For Tigo’s shoot, we were anxious to stretch reality and bring their product to life. Literally. Watch their commercial above to see what we mean.

Director: Jack Mergist
Producer: James Rust
Director of Photography: James Terry
Recordist: Jared Gay
Recordist Assistant: Danny Herrera
Puppeteer: Daxson Hale
Production Design: Christine Hale
Hair/Makeup/Costume Design: Juliette Mergist
2nd AC/Grip: D’Aaron Gonzalez
Production Assistant: Nicole Sheahan, Brock Arnold
Talent: Zane O’Gwin and Pepper the German Shepherd
 

THE JOB:

The job was for us to create a video showing the different features of the Tigo Collar by bringing the product to life.
 

DIRECTING:
Director: Jack Mergist

The original concept for TIGO was “DOGZ IN SPACE!!!!!!!” but the budget didn’t allow for that so we ended up just bringing a dog collar to life.
 

“Directing is about surrounding yourself with talented people and trusting them to deliver,”
 

but you’ve gotta give everyone the tools beforehand to do that. A big part of that is the previsualization process. We affectionately call it the “previz”. Luke Skywalker didn’t just blow up the death star. Some clever rebel had to map the coup de grace out in digital form and present it to the group. They huddle around it, voice concerns, and Luke confidently likens blowing up the death star to bullseying womp rats in his T-16 back home. Then… he blows up the Death Star. He was confident because he had a good plan at his side… and the Force. A previz is something filmmakers use to map out complex scenes in TV and film. Some will storyboard a scene on paper and then turn to a digital rendering software to generate something reminiscent of a bad N64 game version of your video with clever camera angles, scratch dialogue, sound and a rough edit. Some will just film the scene quickly with an iPhone. Everyone does it differently. This helps them envision beforehand where cameras need to be, blocking, and even how quick or slow characters actions need to be to help the scene flow. The idea is that we prepare beforehand and get the whole crew on the same page so that when the big cameras and lights come out on shooting day, everyone is confident it’s gonna work. Everyone has a different directing style and there is no set way to go about making a film, but there are tried and true tools at our disposal. The more problems you can solve beforehand, the easier it is the keep the crew positive and and confident as new problems present themselves the day of shooting. We used the RED to film this one because why not?

As you can see, TIGO isn’t a big, complex action scene, but it did require a well thought out plan to make that collar come to life. We had to film every shot of the video and watch for when the wires of the puppet crossed in the wrong place, where our puppeteer needed to be, where actors needed to be, where the sun and shadows would be when filming, what equipment was needed to put a camera in the middle of a river, etc. It was a long list with TIGO. After filming and editing this previz, James (the DP) and I huddled around it again before the day of shooting and talked about changes we wanted to make and what we could’ve done better. We kept the previz with us on my phone the day of the shoot and referenced it to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

The biggest unexpected problem we ran into the day of shooting was… THE HEAT! I mean, it was bloody hot, and the crew got stressed quickly. I was so proud of how positive everyone stayed. We had a lot of delicate shots to get through, but we did it quickly, efficiently, and got everyone home sunburn free… I think.
I like to think the final result turned out pretty well because we had a plan… and the Force.

 

IN PRODUCTION:
Director of Photography: James Terry

Our pre-production work with the pre-viz, storyboard, and test shots helped cut time in production. We were able to move through set ups quickly since everyone on our team knew where the next shot would be.

The weather was a bit tricky because it had to be seamless for the shots and post effects to work. In order to successfully nail the animated collar effect we had to shoot each shot twice, sometimes even three times. That in itself was tricky. With the weather somewhat changing throughout the day, we just had to wait for clouds to pass or shoot the shots fairly quickly to provide consistency. Also, anytime you are working with animals you have to be patient. We gave ourselves enough time in each location to allow for that patience.

 

IMG_6678FINDING THE SET LOCATION:
Producer: James Rust

We had to have a variety of locations for the TIGO shoot. The exterior locations were simply a variety of places you would take your dog like, a creek, a park area to play catch, a big hill to run down and the front yard of a log home. Using the feel of the old 90’s Folgers coffee commercials as an example, we went for a rustic feelfor our home location. We were forced to find exterior locations with minimal fees due to budget restrictions, but there are so many options here in Utah that it didn’t end up being much of a restriction as it could have been.

A far greater challenge was the tight timeline we were on. We typically have 2-3 months to produce our videos but with TIGO we only had a month because they already had a launch date for their product. As we were running out of time, we literally just went to a few neighborhoods and knocked on doors that we were interested in casting. Then, we spoke with the homeowners to see if they’d be open to us renting their house for a morning. Lucky for us, the log home that we liked the most was happy to let us film. I originally thought there would be a few sacrifices to make when it came to the location since we were running out of time. When it came down to the wire, we got all the “yeses” we needed.