Posted on June 11, 2012 in Ad VenturesBehind The Scenes

This year’s TV campaign for Valero Energy Corporation encompassed a range of dynamic, live-action shots which required extensive and complex production capture. Armed with our RED Epic camera, we were up for the challenge.

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The assignment landed on our desk just prior to last winter’s coldest month. Unfortunately, by the time we could begin filming, the local Texas grounds were quite dead and the trees were looking very cold and wintery.

The outside look didn’t present so much of a challenge while filming interior scenes at the Valero Corner Store, but concepts also included action shots out on the roadways. We location scouted areas that could pass as warm and green once we worked them over in post. In many instances, we relied on RED Epic’s RAW capture and 5K resolution for opportunities to paint, shade, and grade to give the exteriors a warm and lively feel.

Finished, color-graded tag sequence from the spot, captured with the Helivideo aerial cinematography platform.

We selected specialized tools that would enable us to capture our traveling scenes with motorcycles and Mission Petroleum’s fuel tanker. We rented a camera car from Chapman Leonard, outfitted with a 16′ Lenny Arm and G3 Shock stabilized gear-head with a digital Preston FIZ (Focus, Iris, Zoom) for most of our traveling shots. In some instances, where the roads were not substantial enough for the camera car and the picture car, we engaged a remote controlled gyro-shock stabilized helicopter with camera mount. It was awesome!

The camera copter is flown via remote control by an operator following in a chase vehicle. In addition to carrying the FS100 HD camera, the copter sends video of the “pilot’s” view wirelessly back to the operator.

Constructed of lightweight carbon-fiber, the copter sports a fully articulating camera head capable of panning, tilting and even longitudinal roll… All remotely controlled!

In cooperation with the San Antonio Police Department and Kendall County Sherrifs department we opted to leave the roads open to traffic and perform more “intermittent traffic control” where our officers could pace and safety the camera car and picture car with out stopping traffic on I-10.

Our roster of professional film crew in conjuction with the right tool selection enabled us to safely pull off this portion of the shoot while capturing some amazing footage at high speed.

The 16 foot “Lenny Arm” and stabilized gear-head, mounted on the Chapman Leonard truck.

Mounting the RED Epic and calibrating the digital “Preston FIZ” remote controller.

Scenes filmed at the gas station included more conventional style production complete with actors, set dressing, full make-up and wardrobe departments. We employed a huge crew to ensure that we could capture all 15 scenes in 1 day. Scenes included interiors and exteriors wih the Epic camera mounted on our Chapman Pewee III dolly or occiasionally hood mounted to a vehicle.

In order to achieve clarity and a high contrast ratio, most scenes were captured with Arri Alura T2.6 lenses (18mm-80mm and 45mm-240mm). For tighter spaces, we used our T1.3 Zeiss Super Speed MKIIs. Veteran camera aficionado, Calmar Roberts excelled as our 1st assistant cameraman, which was a great treat for Zach who, earlier in his career, trained under Cal for several years.

In addition to principal photography, there were several time-lapse sequences and visual effects scenes that were coordinated and executed in-house between our production and our animation departments.

Progression of long-exposure DSLR shots from a time-lapse sequence of the station. Sky replacement, composited signage and blending of station elements from offset moments in time were required to achieve a smooth time-remapped sequence, compressing hours into seconds as daylight turns to night.

Frame from the final composited, color-graded time-lapse sequence.

Final edits, conformed to the Log C raw footage, were tone-mapped and transformed to the target color space and graded using Apple Color. Visual FX plates were transferred as ProRes 4444 sequences.

Hats off to our staff, agency partners, our wonderful crews and the terrific folks at Valero… It was a blast!!


Client: Valero Energy Corporation
Agency: 180
Director: Murray Breit
Production Manager: Fernando Cano
Director of Photography/Colorist: Zach Nasits
Senior Editor: Jeff Chesnut
Visual FX: Martin Jaeger, Jeremy Kenisky, Rudy Martinez, Joseph Schaertl
Animation Director: Troy Davis
3D modeling/Animation: Jeremy Kenisky
Technical Direction: Jeremy Kenisky
Audio Post Production: Keith Harter Recording
Production Coordinator: Alycia Phair

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