How a minivan took the stage
Shanghai, China
Mercedes-Benz
Mission V
Promenade theatre?
We're lucky enough to work in an industry so novel that the standard vocabulary hasn't been established yet, and sometimes we get a chance to coin a new term. We felt that the expression "promenade theatre" would be just perfect to describe a kind of performance during which the audience can freely move around the venue — and then it immediately struck us that term has been around for quite some time already. So we went on to produce a promenade theatre piece and didn't coin any new terms (yet). We'll keep trying, though.
A van not only for the suits
The V-Class minivan was already widely known in China, but not exactly the way the brand marketers wanted to. It was perceived almost unanimously as a car for driving people in suits from one important meeting to another — whereas Mercedes wanted to project an image of a car for families that are bursting with life.
Live performance with a real car
We dived into market research data and found out that the main interest of the audience (predominantly male, 34 to 45), besides their businesses and families, are movies. This led us to an idea of a Hollywood action movie film with a strong male character who is also a family man. We started to think about how to make it and then to show it at the event, and then came an epiphany: we decided to turn it into a live performance — in front of the audience, with a real car. This is how "MISSION V" came to life, an action- and tech-packed live Hollywood blockbuster promenade theatre piece. (We also expect to receive the Annual 2018 Modesty Award for it). As packed as the V-Class van that was the star of the show.
How to do an auto show differently
Most car shows are executed in a very conservative setup: designated seats for the audience with a fixed stage in front of them. We thought that we should try something new and started with an idea of letting people to be anywhere during the show. As we were developing this concept, we realised that what we're doing is actually a promenade theatre. Therefore we had to apply different rules than the ones we would use in a regular setup. We designed the space that encouraged the audience to walk around and watch the show from different angles. The heroes of the show performed right next to the audience: Vincent with his family, guest celebrity Mr. Joe Hahn, and the van itself (that turned out to be the story's principal character). The digital backgrounds of Vincent's family house, Shanghai motorways and in the ancient Chinese Town served as a backdrop. The second layer of the narrative was told on supporting screens with combination of live feed and original story videos that we shot before the event.
Like shooting a movie, but with live audience
The focus was on the theatre play and telling the story with as little digital media involved as possible. However, we challenged ourselves to use the technology in a subtle way for supporting the narrative. Three custom sets, combination of LED screens and projection stunts, tons of lighting and much more were used to create 10 different locations for the actors. We set up live feeds from three cameras to capture the action as though we're shooting a movie in real time. The live feed was then combined with pre-recorded footage – over 80 shots of the family driving V-Class through the streets of Shanghai, going about their day.
Broadway premiere coming soon
The total duration of the live show was around 25 minutes, but we managed to create an engaging and action-packed experience that grabbed the audience's attention from start to finish. We're open to calls from Hollywood producers – undoubtedly, this story will be turned into a feature film one day. Or will it be Broadway?
How it looked in real life
Credits
Experiential Director Denis Astakhov
Director Alexey Karpenko
Сreative Director Victor Lander
Producer Eugenia Strizhkina
Lighting Director Stepan Novikov
Production Director Alexey Makrushin
Idea and copywriting Oleg Bootkovsky
Scriptwriters Nikolay Nikitin, Vera Loginova

Production Kiselev & Kulyakhtin Team
CG Producer Vlad Kiselev
Art Director Nikolay Kulyakhtin
3D Animation Alexey Churochkin, Victor Meshcheryakov,
Ildar Enikeev, Andrey Osokin, Kirill Zarubin,
Sergey Shkirskiy, Vlad Kiselev, Yegor Kumachov

3D Modelling Dmitry Cheremnov
2D character animation Daria Volchok
Post production RaketaFX

Music & Sound Design Monoleak
Photographer Andrey Buzin
Filming Konstantin Bykovskii,
Andrey Rymarev, Stepan Belousov


Video post-production STGFILMSERVICE
Film Editor Stepan Belousov
Music & SFX Kirill Taushkin
Production Assistant Nikolay Fomin
Colorist Serafim Salnikov
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