Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ambush advertising... Smart advertising

In a world where advertisers have to pay enormous quantities to sponsor sports and specially soccer, there are always smart people who actually manage to get a piece of the pie with a lot less investment.  
Last year, the year of the World Cup in Brazil, we came upon an idea that did just that:
It made DISH Network seem to be a sponsor of the World Cup in Brazil.
Besides the brilliant idea, it happened to be based on two of my favorite subjects: 
soccer and dance.

We were approached by Havas Chicago with a commercial that featured a brazilian dancer from "Carnaval" in a soccer stadium with intercuts to soccer stock shots of crowds and soccer features.
Our reaction was:
Let's not use stock shots, let's make the dancer the symbol of soccer with a coreography that would incorporate soccer moves and steps and a golden soccer ball.
The dancer would be dressed in the colors of DISH.
The Creative Director Bernie Gomez loved the idea and together we sold it to the client.
From there on we had to work hard on design and choreography because of course, the budget was limited.
The project involved several versions, one of which required a different costume that would serve to show one of the features of the network, as you will see further on.

Casting was a challenge because we were not only looking for a brazilian dancer, but one that would also be able to incorporate the soccer moves that we designed.
In the end we were all very happy with our selection and she was a delight to work with
as you can tell.

Rehearsal :
Not easy to play soccer in high heels. 
We had to design a choreography that we could repeat over and over again.

The design of the wardrobe was taken care of by Mitzy, famous for his designs in Mexico and Hollywood. 

And because it was basically meant as the Network ID throughout the spot, it became one of the major elements for approval.

Red Wardrobe fitting video

Green Wardrobe fitting video
 Wardrobe fit

And of course, we couldn't miss the fireworks:


Believe it or not, dance was my first passion, and then came soccer.
So of course, I took advantage of the venue to dance... a bit
Video of X dancing

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My experience with the AF100 Part III. The Olympus zoom 14-35

You have to read the small print !
Of course I don't.
I trust my instinct . And when I bought the AF100 my instinct told me to grab this zoom because of the dynamics of the lens, specially when you used it in motion. The other zooms were so boring in comparison.

So I took my camera and my lens (and the special adapter) and off I went to another country to shoot an expensive interactive piece.
I was so excited. I had a great camera and a great lens.

So of course I waited to get to the other country to unpack the goodies and...well.

The lens looked great but as I was tinkering with it I realized it had a mind of its own.

It changed the aperture at will.

Yes, there was a leperchaun inside the lens.

See for yourself what I mean:

What I didn't read:

The Olympus 14-35 will work with the AF100  only at 2.0 aperture.

This actually is not always the case, because even at 2.0 the lens will vary the aperture. It's in its genes. If you vary the focus or the length of the Zoom. Of course, because with any of the above the light coming into the lens varies.

There was no way we were going to be able to get a different lens in time. So we had to shoot around it. We shot the whole project with this lens and the images were terrific, with the dynamic feeling I had in mind, but we had to shoot a couple of takes more than usual due to the variation in iris. Fortunately it didn't happen when the highly difficult goals were scored, because as you will see, they were not highly repeatable:

When I came back to New York I went to Abel Cinetech and they told me that the problem with the lens is that it is meant for SLR cameras which have everything automatic, and the lens reacts to the light.

But why didn't you tell me about this.

Well, it is in the literature...

They were very understanding and actually  gave me a credit for the lens which I used to get a NIkon adapter and, later on, a PL mount adapter.

But to know about my experience with those lens you will have to wait for the next posts.

In the meantime, I hope this was useful.

Please leave your comments.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My experience with the AF100 part II. You have to read the manual.

So I bought the camera, with the Olympus 14-35 zoom that I fell in love with because it was so dynamic. But we'll talk about that later.

Now let me tell you the first lesson that I learned:

Remember I said that one of the main reasons I opted for the AF100  was that I could record sync sound on the camera? Well....

Owning and using other Panasonic cameras (AG-HVX200 and AGHPX500P) did not make me an instant AF100 expert. ANd the menus are not exactly similar.

In fact, one of the first problems I ran into was the famous sync sound I was telling you about, it did not record unto the camera !  

You see, buried deep into the manual there is a note concerning Variable Speed and unlike the AG-HVX200 and AGHPX500P, when you put the camera in variable speed mode, it will not record sound, even if you're running at 24fps !!!
Here is what the manual says:
24P mode:
Shoots 24 frames a second in native mode. The images (shot at 24 frames a second) are recorded into 24 frames as the video signal.
  • When VFR is set, the INTERVAL REC function, relay recording function, and PRE REC function are automatically set to OFF, and TCG is automatically set to REC RUN. 
Fortunately we run our productions as a submarine, with several backup systems, specially when dealing with a new camera and so, we were actually recording everything also on a separate recorder
But wait! 
Our second mistake had to do with the power batteries.
The batteries of the AF100 are almost identical to the ones for the AG-HVX200 and they cannot use the same charger!

