BTS: FRESHII

When I first saw the creative deck for this Freshii job, I knew it was going to be challenging but fun. Jivin’ cutlery, spinning plates, and bags magically rolling down, this fifteen second stop-motion script made dinnertime seem like a dance party. And once the excitement of winning the job calmed down, it was time to figure out how we’d pull this off in a one-day shoot.

We started bright and early (as all productions do) at Rodeo Production’s studio in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. Our set team had all the set pieces delivered the day before so they started building right away as crew loaded in their gear. I spent that time chatting with my producer, Coey Kerr, and my 1st AD, Sarah Kravetz, on last minute details before we kicked off the shoot.

I’ve had some experience in stop-motion before, mainly in the form of short videos and gifs. This spot was a bit different as there were several moving components that needed to be choreographed, and some that needed to be shot independently. But first things first, we needed to sort out the bags. In the script, three bags roll down to reveal plates containing Freshii’s dinner time series. In collaboration with the agency creatives, we opted to custom create bags with a wider base so the square plates could sit inside, and chose a heavier paper with a matte finish vs. the material used for their store bags.

Props stylist, Nicole Billark, and I spent a lovely weekend day playing with several options for paper to see which one would hold up best. We also wanted to do a trial run of the actual “roll down” that required either cuts or tears to be made along each of the bag’s four seams. Tearing made for a more textured and interesting look—and was much faster than making precise cuts!—which we recommended and the client approved.

With the bags sorted, we now needed to create our dining room set. A deep blue wall—painted specifically to match Freshii’s “dinner time blue”—created our main accent piece, supported by dining room furniture. The script called for a lighting transition, shifting from warm daylight to indoor, tungsten light. My crew amplified the light provided by the lighting fixture to give us a more prominent glow on the dining table for this specific transition. The set was key lit with two continuous lights through a 12’x12′ scrim. Fill lights were used to graze the wall to pick up on the slat details on its surface, as well as to bounce off reflectors to illuminate plates and glasware.

Now comes the stop-motion. Doesn’t matter how much planning goes into pre-production, there will always be changes on set. We found out quickly that enough shots weren’t allocated for the spinning plates. We added another eight shots to each plate, a total of 24 new shots. The good thing was, these were quick rotations that were guided by a grid (created by our wonderful DoP, Zach Koski), which helped pinpoint the exact placement for each turn. For the shots with multiple stop motion elements, we plated those for composite in post.

We also realized that for continuity, we’d need to shoot both the clock’s hands and its pendulum as stop-motion as well, otherwise it would be a bit goofy to have that in motion when every other element was stop-motion. So we added in those shots as well at the tail-end of our shoot day.

Speaking of post, our wonderful partners at BLVD MTL once again did a thorough and amazing job on the edit, compositing, sound design, and colour. For the music, the agency creatives wanted to go with a funk track, and BLVD found some great options that had enough beats to make the edit fun and punchy. Overall, super happy with how this spot turned out and big thanks to my team for making it happen!

Client: Freshii
Vice President, Marketing: Veronica Castillo
Director, Marketing: Estefania Bafunno
Senior Brand Manager: Jessica Bronstein
Associate Brand Manager: Daniela Divito
Director of Menu: Katie Rosenberg

Agency: Dentsu One
Director, Broadcast/Content Prod.: Steph Walker-Wells
Agency Producer: Catherine Dumas
Creative Director: Bernice Lo
Creative Director: Adam Notzl-Keyser
Art Director: Patrick Carter
Copywriter: Mike Furlong
Director, Business: Shannon Fostka
Coordinator: Kevin Babu

Produced by & shot at Rodeo Production
Executive Producer: Vahid Tizhouch
Senior Producer: Coey Kerr
Production Coordinator: Pouyan Reisdanaee
Production Assistant: Erixon Bernardo
Covid Officer: Michael Nyarkoh
Covid Officer: Jessica Fowler

Director: Deepi Ahluwalia
AD: Sarah Kravetz
DoP: Zachary Koski
1st AC: Adam Quinn
Gaffer: Igor Alves
Grip: Abe Roberto
G&E Swing: Jack O’Brien
DIT/VTR: Andrew Easson
Food Stylist: Christina Frantzis
Assistant Food Stylist: Jim Kostakis
Props Stylist/Set Designer: Nicole Billark
Assistant Props Stylist: Diana Topley
Assistant Set Designer: Chris Van Deemter

Post-Production: BLVD MTL
VFX Producer: Carolie Legault-Lanouette
Producer/Audio Supervisor: Joannie Tremblay
Editor: Jamie Phong
Colourist: Benoît Côté
Sound Mixer: David Beaulieu
Compositing: Caroline Brien

Voice Over Talent: Val Mervis (Glenn Talent)

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