In November 2015, I was asked to shoot an advert for a new range of Large Format Printers by EPSON via Ace Media.
The idea of the 30 second spot was to show how the product could help to grow a business. We decided to go for a motion controlled sequence that showed one business' growth period over an unspecified amount of time.
EPSON S-SERIES Timeshift Commercial
Due to the secretive nature of the product (we were dealing with a brand new launch item) and the sheer physical size of the printers, we had to shoot at EPSON HQ which raised a few challenges as we were limited in the space that we had to shoot in. The team headed over to EPSON's offices at Hemel Hempstead for a tech recce to establish if we could fit a motion control unit into the space we had to shoot in; a large piece of gear into a moderately sized office space.
We felt it was crucial to create a pre-visualisation of what we wanted to make to convey the concept to the rest of the team and make sure we were all on the same page. Using a Sony A7S, we mocked up a very brief template for what we wanted to create and made an annotated edit which detailed the action that would be occurring within each scene. We used highly stylised grading templates to help the client visualise the change in scene.
We settled on the Sony FS7 as our main camera package as part of our remit was 4K delivery. The camera move would be the same for every set scene of the commercial, which meant we would only need one lens. If the lens was too tight or too wide, the motion control shot would not work - there was very little wiggle room in focal length.
The A7S (that we did the test shots with) was using a full frame sensor and a 24-70mm lens. We, however, would be shooting on an FS7 with a Super35mm sensor, effectively a 1.6x crop in relation to what we shot for our test footage. With a bit of basic maths, we worked out which lens would be the equivalent and the best fit for the move we were attempting to do; a Canon CN-E 24mm T/1.5. Since there was no more access to the location or the kit, I would have to wait until the shoot to confirm if the 24mm lens was the right choice.
First order of business once we arrived at the location was to set up the motion control rig. We used the Talos Rig from Mr. Moco; the team from Mr. Moco were excellent to work with and extremely efficient.
Mr. Moco Talos Motion Control Rig
Once the rig was set, we were finally able to put on the camera with the 24mm lens. After confirming it was the right choice, we carried on.
We worked closely with the team from Mr. Moco to get the perfect jib move that would allow us to show off the entire office space but also keep the printer as the main focus. Safety was paramount and we created an exclusion zone around the track to prevent any accidental trips.
It was a case of trial and error in getting the right move and the right speed. A move would be performed and we would talk about where we wanted the jib move to be faster, in different positions and how slowly we wanted it to come to a stop. The Talos unit includes a key-frameable follow focus, so we would set the focus at varying points across the track. The Talos unit would then take those key-frames and pull focus between every point maintaining that we had sharps and that there was no variance in any scene. We kept the 24mm at T/5.6 for the entire day.
We had a simple kit consisting of 2 x Litepanels Astra's and 1 x 1.2k HMI which we used across our 3 lighting set-ups throughout the day;
i) Early morning: Warm orange tones showing the beginning of a new company.
ii) Office Hours: High-key bounce illuminting the entire area.
iii) Overnight: Low key lighting to show off the product feature of the LED lights.
The concept of the first lighting set-up was for it be early morning; a subtle hint at the dawn of a fresh new company. We used an HMI outside the windows to help create long drawn shadows across the back wall and used the Litepanel as ambient fill. All lamps were balanced to create a warm, orange glow.
The second lighting set-up involved bouncing the HMI across the ceiling, to create a high-key, bright office environment. Although it was simple set-up, it was appropriate for the bulk of the scenes.
The third lighting set-up was a night-time scene which was meant to show off one of the key features of the product; LED lighting inside the printer. For this set-up we used the HMI outside and gelled it heavily with CTB as well as dialling in a cooler white balance on the camera. We aimed the HMI back through the window to get the shadows and refractions of the glass. We also left one practical lamp on the table to further give a 'late night' feel to the scene. We consciously kept the wall behind the printer illuminated but didn't light the printer so that the LED lights would stand out prominently as a feature.
Of course, the biggest perk of doing a commercial for a printer company was getting a huge scale print out of one of the promotional images of Lucky Chicken, a short film due to be completed in 2016!