In this article, I want to share with you the making of a product spec ad that led us to win a competition and earn a cash prize of 1.000 euro on equipment by Godox and also attract new clients from nowhere.
But, first of all, let’s watch our product commercial that I and my colleague Aris made, for the first time, at home.
Why a Product commercial?
So, first of all, let’s start with the reasons behind making our first product commercial.
Basically speaking, a spec ad is an advertisement that you have filmed yourself but that has not been commercially published. You were not hired by a company to film the ad, you were not a part of the marketing campaign, and neither you have any affiliation with the company.
The primary reason behind making a spec ad is to add a great piece of work into your portfolio and showcase it to prospective clients.
This was the main reason behind our first commercial too. Also, we would like to explore whether these kinds of product videos and shots are something that we liked and if we were interested in evolving into more related commercial videography and photography.
Mission accomplished!👍 I can tell that the whole project was something really resourceful as we learn many new things and also it was so so funny.
How to choose a Brand for your Product commercial?
As we are based in Greece and we are familiar with Greek drinks & beverages, we decided to make a product commercial for a Greek brand – Milokleftis. “Milokleftis” is a popular alcoholic drink in Greece, that is made from apples, ie Cider, with 4.5% alcohol and a sweet, unexpectedly refreshing taste, this is why most people consume Milokleftis during the hottest days of Summer.
The most important factor was that Milokleftis has a creative and unique brand character. The brand’s main character is a fox called “Milokleftis” which in Greek means apple thief. With that in mind, we immediately knew that apples and a fox would have a key role in our spot. But there was still one element missing: The fox! Well, maybe not, so steak until the end of this article to see how we included a fox tale into our video.
What was our camera equipment?
We always shot in S-Log with Sony’s picture profile PP7. The PP7 preset combines S-Gamut and S-Log2.This Picture Profile is intended for subsequent color grading and has a gamma broad enough for a movie production.
To make it easier to check S-Log video on our screen as we shoot, we used S-log2 Gamma Display Assist and in this way, the display will look as if you were not shooting in S-Log.
What was our light equipment?
To light our scene we use our Godox Light equipment.
As our key light, we used the GODOX VL 150 from top to bottom but seemed to be overkill because we only used the 1% of its capabilities 🙂 Also, we didn’t use any softboxes or diffusers.
The VL150 from Godox is a lightweight and compact LED monolite-style light source suitable for portrait, still life, and location photography, and also for video-based applications. This light has a CRI rating of 96, producing highly accurate color renditions and rendering extremely realistic flesh tones.
For the scene of our spec ad we wanted to be dark and moody, so for our background, we use a black textile which we hanged it on a stand and brought it to the front of our table. To take a very black background we made sure to keep our object as far away from our black textile. Ιf your object is too close to your black background and your light sheds on it then you could see the blacks being gray.
On the table, we placed our drink and next to it our second light – the GODOX M1 RGB light. This pocket-sized light allows you to adjust hue and saturation from 360 colors when in RGB mode, and the color temperature is adjustable from 2500 to 8500K. We choose a red color and on the opposite side, we placed a mirror to reflect this source of light and shed light on our shadows at the right half of our object.
Our shot list
We started our first shots with a few pans right and left with our camera on a slider, but soon we realized that we could get a better shot if we keep our camera steady and give motion to our object.
At first, we hold the drink in our hands and rotate right and left but soon we also noticed that this was the stupidest idea that we had ever done and then we tried to DIY engineer a self rotated system to give the motion we wanted. And finally, we found out the way! We hang the drink to a C-stand with a fishing line, which we could remove it on the post.
A very cool idea that we had, was to give a fresh and refreshing look to our drink. We spray our bottle with a mix of water and glycerol which we purchased from a drug store at a very cheap price and Voila! Keep in mind that, glycerol is too thickened, so make sure to mix it with the right proportion of water.
Glycerol is also used in fog’s machines and guess what? We always wanted to buy one :-). We use the fog machine to get a sweet haze on the environment. This fog’s haze along with the right way of shedding light on it gave us this interesting dark moody tone in our shots. We recommend keeping these haze shots for the end especially if you are shooting in a small place like ours. I am not sure if glycerol is bad for our health but definitely, if you overuse it you will struggle to breathe.
