Sber - Dancing Layer

Directing Creative CG & 3D Art
The #SberDances challenge rocked Russia's TikTok, amassing nearly 60K videos in just six days and pulling in almost 4 billion views. Celebrating Sberbank's 180th anniversary, the campaign encouraged folks to "Dance with the stars wherever you are!"


For the latest ad blitz of Sber – a Russian financial behemoth transitioning into a digital ecosystem powerhouse – I helmed a pair of punchy 15-second spots.

We roped in the glitterati of Russian pop culture: Philipp Kirkorov, the monarch of the pop scene, and Klava Koka, the dazzling diva captivating the current generation. These names don’t just sell; they resonate with the rhythm of Russian fame, making Sber's cool factor shoot through the roof.

Philipp Kirkorov

As a director, I typically steer clear of brands tied to government structures; their marketing departments tend to smother creative freedom with a litany of restrictions, turning potential collaborations into straightjacketed ventures that stifle fresh ideas and artistic expression.

However, in this case, the marketing team was surprisingly receptive to novel concepts. The format was straightforward – short and sweet. And to be perfectly candid, I just couldn't pass up the chance to work with a Russian pop legend who has touched multiple generations with their enduring influence.

Klava Koka

Participants grooved with digital avatars of Russian celebs like Klava Koka and Philipp Kirkorov in augmented reality, viewable right from their phones. TikTok users jumped into the fray, with top prizes up for grabs including iPhones, SberBox Top TV boxes, SberPortal smart displays, and star-studded features for winning dance duets.

#SberDances marked Russia's first foray into volumetric studio technology, pioneered by Sber AR/VR Lab with a boost from SberMarketing. Vladislav Kreinin, Sberbank's Senior VP, toasted the project's triumph as a tech and AR trailblazer, thanking his team for turning it into TikTok's trendiest dance phenomenon.

The Process

The main challenge of these spots was producing them under tight deadlines and limited conditions. For instance, we couldn't shoot the dancers and stars together due to their jam-packed schedules. So, I had to engineer a tech pipeline that could capture the celebs in a separate volumetric studio and then splice them into the frame with the dancers seamlessly.

To produce the videos quickly and on a tight budget, I mixed practical effects—like suspending a phone on a fishing line—with precise lighting schemes for a quality composite of frames. I had to juggle various variables, such as the artists' height, and a multitude of brand guidelines, which made these videos a true challenge despite the visual simplicity of the final outcome.

I pulled off the phone-flipping stunt myself, as it required a certain knack and physical readiness. Throughout rehearsals, I became as adept at juggling as a circus performer, rehearsing the trick hundreds of times before nailing it on set in one take—much to the amazement of the crew and client.

Due to certain production constraints, we couldn't film the Klava Koka segment on a traditional set. So, I brainstormed a way to conduct the entire shoot in a cramped space that couldn't accommodate bulky lighting rigs. To crack this puzzle, I used photogrammetry to scan the location and then mapped it out in 3D for further planning with cinematographer Yuri Danilov.

After 3D scanning, I remodeled the entire space in 3D using Blender. This allowed for precise measurement of distances to all objects in the frame, strategic planning of lighting schemes, and determination of the right lens selection.

My 3D previsualization skills proved invaluable for this project, as without such an approach, it would have been technically impossible to solve this puzzle within tight deadlines and avoid mistakes.

The precise measurements from the 3D model provided the film crew with clear guidance on how to meticulously arrange every item in the cramped space...

This project underscored the critical importance of thorough prep work for the filming process well before the cameras start rolling, significantly streamlining and accelerating content creation.

Besides that, I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with the Omni production team and Sber's marketing department.

The Crew

Directors: @voogie @smokinregie
DOP: @yuri_danilov
1st AD: @pukhonto
Producers: Yuliya Mineeva @ashgezalyan
Executive producer: @al.triple.a
Gaffer: Andrei Saveliev
MUA: @di_makeupme @elanskaya_polina
Style: @armine999
Set designer: @talljpg
SD Assistants: @rafael_durnoyan @davranoff97
1st AC: @magic_yuu
2nd AC: @kirill_podolyak @den.poymanov
Casting director: @alexkc_korytov
Camera rental: @kirillincamerarental
Location: @ami.scouting
Edit: @4atsky
Colour :@delustien
Admin: @krollike
Administration group: @rush_kapur
@irishamartin @myakinin_official @shternberg_k