So if you wondered what all of the Freefly MōVI gear stuff was about back in December of last year was about … here is is: it was for a spot that I directed for UGG for M&C Saatchi LA with a very talented young Director of Photography Matt Wise – the spot was released today.
This was an extremely refereshing shoot for me, as we were allowed to roam the streets of Los Angeles and to truly “chase the light” given that the shoes are of course “CGI” elements added in post (or Computer Graphics elements) created by the talented Rusty Ippolito of MakeVFX…
It was a bit of a head twister at times to direct the spot given that the team had no central characters to “follow” / focus / track but a wonderful challenge nonentheless for all involved. It’s not uncommon to work with CGI elements that everyone can reference … for example: imagine the helicopter banking to the right there, or the car turing the corner at this speed here… but when you are referencing shoes that no one else has ever seen, let alone them doing something that shoes don’t naturally do (float) … that’s where it get’s interesting. How high are they? How fast do they move? Do they wobble? Do they collide with other objects? Themselves? etc etc… It’s actually a LOT of fun. But when it comes to communicating that with several dozen people: you better have the answers. COLD.
Needless to say, this spot would have been absolutely IMPOSSIBLE without tools like Freefly’s M15 MōVI – well, OK – I guess we could have done it with a huge team / crew and street closures with Steadicams, cranes, technocrats etc… but this was not that type of shoot… it was myself, Matt and a lot of good light and fun for a few early morning and late afternoons of “chasing the light” followed up with one traditional day with a full crew. Had we done it simply in one or two days with a full crew, we simply could not have been as discerning with the light: and in December of last year the weather was not particularly kind… we were lucky we chose this approach in retrospect!
I’ve done a few 6-7 figure commercials by nowand I can tell you that this was the closest I’ve come to going back to my roots of being a photojournalist roaming the streets trying to “find the light” or “angle” and that was utterly refreshing. I absolutely love working with talented crews and there is no substitute for doing so, but even they will understand what I mean when I say that there is nothing like grabbing a camera on your own and just “going” with no deadline or ticking clock getting in the way… it’s a rare luxury these days, and one I cherish – and one made more and more possible by tech and agencies like M&C Saatchi LA and my production company Great Guns.
To me it’s not a question of picking one over the other, but instead of doing it just like we did it on this job: there are times for full sized crews where you need all of the bells and whistles for efficiency etc, and other times where you need to be lean and mean, or when you need to be able to justify sitting around and NOT shooting… because you are waiting for the light…
I hope that I’ll be able to shoot like this often from now on: big team when needed – with talent / extras / vehicles etc. Small team w/ B-Roll beauty shots and perhaps talent at times… there is simply no substitute for beautiful light. Well ok there is: a LOT AND LOT OF MONEY and light … and well: a lot of Hollywood Magic
Below are two quick videos, first is a quick example of what I would do when I would “scout” on my own, I find that it’s a waste of time for me to go out and scout with a still camera anymore, I now bring my personal RED Dragon camera and some basic primes or a short 19~90mm Fujinon Cabrio Zoom lens w/ a basic filter set with me.
On this shoot / scout (there was no real delineation on my end and that was my choice and the agency agreed to allow me to do it this way to their credit) I would basically go out with a RED Dragon and a series of lenses and a set of NDs & a Polarizer – some days with a set of primes, some days with a bare body (as in the case below) other days with a MoVI as well, other days I had a Cabrio w/ filter kit, plus sticks as an option.
And that was utterly liberating.
No 1st AC. Trust me there were many times where I would have LOVED to have had a trusty AC. But the truth is I love to work 12-18 hour days and fit in meetings in between the good light…
The warehouse window shots that made the spot for example … those shots were made in the middle of two conference calls with the agency & my production co. for the spot.
I can go no leave w/ 4 IDX batts, a set of sticks, a zoom or 3-4 primes in a backpack and shoot 5K RAW at 120 fps and that’s pretty darn liberating… and hard to beat!
I can start pre-sunset… go to warehouses on my own (asking permission to cool peeps who let me in knowing what I’m doing and why, and let producers work out details after w/ production) and take conference calls – while not ruining my day in an office… to me it’s a WIN WIN for all involved…
The shots you see of the warehouse windows in the final spot were shot on a day I was supposed to be locked in an office doing conference calls …
Instead: I shot.
Also you’ll see below, I walked around and found the exact time the Eastern building was lit around 1:13 p.m. and the alley had a shaft of light in it for us to shoot with a full crew a few days later… and was able to do a test handheld at 120 fps on the Dragon… like I said: win… win… had we gotten an overcast day on the big shoot day, we could have fallen back on this footage in a worse case scenario…
It’s all about having OPTIONS isn’t it? And I can tell you: the mood on the day of the shoot was SUPER relaxed because most in the know knew that we had a good chunk of the spot “in the bag” already… and that’s a WONDERFUL LUXURY to have. Obviously that’s not something you can often do, given that you almost always have talent or product in a spot, but for all of the shots in a post when you do NOT have it … why do it another way (unless you need to CONTROL the scene?) Right? It all depends I guess – but it’s best to keep an open mind in my opinion! Because the images don’t lie: GOOD LIGHT is GOOD LIGHT!
And the second video is silliness… just pure silliness… but why not when you’ve shot a good chunk of the spot prior to the official shoot day right?