Who says guns only cause mayhem and destruction? Watch as this soldier uses a concrete wall as his canvas and bullets as his brushstrokes, to create some sweet wall art.
Run and Gun Production
Sometimes a board lands in your laps that you’d kill for. We initially shot this proof of concept motion test for such a project through Forrest Boleyn, Stephen Chow and Stanton Hill at TBWA\Chiat Day. Everyone was convinced that the project was impossible because of the limited budget. We weren’t going to settle for that, not on this one.
The idea here was to prove that if we were allowed to work outside of everyones established comfort zone, and produce the job “run and gun” style, we’d easily be able to put together a killer piece. We ponied up some of our own cash to secure some legit infantry fatigues, a working replica SCAR airsoft gun, and a few bags of beef jerky (crucial to the completion of any run and gun project). Then it was off to the races…
| DAY 1 |
From the get go, we wanted to shoot at a favorite spot of ours… this sweet abandoned facility on the Angeles Crest Mountains. A quick survey of the area yielded massive stacks of highly flammable cut down trees and branches, hidden rattlesnakes, mutated pine cones, and tons of spent airsoft bullets. After a bit of browsing we found the ideal backdrop.
We ran a couple of dry runs to work out the choreography, then a few more to troubleshoot the timing kinks. Just as we were prepped to shoot our first take, a Forest Ranger Sheriff helicopter blasted seemingly out of nowhere overhead. We booked it into stealth mode, but it turns out we are not that stealthy. After a bit of pleading, we were allowed to fire off one more take before being politely kicked out. Check out the (rushed) take and a few photos from this location.
| DAY 2 |
After reviewing dailies, no one was happy with the take so it was back to scouting. No more 2 hour drives into the mountains, for our next attempt we stuck to our own back yard. Our final version was shot in Santa Monica at a recycling facility right next to the 10 freeway. As tight as security is in good ole SM, no one seemed to mind that we were running around with automatic weapons.
It was go time; with tracking markers placed, guns locked and loaded, choreography practiced to death, and the sun in the perfect spot… we were able to get a solid take. Thank goodness too, because loading up those SCAR C02 magazines was much more than we had bargained for. It was probably the most difficult part of the process!
Post Production Part I
We spent the rest of the weekend putting it all together.
- Gathered lots of research for the real guns in action.
- Shot our own fx footage: computer dusters spraying upside down, fullers earth flung at camera, etc.
- Scoured Getty Images and Detonation Films for explosion stock footage for the grenade launch.
- Conformed and comped all of the previously mentioned footage. Lots of layers in the final.
- Added simple muzzle flares and hand animated bullet casings.
- Created and 2d tracked our exploded concrete logo onto the wall.
- Hacked up a bunch of Youtube clips to build up our sound track. (Our least favorite part of the process.)
- Finally, quite possibly the most quintessential part of the whole piece: horrible white text on plain blue background Youtube intro. This thing is supposed to be a ‘viral’ after all.
Here’s the piece as it was originally presented to the agency. It’s rough, but it got the point across.
Voila! Even with limited resources its possible to create a bad ass piece, so long as everyone is on board. Our pals at the agency were pleased, but as often happens in our little industry the project was brought to its knees and mercilessly executed. Killed.
Post Production Part II
But that wasn’t really the end. Almost exactly one year later… the project came back, re-birthed like some forgotten zombie. We took our test off the digital shelf and deleted the digital dust. Proposed “next level” additions included: sky replacement, more bullet impacts, helicopter flyovers, loads more dust and atmosphere, a designed color-correction “look”, and full overhaul of the sound design.
With a little (actually a lot) of assistance from our talented summer intern Kim, we accomplished all of the visual improvements and refinements and then some, no sweat. Even the un-planned 11th hour addition of the helicopter flyover was pulled off with ease.
Admittedly, this bit was added to help keep up visual interest during a lull in the middle of the piece where our soldier was slowly reloading his weapon for what became a grueling 3 seconds. It just really killed the pacing. The amount of work required to pull that seemingly simple pan up was insane but fun.
Finally our friend and colleague David Kamp came to the rescue, taking our piecemeal scratch track and masterfully layering in tons of legit professional audible goodness throughout. In our humble opinion the final piece looks pretty good, but it sounds killer. Check out his site for an audio breakdown of the project.
And here’s a bit of an expository detailing some of our overall process…
We really believe that sometimes, great things can be made with a “run and gun” methodology. Given the inevitable hiccups, we think it worked out perfectly. And again, we would like to strongly thank those that contributed their valuable time on this little project: Our hats are off to Dylan, Kim and David.
Thanks for reading!