All posts tagged commercial

  • Smart Phone PSA

    Smartphone PSA from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

    The Setup

    Sometimes you just need a quickie project to stay sharp. That’s what this was. A few weeks ago, my bud and long time Internet boyfriend Matt Jeppsen announced:

    “Hey, I’m coming to town and I’ll have these new Schneider Xenon lenses with me. Want to shoot something?”

    I said, “Sure!”

    And then proceeded to pitch an idea that involved 20 actors, a closed street, choreography, a 20-ft panda bear puppet, and an f14 flyover.

    Jeppsen replied, “How about something we can shoot in half a day? We’re on vacation after all.”

    I assume this response was due to his hatred of pandas (true, ask him), but I felt he had a point. I took the elaborate concept, boiled it down to the essential idea, and came up with this. PhoneGuy vs sidewalk.

    I must admit there have been times I’ve wanted to slap the phone out of someone’s hand while they meandered across my path on the sidewalk. Dude, just, duuuude, put it down for like, thirty seconds while you walk from the gym to your car. I bemoan these slow-walking iDolts and their enslavement to The Cloud, and then, without the faintest whiff of irony, I’m on my phone tweeting about it. So yeah, this guy is me. Consider this spot a note-to-self. Apparently, this is an actual public safety issue and distracted-pedestrian injuries are on the rise. Smart phones, dumb people.

    Director’s Commentary
    The great thing about slapstick is that even when you know it’s coming, it’s still kinda funny. When you see someone hurt themselves those little mirror neurons in your brain fire and scream, “OMG, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU! TICKLE TICKLE!” Slapstick seemed like an easy way to make this point and fit within our requirement of being done shooting by lunch.
    We shot everything on steadicam. Well, a janky old Glidecam V8 actually. Camera movement was important for the “pole reveal” moment and was obvious for the other walking shots. For the pole I got some 1″ pipe insulator from Ace Hardware and spray painted it silver. This made it easier possible for our actor (Adam) to give the pole a good whack with his face. In his spare time, Adam drops massive waterfalls in his kayak so walking into a pole foamie was a no brainer for him (or maybe that’s the other way around, haha).
    We were shooting geurilla style and didn’t have resources to support the army that comes along with massive HMI lighting. So a few days before the shoot, I wandered around the city looking for places where the sun bounced off glass high-rises and made pools of light along the sidewalk. Found one. Bingo. 18k of beautiful, diffused-but-sharp key light. I’m seriously obsessed with this kind of city light now. It happens all throughout the day here in downtown Portland. Only challenge is you have to shoot your scene before sun moves on and drags your light with it. And it moves pretty fast in the summer.

    For the filmmaker, the moral of this story is: shoot MORE of the stuff you want to get hired for. I want to shoot more commercials like this and now instead of telling an agency what I can do, I can SHOW them. Show, don’t tell. The end. Thanks for watching/reading.

    (Also thanks to Isaac Koval, and Liam Gillies for helping out, Adam Chechire Edwards for face smashing, Matt Jeppsen the DP, and Andy Askren and Kallie Baker for their brainstorming. )

  • Credit Union Mograph

    I tell people I don’t really do motion graphics anymore, but After Effects, I can’t quit you! Awesome typography by Josh Markle.

  • High Speed w/ Photron

    A few months ago, I did a shoot with the Photron BC2 high speed camera. Wanted to share some thoughts on the whole process in case any of you are “hi-curious” about high frame rates. Here’s the full :60 “Director’s Cut”:


    Big ups to Derek Sine for shooting some behind-the-scenes footage.

    The Creative
    Win-River Casino was looking to launch a campaign that took them back to their roots to connect with their core audience, the gamers. Now, if you’ve seen a casino ad before, you know they typically feature people who look nothing like casino regulars. When was the last time you visited a casino on a Tuesday afternoon and saw a group of sexy models ordering drinks and blowing kisses on dice? We wanted to play off of this glossy stereotype a bit and decided to create a spot showing ordinary people in extraordinary moments. Enter the high speed.

