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Granger Smith / Bury Me in Blue Jeans
Today marks the official launch of the latest video by Granger Smith, which we shot in Texas and edited in-house. Directed by Paul De La Cerda, Geomedia was responsible for everything from preproduction to post, including a star-studded finale with a subtle but essential VFX starscape to liven up the bonfire scene.
Throwing in that starfield required motion tracking the scene, overlaying and preserving optical flares aberration, focus and defocus, and maintaining the tree line.
Some nitty gritty details:
- 4k shoot with Red Epic
- 4k R3D raw color grade
Here are the final results for your listening and viewing pleasure:
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.
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
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
The BIG Picture
Some say “it’s not the size of your tool that matters” and we would have to agree with that. However, the size of your picture does matter and the picture quality captured with RED Epic has everything to do with the way we work and how we create beautiful imagery with added versatility in post-production.
RED Epic camera
The camera itself isn’t much larger than a Kleenex box and weighs in at a mere 5 pounds before you put a lens on it. But inside this little box and instilled deep within the R&D is great potential for RAW image capture that expands its versatility with incredible latitude comparable to that of film (were seeing about 15-17 stops in some situations).
5K RAW image data “digital negative” as viewd in REDlog film, LOG color space.
The image after color grade and output to Rec-709 color space for finishing this spot for Taco Cabana.
After running our RED camera through extensive tests, we have begun implementing it into our everyday live action projects for clients like Valero Energy Corporation, Taco Cabana, and HEB. The proof was in the pudding! Not only have the aesthetic results proven to be great, but various cinematographers have also commented on its versatile performance and the way the camera was built from an ‘on-set’ functionality standpoint. The camera has the ability to shoot 5K motion as well as 120 fps in 4k and even 300 fps in 2K!
Epic being fitted on the Chapman G-3 Gyro stabilized head and “Lenny” crane arm.
Epic camera and crane operators heading out for a challenging shot.
Epic camera swinging into action on a recent shoot for Valero Energy Corporation.
RAW sensor data in LOG space prior to color grade and visual FX.
Shot after color grade with graphics tracked and composited. Tracking software loves the 5K resolution!
Rich oversized imagery allows panning and scanning in post-production, which gives you a second framing opportunity. High image resolution benefits visual effects work like keying, tracking and compositing. Color grading RAW images allows extreme fidelity and flexibility. Additionally, we are able to pull 5K 32-bit tiff images from the RAW footage for use in printed collateral, direct mail, and even billboards! (This technique was implemented in a recent VOGUE spread featuring Lady Gaga.)
5K .TIFF image extracted from color graded Epic footage for use in a print campaign for Taco Cabana.
We vouch that if you aren’t shooting RED Epic, then you’ll have to thaw out some old film cans in the freezer to reach this look and experience. While we sometimes miss film and are occasionally nostalgic for the smell of our Harrison changing bag, we sure don’t miss the all too common races at the end of the day, trying to get ‘today’s film’ on a plane to meet processing deadlines… Our clients definitely don’t miss the processing costs!
The future is here at Geomedia. Come try on some Epic love for your next project and get the BIG picture!
UHS Living Proof
We recently wrapped up a 6-spot television and web campaign for University Health System, through agency Creative Civilization, highlighting “Living Proof” of the medical miracles occurring every day at University Hospital.
This years’ production featured live action with testimonials and personal accounts from the hospital’s patient, doctors, and staff. Through extensive research and hard work, agency Executive Creative Producer Joseph Guerra and senior Creative Director JC Cody felt all the stories were unified in that each of the patients’ testimonies were stories of survival, real-life examples of “Living Proof”.
The project presented challenging logistics from a production standpoint, but our talented team conquered each situation along the way. With only 8 days to prep the project we were able to successfully complete a three-day shoot on a schedule that more realistically should have required four or five days.
Our filming location was an ever busy city hospital so plans were often redirected as the next scene might included a doctor that would be unexpectedly unavailable “saving someone’s life” or our location needed to move since a surgery took longer than anticipated. Needless to say, our set wasn’t always a controlled environment and our AD team worked the schedule constantly to ensure that our shoot was successful.
We completed over 37 live action scenes with uncompromised blocking and lighting setups. ER’s, OR’s, research labs, MRI Labs, heli-pads, hospital exteriors, common areas, hallways, waiting rooms, limbo interview sets, designed home interior sets… You name it we shot it all at the University Hospital.
In addition to production, and integral to the success of the campaign, we also handled HD post production in-house. Creative editorial, color grading and subtle visual FX heighten the emotion of the poignant narratives, which culminate with “living proof” of each story’s happy conclusion.
So this one goes out to the entire production crew, AD, agency CD’s AE’s, etc. post production artists and the marketing team at University Hospital, who all made it possible.
Hope you like these commercials. Watch the the rest of them here.
