SHEDDING SOME
LIGHT ON VIDEO PRODUCTION

Article first published by Little Black Book in December 2018.

Our Creative Director; Jason Dollery draws on his previous experience
client-side to put into context how important this subject is to all parties involved, from film-makers, creatives, to marketing and communication professionals.

Light is fundamental for sight, but somewhat ironically we seldom think about it when it comes to briefing our creative partners on how our promotional campaigns should look.

In the summer of 2015, I shot a series of talking head interviews on the streets of London, in collaboration with a small two-person camera crew. My brief was to create a rough and ready documentary style that would give customer endorsement and credit to our brand. The campaign achieved my objective and we delivered it on a minimal budget.

A few months later the MD of the company informed me that one of the major telecommunication partners had seen the films on our social channels and wanted to recreate the videos for a dual-branded in-store video, however, they wanted the film to match the visual identity of their brand… This meant moving away from the rough and ready documentary visual style and bringing the production quality more in line with an above the line TV commercial (in which their brand was associated). In other words, the original production model both in regards to crew and budget was no longer comparable and one of the primary factors for this change was the need for light.

On location natural light is inconsistent and unpredictable, the key light (primary light source that is often the sun) can create undesired shadows and dark areas in the scene that affect the cameras ability to capture a clean image. To make the scene and the subject focus (person/product) look like a professional commercial, you need additional back and fill lighting and this is where additional equipment and crew is needed. My crew expanded to include a Gaffer (electrician) to set-up the lights/power, a Runner to carry the additional lights and a Director of Photography who knew how to match the lighting of the brand’s visual identity.

Knowing that light would play such a vital role in the project meant at the point at which my MD requested the film I was able to explain this increase in resource and allocate the additional budget required. Not knowing this information would have meant the budget would have remained similar to the original films and we would have been unable to deliver a video that one of the UK’s leading telecommunication companies were happy to show in their stores to support the launch of leading a smartphone.

A professional-understanding of how lighting should be used isn’t required for the marketer who is briefing an agency, particularly when a Director of Photography is involved, however in this ever-changing world of expanding remits and shrinking budgets, it’s important to know some of the basics so you can navigate the pitfalls.

For further insight, Director of Photography, Matt Wicker and Managing Director, Tom Ward present this month’s insight film on the fundamentals of lighting.

Written by Jason Dollery, Creative Director at Sandstorm for Little Black Book’s influencer series.

Jason joined Sandstorm in 2015 after a decade working client-side building and supporting global brands, he now uses his unqiue dual-sided insight to enhance our client’s TV commercials and branded content campaigns.

Email: jason.dollery@sandstormfilms.com

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