Camille Mandigo of Texas Creative and Chris O’Connell of The O’Connell Communications Group contacted us recently to produce a television campaign for Hill Country State Bank (HCSB) in Kerrville, TX. Executive producer O’Connell explained that “the bank’s (HCSB) old commercials although popular, were in need of a new look. Something new and fresh.” Geomedia’s goal was to revamp their television presence while keeping true to the previous spots.
We were handed creative storyboards that included two :30 commercials and four :15 commercials. The :30 commercials featured life-style vignettes with the actual bank officers. The :15 commercials were more “abstract” concepts. They were boarded as single lock-down shots that portrayed HCSB’s relationships with their customers using local iconic imagery. These shots needed to be personal to the bank yet designed to keep the television viewers “dialed-in.”
The HCSB creative called for a “film-look.” so we bid the project for 35mm or 16mm film production, as well as an HD package incorporating 35mm film lenses to capture a more filmic, shallow depth of focus. The large format “cine-style” HD camera is more expensive to use than most comparable film packages but offers a net savings in post-production with no film transfer, printing, or shipping costs.
The HCSB client chose the HD “cine-style” turnkey production.
Our DP/production director Zach Nasits phoned our buddies at Gear in Austin, TX to order the Varicam camera package outfitted with 35mm film lenses. As an option, Kirk Miles, the camera technician at Gear, offered us the RED ONE camera for the production and mentioned that it would cost about the same as the HD package would with an add-on lens adapter and 35mm lenses.
In the summer of 2007, Zach had worked as a 1st assistant cameraman with the RED camera on a test shoot for Robert Rodruigez at Troublemaker films. Jim Jannard, the founder of Oakley and inventor of the RED, had brought down two prototype RED cameras: “Boris” and “Natasha” for Rodruigez to investigate. Zach mentioned that prior to that the only other people who’d tested the camera before Rodruiguez were Steven Soderbergh and Peter Jackson. Both would go on to shoot features with the new camera, with Soderbergh receiving accolades at Cannes for his films “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla“
With a RED on order for months now, we had been waiting for the perfect opportunity for a first production with this revolutionary format. Many early adopters were posting positive reviews on the RED’s performance in the field but working with the 4K format in post would present new challenges. We agreed that shooting 4K would be an attractive option for the HCSB production. We proceeded to work out the post workflows and integrate new hardware and software into the pipeline.
Zach and I headed up to our Austin offices and performed tests at Gear offices, investigating the RED camera’s latitude, formats, frames per second, ASA’s, depth-of-field, and pure “user-friendliness” before sending the RAW footage back to Geomedia’s main facility in San Antonio, where we would push the 4K files through post-production and test finished output.
Testing proved extremely successful… It was time for Geomedia to paint HCSB’s television campaign RED!
“It was handled a lot like a film job” said production coordinator Murray Breit. “We synced sound by clapping slates. Zach metered light just like we were using film… We sent the footage through a digital in-house 4K tele-cine process and everything looked amazing! We were able to do everything, start to finish, right here. Breit added “The process we developed for editing, color grading, conform and finishing worked perfectly… Most importantly the project came in on time and on budget and the client was very impressed with the quality of their new spots.”
Geomedia utilized the RED camera on location the day after the HCSB shoot for a commercial for Fuse Gym based in San Diego, CA. The RED camera package consisted of Zeiss Super Speeds, an Angenieux 10:1 zoom lens with full film camera support. Zach captured 4K at 500 (ASA) to have more latitude into the high-lights and rated the camera at 160 ASA as a result of their camera tests.
He explains the differences between each concept and clients needs, “It’s great that we had consecutive shoot days and got to capture two completely different looks with this camera… HCSB was more conventional beauty shots while Fuse was way more gritty.. shooting a 6 stops ratio.”
With a set of Super-Speeds on the way and a full slate of RED shoots on the books, we are more anxious than ever for “our” RED ONE #2357 to arrive at our door! We have not decided on any names for “her” yet!!