Working with Daughter.Studio, Mill+ created this stylish spot for Rolls Royce and their latest Ghost model. The Mill’s VFX team utilized 4K Signature Glass Effects from Lens Distortions to create a highly stylized aesthetic.
With studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Mill boasts a creative culture of talented artists from multinational and homegrown backgrounds, nurturing innovation, flexibility and diverse ideas. VFX Supervisor Pete Rypstra shared a little glimpse into their project for Castrol EDGE which utilized our Legacy 4k glass elements.
“We used a combination of multiple camera passes as well as using photo-real, full CG cars to give the illusion that there were two cars on the track. We were also asked to give the Clone rival its own distinct look to distinguish it from the real car.”
“The movements of the light elements lent themselves beautifully to the effect we were trying to create.”
GMC “The Perfect Shot” | An inside look from pitch to post-production
Nate Gunn is a Salt Lake based visual storyteller with a passion for non-traditional advertising. He helps companies discover new ways to display their message by creating branded content that’s more lifestyle focused, rather than product focused. Nate was kind enough to share the challenges and triumphs of this GMC spot on a photographer’s journey, which incorporates our Luminary and Light Hits 4K packs.
What’s the backstory on this project?
I’ve always wanted to work with car brands, but the competition is brutal. I was so close to not submitting a pitch on this one. In the few months before I had lost a pitch to Ram Trucks and two other great projects that I really wanted. Emotionally I was in a bad place. When you spend a few days writing a treatment, you almost convince yourself that it’s already your project, and so the losses hurt.
“…it was a risk, but I think that’s what they’re looking for sometimes.”
I decided to go for it and just do me. I think I was up against 30+ directors and I pitched something that was far from the creative, it was a risk, but I think that’s what they’re looking for sometimes. All too often I’m trying to just give the brand or agency what they want to hear, when maybe they want to just be inspired and feel your love and passion for the project.
What made your pitch different?
In the beginning, the client was looking to shoot an actor portraying a photographer. A guy shooting in a studio or out on a simple model shoot. The goal was to tie in the similarities of a photographers desire for precision and perfection with the precision of the truck.
I just knew that for a truck brand a real story would play better to their viewers. I pitched the idea of my photographer buddy Kevin Winzeler out on an actual assignment in Moab, Utah. They loved the concept and even switched the featured truck over to the Sierra All terrain model.
“That was a hard one to cut. We worked so hard for it, but I just knew it wasn’t up to par.”
What was production like?
Honestly one of the most fun shoots I’ve done. So crazy, but we had a great crew and a good time. We had the tightest deadline and Kevin is a busy guy between having a successful career in photography and four kids. We had a little over a week of pre-pro and then two days to shoot with him.
We had a really slim and simple production, always liking to keep it as low-key as possible. GMC trucked down the Sierra. It was DP Nate Sorensen and I on the camera, with Weston Fuller assisting, a driver and truck prep guy, then a team of two guys from Circa3 flying and operating the drone.
We shot on the RED Dragon in 6k. Lenses were a set of Leica Rs (some of my all-time favorites). We had a gimbal and just regular set up.
What challenges did this project present?
With such little time, the pressure was on for sure. Sorensen and I headed down to Moab a day early to scout. I finished out the storyboards on the drive. I had already digitally scouted everything the week before, so in the morning we took a quick look at the spots and everything checked out well.
On our last night, we did this brutal hike up to an area called Castleton rock. It’s a short hike distance wise, but seriously steep and we underestimated how long the hike would take. We were racing to catch the sun before it dipped behind the horizon.
We got one shot up there that is in the final spot, but we didn’t get the one I had planned for. It ended up being too dark and muddy of a shot. I had no choice but to cut it out in the editing room. That was a hard one to cut. We worked so hard for it, but I just knew it wasn’t up to par.
The location of that last shot in the commercial was definitely the scene I wanted most for the project and it had to be just right. And yet it was the only location I didn’t have locked down. A lot of locations that I had Google mapped weren’t working out. So toward the end of the day, we made an hour-and-a-half trip in hopes that this last spot (which I had been avoiding due to the long drive) would give us the setting we needed. The trek was worth it, the location ended up being perfect.
“I would warm up or cool down Light Hits and Luminary to help enhance the look even that much more.”
Tell us about the look and feel you were going for. How did Lens Distortions effects contribute to your aesthetic?
I had the whole spot pretty much put together and storyboarded before we shot, leaving a little wiggle room for any unexpected moments. I wanted 80 percent of the shots to be pre-morning light and sunset. I wanted to really show a true photographers reality. They’re up early and working till the light is out.
