Updated: Sep 6, 2022
Clients are often amazed as they watch us bring their film to life. Many people comment on the level of effort it took to make their video look great, compared to what they had thought it would be like. The professional camera and lighting gear, the time involved to setup each shot and the way it looks on camera once it's lit and framed properly, never ceases to impress. It's a great compliment to our workmanship, so we decided to put together this little behind the scenes peak from a range of projects to show you why so many clients think our productions are simply magnificent!
It All Starts With An Idea
As a full service, end to end creative production company, we thrive on the opportunity to be creative. The creative solution to a video production first requires a creative idea. Sometimes the client comes to us with a seed of an idea and other times they simply have a need and we conceive the concept and present it back to them. Once the idea is green-lit, we move to scripting, storyboarding if necessary, and finally to production taking the idea from concept to completion.
The images above, created for our TMGM commercial shows the process from ideation and scripting to storyboarding and the final production. Read on to discover each of the processes that goes into making a great video.
Moreover, the final touches and nuances in detail ensured magnificent output.
- Jonathan Bristow, Senior Category Manager, Fluidra Group Australia
Lighting Is The Key To A Great Looking Film
Controlling the lighting on any production is the first step and key component to delivering a highly polished looking video. As you can see in the BTS image at the very top of this page, a proper lighting setup can consist of a number of components. Knowing where to place the key light, backlight and then shape the ambient light using negative fill is the difference between an ordinary looking video and a great looking film. When a professional cinematographer controls and shape the light, the mood of the film and visual experience is heightened, enabling a deeper level of audience engagement.
The setup for Phone Friend required a look that said the couple were out at night and have stopped for a coffee at a cosy cafe someplace. Given that it's a commercial length ad, there's no time to have an exterior shot to show that it's night time outside. So instead we look to the lighting to provide the mood and the feeling of the time of day. Controlling the light to land where the talent are and keeping it off the walls immediately achieves this. But it's not enough to simply blast light at the talent. The light on the talent needs to be softened by using diffusion to avoid harsh shadows. Backlight for each actor adds a highlight to their hair, separating them from the background and adding a touch of the Hollywood look. And exterior daylight needed to be blocked out because filming was conducted during daylight savings hours where (naturally) daylight was entering through the windows. The colour temperature of the light also plays a big part in communicating time of day. So rather than using cool white light (which is the colour temperature of normal daylight) we chose warm white light similar to indoor incandescent lighting.
In the above example from Escape, a 30-minute domestic violence awareness film produced for The Family Co. (formally Sutherland Shire Family Services) in partnership with The Australian Government, May's scene with her abusive husband was set at night. May, heavily pregnant, walks home after her shift at the convenience store to find her husband sitting in the dark at the dining table with a pile of telephone bills. He confronts her about long distance calls and threatens her - demonstrating a form of coercive control. Along with specially composed music, this incredibly dramatic scene is reinforced by the low-key lighting, but to achieve this took some serious lighting control. Since this scene had to be scheduled for during the day, the entire side of the house was blacked out using heavy black fabric. Inside, our lighting team use more black floppies to control the shadow, and warm lighting from above to reinforce the night look. Finally, ambient daylight was allowed to creep in through the shutters in the background, which when the camera's white balance is set to the colour temperature of the warm interior lighting, makes the daylight look blue just as it does in the evening.
There was really positive internal feedback regarding how professional and engaging the video was.
- Vanessa Testa, Learning and Development Advisor, Colin Biggers & Paisley
Building The Set Is Sometimes Easier Than Shooting On Location
Some productions require a special scene to be created, but it's not always possible to shoot in a gold mine or film on an aeroplane. So, we rent a studio and build it. Take a look at how we did exactly this for Lowes Menswear.
You can't miss a Lowes commercial. They're loud, fun and often in a setting designed to fuel a gag related to the sale product the talent are about to present. The above images show how we created special sets in a studio for two different ads. Both of these were filmed in a large studio that also has a huge collection of props for hire, including large foam boulders and old seats from a 747! For the aeroplane scene the background is actually made of paper. We created the aeroplane wall and portal windows by printing the background image on a large format printer.
