Help with shooting a video commercial for a night club
Hi guys, saw som older posts about this but nothing new. Please correct me if I'm wrong!
A friend of mine just asked me if I could shoot a night club of his and do some sort of promotion video to put on youtube and facebook, to get people to come there.
The night club is half night club and half lounge, the ground floor of the building (the night club) has many various lights, everything from regular disco lights to rotating lazer lights. The upper part is sort of soft lit in purple, pink and yellow (the lounge area).
Since it's a night club, it's poorly lit and probably very hard to get good pictures.
I'm shooting with a Sony PMW-EX1, it's decent in low light situations but in a night club like this I really need good HD quality.
If you do know any good settings for the camera, please post, or if you think I need some kind of extra gear, like filters, light panel for peoples faces etc feel free to say so!
I am thinking of making or renting some sort of steadi cam to shoot bartenders flipping bottles and people dancing.
Do you have tips for a story? I was thinking maybe making three or four short stories, like an old couple having dinner, a couple of friends at a bar, some people in the ski slopes (the night club is located in a ski area), then having the same people at the night club, an "everybody meets here" sort of thing. Please give tips.
Don't worry about HD -- or "good quality" -- just for YOU TUBE or FACEBOOK.
I'm going to disagree there, Dennis; only because nowadays it is easy enough to put up higher quality youtube videos as well as vimeo and such, that can look fantastic if the source material was of good quality. Depending on how good a job you do compressing it, originating in HD will give a better staring point as well as offer some more editing flexibility, and yes, while youtube compression will take some of the quality away, if you start with more, you end up with more.
This is a lighting, not marketing forum, but some things need to be said here to the original poster, Markus.
My advice is to first work much more on developing the ideas before shooting begins. You need to get a really clear idea of the client's needs beyond some nebulous desire to have a video on the net. What is he trying to sell most, and what is he wanting to SAY? And what kind of visual style and aesthetic have you agreed on to convey this message? If I asked you five specific questions about the club, you should be able to answer at least three after you watch this thing. What are the five things? Or can you cut it to three or less? The best would be if it would really be one thing, either a fact or a feeling.
The fact might be something like; "Not just for the skiers!" The feeling might be: "that place is really jumping on the weekends!" Now you have some idea of what you need to show with either of those decisions. If this is part of a longer term identity campaign, what I might try is to concentrate on two couples, or several singles, and make the thing like a series of micro soap opera episodes, to tell a bigger story over time and follow a plot arc with these characters, while the sales points fly by in the background the whole time. You need something to bring them back and watch more than once, you need to reward attention. One thing might be to make all the spots a back and forth of cell phone videos (though you shoot them in higher quality and make them look like cell videos later in post). The benefit of that is it keeps the shots tight and there's not as much to light, but if you need to show lots of the club spaces, you're making a trade-off of wide shots for "story". See, all this kind of stuff you need to hash out before you get to technical shooting details.
When you have the creative treatment, that is , the creative approach we just talked about, then you can start to figure out how to shoot it.
I will suggest that shooting on a regular club night is not all you will need to do for this. You will also need to schedule some private time in the space with some people you can direct and run gear and extra lights around, to be able to fully control some of the scenes and make them look their best, as they would to a human eye, and not a cell phone cam. Before or after closing time. You will then be able to adjust the lighting to get across a better effect than the real situation, shot live. I see college town video ads for clubs where all you can see is a single indistinct blob of people jumping up and down in the dark, with a blown-out shot of a DJ in the background, *maybe*.. You can do better than that. If you can control the space. This is also where you will get useable audio.
But I can't tell you what or how to light the spot yet, because you don't have a spot yet, you don't have an outline, a story, a list of needed shots, etc.
When you have that, these experts here will give you VERY good advice indeed, they are masters at what they do.
[Mark Suszko] "My advice is to first work much more on developing the ideas before shooting begins."
Mark is totally correct, as per usual.
I did a fair number of these a while ago, and let me tell you: it is really easy to make a really really really bad video because first and foremost the subjects are not actors. And number two there is no clear call to action. Let put on my advertiser's hat for a second. You can easily tell a small simple "boy meets girl" story.
Forget location audio.
Having said that, lighting the scene is the easy part. For these I like to use (and I've said a million times) Chinese Lanterns and 500w photofloods, because as people are dancing you can hang the flood above them in the middle of a group and get an exact perfect sphere of light emanating in all directions. You can even put one below them, or just off frame. Because they are relatively inexpensive, you can get a lot of them for a very low price. Because they're light -- that is "not heavy to carry" -- you can hang them from a boom pole and follow your subject in clever ways.
