The Spec Commercial
If you haven’t already seen it why not watch our Gymshark Spec Commercial below and then I’ll tell you all about how we created it!
Where it began…
So Adam Marsden, a Director friend and colleague, contacted me about creating a film for a Personal Trainer, Luke Hewitt.
He didn’t want to create the usual clichéd videos that have come before; he wanted to make something that was like a commercial. We wanted to stay clear of the usual corporate video feel that would focus on what Luke could offer and do and move toward a more motivational film centred around a brand.
Adam wanted to create a ‘day in the life’ of a Personal Trainer, showing that not only do they have to train their clients but they have to keep fit themselves too, and practice what they preach!
Adam and I love to use visual references for talking about ideas. Adam spent sometime on Youtube searching out videos that fit the brief he was creating…
One of our big influences was this Michael Phelps commercial for Under Armour, looking at what you do in the dark, behind the scenes, is what puts you in the light.
It takes the day to day life of Michael Phelps and shows all the hard work he puts into achieving what he has achieved.
With every project like this, I like to push the boundaries. We really wanted to create a commercial look to the film, rather than just a standard corporate video, so decided to let this influence how we shot the piece.
Firstly, we decided to shoot on my Sony FS7 with my Sigma Art Primes. Prime lenses offer a very disciplined way of working, along with an improved picture quality when compared to shooting with comparative zoom lenses. Secondly, and as we where going to have the film colour graded by a colourist, we decided to shoot in Log: shooting sLog3/Cine Gamut in UHD. We knew shooting the best quality the FS7 could offer would put us in a good position in the edit!
The Creative Choices
I love shooting in S&Q mode on the FS7, creating slow motion sequences at 50fps over 25p. You can shoot somebody doing something as simple as filling a kettle and it looks sexy! Given we were working in the gym, with its fast pace and motion, I didn’t want to slow down the motion too much to make it look like a chore! Therefore I did some test shooting at 30fps over 25p, offering a slight slowing of the motion. The tests looked great and just slowed the motion ever so slightly to make the movements look that bit smoother and more controlled! I added to this a 1/100 shutter to give a little bit of a choppy motion to the footage without being too over the top.
Given the fast pace and motion to the film, we decided quite early on to shoot the film handheld. Working handheld allows me to see shots and get them quite easily while the action is still happening. It also is a great way to get a handful of coverage and build up a sequence quite quickly!
Given the majority of the shoot was in a live working gym, we didn’t have much scope to set up much lighting. Plus there was only Adam and I on location so we didn’t really have the man power to start the lighting from scratch!
Thankfully the gym offered some lovely strip lighting downstairs which worked well at creating some contrast. I just added one or two LED panels to the lighting, along with some negative fill, to shape the light a little on each piece of equipment.
We were really keen to build the sense of a ‘day in the life’ by capturing some footage at early morning and night.. Adam suggested shooting on a football pitch with some flood lighting… I loved it! We arrived around 8pm and shot until 10pm and managed to capture a range of dusk/dawn looking shots along with nighttime footage.
The flood lighting was great and we just worked at placing Luke where the light was doing what I wanted! We supplemented the lighting a little again with a 1X1 LED panel where I felt we needed a harder key. With the astroturf pitch I wasn’t wanting to make the lighting look glossy and neat, I wanted to show the grit of getting up early, training until late and the effect that has on you! I wanted the lighting to be hash and unforgiving, and I think I managed to achieve that! Plus we got some lovely mist that evening which just carried the light so nicely.
I shoot interviews all the time and wanted to do something a little different here!
We decided to go with the black studio look, to contrast the interview from the other footage, and decided to shoot on a slightly wider lens than you’d usually use on an interview to make it look different.
We placed the camera slightly closer and lower to Luke than you would a normal interview to give this different perspective. I think it worked really well and helped us move away from that corporate video look to a more commercial feel.
Shooting in UHD allowed Adam to punch in on the interview mid-shot on our HD output.
The Colour Grade
As I mentioned, we got our regular colourist in to grade this film for us. As he is based in London we decided to work remotely this time to save the travelling!
I sent Jason some reference stills along with a small brief, a slight bleach bypass with a decrease in contrast and saturation. In addition to this I sent some more specific notes about trying to match shots and remove the blue from the sky!
Jason’s work on the film has really helped us push toward that commercial look. As a DoP, working with a professional colourist is so rewarding as you can see you work in the best light!
I always love working on projects that push the boundaries, and with people that are happy for me to ‘risk it’ to push the film to the next level! This project is a great example of me brining my skills and experience to the table, listening to the Directors requirements and bringing their vision to reality. I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into my next commercial and see which boundaries can be pushed!