How We Make Digital Products On Mobile Screens Look Their Best
When the product is on a mobile app, it super important to make sure that it looks its best. The application needs to be clear, bright and easily viewable. Unfortunately mobile screens don't usually come out too well on camera because the screen is not bright enough. So, we do what's called a screen insert. We film the mobile without the screen on, or sometimes with a green screen with tracking markers on the mobile screen and then replace it in postproduction. Our VFX team use software that can track the movement and insert a high resolution image of the mobile app, making it look perfect.
The TMGM commercial featuring commedian Isaac Butterfield is a great example of a film that required a mobile screen insert as the TMGM product is their online trading website, accessible via mobile and desktop. Since Isaac was speaking directly to camera about the online trading company it was important that the product be shown, and with the "take that thing outta ya pants" mobile phone gag, having the website inserted onto the screen was critical.
Why The Camera Matters
Some people say the camera doesn't matter, it's what you do with it that counts. Well, we couldn't agree more. A high-end camera doesn't mean the footage will automatically look great. It takes skill accumulated over years of experience to professionally shape an image. But when a professional production team has these skills, having a cinema grade camera and lens kit takes it all to the next level.
At GLOBAL, we work with the RED Digital Cinema Camera - the same high-end cinema cameras that many popular Netflix series, Hollywood films and big budget commercials are shot with. And because we own it, it doesn't matter about the size of the budget, only that the camera is suitable for the project and is going to provide added visual value to the screen by delivering advanced color science with incredible dynamic range. This means cinema quality imagery with vivid colors and detailed shadows and highlights to produce the most realistic images modern technology has to offer. The image quality the RED Digital Cinema Camera delivers, especially with carefully selected cinema lenses cannot be rivalled with most other cameras such as DSLR's and even other professional cameras. The choice of lenses also makes a major impact on the final image. Some lenses have a sharp, clean look, suppressing the lens flares, while other lenses (such as anamorphic lenses or vintage lenses) deliver unique visual characteristics that can only be achieved in camera. Depending on budget and brief, we may recommend different lens options that will visually enhance the outcome of the film. In the images above, our RED Digital Cinema Camera is sporting a $20,000 Angenieux zoom lens on the left, and a $14,000 Atlas Orion Anamorphic lens on the right.
Ben explained that the equipment and camera he uses is top of the range - which we were able to appreciate when we saw the end result.
- David Sumpter, Owner, Phone Friend
Green Screen, Done Properly
Sometimes the only way to shoot it is with green screen, but there's more to filming on green and changing the background than you might think. Once again, lighting plays a huge part in the green screen process. Lighting the scene to match the intended background is one part of it. Lighting the green screen evenly and adding enough separation between the talent and the green is another key component to correctly performing this special effect. It's also important that if we're inserting a real background that it's filmed in advance, so we can match the studio lighting to the natural lighting, and accurately capture the perspective of the shot and the depth of focus of the lens. All of these elements play their part in creating a convincing background replacement.
For the above Lowes commercial, the background was filmed in advance. The shoot was done at sunrise for the nice golden hour lighting. And the camera focus was set to only 6-8 feet away, which gives us the correct depth of focus for when the talent are filmed in the studio at 6-8 feet away from the camera (we often work in feet because most cinema lenses are usually marked with imperial measurements.)
The Product Is The Hero
In movies, the camera usually looks up at the hero from below their eye-line to make him or her look larger, dominant and powerful. Borrowing this technique, we can also do this with products.
In the Esky commercial, the camera moves around the product to show it off, whilst also looking up at it to hero it. To achieve this, we mounted the product on top of a cluster of wooden boxes (called apple boxes) and placed sand around the bottom of the product so it looked like it was still sitting on the beach - therefore matching other shots before and after it.
