I named the company Video Craftsman because I wanted people to know that even though video now exists in a totally virtual realm, the creation of a live-action video still requires skilled people using their hands, their hearts, and their heads to build something awesome.
I'd like to share an example of a video we created for Walli Wearables. Just recently, 2,044 backers pledged $217,363 to help bring this project to life, and we think that our video played a part in that success. I'd like to share some of the elements of production so that you can get an idea of what to expect from the Video Craftsman team. As Producer and Creative Director, I'm tremendously proud of the people that I work work with, and the results we've been able to achieve.
When I'm approached by a client, the first thing I do is ask a lot of questions; find out what their personal style and brand is about and what tone is going to best represent their viewpoint. We are a Canadian company and a lot of the clients we work with are from different parts of the world, so communication is paramount. In the case of Walli – The Smart Wallet, I was approached by the people at MontaAlta, a consultancy that helps innovators to maximize the impact of their crowd-funding campaigns. Their client, Tahsin Alim worked for a major electronics company in Texas and came up with the idea of Walli Wearables. They knew that they wanted their video to be funny. Beyond that, they were open to just about anything. Based on their budget and tone they were looking for, I pitched them a rough concept centring around a single line of dialogue: “We can only speculate as to what becomes of lost wallets...” This rough concept set up the idea of a kind of fantasy world where we could speculate outlandish scenarios of just what might happen to them. The one that stuck out for the client was the idea of a leather jacket made entirely out of lost-and-found wallets. It was a visual that we all agreed would be deeply absurd.
Once the three of us were in agreement on the concept, the Video Craftsman team kicked into high-gear. We had just under a month to deliver the final product which meant moving very quickly. Tahsin signed the production contract and agreed on a timeline, then our team got cracking on a script. Since all other elements of production are based on the script, it was important to lock-in a final version as soon as possible. Our two major objectives were to create a funny and engaging story as well as incorporate all of the product features. It was important to Tahsin, not just to introduce the product, but to really showcase its functionality. After about the third iteration of the script we had fine-tuned the story elements as well as the copy. At that point, the Video Craftsman team set to work breaking down the script into the various elements of production: props, costumes, effects, cast, crew, locations.
The script called for our central location to be either a restaurant or a bar. The first place that came to mind for me was Falconetti's, a bar in Vancouver known for homestyle sausages and great live music. My hope was that we could rent the space for an entire day of filming and it wouldn't interfere with their regular business downstairs.
We brought onboard Stirling Bancroft, a very talented Director of Photography, with whom I had collaborated in the past. Not only does Stirling have great technical and creative abilities, but he is an incredibly likeable person. We went over the script together and discussed camera angles while looking at photos from the location scout. In the end, our greatest challenge was overcoming the natural light in the space. We were planning an eight hour day in a space surrounded by windows and skylights. Keeping up with the ever shifting direction of the sun became a taxing endeavour.
As the Video Craftsman staff were writing the script we were constantly asking each other, “Can we do this? Have we written in too many things that don't properly exist?” But that's what movie magic is all about, so we pushed ahead taking on the challenge of fabricating these one of a kind items. Our Art Department immediately began work on the props and costumes that would populate this unlikely world. A jacket made out of wallets, a vest made out of credit cards, and a crown made out of smart phones. The team began by creating concept art and then headed out to raid the local flea market for supplies.
Video Craftsman is located in Vancouver, BC, which in recent decades has become a hub of film and television production. As a result, Vancouver is riddled with brilliant actors and film professionals of all manner. For this particular shoot we had a crew of seven. Myself as Director, Stirling as DP, Jesse Rankin on sound, Selena Raskin as Camera Assist, Mike Johnston as Grip, Chris Alarcon as Production Assistant, and the aptly named, Je T'aime as our Hair and Make Up Artist. We cast our actors locally. Very often, we will hold auditions to assemble our cast but on this job we hired primarily actors that we had worked with in the past. Patrick Dodd, the on-camera host of the video, is a gifted improvisor, whose comedic timing lent itself perfectly to the deadpan delivery we were after.
The volume of material we needed to cover would not leave time for guess work on the day of the shoot, so a shot list was created to streamline the shooting process. Videos and films are rarely shot in chronological order. Everything goes more smoothly if you can arrange the shots in an order that facilitates quickly moving between similar setups. A story-board can be a great help and is a visual blueprint for the final video. It's a lot like cooking a stir-fry; fun and easy if you've done all the prep work in advance. If everyone has enough time and feels relaxed and empowered in their work, you can play together and solve problems. You get to make little discoveries about camera moves and nuances of performance that weren't otherwise apparent until everyone has come together, collaborating and bringing their own instincts and ideas to the table.
After everything is shot and wrapped, we can begin the editing process. The first day is mainly going through the footage, organizing it, syncing it with the audio tracks. As the edit progresses we bring in elements like music, and sound effects. At the same time we are colour grading and compositing some of our visual effects. In this case we had things like smoke and lightning, which were a lot of fun and helped set the tone of this bizarre world. When we showed the first cut to the client, the feedback was great. After a few tweaks here and there, we delivered the final cut. This product really speaks for itself. We just had to come up with a fun story that brought some attention to this highly successful campaign.
Check out the project at the link below and get your Walli while supplies last.