Also I believe having a few practical bulbs in the shot helps sell the illusion.
I think your tip about the Lantern is a very good advice! The soft light that you get out of that lamp is probably perfect!
Do you think I should use a red (original) one, or a white? red gives a warmer picture, and can probably enhance the feeling of the nightclub.
I don't know what a 500W photo flood is, could you please post a link? I searched google, but got alot of different matches.
thanks for your answer!
The fall of building 7 is a bit weird.
Here's a link to the bulb: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/19621-REG/General_Brand__ECT_Lamp_500... Keeping this clean is very important, 'cause if it explodes from over-heated grime on the bulb, they are quite nasty.
The fixture I use is a standard worklight from Home Depot. They're hard to find, actually, because they're in the wrong department! Not lighting department but tools and hardware. These gadgets have an aluminum reflector I cut off and recycle; it also has an attachable clamp I don't use but probably could be useful.
I use white and gel as necessary. In my opinion, it's wise to keep people's faces natural (unless there's a surreal story line). The audio will sell the nightclub feeling more than the bizarre light. Sure, you can get that in the trippy lighting in the background or have the subjects sit where the light will sweep passed them from time to time.
Thank you sooo much for your answer Mark! I highly appreciate it!
I will talk to my friend about the questions you mentioned, just so you know, he basically asked me: "Can you do a commercial?". and I said, "I'll look in to it".
We haven't spoken since then, I will however contact him tomorrow and thanks to you, I have alot more to work with!
I liked your story tip, very much! I'll talk to him tomorrow and we will try to agree over something, I think however that the soap opera idea is too "serious", I think he needs something around 30 seconds, maybe 40, but those 40 seconds needs to be good.
I think what he wants is not continuity, no scenes, even though I would enjoy shooting it, I think he wants it to be more simple. Ofcourse I'm shooting bartenders when they poor drinks from different angles in continuity but not more than that.
I will go there on a regular night, test shoot and see how it looks, then go there when they have events, like playboy and try to get the real shots done.
The story I mentioned about having three or four different "couples", I was thinking maybe shooting them for about 5 seconds, and then showing their faces at the nightclub later in the movie, what do you think of that for a simple idea? Maybe you could help me with tips on that?
Don't know if I answered all your questions, but I have very little time since I'm at a internet cafe and they kinda close now, but thank you so much for your post! I will try to post tomorrow after talking to my friend!
The fall of building 7 is a bit weird.
"I think what he wants is not continuity, no scenes, even though I would enjoy shooting it, I think he wants it to be more simple"
Then he really has no idea yet what he wants. It reminds me of when I was 12 or so years old and set up a super-8 stop-motion home movie in my basement, with plastic army men and tanks and stuff, hand-animated into battle scenes. I quickly got very bored with the results; though they were very much prototypical Michael Bay type work, because there was no STORY. Just effects and movement.
Shooting the bartenders tossing bottles around is fun, but that's not a commercial. Not by itself. Shooting random couples in five second slivers is not by itself a commercial either. You need some kind of narrrative thread to tie these things together.
All good advice... and as a commercial producer I always tell clients, don't complicate the story. Keep it simple. The fewer messages you have in there, the better. Every additional message you get waters down all the others. Less is more.
We'll get potential commercial clients in here that will say they want to make sure this is in there, and don't forget that, and remember that we've been around for 20 years, and we're home owned and operated, and make sure our address is in there, and our hours and website of course, and don't forget the phone number... and it goes on and on and on.
An example... the biggest challenge we have with clients is over phone numbers. When's the last time you got a phone number from a television commercial? Unless you are a mattress company that sings the number in a jingle over and over, or have a 90-second commercial with a phone number graphic up throughout, no one gets phone numbers from TV. It basically just says, "Hey, we've got a phone." Most of the time that is information that is not needed.
Keep it simple.
Television commercials aren't supposed to do everything. People will have a full-page Yellow Pages ad that is already crammed too full and still think they need all that info in a :30 television spot. ALL a television commercial should do is get someone to walk in the door, pick up a phone, or just have a germ of interest planted in their heads. Clients should rely on all the other types of collateral (newspaper, magazines, outdoor, brochures, phonebook ads, websites) and face-to-face salesmanship to fill in all that other info. The TV commercial should just get you the face to sell to.
I always remind people of the "Bigger! Bigger!" campaign of quite a few years ago for Little Caesar's Pizza. It won lots of awards and did great business for them. All it said was that the pizza was bigger. Period. Not better. Not hotter. Not faster. Not cheaper. Not anything but bigger. It's not always possible (in fact it usually isn't) to craft a commercial that actually has one and only one message... but it's a good goal.
