Has it really been more than a decade since we buried the streets of Miami in a giant bubble bath? It seems like just yesterday, as it has been one of our most entertaining projects to date. The Movie Prop Rentals crew worked alongside Fallon London on the much-lauded Sony Foam City ad, designed to show off Sony’s HandyCam and CyberShot capabilities.
Sony, of course, is no stranger to big, bold ideas. We’re talking about the company that dropped 250,000 super balls down a steep San Francisco street, exploded 17,000 liters of paint in Glasgow, and used 2.5 tons of Play-Doh to create bunnies invading New York City. So, hey, why not blast 600,000 cubic feet of foam through six inner-city blocks of Miami? When you’ve got Hollywood special effects masters at Movie Prop Rentals on your side, you can transform any dream into a reality.
“We wanted this to be a magical event where people would be able to have a truly unique photographic experience,” explained Mikah Martin-Cruz, general manager of marketing communications of Sony UK, “a place where we could show just how our products are designed to capture real life moments as they happen, in perfect detail. With ‘Foam City’, we have created somewhere you just can’t put your camera down, even for a moment, as something totally unexpected and wonderful happens every second.”
Wondering what it takes to get that perfect 90-second commercial? The crew consisted of 150 official personnel – 18 foam handlers, a documentary filmmaker, a professional photographer, 20 journalists, and crew. Director Simon Ratigan shot 16 hours of Digital SLR film and sorted through 200 uploads from locals recording their experiences with Handycams and Cybershots.
The foam itself was made by Back Stage Technologies, using a custom-designed machine that converted 1,000 liters of water into 2,000,000 liters of foam per minute. The machine could fill an Olympic swimming pool in 24 seconds and fill hundreds of meters with foam 3 meters high in just a few minutes. All told, an estimated 460 million liters of foam in three different densities were created in the filming of this video.
The foam was all FDA certified, and MAFF approved. After the shoot, the foam was broken down using a special spray used in the catering industry for minimal environmental impact. Drains were blocked off to prevent water supply contamination. Street cleaning machines removed bubble residue each day.
Leading up to the shoot, we had to meet with city authorities, police, the Film Commission, and some 100 local businesses that had to close down during production.
Jerry Blohm’s Words…
What a crazy day! We laugh just thinking about it. “We made 25 barriers to hold the foam in on some streets,” lead project manager Jerry Blohm recalls. “The foam reached 10-feet deep in some places, and ultimately shot 300 feet into the air! I looked over at producer Ira Brooks, as construction workers were reaching out over the guard rails to grab the bubbles, and said, ‘Listen, if they fall, I’m not liable for that!’”
“But you know, honestly, it was hard to be on-set and not get caught up in the spectacle of it all,” Jerry confesses. “It’s probably something I’ll never get to do again on such a grand scale, but it was truly fabulous. I feel like I can do almost anything that doesn’t include space flight, and that’s what makes my job so interesting.”
Foam City Ad Reception
As you’d expect, the ad went viral. Over 250 blogs posted the ad, according to ViralBlog, though the impact was arguably much more massive in scope. After all, Google returned over 7,000 direct matches for “Sony Foam City.”
Adland praised Sony for their “creative over-the-toppitude.”
The UK Telegraph called Foam City Sony’s “most spectacular [advertisement] yet.”
Perhaps the best indicator of how successful Foam City was can be found on Flickr, in a group created by and for the people who lived in the Miami Foam City for a few days. To say it was “unforgettable” is an understatement.
Ready to Dream Big with Us?
Contact Movie Prop Rentals for a prompt quote on TV Commercial Set Building, Construction, Special Effects, Decorating, Props, Scenic Design, Art Direction, or Production. We’re based in Miami and Atlanta and will travel anywhere in the USA where dreamers exist.