Battery for the HVX200

Battery for the  AF100

Trust me, the pictures don't do justice to the similitude.
I knew that. And I told the person in charge of calibrating the camera who had to , in turn, communicate it to the AC who, in turn, had to read the manual!
Obviously none of this happened.
What did happen is that during the last take they tell me we are running of power. 
So I say (In a very cool and collected manner)
    "Change the battery". 
    "it's not charged"
    "What!" (Not cool and collected anymore)
And that's when the battery hit the fan, together with the AC and the person in charge of calibrating the camera.
We charge the battery on the right charger and risk damaging it by using it with a partial charge, but we finish the shoot.... and the relationship with with two people that trusted. 
As I have said before: "You are as good as the people you work with".

Anyway, all is well that ends well. And although you probably have seen this clip in a previous post, it shows you how the sound was not affected. And how cool the Olympus zoom looks...but later on that problem. Yes we had another problem .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Cosmetic reality". The Koleston challenge. Triumph.

Everybody is very excited because we are on the last leg, after 40 days.
"...and then you walk to camera and all of a sudden everything goes Kaboom !!"
Ready for the first take.

From right to left:
"I think it should be there"
"No, I think it should be over there"
"Where ?


....Xavier ?..."

As far as we have been able to ascertain, the results were very good for the local client
(Procter and Gamble).
Ad I don't have to tell you just how pleased the agency was, specially the creative team, and that  makes me feel proud because creatives are very close to my heart.
I was also able to confirm the range of the AF 100
Confirmed it as we analyzed the material during the color correction.
And, just as I thought, it gave us the "look" we were striving for: cosmetic reality.

i know I have said this before, but I will say it again:
When you're working with a celebrity you are working for three entities::
The client
The agency
The celebrity

I already related the reaction from client and agency.
Here is what the celebrity thought of the process (yes it's in spanish, but I'm sure you will get the gist of it:

Well. That's it.
See you soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cosmetic Reality. The Koleston challenge. Celebration.

One of the executional objectives was to enter into the intimacy of the celebrity's world. In this case for example, we catch Yuri at the moment when she's giving the last touches to the dining table that she has prepared for her friends.
In this context, the Koleston message becomes more "familiar"

Of course Yuri has a lot of help on set. After all, she is a celebrity.
When you're working with a celebrity that is a consumate professional, it's more like collaboration, rather than the typical Director-Cast relationship.
When you're running on schedule, everything is more enjoyable.

And yes....
It's a wrap !

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Cosmetic Reality" 2. The Koleston challenge. Commitment.

This is a series. A series of key moments throughout the Koleston Challenge.
This is the moment when the celebrity (Yuri) has to publicly commit to the Koleston challenge,which is what the whole series is about:

We are always shooting with 2 cameras simultaneously, so we can have more material to enrich the edit and make it more dynamic. Given the time allotted for the shoot.

I highly recommend  the new TV Logic monitor. The value for money makes it really enticing. The display is incredible and the focus aid is terrific.People don't always like to see themselves on video. However, professionals actually can make a great contribution when they know what they should look like, specially celebrities.

It's a bit tricky to direct a celebrity. Like, how do you tell her how to be herself. 
Without looking stupid that is. 

I adore chaos. It's soothing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Cosmetic Reality". The Koleston challenge. Beginning.

We recently worked on a branded content for P&G.

Was it a promo or is it content?

I think it's was promo treated like content...

Something I would like to call "cosmetic reality".

Using a very popular  Mexican celebrity (Yuri) they created the Koleston challenge, which basically consisted of a 40-day test of their coloring.

Working with a celebrity is always a challenge in itself.
Typically a celebrity will give you anywhere from 2 to 6 hours for a shoot. And that includes hair, make up and wardrobe. 

You have to be prepared to work fast and foresee the celebrity's eccentricities.  They do have them.

In this case, the challenge was going to be long term as we had to follow the progress of the challenge through time.

We used the AF100 with 35mm lens with a very specific look in mind. Images that would be rich in color, with violet tones dominating.

80% of the content was to be shot on location so the art direction became critical in dressing up the locations to achieve that "cosmetic reality" . With violet and purple as dominating elements.

The first stage was very didactical setting up the challenge and the way the product had to be used. As you can tell from the client and agency reactions we were off to a good start.

It was only the beginning of a series that would continue through the course of several weeks.