David Stahler from NCSY came to us in September and asked us if we could produce a piece for the OU that they would show at their conference in January. I asked him where he heard of us, and he said that Jeremy Joszef from Camp Morasha suggested us for this undertaking. He saw this video and was convinced that we would be the right ones to produce this challenging piece.
Why challenging? The OU is usually known as a Kashruth organization. But they run over 13 different programs that are financed by the kashruth revenues. Who knew that the OU has programs for disabled kids, are promoting the Jewish cause in Washington, helping married couples get on their feet, and helping the unemployed find jobs?The challenge was to convey all this in one little film and it had to be engaging, young, exciting, and short.
The biggest challenge of all was actually that the OU is not so popular among young people, besides for NCSY, and for their kosher certification. They asked us what we could do in order to make them look younger and more approachable to the youth of today.
We went back and forth with different ideas, between David, my wife Margelit, and myself. After a bit of research and bouncing different ideas around, my wife said to just throw in an “iPad”.
What did she mean?
“We use the iPad as an overall theme to tell the story,” she replied.
I was immediately intrigued. I’m an Apple user myself and I love to play with their design. Now I had to convince David to get the okay and I’m really thankful that he had enough trust in me to go forward with this idea without letting concerns and doubts get in our way.
I wrote the script combined with a storyboard. Usually script and storyboard are different entities. I wanted to simplify this process and decided to merge them both. It would also be easier for the client to not just have text to read – I wanted them to see our vision. So I added images to support the visuals. Here is our storyboardscript:
I can’t tell you how important it is to do proper and detailed pre-production, to write a script and think about the shots beforehand. It makes the filming and – even more so – the post-production, super easy. I think many undervalue this because they just tend to just jump into the project and start filming.
After the script was done and shown to the client they really liked the idea, and we went forward with planning all the shooting.
Many of the planned shots required steadicam work. I didn’t own a steadicam and had no experience. So I went ahead, bought a Glidecam 4000 with the vest and started practicing with this beast.
I tell you it’s not an easy thing to use. To get it right takes hours and days of practice. But I got this done for the project. I always try to find something new, something challenging, in every project, and I think to shoot major parts of this ad on a steadicam was quite challenging.
That’s the only way I learn: quickly.
When we conducted the interviews the interviewees were saying to me: I can’t say “I am the OU”. I guess they felt funny and didn’t know what this had to do with the OU film. But when they saw the final results and how it integrated smoothly, they were really amazed and surprised.
I think its abstraction in films & visuals that fascinates us. We don’t need to see how a thing is in reality. We are interested in how the thing inspires us in an orthogonal, non-linear way. I think that’s the challenge of every creative person.
The last challenge we faced was how to put all the faces into the iPads and iPhones. And I knew in the high – end commercial world they use greenscreen for this kind of work. So, I wasn’t sure how I could put a greenscreen onto it and then exchange it with real faces shots.
Do I have to buy green sticky paper and glue in on top of the devices? But then we would have no reflections on the the glass surfaces of the iPad.
Or should I display a green image that I scale up full screen into the iPad and by that I make sure that the glass reflections are preserved.
I had no clue. I turned to Eli Veffer, a friend and visual effects artist and discussed with him what I had to accomplish. And he suggested to go with just plain green images that we would display in the devices. He then would take that footage and would do a 3D track (in order to preserve motion on the Z-axis as well) and once we had the tracking data, we could exchange the green image with any image (in our case the faces) and the movement in the shots would be preserved by the inserted images as well.
I have to say, I have seen greenscreen work, and you can usually tell that it was done afterwords because the challenge is that the inserted image/footage has to move in the exact way that the camera moved in the shot. And often the two are off when the tracking of the movement is not done in a perfect way. The goal always is to create the illusion that the device and the faces are shot at the same time.
Here’s the final ad:
It was very well received. In fact many new clients asked us to do a film for them when they saw what is possible.
I LOVE the OU and its staff. They are really great people and I really enjoyed just hanging out with them, learning about kashruth and their programs. I bugged them with a lot of questions especially about food supervision.
Special thanks to David Stahler who had the trust and courage to go ahead and support us in this. Thanks to David Olivestone, David Frankel, and Rabbi Weil for the trust that you had in us to make a fun and YOUNG film. And finally thanks to Olivia Friedman who helped us tremendously in putting this together and staying on schedule.