How we created a high quality remotely shot ad flim

On June 21st 2020, guch delivered this father’s day ad film

 

The corona virus has undoubtedly put a big dent on many aspects of our businesses, especially video marketing. The two big challenges that brands now face are:

  1. Not being able to afford to do video because of cuts in marketing budgets
  2. Logistical complexities of sending a film crew or cast to any location due to safety issues

Many businesses today are pivoting to remote mobile shot videos or animation videos to overcome this.

If you’ve seen any recent ads during the lockdown, you will have to agree that mobile shot videos have significantly lower quality.

However, the right planning, direction and execution can be the difference between mobile shot videos looking

Here is a sneak peek at how we created this crowdsourced (cast shot the scenes on their smartphones) ad film for Herbalife.

Concept and Script

The concept was created keeping in mind the lockdown constraints. So we knew that getting professional actors was not the route to go. We decided it’d be easier to make a crowdsourced film showing real fathers with their kids.

After arriving at a script, we created a rough screenplay outlining the activities that the cast members could do that complimented the script.

Screenplay

Execution: Why vertical video?

Since we knew that we’d be restricted to smartphones, we realized that we wouldn’t get as much depth as we would from a professional DSLR, if we shot horizontally.

This is because the focal length of smartphone cameras are much lower than DSLRs.

Here’s an example of a scene shot on a phone in both horizontal and vertical. Notice how the horizontal footage looks flatter and lacking in depth.

Casting

As soon as the project was greenlit we created this casting call poster and started the casting process right away.

 

We were startled by the number of families who were excited to be part of this video.

While shortlisting the cast we had two main filters

  1. Applicants who were expressive and not camera shy
  2. Applicants who had high-end smartphones, because we wanted the best quality

Shooting

This was the most fun as well as challenging stage of the project.

After mapping out the cast members with their corresponding screenplay activity. we set up shoot dates and times.

Before we began shooting, we asked the cast members to share videos of their home or neighboring park so we could fix a location.

Location decisions were made based on good lighting conditions and background.

We then asked them to do certain technical quality checks such as changing the camera settings to record 4K or 1080p videos.

Based on the location video, we would quickly sketch a diagram on how we imagine the shot to be taken. The cast would then replicate this shot.

We shot multiple takes of the scene to avoid small issues like the subject getting cut out from the frame.

Read this post to know more about shooting professional videos using a smartphone at home

Lucky breaks

In film making, whether for an ad or a movie, there are always moments of magic that you never plan for. Here are some of those magical moments

The opening shot

This is without a doubt my favorite shot in the film. And if you are thinking that this looks way better than the rest of the shots, it’s because it was shot on a DSLR.

Our first lucky break came when one of the cast members who participated happened to be a professional wedding photographer and she gave us these magical moments

THE FORTUNATE ACCIDENT

The shot you see in this scene was in truth, a blooper take. We’d never planned for the actor to spill the hot boiling tea, but it happened.

 

But this outtake blended perfectly with the script line ‘He’s a big man child’. Haha no offense Dads.

FINDING CAST AT A NEIGHBORS ROOFTOP

A day before the final delivery of the video, I happened to look outside my window to spot an adorable father-daughter duo on the neighboring rooftop.

I seized the opportunity and waved at them and explained (more like shouted) the project to them. They seemed delighted and invited me over.

I quickly grabbed my mask and headed over to their apartment. As I ascended the stairs, I reached the front door of their apartment to find a small square patch of beautiful green grass in their balcony. The perfect location

 

Campaign success

When we started this project we kept our eyes on Herbalife’s Instagram channel. We wanted our video to be the most viewed video on their channel. At the time, the most viewed video on their channel had 22K views.

Today on 23rd June, just 2 days since the ad went live, we hit 23K views!

We also got an overwhelming number of positive responses for our video

 

Our client loved it too!

Evolving into experts at high quality remotely directed ads

The crowdsourced ad film approach was first attempted by us for Mother’s day, in April, at the peak of the nationwide lockdown.

Here is the mothers day video

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B__iCkWnqWr/?igshid=nt7z7vrwc5yg

Just a short glimpse into the video would give you a good idea about the leaps we’ve made in terms of video quality and storytelling.

Rest assured, we’re just going to get better and better at it. Through adversity we survived and thrived in our business. This is just an example of how we solve creative problems everyday at guch.

This is our hustle.

If you love the way we work, like we do, reach out to guch for your next viral ad campaign.

Start your project here