Mini-cams amplify action in 426 Inc.-Optimus spot

In a TV commercial, demonstrating brake rotors – aka brake discs, as important to stopping a vehicle as brake pads — can be a snore or as exciting as the one multi-platform agency 426 Inc. produced for its client.

Their 60-second spot for Reactive One Performance brake rotors shot in California and finished at Optimus, plays on the National Auto Parts Association’s (NAPA) website, where the product is being sold.

In the “Art of Braking” spot, famous stunt driver John Capps whips a Ford Mustang fitted with Reactive Ones around the track at speeds north of 90 mph and at the end of the twists and turns he has spelled out “One” in skid marks, effectively creating a piece of art using a rotor, rubber and asphalt.

What gives the track maneuvers a cutting edge is the liberal use of recently developed ReplayXD mini-video cameras that were made specifically to capture high impact motor sports. 

Stunt driver John Capps in "Art of Breaking"Twenty-two of them, weighing just one ounce and so small they fit in a man’s hand, were strategically mounted on two vehicles, a Ford Mustang and a Ford 4×4 truck, driven by Capps.

“The cameras insert drama into the shots,” says Robbie Vasquez, founder/president of 426 Inc., a five-year old West Loop agency specializing in the automotive aftermarket products and named in honor of the mighty Hemi 426 cubic-inch car engine. 

ReplayXD Cameras president, John Spar of Calabasas, supplied the cameras and also brought a team out to mount the cameras and monitor them.  Vasquez’ crew secured the vehicles from the blogger Jason Gavin from, the video playback and arranged for use of the Ultimate Arm, a huge specialty jib used for car work.

The cameras were strategically mounted throughout the two Fords: “on the hoods, inside the wheel wells, covering the gas and brake pedals, dashboard and others on the Ultimate Arm,” Vasquez explains.

Mini ReplayXDs installed in intricate places

Mini ReplayXDTwo ReplayXDs were placed in the vehicle interiors, one on Capps’ helmet and others to capture his intense facial reactions and split second footwork.  “One shot that was never done before,” notes Vasquez, “was made inside the wheel well, in the two-inch distance between the rotor and the axle.”

“We even put one on a remote control helicopter for aerial shots. The result is a beautiful spot highlighting all the best angles from the shoot,” says One at Optimus’ executive producer Kip Christiansen.

“We had one day of testing to make sure we could cover the stunt and John did the writing in 20 minutes, all in one maneuver – all pure stunt,” Vasquez says. 

Vasquez teamed with ONE at Optimus, co-directing with Santa Monica-based Mark Pallman.  Optimus’ Jim Stashauskas, also of the Santa Monica, edited the 30 hours of footage.  DP was Drew Wehde of L.A.

Vasquez says the Reactor Rotor Performance spot was so well-received that NAPA is making it the centerpiece of a new ad campaign and it will be a feature element of an upcoming sales meeting.

426 Inc. credits: Robbie Vasquez, ECD; Jeff White, copywriter and Susan Shen, graphics design.

ONE at Optimus and Optimus credits: Producer Therese Hunsberger, Santa Monica managing director/executive producer; Dan Swierenga, assistant editor; Joel Signer, colorist; Jeff Greco, assistant colorist; Marina Bacci, sound designer; Scott Yurks, online editor, Matt Bregger, assistant.