A year behind the scenes with Exact and Max

In August 2015, Exact established a personal partnership with Max Verstappen, the promising and ambitious racing talent. Eight months later, we were a partner of Max Verstappen, the youngest Formula 1 Grand Prix winner ever. Max Verstappen, the world star. Max Verstappen, the disruptor. Max Verstappen, potentially the most valuable athlete in the world.

So it became quite a turbulent year, in which everything we did with and concerning Max, received a huge amount of attention. There was also a lot that the outside world didn’t get to see. Shame, because the behind-the-scenes footage and anecdotes are often as interesting as the final product. So we decided to give you a little peek into Exact and Max’s year 2016.

Always up-to-date. Almost.

Computer Generated Image Toro Rosso

Our first, biggest and most noted production of the year was the video we made with Max running laps in his Toro Rosso on an abandoned airfield. This technical masterpiece was a collaboration with Kingsday and The Ambassadors. The only thing ‘real’ about it is Max himself. Everything else is simulated using Computer Generated Imaging. An incredible project with an outcome we were very proud of.

The Dutch version of the video would be shown on Ziggo prior to each Grand Prix. After a production time of three months, it was first broadcast on May 1st, prior to the Grand Prix of Russia. A week later, Max was unexpectedly promoted to Red Bull Racing, making the commercial with the Toro Rosso obsolete in one fell swoop.

Was it a disaster? No. It was still a cool video and most laymen were totally unaware that Max is driving a different car now. Did it stink? Yes. Especially because of our claim in the video to always be up-to-date. Since then we were weekly mocked by some witty fans on twitter for being not so up-to-date. Ouch!

Max and Jeroen in the gym

Max in Dutch talk show Pauw

The pain of the outdated commercial was washed away quickly when Max immediately won the first race he drove in the RB12 on May 15, 2016. That in itself was great, but what was even better was that Max would come visit us at our office for an internal event 4 days later. That was going to be a party! On May 19, 2016 we gave Max the hero's welcome he deserved.

Although Max's arrival was a surprise to most of our colleagues, the editors of Dutch talk show Pauw had got wind of it. Jeroen Pauw’s final broadcast before the summer break would air the day after and he was very eager to speak with Max. So not only Max, but also Jeroen paid us a visit.

Prior to our celebration of Max, Jeroen Pauw interviewed him ... in our fitness room. In the midst of home trainers and dumbbells, Pauw listened open-mouthed while Max talked about his winning race. Max did that so well that pretty much of the footage was used in the next day’s broadcast. Instead of the planned five minutes, the item about Max took up the entire broadcast instead. Well done, Max!

A super hero deserves his own comic book

Comic book for a super hero

As Max's partner we wanted to make ourselves heard on social media around every Grand Prix. So we developed the Max comics together with Funk-E, in which we portray Max at every race as a hero in a stereotypical magnification of the respective Grand Prix.

That was sometimes very easy, but sometimes a hard delivery. Try and come up with a witty joke that takes place in Baku – after having to google where that even is. The other way around, it was sometimes particularly difficult to keep it simple. Fortunately, the comics were generally very well received, so they were always worth the headache. That our "predictions" sometimes came true, such as in Spain and Malaysia, made it extra fun.

Because Max liked them so much himself, we made a bundle of all the comics at the end of the year that we sent him as a thank you. Collector’s item!

Toasting with a tennis ball

Toasting with a tennis ball

As eye catchers of our employer branding campaign ‘Tech Curious People Only’, we made two videos with Max. In these, we let him discover 'new technology'. In the first video he makes a cup of tea using a drone and in the other he discovers the possibilities of a holographic screen – which he eventually walks off with.

During the shooting of these videos Max turned out to be, apart from a racing talent and a being-interviewed-by-Jeroen Pauw-talent, an acting talent as well. Both the drone and the screen were edited into the video in the postproduction process, which means that Max was toasting in a vacuum. Or rather: with a tennis ball on a fishing rod. Keep that in mind when you watch the videos.

Tricks in front of green red screen

Making Max gifs

Even as a partner, we have only a limited amount of contact time with Max. After all, he has a fairly busy job. Therefore we used existing footage to assemble a quick video to celebrate the first year of our partnership. When we did have an appointment with Max for a shoot, we tried to get as much out of it as possible.

Thus it could happen that Max was standing in front of a green screen, or in our case a red screen, for a whole morning, and we were asking him to do the strangest things. Like spraying bottles of champagne, bursting through paper walls, waving Dutch flags, braving rains of confetti and much, much more. But we’re keeping that to ourselves for now :)

We also asked Max to start writing, because that can be done anywhere. In August, Max wrote his first column for our tech blog. He had to ease into it a bit, but he got a hang of it soon. Especially his column after the controversial GP of Mexico received a lot of attention. What an all-rounder!

Looking for Max’s roots in the kart workshop

Inside the workshop with Max

Our biggest event of the year was Exact Live. In 2015, Max made a spectacular entrance there on a kart, but this year he couldn’t be there because of the GP in Brazil. Therefore we asked Dutch pit reporter Jack Plooij to travel to Maasbracht in advance, to interview Max in and about the place where he spent much of his youth: the kart workshop.

Max was clearly at ease in this familiar environment, and a very interesting conversation emerged. Jack said later that he only rarely had experienced Max like this. No wonder the 5 minute edit we showed at Exact Live was very well received by the 5,000 attendees.

Also Exact Live host and Dutch talk show host Humberto Tan and Jack Plooij himself, who was also present, were apparently impressed. The editors of the TV-shows they’re involved with, respectively RTL Late Night and Ziggo Sport Totaal, phoned afterwards to ask if they could broadcast the full interview.

We refused these requests politely, because we prefer to stay in control. Partly based on the interview, we wrote a long read about high tech in the world of Max. Early 2017, we will treat you to a series of short videos from this interview with as grand finale a long edit of the special interview around the test weekend in Barcelona.

To be continued!

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