I was hired by a good client of mine out of Rhode Island, Cox Communications, to DP a short spot for the Newport Skating Center. I had a few rough storyboard emailed to me and I was asked to shoot the project using my EX1, Letus Ultimate and my PVC skateboard dolly system. We shot outdoors at a skating rink and I used all natural light.
I knew the job was going to be a fast shoot, so with the help of two Cox interns, we were able to knock out each shot very quickly. I am mastering the use of the PVC pipe dolly and it works effectively with little setup time. The entire commercial was shot within two hours. Very simply spot, nothing flashy here.
I enjoy directing kids. The secret is to give them hot chocolate, tell them to act natural and never look at the lens. When the hot chocolate runs out, the problems begin!
One thing that helped me rush through the setups was a bit of insight from one of the Cox people. I was told that the “Digi” costume was designed only to be worn for ten minutes. Apparently, the white bubbly-headed mascot did not have any air holes for breathing! Just a little obstacle you can sometimes run into on location.
I used the Letus Ultimate and the Sony PMW-EX1 because the client likes the XDCAM EX work flow. I just transferred the footage at the end of the day using my Mac Book Pro onto a Cox external USB hard drive. The producers took the drive back to the station and dumped the footy into their NLE system. I had a backup of all the files on my external drive and held on to it for a few weeks, just in case.
I could have shot this using the Canon 5dmk2, but I am still making a lot of money using my XDCAM and the Letus 35mm lens adapter. Plus, I love the look of the old Nikon Nikkor lenses and the Letus Ultimate!
I mostly used the fast Nikon 55mm f1.2 and the super sharp Nikon 105mm f2.5. I shot on my Vinten Vision 10 AS tripod and used ten foot spans of PVC pipe under my skateboard dolly. I also used a set of Vinten babylegs on the dolly for the low sliding moves. All the stuff shot on the ice was done handheld.
Antony Finucane at Cox Communications edited the spot using Final Cut Pro. I found it interesting that he decided to use two-frame dissolves instead of cuts for all the transitions. Softens up the look I suppose. I really liked the use of a wipe when the white cups of hot chocolate sweep out of focus across the frame. That was not part of the storyboards. I was hoping the editor would pick up on that!
Special thanks to John Parris for sending me this video file to post.