We were asked to produce a short cinematic commercial highlighting the benefits of using Compass Furnished Apartments and the beauty of their spaces. One of the biggest challenges to this project and many others was refining the script into something realistic for production while still telling the story and getting the client's message across.
We provided the client with three broad concepts that fit within their budget, we also provided mood boards and reference images to ensure we were on the same page creatively. Once the client selected their favorite we began creating a detailed storyboard and shot list. We worked together with Compass to refine a voice over script that was both informative as well as complimentary to our images.
We put out a casting call for talent in the age range and demographic the client suggested and we soon found Franzi, who was perfect for the part. We prepped our props and planned accordingly for our cooking and dinner scenes.
We had a lot to get through, and only one day to shoot it, so we knew scheduling would have to be precise. We wanted to shoot our final shot at sunset, but also shoot our other exterior shots while the sun was still low in the sky. Keeping the day to 10 hours was going to be difficult. We consolidated our shots and planned accordingly for lighting, location, time of day and gear necessary in order to maximize the use of our time.
Crew call was set for 9am, we worked with the client and building manager before the day of to get access to the loading doc for our lighting truck.
Our first shot was Franzi looking out the rear passenger window. We used natural light and scheduled this early in the day to avoid harsh mid day shadows. We used a spider pod car mount to secure the camera to the front passenger door. We used multiple safety's to ensure the camera wasn't going anywhere, even on the bumpy streets of Boston.
We next moved onto the tracking shot of Franzi walking down the sidewalk. We used minimal lighting, utilizing the sun as a backlight, hollywooding an Astra 1x1 light panel for some soft fill. We set up the camera on our DJI Ronin gimbal to achieve a smooth shot. We transmitted a wireless signal to our monitor for the client to view live and give feedback.
We quickly build our handheld rig as the gaffer set up for our interior car shot. We used a 4x4 floppy for negative fill and used the natural light as our key light. We put an Astra through the front windshield to create a subtle edge. We used a free phone app for a quick and dirty green screen on our phone since our client wanted options for phone comps later on.
We then moved into the lobby, the most challenging of our set ups. The building was open to guests so we needed to ensure we weren't blocking walkways. We put our Joker 800 through a 6x6 full silk to camera right with 2 Astras creating an edge from the front doors. We had a 4' Kinoflow filling in our foreground. Our camera was mounted on a Dana dolly on a 10' section of track giving us quite a long move. We utilized the sheer curtains on the large windows to diffuse the sunlight and hide the construction fence located directly outside.
After breaking for lunch we moved onto the apartment entrance shot. We again had the camera on the Dana dolly, this time a 5' section, pushing in as Franzi entered. Matching the exposure of the skyline to the exposure in the room was difficult especially at midday. We used the Joker 800 through the full silk to light Franzi and Astras to bring up the levels on the furniture.
From here we moved into the bedroom where we were able to use the natural light from the large bedroom window through a full silk to key. We had an astra off frame right to create a subtle edge. The camera was mounted on the Dana dolly for a smooth move past the door frame as Franzi entered.
Moving onto the kitchen, our producer Chris doubled as a stylist to neatly arrange and organize the food. We chose complimentary colors in the food and clothing to tie together the scene. We decided to utilize the island as our space for food prep which was ideal from a lighting perspective. We used a diffused Astra as a soft backlight and booklit the Joker 800 off a white card through our full silk to keylight our subject. We used a diffused Leko Source 4 to create a slice of light under the cabinets over the stove top. We used a 4' Kino to fill the cabinets and countertop in the background from frame right. We added the flowers to create some foreground using another Astra to bring up the exposure on it slightly.
Next we set up for our dinner scene, blacking out 3/4 of the large windows with duvetine, the sliver of daylight brought up the light in the room enough to leave some detail in the background. We used a diffused 4' Kino on 1 bulb as well as the i pad's brightness to 100% to create the glowing light on Franzi as well as an Astra for a backlight.
Our last shot was on the rooftop balcony overlooking the Back Bay area, we chose this side for its sunset view, we rushed to set up the Dana dolly and managed to sneak this shot in only using natural light before a large thunderstorm past through.
We put together a rough cut with a scratch voice over along with a few music options, the client had minimal edits and chose from a couple music tracks we pulled. We re-worked the VO script based on the final edit and hired a VO artist to read the final script. We replaced the green screen on the phone with the final website stills Compass provided.
After the edit is finalized we do final color correction in DaVinci Resolve, as well as a final mix of all the audio. We export and send to the client for final approval.