    The High Speed Effect
    Everyone looks cool in slow motion. Even your grandma would look like a badass if you filmed her in slow motion walking away from an exploding retirement home. There’s just something intrinsically dramatic about slow mo. I had a conversation with Greg, one of the grips on the shoot, about this topic. Greg’s theory is that when people watch something in slow motion, it engages the part of the brain that processes important, life-or-death information. You know when something dramatic or traumatic happens people say, “I felt like it was happening in slow motion”? Same thing. I have no scientific evidence for this theory, but it seems like a good hunch. At any rate, I was looking to use high speed to elevate the drama of these scenes and create a surreal perspective of the “jackpot” moment.

    First Impressions
    Ok, onto the technical stuff. The goto cam for this kind of work is usually the Phantom HD or, now, the Phantom Flex. I really, really wanted to use the Flex for this project since its native ISO 1000 would have been handy in the dimly lit casino. But, I just didn’t have the budget for that cam. I decided to go with the Photron BC2 at less than half the cost of the Flex. In a perfect world, budget wouldn’t matter, alas, you know the rest.

    Here’s my overall impression of the Photron. It is a pretty capable cam, providing that you feed it enough light and don’t dink around too deep in the poorly designed and confusing software. We shot with Redpro Primes wide open and I was pleased with the sharpness of the 1080p uncompressed tiffs. It was sharp without looking “sharpened.”

    The camera shoots 1080p at up to 2000fps. Plenty fast for my purposes. As the resolution is decreased, the frame rates go up, all the way to 86,400fps at a postage stamp sized 256 x 32. Sidenote: filming 30 seconds at 86,000fps would give you 32 HOURS of 24p footage!

    There is such a thing as too slow. For people, moving at typical “people-speed,” I found anything above 250fps started to look a little languid. I think a good slow motion shot is a balance between slowing down the subject matter, while retaining enough motion that the shot is still dynamic. Some of the closeup stuff in the restaurant (the dough and stir fry) we shot at 1000fps. The wine pour I shot at 1500fps but ended up speeding it up in post. (Will post the full restaurant spot when it’s ready)

    Shutter Speed and Lighting
    When you turn the camera on it makes the sound, “Nom nom nom” as it gobbles up all the available light in the room and cries, “Feed me MOAR!” Well, that’s not exactly fair considering it’s not so much the camera but the shutter speeds that eat the light. All but a few clips were shot with a 180 degree shutter so shooting at 1000fps meant the shutter speed needed to be 1/2000 sec. That’s an additional five and a half stops of light. This would be the equivalent of lighting 24fps to an ISO setting of 15. Even though the BC2 is rated to about 640 ISO, we were still blowing breakers on a few of the wide shots.

    Like most high speed cams, the Photron has an internal RAM buffer that has to be downloaded between each take. Unlike the Phantom, which can offload its clips to a proprietary Cinemag in a matter of seconds, the Photron is tethered to a laptop and needs minutes, precious minutes to offload. Downloads on this shoot took between 4 and 8 minutes each. That may not seem like a long time, but when you’re on set with a crew, clients, and hot lights starting to melt furniture, 4 minutes seems like an eternity. With this cam, there’s no such thing as, “Oh lemme just get a quick shot of that.”
    Each take lives in a folder on the lappy’s external drive as a sequence of uncompressed 16bit tiffs. Before editing, I pulled the image sequences into After Effects, did a light color pass, and then exported to ProRes444.

    The BC2 was driven by Photron software running on a PC. I hated it. It was messy, convoluted, and not exactly stable. The software clearly reflects the camera’s industrial beginnings with sciency features that I can’t imagine any cinematographer needing. While it wasn’t exactly user-friendly, it didn’t take long too long to find the settings that I needed to regularly access like, white/black balance, color temp, frame rate and resolution. A redesign of the software could make the camera so much easier to use. As it is right now, it’s not a cam you can rent without a tech, or a crash course in the software (I had the latter). The PC was the weakest link in this whole cameracomputer chain. At one point, the production ground to a halt because the AC power connector on the laptop was loose and wouldn’t keep the computer charged. Stress.

    Final Thoughts
    Overall, I think the BC2 is a really affordable way to make great high-speed images. It’s not the fastest workflow and I probably wouldn’t rent it again for a time sensitive shoot (anything with a call sheet and schedule). But if you’ve got lots of time and lots of light, the BC2 is a great option. It’s not exactly a straight forward workflow, but it’s not daunting either. I tell you though, someone needs to make a self-contained, all-in-one, affordable high-speed cam. Oh, look! Fastec is doing just that with their new TS3 camera, 720fps at 720p. Hoping to get my grubby mits on that cam when it comes out.

