Ballwin, MO-based auto photographer John Fedele rounds out our exciting week with a refreshing bottle of beer. A couple months ago, John was brought on by Antidote and Cannonball Advertising as director of photography to shoot a playful stop-motion spot for Bud Light. John’s piece would highlight the new Bud Light write-on labels. To do so, he would be working with talented illustrator John Hendrix who was to create an intricate doodle on a beer bottle.
John had never worked with either Antidote or Cannonball before, but the Antidote gang was familiar with his work. Liking John’s style, they had been interested in working with him on a motion project. They brought John in for this stop motion piece as they were wanted to produce the project with the approach of a still shooter.
With the concept nailed down before John became involved, his creative input came in on the directing and shooting style. He was happily surprised with the amount of freedom he had with the project. Working together before the shoot, the group was able to create, “a highly collaborative environment that allowed for the sharing of ideas and suggestions from the agency creatives, director/editor, artist and myself. Working closely with Ryan Bury, the editor/director at Antidote, we were able to discuss the right approach to ensure his edit would go as smoothly as possible with the high-res stills.”
You can check out the finished video here:
John also went on to answer some questions about the project,
How did you go about shooting the spot?
I experimented quite a bit with lighting and with various camera rigs from hand-held to dolly to slider and eventually decided that the best way to shoot was on the slider using my Canon 1Ds MK3 in burst mode allowing me to shoot JPEGs resulting in takes long enough to capture each sequence. RAWs were just too slow for the pace we needed to keep. I wanted the camera moves to be smooth but not too smooth so I mounted the slider on a couple of small light stands which added stability with a bit of shake but could also be completely stable when needed. It did feel a bit strange to be shooting and wanting movement in my camera when most of the time I’m doing everything possible to keep it stable. With lighting, we didn’t want a stylistic or overly polished look to the spot so we used a 6×6 diffusion panel with two 5k lights for a smooth feathered reflection along with another bounce opposite for fill. Thanks to our very talented prop stylist, Vivian Ogier, she was always there to ensure the bottles and ice were always looking their best.
Had you done stop motion before?
I had played around with it before. As with many photographers these days, I’ve been branching into motion for a while so it was a nice way to combine the skills I’ve built up. Shooting motion requires a very different way of thinking as opposed to stills, and stop motion adds yet another dimension of complexity, so I spent plenty of hours developing my technique.
Any challenges shooting this particular stop motion?
I think the most difficult part was fitting all of the sequences into a cohesive movement. Shooting each sequence in bursts, we’d review each take on the computer and then lock down talent and props to ensure the beginning of the next sequence was seamless. We spent way more than a few minutes repositioning arms, beer bottles and ice cubes to be just right and then we’d continue the next take.
Did you learn anything new while making this piece?
Oh, yes. I primarily shoot lifestyle, portraits and an occasional product job so it was a great way to develop my product lighting technique more, in combination with my other skills. Of course, being somewhat new to motion, any time I’m behind the camera shooting I feel I’m learning new techniques and new ways of thinking about the footage, action and technique. Oh yeah, I also learned that Antidote throws great parties in their offices and on their rooftop!
Who handled the post processing/editing of the piece?
Ryan at Antidote handled all of the post and then handed it off to their in-house sound guru for the music track. I have enough experience with the production process to realize that the edit is as important as the footage so it’s best left to the pros who know what they’re doing and can do it profitably and within the budget. And, of course, great editors will make my footage look even better with color grading and graphics so these days I can just try and concentrate on creating the best footage possible.
What as it like working with an illustrator working as you shot?
It was a lot of fun working with John. It took some getting used to on both of our parts in that the bottle was locked on a c-stand and he was being forced to sketch these intricate drawings in a hand position he was not used to. I had to make his hand look like he was drawing it but his natural hand position didn’t look great from my angle. I’d just say “stop” every few seconds and reposition him as needed. We got into a good rhythm and he ended up knocking out two drawings for use.
(You can read more about John Hendrix’s illustration here)
What was the response with the finished product?
There’s always that bit of anxiety when shooting for new clients, but everyone was very happy when we wrapped and many more compliments came my way once it finally launched, so it’s safe to say it was a success.