I got invited out this week to see what goes on behind the scenes at a Lucas Oil TV commercial. You’re familiar with their “legends” spots, but this one was planned to have a little more eye-catching action and humor. It made sense to enlist the Troy Lee Designs team since Lucas sponsors them, so the day was set to film MX racers Ben Townley and Tarah Gieger, grenading engines, beautiful sponsor girls, and bikes going up in Hollywood pyrotechnic fireballs.Shooting a commercial is a lot not like racing a moto. On a set, things happen slowly. The takes are filmed about five seconds at a time, with a good hour of set-up between shots. Add a little extra time to coordinate some minor action bits, and a full day at MilestoneMX gets eaten up.
The early shots were simple dialogue shots or looks from David Pingree (team manager) and Troy Lee himself (team owner). Even these simple shots involved the crew using bounce boards, reflectors, and diffusing silks to make the images in the Canon 5D video camera look great. This same camera is being used to shoot entire TV shows, like “House.” Very impressive for a camera body that looks like a little Canon Rebel.The first of the fun shots was Ben Townley complaining about a poorly running motor trackside while the crew coordinated Tarah Gieger and David Pingree pounding through the whoops in the background. Ben delivered his lines, then did it again “one more time”… about six more times for the producer. Before the cameras rolled I took the chance to interview Ben about his race season. Check out that Ben Townley interview HERE.The second humor bit was Tarah Gieger complaining of a bike with over-the-top bad vibration. Her mechanic’s solution? Tape her hands to the handlebars and send her back out onto the track.Next up the gratuitous eye candy shot to keep your finger off the fast forward button of your Tivo. Jasmine and Summer (who both developed a huge crush on me) cheered on the racers. There was also a huge Carrot Top-esque oversized headphones prop, so I’m told, but I never noticed it.A few riders at the track were enlisted to fill some gate slots, and the production filmed a fake DNS – a bike greanading its motor. A little big screen movie magic and editing prevented any actual engine internals from needing to become externals. Corn syrup substituted, as it so often does in movies, for blood… but this time the blood of an engine not a teenager at camp in a slasher movie.About that time the fire marshal arrived and that signaled that it was time to blow up a bike. A perfectly good bike, one of the team’s dyno bikes, was set to die a glorious death in a storm of fire. But don’t worry for the bike, it was special effects to the rescue again, and Ben bailed from the bike just as a remote-detonated squib went off under the cases.Rough-running engines, smoking mufflers and outright explosions… not a good sounding day for the TLD team… until… that’s right, they discover the magic elixir to engine performance… cue the hero music… Lucas Oil.So credit goes to producer Todd Huffman, Troy Lee, Lucas Oil, and Honda for all going the extra mile to try to make these commercial breaks entertaining. And next time the race on TV cuts away from the action to do some business, keep your eyes peeled for Ben, Tarah, Jasmine and Summer. Oh yeah, and a quart bottle of Lucas Oil.