All posts by chrismably

Commercial and re-brand for Walmart

I just finished the first of many new commercials for a re-branding campaign for Walmart. Working with director Mark Zibert, we set out to tell the story of a mother grappling with the demands of parenthood. The spot is narrated with the mother’s inner monologue, while visually the viewer is taken through a quick paced flurry of the exhaustive day to day of having kids and managing a household. 

We aimed to make this piece run through a gamut of styles. We started with a very docile and familiar tempo and feeling as the new mom sees her child for the first time, and then break this calmness as she starts to imagine her not so distant future. We kept the camera fairly static through this portion and let the editing do the heavy lifting, often shooting in ways that would allow for graphic matching and wiping cuts from one shot to another. As we move through all the different baby food prep, we used close up controlled and dynamic camera moves, spinning with the objects or around them. Then into some reserved handheld through the babies crying, and then back to calm and controlled as mom falls into the silent water. Into a spaghetti western style through our western scene, and then come out of the TV from the western scene into all out handheld frenzy, barely trying to keep up with the characters hectic activities. From there, the next few scenes needed to seamlessly move from one thought to the next, moving between and office, to a dreamworld sea of shoes, and then snap cut to her flashback of how her second baby happened. For this little “love scene”, we went after making it a cheesy soap opera style scene. Even to the extent of smearing the lens with vaseline. Hadn’t done that in forever. Slam cut back into Handheld hysteria, tracking at times on Segway. We stayed in handheld or Movi for wider shots though to the basement, and then let the handheld cameras really react as the house starts to come apart, along with moments of super slow motion with handheld to let the audience really examine the action. 

We finally slowed things down once she gets in the store. holding the cameras steadier. Finally when she shops we decided to keep one perspective through the shore, keeping the attention on our central character as she roars around the store. We rigged the camera to the shopping cart, and shot the whole scene on a 12mm lens, making the store feel massive and the speed to the shopping piece feels super fast. Then the camera becomes disengaged with the shopping cart as our mother finds her perfect gift for her daughter, the little tiara. To execute this, I want all the lights in the store to feel like they dimmed down around her, like the spot light of her mind focused in on this gift. Of course we couldn’t dim down the store, since they were all fluros and controlled somewhere in Texas I’m sure. So we created the illusion through amplifying our lighting on her, and ramping the exposure on the lens, matching the stop on the lens with our lighting as it dimmed up. We were able to get the timing bag on and the illusion of the whole store dimming down was achieved. In post they added the little spotlight overtop. 

The commercial ends with the complete madness of an nine year olds birthday party. Piñata, bouncy castles, and food fights…Trying to create total parent nightmare of a party…and able to examine this is super slow motion….

This was an exhausting project. So much coverage to tell all the little details. Director Mark Zibert really set us all up for success on this one with such a clear vision and plan, outlining all these styles and transitions clearly in prep. I can’t thank my crew enough for enduring the tight cramped locations and amount of days with crying babies on set, as well as the incredible insight they all gave me to make this piece a reality. 

Here are some set stills, frame grabs and the full 3min web version spot. The on air is a 60 second version cut down from this. 

  • Mirror room of shoe horrors

Key Crew was as follows:

  • 1st ACs – Marc Pierce, Mike Dawson
  • Gaffer – George Petras
  • Key Grip – Derek Teakle
  • DIT – Gavin Keen
  • Movi tech – Matt Bujok

Technical:

  • Camera – Arri Mini’s
  • Lenses – Zeiss Master Primes
  • Movement – Dolly, Movi, Segway, Handheld, pipe dolly, jib arm.

Kia Natural Habitats

I shot a series of spots for Kia this spring to replicate a BBC nature documentary. Set in the outer regions of Canada, the Kia vehicles roam the lands, and we shot them as if they were roaming buffalo or a narrow sighting of a lion. This is the larger web version mini film. I thought it was kinda hilarious and fun to treat vehicles in this fashion, allowing a lot of the same kind of aggressive car coverage seen in many of car commercials, but being playful with it at the same time.

Key Crew was as follows:

  • BCam Op – Julie Kim
  • A Cam 1st AC – Keiran Humphries
  • B Cam 1st AC – Richard Dagleish
  • Gaffer – Torbin Doege
  • Key Grip – John Dryden
  • DIT – Chris Bolton

Technical:

  • CAM – Arri Mini, Arri SXT, and Inspire X7
  • Lenses – Zeiss Master Primes and Fujinnon Premiere Zoom
  • Handheld, Dolly, Ultimate Arm, Movi, Drone

 


Friends of Mental Health shot for Ad Council

Working with director Max Sherman, I shot this piece about the awkward silence around talking to a friend that doesn’t quite seem themselves. Gideon Glick (The Good Wife, Elemntary, Oceans 8) became Awkward Silence, and gives some helpful advice, popping up between friends and asking if they are OK.

