Fast & Furious is Universal’s unstoppable, high octane $1 billion blockbuster franchise. But what fuels it? NOS. Nitrous Oxide Systems to the uninitiated. The lifeblood coursing through every speed junky’s veins.
Limitations of internal combustion mechanics aside, that moment when Dominic Toretto hits that red button, fires the engine and streams ahead to win the race is the jump lead of many a heart stopping scene.
Entering the lexicon and now entrenched firmly in popular culture, the concept of NOS - of unleashing physics-defying horsepower to save the day - inspired a generation, spawning countless memes and multiple teenage fantasies.
So for the launch of Fast & Furious 8, how did we further boost the (far from flagging) franchise? We wanted to find out how it feels to suddenly go from 0-160 in less than 2 seconds. And, more importantly for today’s Insta audience, what does your NOS face look like?
How we did this was so simple it defies logic. To simulate the effects of supersonic speed on the human physiognomy, we initially experimented with slow mo film techniques and SFX. But no amount of digital trickery achieved an extreme or realistic enough appearance. We needed real reactions.
Enter 2x 2,000kW Black & Decker leaf blowers. Positioned, full-throttle, just 2ft away from a participant seated in front of a green screen. Yes, that’s right. Our client allowed us to blast a 170mph jet of air directly at people’s faces.
We then whizzed the captured slow motion footage through our automated post-production process, editing and grading to the requisite high-production levels and rendered into a mini Fast & Furious 8 trailer starring you, ready for sharing.
On leaving the experience, participants would report a surprising feeling of exhilaration as the rush of endorphins evaporated leaving them wondering what the hell just happened. Some likened it to a rollercoaster. None would forget it in a hurry.
A few minutes later, an email would ping into their inbox giving them a selection of three download formats, for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. Most chose two different sizes, revealing a trend of sharing across multiple platforms.
Because our client is international, we knew that if our idea was good enough it would be activated by all their territories from Europe, the Middle East, Latin America to Asia.
When it did, some fundamental anthropological observations emerged. 40,330 reactions, from the discombobulated Europeans to the irrepressible Southeast Asians, highlighted a beautiful global diversity.
The conclusion drawn as to why HIT THE NOS was such a successful concept, is that NOS is the greatest leveller. No matter how cool and collected you are when you enter that booth, everyone’s Charlize Theron in a heatwave (a hot mess) when they leave.