So yes... try to come up with a story... a simple one, and don't let it get cluttered with anything that you don't need. In the case of a nightclub, the message is probably just simply "This is the place to be."
In television, less is more.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Mark: I'm having a meeting with my friend in a couple of hours, I have a whole list of things I want to talk to him about. I wrote down a "Boy meets girl" story and I really like it, but it's quite complex I'll write it down later.
Somebody posted this link http://www.vimeo.com/8397060 in this thread and I think he wants something like that, I have to say that that short clip represents a feeling of the club, don't you?
"Then he really has no idea yet what he wants."
I've written down the things you mentioned about "Five questions" and if he wants the movie to be fact or feeling. Let's see what he has to say about that.
Sorry for being so short!
I'll get back to you when I've talked to my friend, once again, thanks for your professional help.
The sample has a lot of those shots I talked about hating: the muddy black indistinct mass of people just standing in a huge clump or jumping around a bit in heavy backlighting while an overexposed Dj is far in the background. Notice it was shot with the Canon 7D digital still camera, adapted for video. I guess it does pretty well in low light and certainly looks "filmic". Don't know that the Sony you are using will look as good. Band was just meh; okay, not outstanding. That video has no story at all to it, but why do you think story and "feeling" are mutually exclusive? They need not be.
If I was working on this, I would think about a narrative thread where a guy was in boring and quiet locations, like the bus stop, library, bowling alley, car repair shop, etc. getting video clips sent to his phone from a girl he was constantly trying to meet up with, but always missing, because she's at this club on various theme nights, when he's expecting to meet her at these boring places like the bowling alley, the library, what-have-you.
The presence in the background of her messages of a rival guy, who apparently is getting to become her friend more and more in every installment, (he might lean into the camera shot and wave to say "hi, buddy!!!" at some point, and you'll want to punch him) hints that there's a chance our boy could soon lose the girl, unless he gets to that club when she's also there.
Then I throw a reversal at the ending episode; the guy's phone gets one more message from the girl, said she thought she saw our guy at the club on so and so night, but missed him... and we see that our guy is not watching the message, it is playing to the open air, on a table behind him, because he's finally in the club and has instantly met someone else even nicer than the original object of his desire.
Now that's pretty pedestrian fare, nothing we haven't seen before, but can still sell well if executed well. Every one of the girl's short video texts also shows a clip of something like the bands, the DJ, the food/bar shots you want so much, but now it is all in the context of a narrative structure, and this structure is motivated, so showing us the sales points of the club in this way is integrated into the structure of the story, and not just a preachy or hard-sell message.
Added edit: music. You can't afford to use any real songs on this, you'll need some kind of rights-cleared beats, budget for that.
Please, please, PLEASE don't over complicate this.
It's a commercial. So it has ONE single overarching goal in order to be successful. It must generate significantly MORE income than it costs to create and show to it's audience. PERIOD.
That's it. End of story. It doesn't matter one WHIT whether the audience loves or hates your characters - or the story - or the lighting - or the pacing - or the overall idea.
For a restaurant/bar commercial your POSSIBLE TO ACCOMPLISH goals are very simple.
If not enough people are AWARE of the business - you can increase awareness. This is why hotel video's are typically just short tours of the in-building restaurants and bars. Awareness - is a simple and achievable goal. In certain cases that's enough. If so, simply concentrate making the facility look as attractive and welcoming as possible.
The next typical restaurant/bar video is concerned with boosting SALES.
For this, forget all the fancy "boy meets girl" stories and concentrate on PROMOTION specials. Whatever it is, RUM night, Ladies Night, Jello wrestling, you name it and people have already done it to death. Why? Because promotion works. 99 cent Big Macs INCREASE STORE TRAFFIC - always have, always will. So no need to re-invent the wheel.
Quality, lighting, storytelling, everything else is important ONLY to the extent they improve the above.
In other words, if you succeed in making people AWARE of the restaurant, but the commercial leaves them thinking the place is a dark, poorly lighted DIVE, you're toast. Unless it is. If it is, you can fool them by making it look better - but then the spot will still fail because it will promise one thing and the experience of the product will deliver something else.
The bar/restaurant business is BRUTAL. (I know, I spent my youth working in it)
And typically, owners only try to bring advertising to bear after they've screwed up operations so much that even when you bring in new people, the poor operations will lose them following exposure.
Harsh, reality. But true none the less.
One final word of advice.
Get CASH up front. ALL of it. Don't deliver ANYTHING until you're paid in full.
Doesn't matter how big the "parent" company is. If you don't have an IRON CLAD contract with the owning CORPORATION (and you don't because NOBODY does that at the level you're talking) then CASH in hand is your ONLY real defense against getting screwed.
