We had exactly one last take to get this right. “Hold…hold…okay go!” We all held our breath as our motorized graham crackers moved toward each other, hoping the last twelve hours weren’t a complete waste.
I recently teamed up with Armando Ferreira to re-create two commercial shots that were made using expensive cinema robots, on a shoestring budget. Both shots came from Steve Giralt, a brilliant visual engineer who pushes the boundaries on practical effects using cinema robots like Kira, Mia, Vigo and Bolt.
We recreated a fairly well-known commercial Steve produced for Hershey’s chocolate that was live in Time’s Square.
We knew this would be a difficult task, with so many moving parts (literally) and variables that are essential to bring this shot to life. We had a bit of an advantage though because we were on our second shoot day, and we learned a ton about this process on day one, where we recreated a shot of a Nike shoe using the Laowa 24mm probe lens.
From our day one experience, we knew right away what tools we needed to pull off this shot. We used a budget camera, lens, and only one light for this setup. Here is the exact gear list and what it would cost to rent that equipment for two days.
I wanted to keep this shoot as low budget as possible as an answer to the question I get all the time: “how can I do this if I’m just starting out?” For so many new videographers, or even experienced videographers wanting to attract a different type of client, it can seem impossible to level up your portfolio until you land that first client.
But with the equipment you already have, a DIY rig, or even by renting a few key pieces of gear, anything is possible. I’m pleased with the final shot we got in this process, but this exercise would’ve been far easier if we weren’t trying to replicate an exact, finished product.
If you have the time to make and execute a plan, try producing impressive footage or even an entire commercial for your dream client. At worst you’ll improve your skills and add high-quality footage to your reel. At best you could sell that spec work to that dream client! My first ever big clients were Sam Adams Beer and AT&T, and being only one year into my journey as a videographer, that was only possible through spec work.
Check out the full video to see the result and the entire behind-the-scenes as we problem-solve through the process. And if you’re interested in learning how to tell good stories on a budget, you might also enjoy this video where we filmed a car commercial with $274.