I really enjoyed create some interesting compositions with Max to allow the awkwardness of the spot to thrive. We decided to shoot with a widescreen 2.35 aspect ratio to allow lots of space between characters, and further the visual awkwardness. We chose to shoot on Cooke Anamorphic SF Lenses. Its was my first time using the SF versions of these lenses, and I was thoroughly impressed. They were very sharp, but light did interact with them much more than with the original versions of Cooke Anamorphics. I wasn’t looking for any strong flares, but pushing backlight into these lenses didn’t soften then image out nicely.

I wanted each location to have a difference feeling, and push color into the scenes when they felt motivated. We pushed Reds into the hot tub scene to make it feel slightly creepy, blue accents into the basement lounge scene to create color seperation with the natural warmth of the 1970s vibe basement really stand out, and kept the bedroom neutral but bright, making the awkwardness of teenage romance that much more obvious.

Here are a few production stills and the commercial.

Key Crew was as follows:

  • 1st AC – Jay Vettese
  • Gaffer – Neil Munroe
  • Key Grip – Derek Teakle
  • DIT – Joe Kicak and Andrew Salkey

Technical:

  • Camera – Arri Mini
  • Lenses – Cooke Anamorphic SF series
  • Movement – Dolly

Alaska Airlines

This is another Airlines Commercial I recently did, for Alaska Airlines, directed by Vesa Manninen. This spot was kinda like a stage play, where the scenes would appear to be moved away from the camera revealing something new, and evolving the storyline.

We shot these in Los Angeles, using practical locations as well as on Universal’s backlots.

Photos below were taken by Vesa, and the spots are below those.

  • airplane set, containing only six chairs and a wall...we made the rest...

Key Crew was as follows:

  • 1st AC – Keep Koppen
  • Gaffer – Brian Lofthouse
  • Key Grip – Rudy Covarubbias
  • DIT – Kyle Hoekstra
  • Techno Cane Op – Christian Hurley

Technical:

  • Camera – Arri Mini
  • Lenses – Panavision T-Series and G-series
  • Movement – Handheld, EZ rig, Dolly, TechnoCrane

Air Canada Airlines Commercial

I spent the last part of my year in 2017 working on a campaign for Air Canada Airlines with director Kevin Foley. This is the first spot, and took us across Canada in record pace travelling to St Johns Newfoundland and Vancouver within three days. The commercial, narrated by Ryan Gosling, centres around the idea that Canada is always home. Something I relate to, having just left the country to go to the United States, Canada will always be home to me…

Kevin and I really wanted this commercial in particular to have scale, so I suggested shooting it in a larger format. Panavision was key in helping us put together a package of Panavision Ultra 65mm lenses, and shooting on their Panavision DXL camera. Having never used the camera, we tested it a fair amount before. I was really impressed with the images. Close ups looked incredible. I had wanted it to have the feel of portraits shot on a Hasselblad, and this really achieve something similar. Seeing around a person’s cheekbones, and getting such incredible details of the face. The close focus of the lenses were super impressive, while at the same time seeing such a great width in the frame. The DXL camera, to house this larger sensor was a bit of a beast. Brought me back to shooting on a film camera size package, but the ergonomics of the camera were really impressive. It fit comfortably on the shoulder and had the same feeling of a film camera.

But we needed to really move the camera with a lots of fluidity and reactiveness. I had decided to do a lot of the movement using a segway, handheld or using an EZ Rig. So the weight of this camera did at times prove tiring, but the images were worth it. For one set up, shooting out in Squamish BC, we needed the camera to be a bit smoother, to be able to cut into a drone shot. So I asked the guys at RVRD in Vancouver if they could fly it on a brushless gimbal rig. They thought they could make it work on the new Ronin 2, which they did, but it was for sure the heaviest camera package I have ever carried…

Here is the spot and some on set videos:

 

Key Crew was as follows:

  • 1st AC – Toronto – Marc Pierce
  • 1st AC – Travel – Colin Doering
  • Gaffer – George Petras
  • Key Grip – Derek Teakle
  • DIT – Gavin Keen
  • Drone Pilot – Matt Bujok and Chris Bacik
  • Movi Tech – Derek Height

Technical:

  • Camera – Panavision DXL, Inspire Drone with Zenmuse X7
  • Lenses – Panavision Ultra 65mm
  • Movement – Handheld, EZ rig, Ronin 2, Segway, Drone

 


Coke Zero Commercial

This goofy commercial was created under the direction of Terri Timely. We shot in Vancouver, during the summer. The spot was finally just released. We approached this wanting to have a visual flow, so that one shot and scene would take you to the next. So timing obviously became super important, trying to make camera moves that added to the comedy and fit properly with the scene. I had a lot of fun on this, creating the lighting for a realistic talk show, TV news and of course the sasquatch scene! Props to productions designer Katharine Reynolds!