Tabletop Shooting For The Top Down View
Tabletop shooting is popular with food videos. To make this look work, it's important for the camera to be suspended directly above the table. Sound easy? Be assured, it's not. It takes a lot of special rigging to safely mount a camera that weighs 5-10KG above a table.
In the studio kitchen for Coles (above left) we had a 3 camera setup with the 3rd being suspended directly overhead. Since it was critical that the other cameras not see the rigging, the camera was suspended from 3.5m two steel poles held up by heavy duty light stands. Given the weight of the camera, it was also important to support the weight so that the angle of the camera would be exactly 90° from the poles holding it. By ensuring the camera angle is 90°, we ensure the resulting shot is not skewed. This makes for a much more pleasing frame. In the food scene from our Red Balloon commercial, the same principal applies, but because we were only shooting single camera, we could work faster by using a small camera crane (called a jib) which mounts directly to our tripod. Note also the lighting in both cases is soft and even, reducing the impact of any shadows to make the food look more appealing. Bouncing or diffusing light sources is key to creating the commercial food look.
Filming Scenes In Cars
Scenes in cars are tricky because the reflections from the windscreen, and difference in interior vs exterior lighting can be challenging to deal with. The best way to deal with this is to cut the reflections coming from above the car onto the windscreen and then light from the sides to push enough light through to the talent.
Scenes from Escape and the Tool Box Talks series, both created for The Family Co, feature dialogue scenes in parked cars. The behind the scenes photos show how the reflections on the windscreens have been removed by cutting them with lighting control frames. Both have a black surface which eliminates any reflections from the frame itself. Light is then pushed in from the side to light the talent. In Escape, Kate and her son are woken by the warm morning sunrise, which was simulated by using a 2,000w tungsten lamp and a dimmer allowing the lighting technician to increase the intensity of the lamp while the camera is rolling the scene to emulate the sunrise. In the Toolbox Talk series video, a large 4x4ft diffuser is used to soften the sunlight coming directly into the car.
Composing Original Music And Voiceover
Sometimes a video needs original music created to make it stand out. Our composer takes the brief and interprets it to produce a unique music track. Where there are lyrics to the music, we then bring the talent into the sound studio and professionally record their lines so the music and lyrics can be professionally mixed and mastered. Where a video requires voiceover narration, we can either select a voiceover artist from a talent pool and have our external voiceover house produce the voiceover, or where specific talent is required we can have them brought into the sound studio for a directed recording session.
For The Blockage Doctor TVC, we scripted an original rap parody. Our composer created the music with a demo voice recording that we then presented to the client. Once approved, we then had the talent in for a directed recording session in the sound studio. The music was mixed and mastered all before the film shoot took place so that the actor could mime the words in time with the music during the video production.
As a first time advertiser to television I was a little unsure where to go or who to trust. From the get go Ben was upfront and informative which instilled my trust in him. Global turned my idea of a funny TVC with a catchy jingle into a reality. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and we are already planning our next TVC through Global.
- Tim Leggot, Managing Director, The Blockage Doctor
Adding Complex 3D Animation
3D animation is always a fun addition to any production, especially where the 3D is integrated into live action video. This takes careful planning so that the animation will fit perfectly into the real world environment. Lighting, perspective and framing all play a vital part in creating a scene that the animator can work with.
Throughout this series of animated commercials created for Mortgage House, each episode was scripted and filmed on location before our animator inserted Mr House into the scene. The videos were filmed using a life-size (about 30 cm tall) Mr House cardboard cutout to set the camera height, angle and depth of focus. The cardboard cutout was then removed from the scene for the camera to roll the shot. The footage is therefore filmed out of focus so that when the animated character is inserted into the scene the focus is on the character. The 3D animation software renders the lighting to match the actual light sources in the film, including shadows to make the character insert look more realistic.
That's A Wrap!
We hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes insight into how we create high-quality, polished video productions for our clients. If you have a projects you'd like to discuss we'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch with is here.