You might be jaded. [Bill Davis] "For this, forget all the fancy "boy meets girl" stories and concentrate on PROMOTION specials."
Six shots -- camera shots, not booze!
Shot 1: girls walk into club
Shot 2: boy looks up from bar
Shot 3: Slo-mo of girls again
Shot 4: guy meets girl at bar
Shot 5: Guy and girl dancing
Shot 6: Guy and girl in VIP
TITLE: Call to action
Surely, you don't think this is fancy. The call to action--about 5 seconds--is where the promotion is dropped in as needed. 6 shots in 25 seconds, that's 4 seconds each, plenty of time for the audience to see the frame for a rack focus, move the camera, any number of bona fide camera moves.
Bill, this isn't a cable TV 30 second spot, this is something for the web. Maybe several somethings, is what I'm pushing. And that means we can bend some rules and even break some. His boss started out with a sort of desire for an undefined "spray the room" kind of thing just to show it off. And it may end up that way still. I'm not saying your way is wrong, only that we're not at the stage yet where there IS a wrong or right way, particularly. Because we dont know what the owner really wants or needs yet. I understand a "hard sell" as in your example. Sometimes they are appropriate. Sometimes a "smart sell" is better. Would it surprise you if I told you that I try very hard to put the entire Campbellian "hero's journey" into something as short as 30 seconds spots? I do, particularly for radio, but for TV as well, if I can get away with it.
Do you remember the Taster's Choice coffee spots from a few years back? The one told in a multi-spot character arc? One of the actors from those wound up as "the Watcher" Giles in "Buffy" later. At the time, all the coffee commercials were pretty hard sell, and they all pushed the same things, freshness and flavor, mmm. Then comes along these series of spots with an ongoing romance story across something like six 30-second spots, and the entire freaking country was talking about them and watching them. Needing to see how it ended, they watched the commercials as if they were shows, which, in micro-scale, they WERE. And that's not a new idea: variations of that were done on radio since the thirties and 40's. But people forgot that they could do such a thing.
Nightclubs seem a good fit for this little narrative arc concept I outlined, but there are plenty of other ways to go, mine was just one example. However, when you're selling a nightclub, you are not selling food and drink and music, you are not selling 4 whitewall tires installed for $229.99, you are selling an image, you are selling wish fulfilment. You are creating a very specific brand identity, and so you may need a little more finesees than "get drunk and get lucky in jig time, for cheap, at Maxie's Bar and Grill".
There's a place for those kind of spots too, but I'm hoping Marcus here can aspire to something bigger. If only because you don't make money on the cheap one-off spots compared to a planned campaign of spots and virals.The local cableco can churn out plenty of that kind of cheap spot for zero cost. The club makes more money the longer you stay in it. The spots make more money the longer the audience stays with them, but you have to give them something to reward that viewing.
Anyhow, nothing again to do with lighting, and sorry for that, but I just wanted to explain where I was coming from on this approach.
With all respect because you're the author of a lot of the MOST valuable content on this board...
I still have to respectfully disagree.
The issue is advertising fundamentals. You cite campaigns like the Tasters Choice work from some years ago - but it's a poor comparison because General Foods is able to achieve something that the OP here cannot. The term in formal advertising practice is "reach and frequency."
This kind of soft branding campaign ONLY works if there is enough media purchased to support TRAINING the audience to be aware of, and then care about, the people they're watching.
Look, from Age 19 to 28 or so, I worked in the bar and restaurant industry. Starting as a DJ in a local upscale club, and ending up with responsibility for programming for a medium size subgroup of hotel bar/restaurants for one of the biggest name hotel chains in the world.
I've sat in countless meetings, and run countless more where the discussions have been trying to find the right balance of advertising, promotions, marketing and operating essentials required to keep a club or restaurant both popular and profitable. So I know something about this topic.
If the path to success was as simple as creating a video spot with a pretty girl and a pretty guy meeting in the club and going off together dancing, followed by a call to action tag, I could have become a marketing GENIUS at 24 - because I've done that spot about half a dozen times.
It's more complicated than that. Not to bore you with details, but consider just these few sub-considerations.
Should the club cater JUST to the age/demographic of the boy/girl pictured? Are liquor sales ALL that matter here? What about the food side of the operations? Are there other issues that might be hampering club success? If we concentrate on the clubbing aspects, does that make us vulnerable vis a vis Monday to Thursday business? Are there significant Parking? Location issues? Would it be MORE effective if we addressed those in the spot?
