Welcome to every kid’s dream: an entire city where just about every surface is a trampoline capable of vaulting you down the street—and turning a boring commute into a joyous romp across manholes, lampposts and rooftops.
The magical talisman making this all possible in Apple’s newest ad from longtime agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab is a pair of AirPods, the wireless earbuds that launched in 2016 and have become a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon seen everywhere from offices and subways to, most topically, city streets.
In the new 2-minute spot “Bounce,” we see a grim urbanite mustering himself out his apartment door, presumably headed to a job he seems far from enthused about. But after popping in his AirPods and hitting the sidewalk, he soon realizes the world has literally changed beneath his feet.
Much like 2018’s “Welcome Home” featuring FKA twigs expanding her apartment thanks to the liberating effect of her Apple HomePod, “Bounce” was achieved almost exclusively with practical effects. Very little CGI was used in the production (really just for the slow-motion floating scenes), with the trampoline surfaces silk-printed to blend seamlessly into the sets.
Shot in Kiev, Ukraine, the ad blends real city backdrops with footage shot on an intricately designed soundstage. It was recorded in color, but in the end the creators decided black and white would lend a more striking effect and also help convey the ad’s inspiration: the films of 1920s Hollywood icon and physical comedian Buster Keaton. You can also see that inspiration in some of the ad’s tableau staging, which keeps the camera still while the actor navigates entertainingly through the frame.
To achieve the trampoline effect on a sidewalk, the set was crafted six feet above the floor of the soundstage, enabling the talent to bounce deep into the ground for maximum lift. The talent, by the way, is a French actor chosen in part for having trampoline experience—but he’s not an acrobat or professional dancer, as the ad’s creative team wanted a lead who moved in a natural way rather than with otherworldly grace.
The ad’s most impressive moment, when the star tumbles off a bench and into a wall behind him, was also achieved with practical effects. The scene was first shot right-side-up, then the set was rotated 90 degrees, allowing the actress in the scene to keep sitting (really lying on her back) while the star fell backward to bounce off what appears to be a wall.
Unlike “Welcome Home”—which was directed by A-lister Spike Jonze, featured a track by Anderson .Paak and starred a global celebrity in FKA twigs—”Bounce” was crafted by and around rising talent who aren’t household names.
The spot was directed by Pulse Films’ Oscar Hudson, primarily a music video director, who won gold in the 2017 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase at the Cannes Lions. He previously directed Ikea’s snappy branded music video for London indie band Teleman.
Most intriguing is the source of the track, “I Learnt Some Jazz Today” from 21-year-old Jamaican producer and songwriter Tessellated. The creative team found a version of the song on SoundCloud and asked him to expand on it for the spot.
Tessellated certainly isn’t an “unknown,” given that his recent breakout track “Pine & Ginger” has more than 11 million streams on Spotify. But Apple has a long history of launching rising artists onto a new global stage, so it’ll be interesting to watch where Tessellated goes from here. (As I write this, he has 2,182 Twitter followers and 5,375 on Instagram, in case you want to revisit these numbers later for comparison.)
While “Bounce” isn’t specifically part of a formal ad series, it continues the vibe of magical realism we’ve seen from the brand’s marketing in recent years.
Obviously, “Welcome Home” set the bar for showing how a device can seem to alter the world around you (in that case, creating a sense of personal space in the cramped environment of a New York apartment). But 2018’s “Unlock” for Apple from production house Furlined also took a similar direction in showing a young woman, empowered by the iPhone X’s facial unlock feature, wreaks havoc across a school by unlocking anything and everything with a simple glance.