BTS – “Dead Battery Anxiety”

A few months ago, I was hired by Slant Media to direct a series of web videos to promote Philips Electronics’ “Dead Battery Anxiety” microsite. This was a great project, based on a very entertaining concept: that the anxiety caused by rapidly-draining batteries could become a true mental illness.

To provide evidence for this mental health epidemic, I shot a series of intentionally unrelated videos that would show examples of “DBA” in the population.

Because the concept was that these videos had been gathered from a variety of different sources – cel phone cameras, security surveillance footage, reality TV – they had to be stylistically quite different. This provided me with quite an enjoyable challenge.

The most “commercial” of the spots was this one, which actually preceded the very similar “negligant dad” concept ad from Microsoft. I shot this on the Canon 5D Mk II to give it a polished, high-end commercial look. We covered the windows in the background with CTO gel to avoid the bluish, blown-out look that comes from uncorrected window light.

I also used the 5D to shoot this video, which featured a mom who just doesn’t understand what’s making her daughter insecure. I wanted this one to play a bit like an “After School Special,” with cheesy music and lots of drama. I had to stand in the bathtub with the camera, and lit the scene by bouncing a Tota Light off the ceiling, just out of frame.

To capture the look of airport security camera footage, I shot this video with two locked-off HDV cameras. Incidentally, that’s not an airport: it’s the lobby of the building in which the local branch of Philips is housed.

For the “reality TV” excerpt, I was fortunate to be able to use a camera operator who had actually worked on several reality TV shows. This was all one, continuous take. The client and I stood outside the house, watching on an inexpensive wireless monitor from

The most bizarre of the spots was probably this one – also a one-shot deal – in which a human caricature of a dead battery literally sneaks up on a woman. I shot this on the Canon 5D Mk II.

We were back to HDV for this video, which simulates a bunch of girls hanging out at a club. This was a fun one to shoot. Watch for the cameo of the crew’s grip, Adrian, in the background.

One of the simplest-looking videos was actually one of the most complex to shoot. For “Fashionista Freakout,” the creative team at Slant Media created a fake iPhone shopping app. Since we didn’t know what clothes we would be using until the day of the shoot, I actually used the flash lighting (and my 5D) to photograph the clothes and accessories on the model, and then handed the photos to Slant’s designers, who quickly incorporated them into the fake iPhone app.

I really enjoyed this project, not least because I didn’t have to edit it … Slant Media provided the scripts AND the editorial services. All I had to do was show up and shoot, which for someone who is usually a “crew of one” was a real treat.

  3 comments for “BTS – “Dead Battery Anxiety”

  1. September 14, 2011 at 11:18 am


    These are beautifully produced. Brilliant work!! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Mike Hinchey
    September 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm


    Very nice work, thanks for posting. Did you light the Baby First Steps with your Tota LIght umbrella rig?


    • Alexander
      September 29, 2011 at 10:34 am

      Thanks for the compliment. Yes, the Tota+umbrella was the keylight for all these setups. However, since this wasn’t strictly a crew-of-one shoot, I did augment the lighting a bit. I bounced two Smith-Victor 600 watt lights off the ceiling – one in the background (to the left of the frame), and one in the foreground (behind the camera) – for additional fill.

      At some point, I’d like to update this post with lighting diagrams, but I’ve been working on three projects concurrently for the past week, and have fallen a bit behind in the blogging. Thanks for your patience!

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