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Old December 27th, 2008, 06:09 AM   #1
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Make Your Own Nike Commercial

Recently I have been on a total Nike Commercial high. So, I had this idea and I wanted to try making my own. Obviously, they wouldn't be as good, but does anyone have any idea how an amateur filmmaker like me could create something remotely close to the amazing Nike commercials of today.

First, that dark and ominous shadowy background with the seemingly perfect amount of light that just barely touches the subject. Second, the color of the subject, how perfectly the light bounces of their skin and how the sweat seems to show just the perfect amount. It probably has something to do with color correction, but can't quite put my finger on it.

The shutter speed, how the movements of the subjects seems like it has alot to do with the shutter speed, but I can't figure that out either.

Finally, those steadicam shots.

HOW DO THEY DO IT?!?!
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Old December 27th, 2008, 09:37 AM   #2
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HOW DO THEY DO IT?!?!
35mm Film
Money
Talent


I've seen low budget Nike commercials shot on RED, but you are talking about very talented people spending over $100k a shoot. Yea, it's gonna look different.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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hahaha thank you.


so does that mean there's no other way to reproduce a look that's even remotely close?
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Old December 27th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #4
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Now, replace the 35mm film with a nice carefully lit HDV camera and a 35mm adaptor.

Replace the Money with Time (time=money)

and keep the talent!

You can make stuff that good without money, you just have to be willing to take the time to learn to get every little piece right and the time to get it right on the day without having all the $$$ to spend.

Mr. Ford (No offense, I'm sure it wasn't your intention) has given you the standard industry response to this same question. Which implies that it's impossible for you as an amateur filmmaker to achieve, therefore it's pointless to try.

Try it anyway. This craft is filled with discouragement, get used to it and get used to ignoring it. The compulsion/addiction to create is what drives us, do it anyway. Figure out what it takes to get the background the way they have it in the ads... through photography and post-production work.

Figure out what it takes to do the same to the foreground elements. Separate them mentally and know that they are almost always lit separately.

Study this stuff online (this is a great forum as you have access to industry experience here - they like to share, but often start with this response and need some coaxing to get them to let you know how they would do it on set with 35mm film and 10k arc lights and whatnot - then you just have to translate that to your budget [time and money]). I have a couple of other fora I visit, for different reasons each... this is my technical answers forum. When I have technical questions, I come here as I really trust the data provided here. Where to set lights, what specs do my camera have, what kind of filtration will provide the effect I'm looking for... that sort of thing.

I don't necessarily come here for the "You're doing great kid" kinds of responses, I like the brutal honesty I get here, it helps me learn and grow.

"Just Do IT" and show your work, let us beat it up and tell you which parts seem to need work. Copy one of the ads directly as an exercise and see how close you can get it. It'll really teach you alot. Even just copying one of the shots directly will grow your experience base quite a bit!
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Old December 27th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #5
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LOL!

Ironic that I came to this thread in the first place becaus I thought it was a contest, and I was going to try my hand at it as an amateur!

An amateur filmmaker can make good film. However, there are certain considerations that need to be understood, and I don't think people quite get them. When I moved from being a guy with a camera, to a guy with a multiple cameras, lights, grip, sync sound, the game changed. My 20 minute setup and shoot, became 2hr setup and shoot.

Look at a single scene for a high-end commercial. If you're working alone, that single scent could take all day to set up IF you had the gear required to do it. There are just some things you cannot replicate. As an amateur, you simply are NOT going to get that $10k steadicam shot. So you do a different shot. You are NOT going to get that $20k crane shot, so you stay on the ground. You are NOT going to shoot at 500fps to get super slo-mo that's as clean as 24p. Just not going to happen, so you make other choices.

I saw a quote once about this, and I've tried to apply it to my work as I learn and accumulate more gear. "If you can't shoot the beach, shoot under the pier at the beach." Basically, craft shots within your means and capability.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 05:20 PM   #6
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I still personally believe that you should really push yourself in terms of what you're trying to accomplish. The Big Hollywood cinematographers didn't get famous by working within their means, they found creative workarounds to get their visions captured without costing the productions more $$$.