A big reason I choose Moab as the location for the project is because of the frequent storm systems that role through. We ended up having a lot of these gorgeous storm clouds the entire time we were out there.
I knew while we were there that Light Hits would come in to help. In the edit, I subtly used light hits and Luminary to enhance a flat shot here and there (see 0:20 and 0:34). I added luminary in a shot of the truck’s headlights just to give them a bit more flare (see 0:12).
I love to add some color to the effects. The color on this project was on the cooler side and then we would add warmth in Kevin’s skin tones and in the red landscape. I would warm up or cool down Light Hits and Luminary to help enhance the look even that much more.
To see more of Nate’s work, check out vimeo.com/nategunn.
BTS photography By Nate Gunn and Weston Fuller.
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Darren Capp | Australia’s leading automotive photographer
Darren Capp is Australia’s leading automotive photographer. His recent work includes campaigns for Renault, BMW, Mitsubishi Shanghai and BYD China.
See more of Darren’s work at dcphoto.com.au.
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Asprey | r2 Timepiece collection
Ali Walker is an English filmmaker with a unique visual style, developed from his ongoing traditional art pieces, which blend his skills as a matte painter, compositor and film director. His credits are vast and varied, from The Stereophonics through to brands such as Asprey and Gossard. He is currently producing a series of short films, 3D animations and brand films for Asprey, whilst in production of his debut feature film.
See more of Ali’s work at alijwalker.com
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Behind the Scenes: EXPRESS – OneEleven
When the creative department at EXPRESS creates video shorts for some of their women’s clothing lines, they’ve leaned on Lens Distortions as a key ingredient to craft a distinct look.
We caught up with Jordan Schmelzer, the in-house Video Editor at Express, who’s been working with the company in some capacity since early 2015. Before that, he was a freelancer for almost 10 years as a jack-of-all-trades type of production guy, working with clients such as Chipotle, White Castle, Victoria’s Secret, and Nationwide Insurance.
Jordan was kind enough to give us a bit of the backstory on these and share some images from production.
What’s the backstory on these projects for EXPRESS?
The goal for projects like these is to showcase notable models sporting looks for EXP Core and One Eleven, which are subsets of the Express line of clothing. One Eleven is a line of casual tops and EXP Core is fitness apparel, both designed for women.
Most videos are essentially look-books, and often have somewhat of a “behind-the-scenes” feel to them. They live on the Express website, YouTube, and are pushed via Instagram, Facebook, etc.
What is production like on these spots?
Productions are very fast paced because they are primarily photoshoots where we simultaneously grab video assets. Like most shoots, there is a lot to get in a little time. For most One Eleven productions we’ve been using a small three man crew with two Sony FS7 cameras. For the most recent shoot with Emily Ratajkoswki, the team traveled to Puerto Rico with a slightly bigger crew, RED dragon, Movi and drone. Everything in beautiful 4k.
Walk us through your post-production workflow on these.
The challenge is to make the videos feel like more than just a moving catalog. We want to bring life and emotion to these videos, and deliver a specific feel and message that resonates with our brand. When you see a photo of a girl in a shirt, it’s just that, but when you add music, action, and a color grade, it becomes much more than a girl in a shirt, it becomes a story.
“We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.”
For us, a good edit starts with music. Chris Borman (Senior Art Director) and I get together and choose what we think would be a really great music track to match the video – something that fits the brand, mood of the shoot, and most importantly, something that would make for a great edit.
Often times we are able to license songs from artists to pair with the footage, other times we create custom music tracks. Once we find something we really like it’s just a matter of choosing the best shots and cutting to the beat. Then comes color grading and Lens Distortions, which is my favorite part.
Any interesting challenges with these edits?
The original One Eleven concept was to shoot in an open NYC loft with mostly natural light. Many of the shots have large bright windows in the background. This presented a challenge for the video team because even when shooting with Slog3, it can be difficult to expose a shot for both inside and outside simultaneously. Needless to say, we were left with some over-exposed shots.
While this presented a challenge, the color grading process and Lens Distortions really solved the problem we were facing. The natural-looking Light Hits turned the footage from drab to dynamic and made the over-exposed shots look intentional and really dramatic.
What kind of look and feel were you trying to create with these spots?
Traditional Express videos are equally video look-books, but they are a little more produced-looking. With One Eleven, we wanted to have a very natural, easy feel to complement the nature of the clothing. Adding Light Hits and Legacy elements from Lens Distortions brought a layer of natural-looking beauty and depth to each shot.
We’ve taken such a liking to Lens Distortions effects that they’re becoming an integral part of our video workflow, specifically with our One Eleven clothing line.