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Old February 11th, 2016, 09:15 AM   #1
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Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Today my boss came in my office and asked me if I would have any interest in shooting a commercial for the university this summer. Last summer they hired a video production company to put one together but this year (after seeing some of my work over the last year) my boss asked me if I would be interested in giving it a try. It looks like I'll have a budget for renting cameras and equipment and my boss already has a vision for what he wants the commercial to look like.

I guess my biggest concern is that I've never been a part of a huge production (or really any sized production besides just myself) and had this much pressure on me for a video.

Anyone have any advice for me?

I currently have a GH4 and a full frame canon camera with a 70-200 2.8 II IS, 100 2.8 Macro, Sigma 50mm 1.4 and Sigma 35 1.4. I don't plan on using the GH4 or my canon camera, but maybe use the lenses. I am planning on renting a camera but I'm not sure exactly I should rent. My boss sounds like he doesn't want to spend more than $1,200-$1,500. I'm sure I can talk him into more, but that's just what he initially said.

If it helps, his vision for the commercial is all sit down interviews with little or maybe no b-roll.

Thanks everyone!
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Old February 11th, 2016, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Cool down. Take it easy. Break down the job into parts and you will realise that the work is the same. The more you plan, the better it becomes.

You may like to talk with your boss more about his vision. May be before going to him, you do some thinking as to how you want to approach it. Hiring crew and equipment etc is never a problem. The problem is knowing clearly what you want to do. So list down/sketch/storyboard and soon you find that the entire commercial flashes infront of your eyes.

Let us know how it goes. All the best.

Cheers,
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Old February 11th, 2016, 07:55 PM   #3
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

If you have gear you're comfortable with that will do what you want it to do, use that, don't rent gear. If you are relatively new to the business (sounds like you are, sorry, I don't know your backstory), I'd rather have you shooting with 100% familiarity with your gear than with gear that's 50% over your head that you have 0% familiarity with. Especially when your budget is $1500, I would not blow $500 on gear rental.

If anything, I'd see if you could get a lighting director and some lights to come help you for $1k and makeup/hair for a couple hundred bucks. It's possible I stand alone on this next point, but I'd rather have $100 worth of sandwiches and sodas brought in at lunch than have a $100 oddball lens that I will rent and use for one shot. Lunch makes everybody happy, and happy people work better.

I used to get called to shoot an important spot from time to time for my boss, and have a budget of some kind to stick to. If you need to rent lights, and they're going to cost $500 to rent but you could buy them (or something similar) for $1000, that was always an easy way to flesh out the kit without using my own budget. Bosses love good value.

I agree with Sabyaschi. You got this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Burwell View Post
If it helps, his vision for the commercial is all sit down interviews with little or maybe no b-roll.
This is a terrible idea. Talk him out of this.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 07:28 AM   #4
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Thanks for the advice guys.

I currently have these lights (
Bescor LED-700KB Bi-Color 2 Light AC/DC Kit LED-700KB B&H Photo
). Would these work for a professional interview setting? I mean that's the reason I bought them, but if they aren't great then maybe I will look into renting some.

In regards to the video itself, I'm going to try to throw a few different ideas my bosses way and see if any of them stick. He specifically mentioned having a slider shot that moves while the person is talking, which I don't have and would need to rent (if he's 100% sold on that).

He came in my office yesterday and was telling me about how they spent $40k on a commercial last year and he feels like we could do it in house this year. I wish he gave me a little bit of a budget to work with, but trying to do all of this for barely $1000 seems a bit overwhelming. Like I said, I currently have a gh4 and I just don't know how good that will look on a TV commercial for a university. He said he wants it to look cinematic and the GH4 doesn't really have that look. I'm trying to talk them into letting me get a metabones adapter (I have lots of canon glass) which would help, but it's still not going to be the same as getting a high end professional camera.

I feel kind of nervous about it, but anytime I've felt this way in the past, it's just pushed me to get better, so I'm excited. I just don't want to let anyone down when they are putting this much trust in me.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 07:41 AM   #5
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Quote:
He said he wants it to look cinematic and the GH4 doesn't really have that look.
Ask him to define "cinematic", I bet he can't, just use a flat profile, use a fast lens and add bars on top and bottom of the video, light the scene appropriately, introduce some motion with a slider and bam instant cinematic look.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 09:53 AM   #6
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Is the Canon glass yours, or the school's? Do not mix personal gear with work gear. Ask for a metabones and a couple of lenses, but don't bring in your own gear.

I have been out on my own for 6 years now, and in the beginning I used to really stress about making something look a certain way. I'm mostly past that. The client wants a look. Talk them through it. I'm with Noa, ask him what "cinematic" means, and whatever he responds, break that down more. Then look at techniques that will achieve that. If you need gear, make a list and tell him what it'll cost. If he doesn't want to pay that, start scratching stuff off until you get to his number. You may not achieve the look he's asking for, but you did the best you could with his budget. The rest is not your problem.

I know this seems like a big spot, but he picked you because he's seen your work and he thinks you can do it.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 11:13 AM   #7
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

While I understand the reasoning of not using personal gear with work gear, I really just want to make quality videos and if my canon glass helps me do that, then I'm all for it. I feel like the work I do here could help me get a job at a bigger organization or university in the future, so I want to make sure I'm doing the best work I can.