    And that’s all I have to say about that. I leave you with one of my favorite :30 “spin offs” from this shoot.

  • Enjoy Magazine Spot

    Enjoy Magazine Fall Football from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

    Here’s a :15 spot I recently finished for local lifestyle magazine, Enjoy. This is the first of a series of seasonal spots that we’ll create throughout the year. The goal was to find a creative and simple way to showcase the Enjoy aesthetic while capturing the “emotional content” of the magazine.

    My solution was to recreate a moving version of a typical Enjoy magazine cover. It’s a little different than moving covers I’ve done in the past. This is more like a “cover shot prequel” – a look into the life of the cover before it was a cover. Now the cover not only has a backstory, but a reason for existing. The visual message is that all of the sights, sounds, and (implied) smells of the season are magically locked up inside the magazine. You can experience the sensation of Northern California Living simply by thumbing through the pages of Enjoy. Simple, tidy, boosh.

    This shoot was relatively simple. I think we did about 7 or 8 takes to get a couple keepers. For the camera nerds, this was shot on a Canon 5DMkII with a Glidecam in portrait mode. I found that mounting the camera in portrait would mean I’d have to crop less to get to the final cover composition.

    A little side note: I live in California. We don’t always have what the rest of the world refers to as “seasons.” For example, two days ago (middle of October) it was over 90 degrees. Finding fall color around here is possible, but not always easy. For this football spot, we shot in a park that was a lovely, late-summer green. A few clicks from Colorista II’s secondaries transformed the park into an autumnal wonderland.


  • Stop Motion, Stop

    I’ve been itching to try some stop motion lately and luckily found a project that seemed suited to the technique. Here is a TVC I created for a women’s health fair event (sidenote: TVC is industry-speak for “television commercial”). The challenge was to visually show a connection between “health, fitness, and fashion.” Shooting stop motion allowed for some creative transitions that helped tie the three themes together. Notice there are no cuts in this spot.

    And now some technical details.
    We shot this on a blue paper backdrop. It was lit with a couple of kino four-banks from the front. I went with hot lights instead of strobes to eliminate any potential flickering due to variation in strobe output. Don’t get me wrong, I love AlienBees, but they are not as consistent as, say, Profoto. Plus, shooting with constant light meant I could shoot at a higher fps without waiting for strobes to recycle.

    The spot was shot on a Canon 5DMkII in stills mode (not video). I cheated the stop motion where ever I could. Cheating meant having the model move in slow motion and varying the shutter interval manually. It probably averaged somewhere around 4 fps. Other setups required the standard (and tedious) method of positioning the frame, snapping a picture…reposition…snap…repeat ad naseum. Text was done in After Effects using a combination of jitter settings in Path Text and Time Posterization.

    I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. Filmmaking is one long string of creative problem solving. A great example of this is the “toiletry mobile” constructed from a mountain bike wheel and fishing line (see picture below). This little gem allowed the toiletries to easily orbit the model’s head. Big thanks to Casey our fearless model, Anna with make up and hair, Amy the apple eater, and Lyn production manager extraordinaire. Also thanks to InHouse Marketing for all their help with production logistics.

    Toiletry MobileBTS-stopmotion-5096
  • Rolling Hills Casino – Bored Room

    Last spot in the Better to Play series. I just watched all four back-to-back and I must say I’m pleased with their consistency. Yay for branding. This spot was shot on Red and posted in FCP with some help from Magic Bullet and After Effects (for the motion graphics). I’m pretty sure the idea for this spot came from an episode of Arrested Development. RIP Arrested Development. We’ll always have the banana stand.

  • Less is More

    I’ve been seeing a lot of motion graphic spots on TV lately that rely more on well designed graphics and less on dazzling motion. Figured that might be a good approach to this spot since I only had a few days to complete. Wish I could have spent more time on transitions between scenes but I like how it turned out thematically.

  • Casino Club

    I thought I’d post the latest spot we did for Casino Club – a local card room in Redding. This spot was shot a couple months ago before the greens were really…green. A little bit of color correction fixed that right up. Many thanks to Lyn who helped wrangle the golf balls on the roof. The best part about this shoot is that I got to say things like, “OK, camera’s rolling… do you have any balls?”