This is why good advertising tends to steer away from opinions and deals to the extent possible with facts. And that means research. Someone has to talk to the customers of THIS bar and try to find out what it's individual strengths and weaknesses might be. Then you build a spot that takes into consideration those - AND what the club or overall operation needs to accomplish in order to balance those needs with the other needs of the larger operation. Perhaps Mon-Fri the hotel or restaurant is filled with 40-60 year old business types. If so, will trolling for hip 20 year olds for Fri/Sat cause you un-forseen conflicts.
Look, I'm not trying to be negative. If you believe in your spot - go for it. The WORST that will happen is that business won't go up and you'll have problems collecting your money. Both survivable annoyances.
If, however, you want to build a career doing this kind of promotional video - it will benefit you greatly if the first one succeeds. And your chances of that happening can only INCREASE if you don't approach this by thinking of the kind of production that YOU would like - but rather thinking about the kind of production that will PRODUCE THE BEST RESULTS for the client.
I realized that in my above post, I started out by responding to Mark's comments, then switched to responding to the OP without making that clear.
I doubt Mark wants a new career in Advertising. He's wise. After my stint in the restaurant bar industry - my new wife and I opened and operated an Advertising Agency and ran it for half a dozen years prior to discovering that my first love was video production and concentrating on that.
Such is life.
Bill, no insult assumed, we're good. Your well-informed point is taken in good spirit. Probably helps that it's Friday:-) Ironically, for 20 years I've wanted to semi-retire from video making and run my own Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar. Got the menu all worked out, the cute names for all the dishes, the decor and staff clothing, the ad layouts... and my wife invariably tells me if I ever won the lotto and tried to open such a place, she'd divorce me. Know how to make a million in the food service biz? Start with TWO million... I know, I know. But it is fun to think about, all the same. Luckily, an actual Hawaiian barbecue place just opened around the corner from my house this winter, This, plus my expanding tiki mug collection, so far are keeping the "itch" to run a place of my own at bay.:-)
Anyway, I believe you and I are less far apart on this topic than you think, Bill; many of the remarks you made about evaluating the needs and such are right in line with my own opinions on how you develop any show or spot, leading up to a creative treatment process. But I wasn't going to go into a longer rant about that this time. Be that as it may, the needs analysis part of the puzzle you talk about creates and informs the basis for the creative treatment. Even if you just want to do a "holler for dollar" spot, that still needs a creative treatment.
So, here's a Maitai raised to you, warrior of the waitrons. I bet if we collaborated on an ad sometime, it could be awesome. Groundbreaking, even.
If we could make bail later.:-)
Great conversation here gents. It's March 10,2010 and this stuff is gold...for any project.
Level Horizon Productions
Thanks for your tips! I talked to my friend at the night club, and he and the owner basically just wants some cool shots of the night club sort of "this is what you get". no story, too complicated.
I test filmed yesterday with the EX1 and I got really disapointed over the results, I think i need a LED-lamp to even see peoples faces. I'm uploading the movie right now and will post it here when it's done.
Thanks for your post!
The fall of building 7 is a bit weird.
[Marcus Perfjell] "the owner basically just wants some cool shots of the night club sort of 'this is what you get'"
Clients, sometimes gotta hate 'em.
Try as we might, you can't always help people have good taste... or make the right choices.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
"Forget it, Jake, its Chinatown".
It was a fun creative exercise anyway, Todd, and the give and take about structure was not a waste, it may eventually help someone else.
Yes I hope this thread will help somebody more than me, you gave me alot of tips Mark!
Talked to my friend today and he and the owner really liked what I shot the other day so I'm just doing the "this is what you get" kind of video..
Thanks for everything!
The fall of building 7 is a bit weird.
In the spirit of being helpful. The next time you shoot in the club, think about two things.
First - light the WALLS first.
This forms a bright background against which people's silhouettes can be seen. You can go NUTS with color on this background lighting - or you can use white lights and dimmers - but the object is to get a sense of depth and space by lighting the perimeter first.
Second - as you suggested, you need to light the faces of the PEOPLE in your foreground shots. An on-camera light or handheld broad spot or small LED array is a good choice for this. You really should have a dedicated light for each person you want to "pop" out of the background. And you can let them move through the light or follow them - your choice.
If you keep ALL other lighting at a minimum so the overall room is dark - typical for a bar/restaurant anyway - you can is focus your audience on the individuals and let the room serve as a background.
Finally, and as always don't forget to shoot cutatways!
Close ups of room decor, lighting, swish pans of the dancers, bold moving sweeps of areas - all these can all be used in composites. Just look for beautiful things and people. The backlighted bottles on the bar. The candles on the tables. An elegant ear and earing in XCU.