Milokleftis is based on apples, so we wanted to shot apples. We didn’t like the way just a few apples stood, so we cut an apple into slices and then stick a toothpick on it which we removed on the post, and finally rotate it to shoot this beautiful pattern of rotating apple slices. Thanks to Sony’s a7 great autofocus system, we managed to capture a very focused rotation, but it was a bit difficult, especially if you can’t hold your hands very steady. You can always try the manual focus mode, actually why the heck we didn’t shot it on manual? I really don’t know! But.. anyway, be patient and take as many shots that you can!
Another key thing to remember is the water shots on the fish tank! Oh, this fish tank was too dirty! Look how dirty it looks now, and imagine that we cleaned it as better we could! Although the dirtiness, the shots turned to be pretty good actually. We threw a few apples and the drink on it also, trying to capture the water bubbles in slow-motion as you see right now.
And at last, the serving shots. We started throwing ice cubes on a very simple glass, unfortunately, we didn’t found any further interesting glasses, BUT we managed to add Milokleftis logo on it and save the shot on the post while we also removed some glass scratches from it.
A very interesting tip that we followed was to place the glass and the ice cubes on the mirror to take these great-looking ice-cubes reflections.
And finally, the closing shot with fox’s tale! While we were sitting in the room and thinking of a few different ways of shooting the closing shot, Aris’ cat “Haris” came across. And then Aris, had the greatest idea ever! Haris hair color was similar to that of a fox and in a matter of minutes, Aris grabbed his cat and brought him on the scene. The cat was quite cooperative and these shots were so funny! Unexpectedly, the cat’s tail touched one of the bottles, and slightly one of them rotated. We liked a lot this shot and we used it as a great transition to our last rotated bottle shot that was revealing the brand. Haris, if you are watching this video right now, you did a very good job, thumbs up!
How we edit the product commercial
As most of the time, we are doing, we started with our music. We are using Audiio for all of our music and SFX, especially YouTube videos and client work that is published on the internet. In this way, we are worry-free for any commercial and license issues that may come up later.
Audiio offers thousands of high-quality songs by licensed artists. New music is added daily and the licenses cover any video platform in the universe. In the description below you will find Audiio’s link to check it if you are interested.
In our video, the SFXs were a crucial part of the final result. Let’s hear our video with sound FX only.
WOW, imagine how this video gonna looks without any sound effects.
And finally, the editing. Aris undertook this heaviest and time-consuming work on the planet, editing! We are using solely DaVinci Resolve which combines editing, color correction, visual effects, motion graphics, and audio post-production all in one software tool. To be honest, apart from the color grading part that runs on nodes and takes time to understand how it works, the rest part of the editing and composing is pretty straightforward. The greatest thing about DaVinci Resolve is that it comes with the best FREE version that offers everything! And that’s not a lie!
So, one of the first things Aris had to do was to remove the fishing lines from the bottle, the toothpick from the apple pieces, and make this apple pattern.
What was the result?
As I mentioned in the first part of this video the main goal of this commercial video was to create a master content piece that we could showcase to potential clients as portfolio work and ultimately help us gain more clients.
Do we succeed on that? Definitely yes!
With this video, we created a buzz around our team’s name and were established as a commercial photography and videography team. It also helped us gain more exposure while we receive many work inquiries from brands not only in the food and drinks industry but in the automotive, fashion, and sports industries.
Also, we posted the video in a contest organized by GODOX photo equipment on Instagram, and guess what? We won the 2nd prize and they send us an extra VL150 as also a kit of two TL60 RGB lights. This prize costs approximately 1.000euros! This is insane if you think that we invested no more than 15hours in this project both shooting and editing.
And of course, we send our video to Milokleftis and propose a collaboration but we received a big thank you and we.. compromised with a simple share of our video on their official Instagram page.
And.. That was it!
I hope you like this first one backstage of how we film a product commercial at home. See you!
Till the next time, get busy creating and start learning!