Back in March, a good friend of mine who’s studying in management ask me if I wanted to help him with the promotional video for the faculty’s upcoming fashion show, called Savana. Since I hadn’t produced anything fashion-related since the Perigny advertisement back in 2007, of course I told him I was really interested in helping him. Of course, the fact that this meant an entire night of shooting with hot girls in bathing suits helped facilitate my decision.
The problem was that the schedule was incredibly tight, and that the budget was pretty much non-existant. But at the same time, this adds a challenge that I rarely face in my everyday job: to produce a professional-quality video with absolutely no means.
The organization staff was able to unlock a small budget for me to rent some gear, so I took the small Fresnel kit we have at the office, some reflectors, and rented a Kino Diva and a smoke machine. We shot with my friend’s Canon 7D and used my Sigma 30mm 1.4 for the entire shoot. So as you can see, our means were really limited.
Often, when you ask your friends to play in a commercial, the quality of the “acting” goes with the price your paying, which is zero. I have to say though that this time, all the models (who were all students in the management faculty) did an amazing job. It can be uncomfortable to pose in a bathing suit in front of a stranger (me) with a big camera setup that tells you to act sensually, but everyone was really open to what I was asking and they acted really professionally, which made the production a lot easier than I thought. On top of that, we had an incredibly talented make-up artist on set that helped make the models look amazing.
What I think was the most challenging was the shooting environment. The people at Izba Spa were kind enough to let us shoot freely in their establishment, which looks truly amazing. But, the space was very limited. I had to shoot 13 models, mostly separately, in a place that had maybe three or four different rooms that were proper to shoot in. I had to be very creative in the way I was using each spot, since I was going to use each of them more than once, and I didn’t want the video to look like it had been shot all in the same room. The smoke machine really helped me to cover some of those environments. What also puzzled me was the lighting, because the rooms were so small that I couldn’t fit as much lighting as I wanted to. I had to bounce the light in very weird and bizarre angles to be able to achieve the looks I wanted. It worked well for most of the shots, but overall, I think the models’ eyes are not lit enough, something I may have been able to correct if I had more space.
The editing was quite difficult too, because of the fast-paced music I was using, and the very little footage I shot. Fortunately, I shot a lot of those models completely out of focus, to have a mysterious introduction, and that enabled me to re-use the in-focus shots later in the video.
But what I enjoyed the most in this video was color-grading it. The fact that the backgrounds were mostly greyish allowed me to have full control on the models’ skin tones and clothes. I actually used a technique I had never tried before in Apple’s Color, and that is numerically grading shots using the Red/Green/Blue Lift and Gain. It helped me achieve a look that’s different from what I usually do. I will be posting a video making-of later this week explaining how I did it.
In the end, I think I managed pretty well to produce a good-looking advertisement with such little means, so I guess this is mission accomplished for me.
Here are some photos of the shooting, snapped by my friend Sam Chenard.