This post I break down the in's and out's of producing, directing and shooting the AVIDA Motorhome TVC.
This is one of my favourite commercials. It was a direct to client job and I had the privilege of producing, directing and shooting it. I was also the creative director in that I was given the opportunity to pitch the idea and write it. The client chimed in with their feedback and input of course but it was nice to have a lot of the creative control and freedom to pitch something that I felt would really tell a great story visually.
- RED Epic-W @ 7K resolution, 2:1 aspect ratio, 14:1 compression, 1280 ISO, 25fps, 180 degree shutter
- Carl Zeiss CP.2 prime lenses 25, 35, 50, 85mm
- Canon CN-E 15.4-47mm cinema zoom lens
- Tamron 18-50mm zoom lens (for drone work)
- Tilta rig & handles + RED DSMC2 side handle
- Tilta matte box
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest IRND 0.3 - 1.8ND
- 1/8 Black Frost diffusion
- Creamsource Doppio Mini (daylight LED)
- Arri Skypannel
- Westcott LED Flex light 1x1
- Litematt (tungsten)
- Small generator
- FreeFly Alta 6
- FreeFly MoVi M15 gimbal
Being largely an outdoors shoot, scheduling was based around the time of day. I had a small crew which included myself as director/DP, plus a line producer/production manager, 1st camera assistant, 2nd camera assistant/production assistant and gaffer.
Shooting on the Epic-W, I had a 1/8 Black Frost diffusion filter in front of the lens for everything except the aerial shots. This just takes the edge of the sharpness and softens the lens a little. You can really see the difference in softness when comparing the image of the girl above with the aerial below. For the aerials I was using a stills lens.
Drone work is heavily impacted by weight. With the RED, MoVi M15 and Alta 6 combined were already almost at the max takeoff weight limit. The CP.2's are around 1KG each while the Tamron 18-50mm stills lens is only about 300g.
Notice the detail in the trees. It doesn't go all blocky in the aerial shots. That's because with the FreeFly Alta 6 drone we could fly the Epic-W and not only keep a level of consistency in the look of the footage across the whole film but also maintain detail in the finer areas such as the leaves. Using a small drone like the Phantom wouldn't have help up so well especially with so many trees and leaves to capture.
I also find for drone shots using the 35mm focal length is the sweet spot between not getting any noticeable camera shake and not having a really wide angle lens. I really don't like the distorted super wide angle look you get from a GoPro or Phantom 4 camera. 35mm is perfect for straight lines - especially when there are tree trunks in the shot that I just want to look normal and not bowed at the edges of the frame.
The little battery powered LED Flexi light was perfect for the interior driving shots. Driving the vehicle away from direct sun there was plenty of ambient daylight coming in through the windscreen lighting the front of the talents's face. For a bit of fill light my gaffer was just handholding the Flexi while I handheld the camera from hip height.
I love this shot. It's a breakfast scene so I felt it was plausible for the haze. The Creamsource is a super punchy LED that's just giving us that shaft of light through the haze. The Flexi again just gave us that soft backlight and the ambient daylight works perfectly. Out the window you can see some detail of other caravans - a great example of the dynamic range the RED has to offer.
Generally I like to backlight everything. This was shot in June so the sun is naturally quite low and at around 3pm we're approaching magic hour giving the fisherman a nice golden backlight. The 4x4 poly on camera side just bounces a little bit of fill back into his face.
This shot was taken directly after the fisherman shot. As the low angled sunlight comes through the trees it filters it a little and softens it as it backlights the talent. A handheld 4x4 poly bounce was used again here to bounce light back into their faces. Keeping it subtle and soft by giving it enough of a distance from the talent is the key so that the light on their faces still appears natural.
This was a night scene that was shot during the day. We blacked the set and used a single soft tungsten source to light with so that it felt more like evening and gave us some colour contrast from all of the other exterior shots. The light natural bounces off the white walls of the van. As with most cases, I like to shoot on the fill side (shadow side) of the face. This just gives the scene more depth and creates shape. It's moodier and always looks nicer than placing the camera on the key side.
The final scene ends with a rising wide shot that gives us this grandeur of the mountains with the product in the foreground. It's the pac shot in every ad that shows off the product with the brand identity - only this one is for these large vehicles.
This shot was done again with the drone. The style of the shot emulates a large jib or crane as it rises up. Having the ability to use the drone over multiple days really paid off because it meant we could get a variety of dynamic shots without the need for any other grip or tracking vehicle equipment.
Edit & Grade
The deliverables on this job was a 60 sec version for online and a 30 sec version for TV. For the grade I shot this using a RED to Alexa LUT which I intentionally carried forward into post. This is a third party LUT created by TrueColor
The versatility of the RED camera's smaller form factor, high resolution, options for compressed raw and wide dynamic range coupled with the RED to Alexa LUT gives me the best of both (RED and ARRI Alexa) worlds.
And while I love the soft highlight roll off options provided in RED's IPP2 LUT package, the Alexa colour look I felt was the right choice for this film. Some minor tweaking to the exposure and colour here and there (with the exception of the last shot that needed to look more blue like it was shot later in the day than the camp fire shots that preceded it) and I was happy.
About the Author
Ben Kumanovski is the owner of Global Pictures; a corporate film production agency servicing some of Australia’s biggest brands.
With over a decade in the industry Ben cut his teeth directing commercials. As an award winning filmmaker, Ben is a driven director and cinematographer with a passion to deliver a complete artists' vision.
Ben’s story began at a young age, where he found fascination in the production of great films, and a burning desire to tell stories on screen.
Having studied with AFTRS, the University of New England and JMC Academy, Ben's style is defined by a rich cocktail of distinctly cinematic and commercial aesthetics.
As a director, Ben has worked with a sleuth of well-known talent, and takes a personal, welcoming approach to working with actors.
Ben is also a full member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS).
A curated portfolio of Ben's work can be seen at www.benkumanovski.com