Iconic Russian truck brand KAMAZ – Dakar Rally Truck category winners a staggering 18 times and legendary for their rally, drift, and stunt driver teams – celebrated its 45th anniversary with a spectacular live show, presentation and special event featuring jazz band Denis Matsuev & Friends, staged at its main factory in Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan.
When Denis Matsuev suggested opening the event to the strains of orchestral suite ‘Time Forward!” by Georgy Sviridov, event director Irina Karimova had the idea of a video intro that would combine the movement of trucks with the rhythm and mood of the music. So, the event’s creative team decided to involve seven of the newest KAMAZ-54901 tractor units in a ‘dance’ routine in the snow.
This challenged lighting designer Artem Sagaidak to produce some practical and cool illuminative solutions for the video shoot … and he reached out for Astera Titan Tubes!
Video director Nellie Molodanova wanted two aspects to the video. The first with the trucks lined up and the drivers playing one of ‘Time Forward!’s musical parts on their horns! By complete contest, the second part would show the ultimate choreographed chaos of the trucks drifting in the snow!
The video shoot site chosen was the factory’s helipad, which offers a fantastic view, plenty of room including a mature tree which added context and texture to the vista, along with a large glowing KAMAZ sign in the background.
Artem assessed the various lighting challenges including the erratic February weather and Astera Titan Tubes proved to be a solution for everyone!
With snowfall and gusty winds forecast on the shoot day, IP65 fixtures were the first consideration!
He then imagined the KAMAZ trucks as if they were singers onstage and decided to highlight them accordingly. “I wanted an array of red and blue – the KAMAZ corporate colours – LED fixtures placed at approximately 3 metres distance away for the front washes,” he explained. “I knew I would need to take care finding the right angles to avoid reflections and ghosting from the windshields.”
Additionally, to add depth to the ‘stage’, he wanted to light the tree from multiple angles as it was an ideal prop and set piece.
Likening the drifting part of the performance to a “ballet on ice” – albeit with the vastly heavier subjects than is standard – the helipad became a metaphorical ice rink that required lighting from all sides also using ground-based LED battens.
On top of that, the director also wanted in-cab shots of the drivers during the exercise, so the cabins also needed illuminating … a setup which had to work for both static and moving shots.
Conventional fixtures were completely out for this part of the project, especially for the in-motion footage.
“I knew I needed to adopt an overall cinematic approach to lighting, and also that I required very flexible lights with onboard power, long battery life and wireless control,” explained Artem … who remembered Astera’s famous Titan Tubes, which he had not actually himself used at this point, but had seen them at various exhibitions and presentations!
With no Titan Tubes in the vicinity and only four day before the shoot, he made a late-night call to Anton Anufriev from B-Right, Astera’s exclusive Russia and the CIS countries distribution, and the next day the fixtures were on their way from Moscow via rental company C-light.
The video shoot action ran from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the morning and went extremely smoothly with Artem able to get high quality different coloured light swiftly and easily in exactly the right places with no wiring or other practical issues.
Artem’s only regret was that these 8 hours were not enough to experiment fully and realise all the many ideas he was having once he started using the Titan Tubes!
Overall, he was “hugely impressed” with the Asteras – with the quality of the light, the features and the enormous versatility.
“While the Titan Tubes can work in the snow for 20 hours, people unfortunately can’t” he commented, adding that after they wrapped the filming, he persuaded the organisers to let him have one truck for an extra half an hour so he could light some additional shots for himself.
The shoot was eventful from several angles and not without some amusing incidents!
The standard production KAMAZ-54901 truck is super-stable and not built or modified to drift so oversteering proved impossible – an effect that the director needed to complete the shoot … and so getting the right shots was an achievement made possible thanks to the driver’s virtuoso skills! (check the antics of the KAMAZ 4326 ‘Master’ truck for some serious drift and driving capabilities!)
One of the drone pilots was so engrossed in the excitement of the performance that one of the Quadcopters connected with a tree at high speed!
However, in the true spirit of action shoots, this didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. The fantastic teamwork paid off, the exercise was a huge success, and everyone was delighted with the dramatic opening video sequence which got everyone on their seat edges!
MUGENOV was the company responsible for the full technical support on the filming project.
And Artem says he will definitely be using Astera products in the future.
Photo: © Artem Sagaidak