying attention.
I felt like everything was way over crafted to an unnecessary degree. I didn’t really feel a story or any sense of identity. What does that really say about the brand? Im just kind of thinking out loud here though.

Is that a directors cut up there? Maybe it works better as a 30?


I’m not sure that stink were really striving for a story.. or any sort of narrative for that matter.
This spot makes a whole lot of sense – If in fact it was aired during the Bejing Olympics.. as ‘opuig’ states.
It would compliment the beautiful synchronization and flip boards, that were such a big part of the opening ceremony.

As a spot on its own, I reckon its pretty outstanding. The level of detail and intricate choreography is brilliant, and the transitions between live action and cg (if you can even spot them) are remarkable.

And the sound design, if you just listen to the music and how it melts with the on-screen sounds…

well I was impressed.


^I concur with the nice detail, choreography, and transitions.
The sound design from Q dept. just put it over the top.

I was impressed enough to watch this multiple times.


sound design? why do all brands trying to do epic shit use classical? thats just so conservative


Eey it looks nice a moody but I have seen this during the Bejing Olympics opening ceremony.


why to hate peoples hard work like this?
why not to just hate producers forgetting to add the correct credits instead?

Great Job!.. florian, and whoever else did this. :)


whoever did this put your energy into something more..creative? lol, that is a bit harsh but fuck…if i had this much manhours and skill at my disposal…mann


Well, check the FWA of today and look for the differences in concept….

I love the Audi film though…


It’s a VW site…


Check the Mutabor site which has been online for some time now. think its a little said that ideas get copied just like that.


copied? its completely refreshed!! so what, the idea of having people holding these cards above their heads is so old, the point is copying would be if psyop made a website which had the exact concept, that does, psyop MIGHT, i repeat, MIGHT have seen this trick before at mutabor, but come on, they took it to a whole new level.

I’ve been waiting for quite a while for a new psyop spot to come out, that guy from the comment above me:
first of all
learn how to spell SAD, its quite easy, only 3 letters!

if you’re really sad, find some activity that makes you happy, that should cheer you up.

and third,
got any relatives that go by name of marc b ?


i dont see a whole new level with the audi think compared to the mutabor think. In fact i like the mutabor thing more cause it seems more graphic


i think this spot is great. also people should stop the hating it’s not healthy.


I don’t like this, although I respect Psyop for their work. With this ad I’ve got a feeling of dejavu. I think it lacks personality and it’s over the top with no reason for it. By the way, which was the car they were advertising?


Do you people think the cheese cake factory invented cheese cake? I don’t see the credits or there inspiration listed on the ingredients of the box, but you don’t care about that do you? It is because we are not cooks we are finicky designers. Anyone who is so bent on the who did it first “drama” really needs to get over this complex. It is blinding you from truly enjoying art. Unless it is an identical plagiarism then you will always find something different witch ironically may inspire your work.


art is about originality too though..well mostly is


why do you people keep having the same fundamental argument on every post on this site?

can we move on from the “they copied them” idea and talk about other things next time?


hahaha, i totally agree. what is the point? Id rather just show synchronicity with two cars racin side by side.


Hey, anybody can benchmark a posted work. It’s better to stop being the moral police.

It’s a well made film. But considering the immense work and apparent budget, you could argue that a more unique concept could have been thought of, that’s all.


this is nice, if psyop shot this all, that’s a nice notch on their belts.

i would have liked a better edit, especially in the car ad niche. if you look at what honda has been doing, the bar is kind of high. and really, i think that’s why parts of this fell flat for me. it got repetitive really quickly and the camera angles seemed to sometimes fight the imagery on the cards themselves.

as far as the discourse on originality, this idea is hardly new, but it’s worth wondering if the agency handed a loaded brief to psyop from the onset. i wouldn’t count it as psyop’s fault. the agency was listed as the one who wanted to portray synchronicity through people flipping cards.

my two cents.


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