All About The Benjamins
National Payroll Week is the high profile annual event in the payroll industry and the Amercian Payroll Association is the organization responsible for making it happen. For 2008 they put together a national media buy including visibility on the Today Show and MSNBC to recognize and raise awareness of the occasion.
The APA turned to Geomedia to help them create the :30 TV spot that would drive this national ad campaign. The project turned out to be an interesting one for us and more importantly a successful one for the APA so we wanted to share some of the backstory with you here.
The concept for the commercial originated with the internal APA creative team and featured a husband and wife driving down a road where the road signs seem to predict inevitable misfortune. Everything seems to be going wrong before their eyes as they encounter bad weather, a rough road with endless hairpin turns, and no end in sight. But wait! A text message chimes in alerting them that their paycheck had been safely deposited and the world around them suddenly transforms to a place of beauty and color.
Nice idea APA. Like the way they use the images to tell the story.
Let’s get started.
Our first challenge was to find a place close to home that was wide open because just about every shot in our storyboard involved either the interior or exterior of an always in motion picture car.
Our Picture Car
The location also had to be one that would down the road help us create the images of falling rocks, lightning strikes, and dangerous terrain that were vital to telling the story. More on that later.
To find a practical filming location, we began scouring the Hill Country West of I-35 from Austin to San Antonio. Though safety for our crew and talent is always a primary concern, we were once again quickly reminded during our location scouting of that infamous production axiom:
…that where ever man built roads, he also built power and telephone lines….
So after striking out on our first few candidates, we continued the search from just south of Austin to Wimberly, to San Marcos, to New Braunfels, before checking out Canyon Lake where we stumbled upon the perfect shooting location inside Canyon Park which is owned and managed by the US Army Corp of Engineers.
The park embraced a beautiful scene with awesome vantage point perspectives that would allow us to shoot from one hilltop to the next. Traffic control and lock-up would also give us the advantage of being able to shoot all day without too much interruption.
Finding the perfect location.
With our location approved, we filled out our own Geomedia RED ONE Camera Cinema Package by renting trusty old #11 from GEAR Rental in Austin, who also supplied specialty lenses, Grip and Lighting Package and Jib Arm. Keene Television and Film Services supplied the car rigging support for the car and lighting mounts.
With our toolbox now complete, we scheduled the shoot for one very ambitious day — filming from 8 car-mount positions, 2 crane set-ups, and several vantage-point shots captured with a Canon 400mm T4 telephoto lens. Assistant Director Tony Griffin and 2nd AD Donald Banks choreographed the ever-moving production convoy as Scott Hayes of the San Antonio Police Department lead the unit safely through the over 26 mile course.
(left) Our Crew getting “The Rig” ready (middle) “Hanging On”- Ron Meneses, Tony Griffin, and Jason Keene, (right) “Checking the Vantagepoint” – Zach Nasits- DP, with the APA Agency (Mark Coindreau-PR Manager, Erika Hurst-PR Coordinator, Ismael “Smiley” Garcia- Multimedia Manager, Bob Stover-Congress Production Manager
Jason Keene came on board as Key Grip and Gaffer Ron Meneses master-minded the rigging and lighting for the moving car shots. They were assisted by Roger Eickenroht and Eric Untersee. 1st AC Wes Turner managed the camera, and Donna Horner kept our people looking great with her talents in make-up.
Film Crew from (left to right) Wes Turner-1st AC, Tony Griffin-1st AD, (on ladder)Zach Nasits- Director/DP, Ron Meneses-Gaffer, Eric Untersee-Grip, (hidden) Jason Keene- Key Grip, Roger Eickenroht)
Creating practical effects on location or using tow rigs and process trailers with lighting effects and wind machines were outside the scope of this project. And a poorman’s process trailer wouldn’t provide belief to the viewer without an even more elaborate greenscreen and photo-real compositing solution. Plus with over 90 straight days of 100+ degree weather and with no rain or clouds on the Doppler for months we were going to rely once again on the Geomedia 3D Animation/Visual Effect department to save our bacon.
Our first visual effects task was to create our overcast skies and lightning strikes. We laid the groundwork for this stormy and “ominous look” with some in-camera setup on the Red One in conjunction with a Tiffen Cool Day for Night Filter. Sky replacement and lightning FX within the foreboding storm clouds were done in Adobe After Effects by Geomedia FX artist Martin Jaeger. Color grading to enhance the day for night effect were achieved in Apple Color.
Shot with Tiffen Cool Day for Night Filter with 3D Enhanced Skies
Next on the CGI agenda was building the fallen rock that blocks the road for our picture car. Tracking markers for the placement of the rock slide were set up on the road during principle photography. Boulders, rocks and debris were photographed and digitally composited into the final scene utilizing the tracking markers to match camera moves.
The Geomedia sound design team then scored the spot, created foley effects and tweaked the final mix down.
Here’s how the final spot turned out.
Thanks to the crew, cast and the great people at the APA for making this project such a pleasure to work on.