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Channel News Asia- TVC series

Singapore’s leading Television Broadcaster Channel News Asia contacted international design agency Tilt Creative in interest of producing three thirty-second TV station idents. With a tight turn-around required, the collaboration between Channel News Asia and Tilt Creative began immediately. A more conceptual approach than usual was taken for the idents, though with good planning and execution, it was a concept that could also lend itself to being quite poignant and beautiful.

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Colour Chorus was approached in interest of filming and colour grading the three piece series. Originally it was thought that Colour Chorus’ in-house RED Scarlet would be ideal for the job, though with a heavy amount of macro cinematography required in conjunction with small and quickly moving objects, it was decided that the RED Epic with it’s advanced slow-motion capability would be better suited to the challenge. Ben’s Camera Hire out of Fitzroy in Melbourne were able to set us up with an Epic package in addition to a selection of macro lenses. We opted to stay with the Canon EF mount rather than the PL for this shoot as we felt it gave us better access to range of macro lenses, namely the Canon 100mm L-Series which we would end up using for about 95% of all our shots.

Lighting was also an important consideration for our shoot with all three TVCs being filmed in a studio. Interestingly however all three TVCs had different lighting requirements; some requiring a more naturalistic approach while others having a definite theatrical feel. Additionally we would also be shooting a range of objects and surfaces with varying characteristics- ranging from transparent medical aparartus’ to sizzling match heads and textured fabrics. In the end we went for quite a variety of lights, though each with a considered and potential purpose.

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The shoot happened over two days. On the first day we spent the morning filming the first of our three TVCs titled Precision. Precision was to be based in a tailor shop. It would consist of macro shots of fabrics, stitching, scissors etc.- essentially the textures and objects that often define a tailors. However with a focus on macro photography rather than the larger scene there was more of an emphasis on atmosphere and mood rather then a more conventional linear narrative. For this TVC in particular we really wanted quite an organic sort of feel. With this in mind we took the approach that we would light the studio in a more naturalistic style of lighting as to look as though we were in a daylight filled tailor shop. We took quite simple approach to this using our fluorescent banks through a scrim to both soften and spread the light. From here we were able to add small additional sources to help further build the scene and mood, such as a hard though precise back light to capture the edge of the scissors or a small little tungsten top light shining on the fabric to create the effect of a tailors desk lamp. Combined with slow motion and of course macro photography it helped to create an end result that was moody though warm, delicate and natural.

Our second TVC shoot was Clarity. Quite a different approach was required for Clarity; both for stylistic reasons and for the challenges that it would produce. Clarity was to take on a much more dramatic and considerably darker approach. Gone were the open and warm backgrounds of Precision to be replaced with a flat black background. This more theatrical approach helped to steer attention to the actions that were taking place in front of the camera; the striking of a match, a photo of a forest being set alight and finally the drops of water as the slowly diffused the flames. With these actions in mind, lighting for this mini narrative presented some varied challenges. Perhaps the easiest of the bunch were the shots of the photos. With this we took quite a simple approach of front lighting as a fill light and using a hard backlight to pick up the edge of the photo, as well as to create a point of flare in some shots. The matchstick igniting was a little more challenging as for this we needed to create enough light to see the striking of the match but not too much as to take away from the moodiness of scene. Again, we took a bit of a fill light approach providing just enough light to see the matchstick and box while letting the match flame do the rest. Perhaps what was most difficult about this particular scene was the striking of the match. Shooting a small, quickly moving match head on a 100mm macro lens was quite a challenge. Even played back at 6x slow motion it still moves relatively quickly so holding our focus points was critical. To help solve this problem we clamped the match box in place so that there would be no movement. We also aligned the matchbox in a way so that the striking of the match would stay within the limited focal plane we had. Even still it took quite a number of takes to get the match to ignite in a way that was visually interesting while also staying within the tiny focal plane- the joys of working with macro and motion! Again, the water droplets also required a different lighting approach, though with the water and photo combining in one of the key shots we had to plan a lighting setup that would illuminate and capture the shape of the water droplets in front of a dark background while also lighting the photo. For this setup we essentially lit for the two components separately- maintaining our original lighting set up for the photo while adding a two source set up for the water droplets. In front of the water droplets we placed a 6 bank light as key- filling in the front left of the droplets with a white relfective space. For our second source we used a dedo light pointing towards our droplets from behind/side on. The hardness of the dedo light brought out the edge of the droplets giving it nice separation from the background and a shimmering quality. The water droplet scene took a bit of fine tuning, both from a lighting perspective and in terms of getting the droplets to fall in a way that worked for us. However it was the challenges of this TVC which I feel made it not only exciting to work on but also engaging to watch.

The final TVC titled Urgency took on a more medical theme. From our studio environment we again had to create an aesthetic that would match our subject which in this case would be a hospital. We took in to consideration the aesthetics of a hospital from wards filled with natural light to corridors illuminated by a more grungy shade of fluorescent tube. With this in mind the base of our lighting setup wasn’t too different from our tailor shop setup in Precision (albeit somewhat cooler), a set of two 12 bank fluorescent lights behind a scrim acting as our daylight source and as a strong source of backlight. For fill we bounced as much of this light as we could back on to the medical apparatus we were shooting. We also used a black poly-board on each side of the objects to give them a more defined edge. As the medical apparatus we were shooting were quite diverse in shape and in function we varied our lighting to suit, though this particular setup seemed to work well with transparent or semi-transparent objects such as IV bags, IV lines, masks and even syringes. Perhaps the biggest challenge on this particular TVC was finding a consistent mix for fake blood to pump through our lines- which though we got there in the end proved to be a messy task.

Tilt Creative took care of the Post-Production and Motion Graphic side of things and as you can see did a terrific job with the each of the end titles. We thoroughly enjoyed working with all the crew from Tilt Creative and are delighted to have been part of such a enjoyable and professional collaboration.

The TVC series has went on to win numerous awards around the world including a Gold and Award for Distinction from the Australian Cinematographer’s Society (ACS) for Colour Chorus’David Franjic.

David Franjic

Project: Channel News Asia- 3x30sec TVCs
Client: Channel News Asia
Production Company: Tilt Creative
Creative Direction: Tilt Creative
Colour Chorus’ role: Cinematography and Colour Grading (David Franjic)
Camera/s: Shot on RED Epic 5k Cinema Camera
Lenses: Canon L-Series 24-70mm mkii and L-Series 100mm IS Macro
Post Production: Tilt Creative
Audio: Kim Storey