A new ad commercial from the UAE’s Emirates Airline has taken the internet by storm. It shows a cabin staff member in the iconic red Emirates hat and uniform, standing atop the tallest point of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Many have wondered if the nail-biting video was real or fake. So now, Emirates has released behind-the-scenes footage showing how this seemingly insane feat was made possible – and that too with a single drone!
The advertisement comes in the wake of the UK government moving the UAE onto its “amber” list for travel. This means that travelers arriving in the UK from Dubai no longer need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.
To share the good news with its patrons, Emirates decided to release a 30-second video ad clip that opens with a close-up of the cabin crew holding up message boards in a nod to the famous scene in the 2003 cult hit Love Actually. As the camera pans out to reveal a panoramic view of the Dubai skyline, you realize that the crew is actually standing at the very top of the Burj Khalifa, some 828 meters above the ground.
If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, you can watch it here:
Behind the scenes with Emirates’ Burj Khalifa ad
Naturally, this footage is insane enough for anyone to question whether green screen or special effects were used. And this has prompted Emirates to release a behind-the-scenes edit, with Sir Tim Clark, president, Emirates Airline, saying:
We always look to challenge the norm and push boundaries at Emirates. The calm and confidence of the cabin crew you see in the ad is an embodiment of our frontline team, serving travelers and ensuring their safety. We’re proud to be among a privileged few who have been allowed to film at the top of the Burj Khalifa by Emaar, and even prouder that we get to showcase our beautiful city, Dubai.
Strict safety protocol and a single drone
Emirates says the ad is the result of rigorous planning, training, testing, and a strict safety protocol. First, the woman in the cabin crew uniform is not actually an airline employee. She is Nicole Smith-Ludvik, a UK-based professional skydiving instructor.
Second, with the building pinnacle offering a space of only 1.2 meters to pull off the stunt, a custom platform with an attached pole needed to be built for Nicole to stand on. She was tethered to this pole, as well as to a couple of other different points directly on the pinnacle, through a hidden harness under her uniform.
Filming had to start at sunrise to catch the golden hour light. Which meant the team, including Nicole, had to begin their ascent to the pinnacle before sunrise. The climb takes one hour and 15 minutes from Level 160 of the Burj Khalifa. There are several tiers and ladders inside a tube that need to be scaled to reach the top.
And finally, to shoot one of the highest ads ever filmed, a single drone was used. This drone captured the footage in a continuous take to film the complete sequence.
Here’s the complete behind-the-scenes footage:
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