Last month, we debuted a brand new commercial for our ultra high definition 4K TVs that included a spaceship, a floating piano, and what appeared to be 100 men from the 1800s climbing a ladder in the middle of the ocean. Crazy stuff, right?
Indeed. As you can imagine, there was quite a lot that went into the production of this mini-movie/commercial and as our team heard some of the stories we couldn’t help but marvel at the epic-ness of it all. So we thought we’d share some of our favorite behind-the-scenes anecdotes here with you now.
If you’ve seen the spot, you know this was no small production. But what exactly does it take to create something like this? As it turns out, it takes 4 days on location and a whole lotta people. Our team selected Miranda Beach in New Zealand as the main set (ironic, since our Cinematographer on the job is Academy Award Winner, Claudio Miranda. No relation).
During those four days on set they worked with approximately 125 crew members, 200+ extras, 3 professional cameras (2 F65s/1 F55) and a helicopter. Not to mention a myriad of props, such as the aforementioned floating piano.
Which brings us to the question, how does one make a piano float? Well, we were curious about this too. The crew first “weathered” the piano to make it fit the time period of Garth’s imagination and then fixed it to an adjustable triangular frame with wheels so that it could go in the water. To make it look like it was standing just on the surface, the frame would have to be adjusted before each shot so that the piano could be moved up or down with the tides. And even though it was submerged in water, the piano was fully functional. During the shoot, the lady in the red dress played a melody throughout each take.
The piano wasn’t the only thing that had to appear as though it was floating; which is why working with the tides was a critical part of shooting this commercial. In fact, it was so important to get timing right that we had a crew member analyze the tides for four whole days before production even began. This way we could plan when to shoot the most difficult scenes and still make our productions schedule.
One of the toughest scenes to capture hasn’t been shared yet (it’s in the 60 second version which is coming soon so stay tuned!). But for this particular shot we had to make an entire house float, all while dealing with the fire, waves, and a camera submerged in water. It’s no surprise that a house is not as easily adjustable as a piano, making planning and understanding the tides key.
And tide wasn’t the only factor to consider either … There was also weather to contend with. For instance, when we shot the woman in the red dress, we wanted the most possible light on the dress so that the rich color would come through on the footage. So, we prioritized her scenes and shot all of her takes on the first day which was forecasted to be the sunniest.
Speaking of the lady in the red dress, this was a story all in itself. The dress was designed to evoke the late 1800s fashion (think just pre-Downton Abbey) and it was specifically designed to fit the actress herself.
With all of the layers in the skirt, it weighed approx. 4 lbs (although it was much heavier when wet) and it held up remarkably well for something that was worn to the beach and submerged in water.
In addition to just looking beautiful, the dress was a very deliberate element of the commercial. As it turns out, most film makers avoid the color red since it is a hard color to reproduce correctly on traditional TV sets. So, in order to show off the color accuracy of Triluminos technology in the Sony 4K TVs, we wanted to break with convention and make this woman in the dress a focal point of the spot.
However, she wasn’t Garth’s only co-star. Perhaps you caught the little blue bird who flew out of Garth’s hands and made appearances throughout the commercial. This bird was meant to represent Garth’s imagination running free and was an important part of the story. As one of the stars, the little actor was a natural – a consummate professional, one might say. In the scene where he dances across the piano, he nailed it in one take. If only every shot was so easy!
Last but not least, there was one more unintentional star, a Dumbledore-esque gentleman you may remember from our Caption This Contest. While this man actually didn’t have a starring role, he became a star when more than 600 of you chimed in to caption this photo of him. And for those of you wondering, yes the beard was real and it was over a foot long! For the actual commercial shoot, he was simply another extra, albeit one who fit the 1800s time period to a tee.
So there you have it, a few of our favorite behind-the-scenes tidbits from this saga of a commercial. For those of you who’d like to hear a bit more about how Garth and Claudio got involved, or see behind the scenes footage of the shoot, check out the video below: