T.Stops Blog

Work Log: When Commercials get longer than :30….

Last year I teamed up with Chapter Media and Director Corydon Wagner to shoot a piece for Emblem Health, a health insurance company.  This was unlike most actual on air commercials as it tailored to a specific audience, mainly hospital administrators and care providers.   This means it was really more of an industrial or Corporate video, but specifically with the quality of a commercial.   How do you make 5 minutes look that good? Lots of work, a ton of planning and using the deep well of knowledge AKA the bag of tricks. This was a fun shoot because we shot so many different styles in one piece, slick clean commercial aesthetic, dramatic narrative style, and even a bit if clinical gritty hospital drama look.

Here is a bit of BTS from the 3 day shoot, with the final piece below that.

And the Final piece:

This felt way more like a short film than a commercial or industrial.   We had to work in a narrative manner to make sure we kept up the quality and speed.  Normally on a :30 second spot, you have 2 days to make every moment perfect, for only a few seconds of final material.   In this case we have to maintain perfection or as close to it as possible for the duration of the whole 5 minute video.


We shot on RED epic with Cooke Minis4 lenses, and I had a 5 ton G/E package.  Biggest light was a 6K HMI Par, but we didn’t pull that out. ( that said i was happy it was on standby, cause if we needed it, it would have been a life saver)

Here is a brief breakdown of some of my favorite scenes and the lighting:

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This long dolly shot was initially supposed to play out as a 1 take wonder, starting in the wide and having the nurse wipe the frame and move into the two shot closeup.   My Key Grip Tank Rivara had me on a Matthews Dolley in free wheel mode, simply because the move was so long, and curved eventually.  The floors of the hospital are so smooth, that track was for the most part unnecessary.    In the final edit it was cut up for the sake of time, but it was a luxury to be able to go 360 on a wheeled dolley with no bumps.

The light setup was a follows:

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I had an overhead rig built with two kinos pointing straight down, both bagged in silk together to diffuse the light even further.  This acted as the main “light” in the room. Mimicing the natural feel of a hospital room, while controlling the color and feel.  Initially the client wanted the room to feel greenish and authentic as seen in the BTS video, but this decision was changed later on.  Luckily the greenish tint in the RAW footage, was just metadata, and was easily removed in Resolve.  The First subject, the Man, seated on the bed, was mostly lit by the top light, with an eye light special, just for him hung over the door of the entrance to the room.  The “wife” was lit by the top light as well, but as she was behind it, I added a slight frame left key, to help bring up her eyes and act as a beauty fill.


The Next Setup, My favorite, was the breakfast scene:

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This is pretty straight forward but utilized some of my favorite tools, the 4K HMI and Muslin 6X6 Rags.

I had a single wide beam 4K blasting in through the window, providing a near silhouette of the subject, however I took 2 6×6 muslin rags and had them arranged in  a V,  just outside the frame to catch the harsh light and provide a soft ambient fill.    The setup was simple, and with some simple camera movement, and a couple lens changes, we got a great look.

Here is the Diagram:

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I hope you enjoyed this.

Till next time…..


Follow me on Twitter for updates on Cinematography and great gear: @timurcivan

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