Leonardo-Dicaprio-Cheers

Did you know they make vodka in Scotland? I didn’t!

Picture by Gabriela Palai via Pexels

Call to Adventure

At least not until earlier in this month of June, when Heroes Vodka approached Aspect. They’d just won a competition with Sky Adsmart and they needed a quality video turned around fast. But the problem was all all the local studios in Scotland were closed.

Heroes Drinks is a not-for-profit, that supports the military community with employment opportunities and 20% donation of profits from sales to military charities.” so when we talk about needing a heroic effort to make this happen – it has to be taken in context! And thanks to furloughs, social distancing and tight timings, I was the only member of our production team available to work on this.

Picture by Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels

I definitely had a few challenges…

–   A super tight deadline (one day to nail it)

–   Distance from our client and their product

–   And a transparent, somewhat invisible product to shoot.

My role

Normally my role is Director of Photography but on this one I wore at least 5 hats: DOP, Director, Gaffer, Art Department and Client liaison. I was shaken but not scared (get it? vodka martini?). 

Lights, camera, action!

With several bottles of vodka on their way to Bristol – I started setting up lights in our in-house studio. The goal was to really showcase the product by giving it form and a three-dimensionality quality through a combination of lights and by carefully placing bounce cards around the set. 

Behind the scenes from Aspect’s In-House Studio

These days many product pack shots are created using CGI for good reason – you can completely control every bead of condensation, every nuance of detail in a way that ironically makes it look more real than the real deal sometimes. Shooting a transparent liquid in a transparent bottle does make it somewhat invisible. It was all about using light in a way that tricks the eye into seeing the liquid in the bottle! It’s one thing for still photography, but as soon as you move the camera in video, the lighting changes. So I had to fiddle and tweak until it looked just right the whole way through. 

Behind the scenes from Aspect’s In-House Studio

Being resourceful!

Normally on a shoot like this, the Art Department design and dress a set with props. But there had been no time or budget to brief an Art Director on this one. So I did the equivalent of cooking a meal with what we had in the fridge. Luckily, thanks to many years of careful accumulation (definitely not hoarding) there are a decent amount of leftover props and materials at my disposal. So I was able to put together some options for our client to choose from remotely, and finally get the perfect take in the can.

Act II

One of the biggest learnings I took from this experience was the impact of having a client sharing feedback remotely and how it influenced the schedule and natural flow during the shooting day. The pace and energy is far more staccato with Zoom instead of someone there in the room. So things inevitably took longer.  

However, it did prove that client involvement is possible even from a distillery in Scotland.  

Behind the scenes from Aspect’s In-House Studio

The Reward

This mini-project has made us really appreciate the benefits of having access to our own studio as well as owning our own kit and equipment, and even an in-house Nick. If we had to find freelancers, try to book a space and hire gear, this would not have been possible in the time.

I want to thank Eloise, my fiance who is an art teacher and gave me a hand with the art direction. In the end, I feel really proud that I was able to create a more than decent output for our editors and colourists to polish.

And even if I do say so myself, I think I deserve a drink!

The Great Gatsby, 2013
Late

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