Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mike's Verizon Shoot

Before anything else, this post is about Mike Senna's R2, not mine. I went along as the "delightful assistant" (as the production company later wrote).

First, here is the commercial on YouTube.

The quick backstory is that Lucasfilm was looking for a screen-accurate droid in Southern California that had a fully deployable life form scanner for a Verizon commercial. Mike posted to the group, but after not finding a suitable match, he decided to build the life form scanner into his droid and do the shoot. He had the life form scanner done in an impressively short amount of time (like under 2 weeks from having nothing to being done).

On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, Mike and I headed up to Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA for a production meeting scheduled at 1:00pm, on Stage 23.

We arrived early and unloaded Mike's van. He actually brought both his droids, in case they wanted some 2-legged shots.

The stage had a perfect replica of a Verizon store built within it. When inside the set, you'd be convinced that you were in a real store.

We went over the next day's shooting plan with the director and crew, and Mike's R2 took it's spot on the set for the following day.

The production company put each of us up in a nice hotel in Santa Monica and treated us to a fancy dinner with them.

On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, we returned bright and early for the shoot. Gotta love craft services!

In the morning we did the shots facing the actors, with R2's back to the camera. We did 83 takes(!), changing up the pacing, dialog and lens width (wide, medium & tight). Mike operated the dome and foot motors, while I handled the deploying of the life form scanner and the holoprojector (which was cut from the commercial).

In the afternoon we did the shots facing R2, with the actors' backs to the camera. The visual effects supervisor asked if we could make the holoprojector brighter. I had brought the super-bright LED array that I had prepared for a high-profile event that got cancelled, so it finally got put to use. Unfortunately, the hologram sequence was cut from the ad, so those lights are cursed to not be seen.

Love those hi-def displays!

We did another 40+ takes from this angle, as well as various close-ups.

After a nice 12-hour day on set, we were finally done, and the crew took the usual pictures with R2.

The only proof that I was actually there.

Commercial shoots are always really interesting to me, having done two or three of them myself. When you consider the writing, storyboarding, shooting, editing, visual effects, legal, etc., it's pretty amazing how much work goes into a 30-second spot. And then there's the blogging...

The full photoset is here.


Edward Reed (edwardo) said...

absolutely fantastic! thanks for sharing.. great work to both of you! The commercial is so funny too!

Anonymous said...

Delightful? Who wouldn't think of you in that vein?


Victor Franco said...

Now that was funny! :)


Falcon-One said...

I love it. Oh, and I want the R2 unit, Ha Ha Ha.