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This commercial is by far the best one I have ever done, and I very well may never do a better one. Everybody has seen this one. It premiered as the very first commercial on the 1998 Superbowl and went on to win as the best Superbowl ad that year. The reason this commercial was so good had very little to do with the skysurfing really. It was the post-production digital effects work with the goose that made it so great. Pepsi spent some serious cash on this one. I had only a small part of the task in creating this ad, working with aerial cinematographer Joe Jennings.
Just winning the opportunity to work on this project took some time and effort for me. I went through four different auditions and met with many different people, including the production company from Los Angeles, the advertising agency from New York, and some serious big-timers from Pepsi. I wanted this one badly, because I just knew it would be successful. My efforts and persistence paid off, and soon enough Joe and I were in Arizona to start shooting.
When we arrived at the location, we were met with an aircraft, lots of crew and cameras, and two geese. I started laughing. I knew what the concept was for the commercial, but didn't realize they would actually be bringing live geese to the party. The two geese were completely trained and ready to work. There was a long cable stretched between two tall poles. The geese were tethered to this cable and would fly from one pole to the other while cameras would shoot them from below. The objective was to get shots of the geese flying against the same sky where Joe and I would be jumping. Every now and then the goose trainer would blow on a call horn and the geese would look over or honk for a great shot. At one point I made a strange loud noise to see what the geese would do. They did nothing and the goose trainer wasn't amused.
Joe and I figured that our jobs would be easy, since the skysurfing tricks in the storyboards were very simple. We were mistaken. After our first jump, the director looked at Joe's footage and shook his head. He told me my eye line wasn't correct and that Joe wasn't leaving the correct space in the frame for the goose. Joe and I just looked at each other and knew it would be a long day. We had never heard these sort of requests before, but did our best to get what the director wanted. I learned to look in the direction where the goose would be and Joe always left space on the left side of the frame for the goose. I had to make some strange reaction faces to an imaginary goose while in freefall. All in all it was fun work that ended up taking us two days and 23 jumps to get it right.