Compass Furnished Apartments provides its clients with fully furnished short-term housing solutions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. We were asked to produce a short cinematic commercial highlighting the beauty and benefits of these spaces by showing how they can be utilized. One of the biggest challenges to this project (and many others) was to write a script that was realistic for production while still telling a memorable, impactful story.
Our team is proud of our ability to create informative yet emotional videos for complex and unique companies like Compass.
The client was provided with three broad concepts that fit their budget, along with mood boards and reference images to ensure that our creative visions were in line. Once the client selected their favorite, we began to build a story arch along with a detailed shot list. We worked directly with Compass to refine the voiceover script, which had to be both informative and engaging.
Next, we put out a casting call to find the right talent for our needs. With an age range and demographic in mind, we found Franzi - and she was perfect for the part. Once casting was complete, we began securing props and extras to add that extra layer of polish and complexity.
A precise schedule was essential, because there was a lot of work to do, and only one day to shoot. The final shot for our commercial would take place at sunset, so we worked backwards from there to plan our day. Our 10-hour schedule was meticulously crafted based on time of day, lighting, location, and gear needed in order to make the most of our limited time.
Crew call was 9 am, and we worked with the client and building manager to make sure that we could begin the day promptly - including access to a loading dock for our lighting truck. It is important to us that every detail is planned in advance so we get the most out of our limited time on site.
Shot one involved Franzi looking through the rear passenger's window of a moving car. We opted for the natural, early morning light to avoid harsh shadows. In order to get this shot, a spider pod car mount secured our camera to the front passenger door, and we took multiple safety measures to ensure that the camera would stay put on the bumpy Boston streets.
Once we had completed this shot, we then moved to the tracking shot of Franzi walking down the sidewalk. Our schedule allowed us to use the morning sun as a natural backlight, and we added some soft fill by “hollywooding” (manually keeping a moving light on the talent) an Astra 1x1 light panel. In order to get a smooth shot, the camera was mounted on our DJI Ronin gimbal, and the shot was wirelessly transmitted to a monitor for the client to get a live view and provide instant feedback.
We built our handheld rig while the gaffer set up the car shot, and used a 4x4 floppy for negative fill — the natural light was our key light. We put an Astra through the front windshield in order to create a subtle edge and a quick and dirty green screen on the phone in order to have options for phone comps in post.
The most challenging setup was in the lobby, which was open to guests who needed to access the walkways. We used our Joker 800 and a 6x6 full silk on camera right, with 2 Astras creating an edge from the front doors, and a 4’ Kinoflow to fill the foreground. We used sheer curtains on the large exterior windows in order to diffuse the sunlight and to hide the construction fence that was right outside. The camera was mounted on a Dana dolly with a 10’ track, which gave us a considerably long move.
The next shot was the apartment entrance, where we used the Dana dolly again, but with a 5’ section that pushed in as Franzi entered. Matching the exposure of the skyline to the room was difficult at midday, and we used the Joker 800 through full silk to light Franzi while Astras increased the levels on the furniture.
After the apartment entrance shot, we moved to the bedroom where we were able to use natural light from the large bedroom windows through a full silk, with an Astra off-frame in order to create a subtle edge. We utilized the Dana dolly in this shot as well, to get a smooth move was the door frame as Franze stepped into the room.
Once this shot was complete, we moved into the kitchen where producer Chris doubled as a stylist as he arranged and organized the food. We chose subtly complementary colors between the food and the clothing in order to tie the scene together, and shot our food prep on the island in order to get ideal lighting. A diffused Astra gave a soft backlight, and we book-lit the Joker 800 off of a white card through full silk to keylight the subject. In order to create a slice of light under the cabinets over the stovetop, we used a diffused Leko Source 4, and a 4’ Kino to fill the cabinets and countertops in the background. Flowers were added to the foreground, and we subtly increased their exposure using another Astra.
The next shot was the dinner scene, where we blacked out ¾ of the large windows using duventine and allowed for a sliver of daylight to bring the room up enough to leave some background details. We used a diffused 4’ Kino on one bulb, and increased the iPad’s brightness to 100% to create a glowing light on Franze while backlighting with an Astra.
Our final shot of the day was on the rooftop balcony overlooking Boston’s Back Bay with a sunset view. We rushed to set up our Dana dolly, and managed to get this shot using only natural light just before a large thunderstorm passed through.
We put together a rough cut with a draft voice over and our suggested music option. The client had minimal notes. We re-worked the voiceover based on the client’s notes before hiring a VO artist to read the updated script. Lastly, we replaced the phone’s green screen with the website stills that Compass provided.
Once the edit was finalized, we did a final color correction using DaVinci Resolve, and a final mix of all audio before exporting and sending to the client for final approval.
The 60-second film that we created for Compass Furnished Apartments gave viewers the ability to understand the features of their spaces while showing the major benefit of their services. Franzi arrived in a new city and was able to easily get to her beautiful temporary home, where she could go about her evening as she normally would - preparing a healthy meal and enjoying dinner with her family. The voiceover script clearly tells of the benefits, while the video illustrates how simple and pleasant the check-in experience is at your “home away from home.”