Apple released the ad for its already-notorious Airpods this weekend, and it’s already sparked a chorus of comparisons to the company’s classic silhouette ads. But here at Inverse, we’re more interested in Lil Buck’s gravity-defying moves. In the video, the dancer moves effortlessly along walls, windows, and even the side of a car, all set to Marian Hill’s “Down.”
This ad visually references Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling,” both of which famously used rotating sets. And while it’s always exciting to see someone break the laws of physics and dance or walk somewhere other than a horizontal surface, what’s really cool about this video is the fact that Apple ditched the traditional technology used to deal with this physics problem in favor of CGI.
Typically, a visual trick like this involves a rotating set, in which an entire room rotates 360 degrees while a camera rotates with it. This creates the illusion that the room is remaining stationary and the actors are moving up the walls and across the ceiling. It’s a move that filmmakers have used for decades. It requires a large soundstage to house the structure, and it creates a disorientingly cool visual effect, but it’s really not that complicated.
While this camera trick works great for a single room, Lil Buck is performing his moves outdoors, which means Apple had to — wait for it — think different. Say what you will about the benefits of practical effects over CGI, we think the end result is super cool.