Jamaica’s Red Stripe Ad Production … Plan, Test, Repeat
Doing the post production for Jamaica’s Red Stripe beer ad should be a snap.
All you have to do is capture endless miles of a white sandy beach, throw in days of warm sun, mix in a dose of carefree relaxation and add an ample supply of Jamaican pride in a bottle.
And do it all in a one-minute TV commercial.
But Natalie Thompson, of Prism Communications, expected more for the beer company that has set the standard by which other beers are measured since 1928–especially since the commercial would be shown around the world. Today the company is a subsidiary of HEINEKEN, one of the world’s largest and most profitable beverage and alcohol conglomerates.
To deliver the best results for the Red Stripe beer commercials, Thompson turned to Fonnique and Twain Richardson’s Frame of Reference (FoR) post production, which has gained a reputation for delivering award- and audience-winning music videos, commercials and multiple seasons of Caribbean TV shows.
“After working with them on a previous commercial, we knew their organization would be a great asset in the production,” said Thompson.
Before the production began, Twain met with Director Storm Saulter and Director of Photography Gareth M. Daley to plan, rehearse and test the cameras (Red Epic-W Helium and Red Epic Dragon) and the project workflow.
“Investing time before the project begins saves a tremendous amount of reshooting and post rework,” Twain explained. “Planning, discussing and testing at the outset saves everyone time and money because we can all manage expectations and results.”
For example, the plan was to shoot 6K with RedLog Film and ProResLT so FoR could edit in ProRes and save the RAW files for color grading.
On one of the first tests, they learned that the Red Epic Dragon couldn’t produce ProRes files, so Twain tested an alternative solution using DR14 to make proxies that would give them the materials they needed to edit the project as well as files the producer could review and use.
“The key is to know your tools and be comfortable in making real-time changes to deliver the best project possible,” Twain noted.
On the first day of the shoot, the FoR team set up their DIT station – a 2013 MacBook Pro, OWC ThunderBay 4 and multiple backup drives.
Before the production began, Twain tested his workflow process again, including his backups.
“OWC’s RAID 5 storage systems have been the most reliable solutions I’ve found, but only a novice in this business would operate without a backup and a backup of the backup,” said Twain.
“Going back to the producer and saying you have to reshoot a day’s work is a sure way to lose money on the project and lose a client,” he emphasized. “Not on my watch!”
With everything planned and tested, the first day’s shoot and production flow below went flawlessly:
- Received camera cards, logged them to the DIT report
- Copied cards to the Mac
- Synced files to the ThunderBay 4 and external drive
- Verified media across all of the storage
- Placed ProRes and RAW files in separate folders, keeping filenames the same
- Delivered RAW files to the director, producer and agency for grading
When the day’s shoot shut down, Twain returned to the studio, copied the day’s files to a second backup and sent them to offsite storage … just in case.
The second day of shooting followed the same successful routine.
With the final project due in two days, FoR’s team exported the DaVinci Resolve project, delivering the material to the director who selected the shots he felt delivered the message.
After automatically importing the Resolve project to the producer’s timeline, Twain set out to fine tune the project, including edit cleanup and color grading.
To alter and enhance the color, FoR used the most recent release of Resolve and went to the added expense of bringing colorist Alexis Van Hurkman to Jamaica to conduct two days of color training for the company.
“The training was invaluable,” Twain commented. “It helped us broaden our color grading knowledge and sharpen our skills.”
He also invited other island editors and filmmakers to the training session to raise the color grading, correction and effects expertise of the Jamaica film community.
“If we’re going to make Jamaica a post-production destination, you have to give back to your community; and in the long run, it will help us all,” he commented.
In addition to its reputation for excellent video imagery, FoR Production is also known as the go-to organization for excellent sound editing and mixing.
For the Red Stripe commercial, FoR production used its creative and technical expertise of dialogue, effects, music mixing for the agency and client.
“Sometimes the visual action is overpowering,” Twain noted, “so when we delivered the final cut, we let them view the versions and then close their eyes and listen.”
After listening, “The extra audio work and care took the production from good to exceptional,” said Thompson.
Because of the advanced planning, testing and extra care taken during the production process, Frame of Reference only had to go through two reviews with the agency and client.
“The great thing was, when they wanted to make a scene change, it was quick and easy to do because all of the material was instantly available on our OWC ThunderBay 4,” Twain added.
For the Frame of Reference team, it was just one less thing to worry about.
Twain observed that the changes and adjustments were minor; and with the final cuts, they delivered the latest Red Stripe commercials – 60-second, 30-second and four 15-second spots. The spots are being shown in Jamaica as well as other countries that are now importing Jamaican Pride in a Bottle.
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