I really enjoy pirate-themed videos. This year, I’ve shot two videos in which pirates have played a prominent role, so I thought it might be fun to compare and contrast the behind-the-scenes workings of these two very different projects.
The first piratical project of 2011 was this web video promoting “Meetings Impossible,” a sales initiative by Wild Dunes Resort. The piece was written and produce by Rawle Murdy Associates, who brought me in to bring their concept to life.
From start to finish, this was a crew-of-one production. While the agency folks helped out as much as they could (primarily by holding the boom mic), I was not assisted by any actual crew members. Some of the resort scenic footage was provided by the client, but I shot all of the actual Meetings Impossible footage and the Charleston scenics. I also animated the client’s Meetings Impossible logo in Blender 3D, the amazing, open-source (read “free”) animation software. I did the other graphics in Apple Motion.
I shot the narrative segments with “Amy C.” and her pirate-obsessed boss on the Panasonic AF100. Although it wasn’t in the script, I thought that “surveillance” footage would work well with the piece, and I used my Canon 5D Mark II for those shots. Lighting was primarily just available light, although I did use a Lowell Tota light with a shoot-through umbrella as a keylight for Amy and her boss.
For a shot near the end of the video, I needed a photo of Amy’s boss at an elaborate pirate-themed event. I shot a few photos (again on the 5D Mark II) of the “boss” outside the office, and composited the best one into a client-provided photo of an actual pirate-themed event that had been held at the resort.
Turnaround time on this project was very tight, so I had to keep the introductory graphics fairly simple. I used mostly stock elements from Apple Motion’s library, plus a couple of things (like the grid) that I created in Photoshop. I used the time I had to work on the logo animation in Blender 3D, and to use Colorista II to grade all the footage.
The video was a huge success. The target audience – meeting planners – loved it, the client was happy, the agency was happy, so I was happy.
While pirates were somewhat tangential to the concept of the Meetings Impossible video, they were central to this promo video I shot for the new local-deals website, HurryHurry.com. For this project, I was brought in by a different agency, LaBarge + Partners, to shoot the piece from their script. It was quite a treat to show up at the salon location, early in the morning, and see pirate re-enactors in authentic garb climbing out of their cars, coffee cups in hand.
This entire project was shot on the Panasonic AF100, using Canon FD lenses, as well. As usual, I drafted the client to act as boom operator. Lighting was slightly more involved. In addition to the Tota with umbrella key on the spokesman, I had two Smith-Victor 600 watt lights, out of frame on the left, shining through a larger umbrella to illuminate the pirate and stylist. I simply turned this setup around to illuminate the bald pirate getting shampooed.
The rough cut of the piece was edited by LaBarge + Partners as well, and then turned over to me for color grading and graphics work. I was provided with layered Photoshop files by HurryHurry’s art director, so I was able to fairly easily animate them in Apple Motion. In fact, the biggest issue I had with the animation was that I needed high-res arrow and hand cursors to illustrate the idea of clicking on various parts of the website. In fact, I wound up creating my own cursors in Adobe Illustrator, so that they would have nice smooth edges.
Both of these projects were a lot of fun, and I feel good about the quality I was able to achieve. As I’ve said before, working without a crew might require sacrificing complexity, but it doesn’t have to mean compromising quality.