So from my understanding, the suggestion here is to simply use my GH4 with my lenses and see how it goes? I just want to make sure this is the best option for me. I like the idea you gave Mike about giving the, a list and then showing him what it will cost and then slowly mark off the list until we get down to a price he can stomach.

Just so you know where we are, below is the commercial that was made for us last year....


And below is a couple videos that I have done. They are a bit different so I'm a bit nervous about trying to replace a full production so I guess that's why I'm making sure I'm asking as many questions as I can to fully understand what will be expected and what I can do to make this video as good as it possibly can be. I feel confident behind a camera, but doing a commercial is something different.



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Old February 12th, 2016, 11:34 AM   #8
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

What camera was used for these videos?
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Old February 12th, 2016, 01:28 PM   #9
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

I used the GH4 for those
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Old February 12th, 2016, 01:35 PM   #10
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

I don't know if this will put your mind at ease or not, but here it is anyhow.

Last year your boss paid $40k for a spot.

If he hires you to shoot the spot and uses students instead of actors, he will essentially pay $0 for a spot.

If you screw it up in a huge and epic way, and he is forced to hire last year's firm, which is truly the worst case scenario, he is out $40k which is exactly what he was out last year, and what he has budgeted for this year.

Now, what are the chances that will happen? Even if he was 90% certain you'll screw it up, that still leaves him with a 10% chance that he'll save $40k. I don't know you or your abilities, but after looking at what's above I'd put it closer to 75% that you'll get something usable and 25% that you might have to hire it out after you're done.

Ok, now on to content.

Ask your boss:
Who is your audience?
What is your message?

The spot produced last year has an audience and a message. Your spots are montages of pretty video. They don't have strategy.

Once you achieve a strategy for the new spot, your work will be half done.

My secret to success is audience/message/strategy. I am not the best shooter/editor in my city. However, I am the one guy who will push back on audience/message/strategy. So my spot that is not as well shot or edited as my competitors will have better results.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 02:44 PM   #11
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Burwell View Post
I used the GH4 for those
Seriously, you need to believe more in yourself, your work is good and otherwise your boss wouldn't have asked you, just use your gh4 and you will be fine, it's a very capable camera. Maybe get a decent slider and hire lights. I have the edelkrone sliderplus with both the action and targetmodule, perfect for very controlled motion.
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Old February 12th, 2016, 04:09 PM   #12
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Your camera skill level is just fine. Don't worry about gear. As others have said determine the message, plan, execute and do a creative on message edit. Do pay attention to audio. If you don't have good audio equipment and the commercial is audio heavy then I would rent gear. Or better yet there is probably someone on campus you might find that is good at it.
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Old February 20th, 2016, 01:43 PM   #13
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

So before I had come to this message board, I had mentioned to my boss about renting a c300 mark ii. He was on board with the idea, but after coming here, I'm leaning toward just getting a metabones adapter for the GH4 and using my canon glass for the shoot.

I talked with him about it and he still seems to be leaning toward getting the C300. He likes the look of the camera. I feel like he has a lot to prove to his bosses because he took a leap of faith in saying that our department could do a commercial in house so he wants to make sure it looks as good as it possibly can. He's pretty new, so he wants to show that he's an asset and he's doing is part. I totally see where he's coming from in that regard so I am not going to argue with him. I have considered asking for a raise here in the near future and if I happen to help save the university close to $40,000, then I would have more ammunition and confidence to ask for one, so I definitely want to make sure this video is as good as it can be.

All of that said, if my boss decides that he wants to rent the C300, what else do I need? His thoughts on the commercial (whether I like the idea or not is a completely different story) is basically full of interviews. So should I rent a Cine lens? I considered getting the Canon 85mm cine lens. Should I get another one as well? I have a this (
Sony ECM-55B - Omni-Directional Lavalier Mic ECM55B B&H Photo
). It's only a $300 mic, so should I rent a better quality one? I don't want a mic showing in the commercial so should I use a boom or still use a lav, but just hide it? I'm not sure what most people do for that.
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Old February 20th, 2016, 10:42 PM   #14
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

C300 has a crop factor of 1.6 which would make that 85mm a 135mm equivalent, which is kinda long for my taste. 50mm would be better.

Again, I'd focus on stuff you can guilt him into buying that will still be useful. Renting will be gone after the day is over. 50mm prime is within your budget. Your 44B is a fine mic, but a wireless lav would put your interview subjects more at ease. There's something you can use again.
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Old February 21st, 2016, 03:11 AM   #15
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Re: Was Asked to Shoot Commercial...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brock Burwell View Post
All of that said, if my boss decides that he wants to rent the C300, what else do I need?
Have you ever shot with a c300? If not, are you sure you can get the best image out of this camera with no experience using it? Renting costs can also add up very quickly depending on how many days you need it.

On a job this important I would only use a camera that I know inside out which in your case would be the gh4, I think your boss forgets that the end result for a major part depends on the person behind the camera and eventhough the GH4 is not a c300II you can still make it look like a high end production.
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