Set photos and the spot below.

This was also during a time in Vancouver when there were some pretty intense forest fires happening around Vancouver. And the cloud of smoke hung over top of the city. Made for some pretty amazing warm light in the forest as we shot the sasquatch scene. Few of those photos seperately.

  • our talk show set.

Key Crew was as follows:

  • 1st AC – Julie Kim
  • Gaffer – Terri Kim
  • Key Grip – Mark Yates
  • DIT – Pieter Blokker

Technical:

  • CAM – Arri Mini and Panasonic HVX
  • Lenses – Hawk V-Lites
  • Dolly
  • Handheld
  • Aerocrane

Sicks Kids VS : All In

Very excited to share this piece. I shot this with long time collaborator and director Mark Zibert for sick kids hospital. An incredible institution and incredible experience working with all the participants of the commercial who had all been helped in one way or another by the hospital.

In the spot, set to the song “I’ll do Anything” from Oliver, children scrape together everything they can find on their journey to help build a new sick kids hospital. Over 200 children participated in the commercial, a tall order for our oustanding AD team led by Eric Kaskens.

We shot this over three an exhausting days. We covered it with two main cameras – one handheld and the other on Movi. The Movi coverage helped ground a lot of the core story beats, while the handheld camera picked off interesting details and help give everything a bit more intensity and urgency. Then added in a third camera for extra coverage and a Drone for the wider arial perspectives of several key scenes.

Mark wanted this to live in Black and White, so our decisions early on about locations and angles had everything to do with how the natural light would create shape and contrast. We did everything we could to shoot in the ideal light in our different locations. Our neighbourhood location proved invaluable as it was on a corner. We just kept turning our camera angle as the day progressed, but because of the curve of the street, we always had a great backdrop to shoot into.

This campaign is part of the hospitals funding goal for this year of an ambitious $1.3 billion. As one of the leading children’s hospitals in the world, saving children’s lives on a daily basis, I strongly urge anyone able to contribute. CLICK THIS TO DONATE.

Below is the spot and a bunch of great still images captured on set by Tricia Zaremba. (www.triciazaremba.com)

Key Crew was as follows:

  • C Cam Operator – Marco Baldonado
  • 1st AC – A Cam – Marc Pierce
  • 1st AC – B Cam – Mike Dawson
  • Gaffer – George Petras
  • Key Grip – Rico Emerson
  • DIT – Baha Nurlybayev & Joe Kicak
  • Drone Pilot – Matt Bujok
  • Movi Tech – Wil Johnson

Technical:

  • Camera – Arri Mini, Aspire Drone
  • Lenses – Zeiss Super Speeds Mark 3
  • Movement – Handheld, Movi, Segway, Drone


Quicken Loans Commercials

Working with Dave Laden from Hungryman Productions, I shot these spots for Quicken Loans. Each commercial profiled a busy person who was helped by Quicken Loan’s mobile app.

Dave really wanted to spots to be dynamic, but also in a simple way, tell a lot about the characters within each frame. He asked to be able to pull out to reveal each scene, so that we’d start with a portrait of our hero, and then establish their environment which would tell their story visually. I chose to use the Angenieux 24-290mm for the majority of the commercial because of its extended range. For the last shot of each commercial we had to add a dolly move buried into the zoom since we needed even more range in those cases, getting a close up and also a wide establishing shot of their new house, within a couple-second shot.

Here are some behind the scenes stills and the commercials:

  • 1st AC – Reed Coppen
  • Gaffer – Blue Thompson
  • Key Grip – Josh Linkey
  • DIT – Mike Kellogg

Technical:

  • CAMERA – Arri Mini
  • LENSES – Zeiss Master Primes & Angenieux 24-290mm.
  • MOVEMENT – Dolly

Maple Leaf Commercial

Shooting with director Andy Hines, we shot this commercial that chronicled the life of Corey Joseph from the Toronto Raptors back through time to the moment his mother named him.

Andy and I decided to shoot anamorphic and ensure that the camera was always fluidly moving. We mounted Hawk Anamorphic Lenses onto a Arri Mini on a Movi 15, and had Movi operator Yuri Tereshyn or I moving through each scene, to help give the feeling of travelling back through time.

Here are some set stills and the spot.

Key Crew was as follows:

  • Movi Op – Yuri Tereshyn
  • 1st AC – Marc Pierce
  • Gaffer – Shon Christian
  • Key Grip – Jordy Toms
  • DIT – Gavin Keen

Technical:

  • Camera – Arri Mini
  • Lenses – Hawk Anamorphic V-Lite Primes
  • Movement – Movi 15, Handheld