True, you won't get that 500FPS slowmo shot, but hey, you can shoot 60i (or find a camera with 60p) and reduce using software interpolation and having the actors move just slightly slower than normal to "cheat a bit" and get close without having to go rent out an expensive camera for a 2 day shoot for that one shot. I'm personally very inspired by this piece:

There's no way you or I could possibly afford to shoot the beach invasion sequences from Saving Private Ryan... or could we? If we think creatively and offset alot of our resources (remember: time=money) into post production, we could do this: YouTube - Richard Hammond presents Bloody Omaha (The Graphics)

You can figure out how to maximize your exposure so you have the most choice for re-exposing in post... I was struck by how washed out the blacks look in uncorrected 35mm film shot by hollywood pros whose productions plan on using extensive DI to get strong color stylization (this was on the BTS for Se7en with brad pitt and morgan freeman as well as on the AMAZING 3-disc set of Panic Room with jodie foster). You can be very conscious in your lighting and makeup/costume/set decoration to minimize lattitude on set so you can capture it correctly in camera to push it and "cheat" it to look like more expensive film stock later in post. ( YouTube - se7en color grading di - didn't actually find the piece I'm looking for, but some amazing talent is out there and the software is realtively cheap! Magic bullet is good but expensive, you can do all those effects in whatever NLE you're using given enough time and practice.)

We can afford to cheat our way to a glorious image. We can afford to select shots to do that make it look as if we have more resources than we really do at our disposal. We can get amazing shots on limited budgets! Given time, talent and dedication, we can even make major hollywood motion pictures that rival what is out in theaters now. We simply have to stop thinking we can't do it and go out and make it happen.

Wow, soon I'm going to have to start hiring a motivational typist to start getting these messages posted ;)
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Old December 27th, 2008, 08:09 PM   #7
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Daniel: Cole and Perrone both give excellent advice here. My two cents: lighting and a stable platform to shoot from are two of the SINGLE largest TECHNICAL items that set amateurish work apart from pro work.

Patience and walking in with an EXCELLENT vision of what you mean to accomplish and HOW you intend to do it will serve you better than a 4k camera will. My humble suggestion would be to start smaller and aim for the absolute best you can accomplish in EVERY scene. Good luck and most of all, HAVE FUN!
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Old December 27th, 2008, 08:18 PM   #8
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Daniel: Cole and Perrone both give excellent advice here. My two cents: lighting and a stable platform to shoot from are two of the SINGLE largest TECHNICAL items that set amateurish work apart from pro work.

Patience and walking in with an EXCELLENT vision of what you mean to accomplish and HOW you intend to do it will serve you better than a 4k camera will. My humble suggestion would be to start smaller and aim for the absolute best you can accomplish in EVERY scene. Good luck and most of all, HAVE FUN!

You sound like you've walked 10km in my shoes! I curse my tripod every time I have to tilt. I am somewhat old fashioned. I prefer movies without much in the way of effects. Just a good story, and solid technicals. I spent MONTHS lighting figurines in the office (wig heads) trying to unnderstand cross lighting, back lighting, kickers, how silks look different from bounced foamcore, etc. Similarly, I've spent hours micing myself trying to learn how to get clean audio.

It's these kinds of things that I don't see from a lot of new shooters and new "film makers". The idea of taking the time to learn the craft before making a "movie" seems to be lost. It took me nearly 2.5 hours to set up my last VIP interview. And that was with a still subject! I think if more new filmmakers actually got the chance to go on set of a real feature, it would change many things for them. My life at work got MUCH easier in 2008 because HBO films shot in my building and many people were exposed to real filmmaking for the first time. Amazingly, I got upgrades in light, sound, and cameras this year! LOL!

Maybe next year I can get a decent tripod! Or maybe even a mattebox and some filters.

...One can dream. :)
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Old December 27th, 2008, 09:05 PM   #9
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This craft is filled with discouragement, get used to it and get used to ignoring it.
another great quote for my wall (or anybody's wall)
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Old December 28th, 2008, 04:26 AM   #10
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We simply have to stop thinking we can't do it and go out and make it happen.
One can't get more loud and clear than that :)
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Old December 28th, 2008, 06:53 AM   #11
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Great thread. While it's obvious that we learn by doing and trying new things, what's really encouraging here is that bright and inquiring folks like Daniel don't want to let money stand in the way of doing something. That's where innovation and the next trick technique will come from. Good on ya.
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