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HOW WE HELPED SELL THE UK'S FIRST PISTACHIO DRINK

An in-depth look into how we created a series of videos for Borna Foods, from pre-production to delivery.

This is a recent commercial we shot for Borna Foods, a premium pistachio company based in London who have produced the UK’s first pistachio drink. Their aim with the advert was to associate the drink with a youthful, bright lifestyle, selling primarily to fitness fanatics, foodies, vegans and health lovers. Their target audience was primarily women (64%), aged 18-44, based in London. The videos were intended for social media, with focus set mainly on Facebook & Instagram. The company uses earthy colours (green, creams, browns etc) in their branding, and we wanted to play on this in the videos.

R&D and Pre-Production

We wanted to integrate the brand’s colours as often as possible in the video, so paid close attention to set decoration and what the characters were wearing.

When planning out the project, we initially provided Borna with a handful of video ideas that they could pursue, each with a different focus and theme. Once these were narrowed down to the final idea, we studied and took inspiration from a variety of high-key  product commercials (think adverts for yoghurts, milks, smoothies etc) and used these as the foundation for the lighting and set decoration, as well as the characters and activities in our video. We spent a couple of days thoroughly analysing these adverts, making notes and observations along the way – many of which we incorporated in our video (e.g. bright with few off-brand colours).

We wanted to integrate the brand’s colours as often as possible in the video, so paid close attention to set decoration and what the characters were wearing. We spent a day or so in the lead up to production buying props and costumes to ensure everything in the camera frame remained on-brand and consistent.

The characters (their costumes, activities, appearance etc) were carefully crafted in the initial pre-production stages. Each was given a short description outlining the above characteristics, which we used when searching for actors/actresses online.

For example, for the young female character ‘Morgan’, we outlined:

Morgan, 19 – Student, vegan, active.
Fun-loving, smiley, people-oriented. Commits herself to her friends. Cares deeply for animals and the environment, but also for her health. Does yoga regularly. 

Reasons for using drink: vegan, nutrition, fitness.

These descriptions were not set in stone and changed as the project developed. In this example, we hired a semi-professional dancer to play the role as opposed to a yoga enthusiast. 

The characters were created in this way so that we had a strong base to work from when looking for actors; while we might not have shown Morgan caring deeply for animals, we thought these details would be important to allow the actor to portray/become the character. 

We worked closely with Borna to ensure the characters we described fit what they wanted. When they were happy, and once the actors were booked in, contracts agreed and everything was in place, we began to look for locations. 

There are 6 locations in total: an office environment, Lancaster University Sports Centre, 2 house environments, a dance studio and the Lancaster canal. We organised one day for each actor and allocated 8 hours in those days to capture everything we needed.

PRODUCTION

Shoot days began early in the morning for all three actors. For the female characters, this was due to location limitations. For the male character, this was so we could catch him running in the early morning sun. 

The videos were shot on a RED Scarlet-W using Canon L Series lenses. For the gimbal work, we used a MōVi Pro. The running scenes were shot out of the boot of a car using the movi. 

To light the scenes, we used both the Aputure 300d and 120d ii with softboxes and egg crates. This gave us a nice soft light with very little spill. 

We hired in some Lancaster University theatre students to act as Morgan’s housemates, and used Mollie as a stand-in employee in James’s office scene. Emma used her son Sully in her video, providing a real mother-son bond that we highlighted.

LIGHTING BREAKDOWN

For the kitchen scenes (shown above) with Emma and Sully, we positioned the 300d behind the camera and the 120d off camera left to mimic sunlight from the windows, which also gave us a few more stops of light (we were shooting around 3/4pm just before it started getting dark). This setup gave Sully a nice hair light while also filling in the shadows on Emma’s face. We left the kitchen lights on to add some authenticity and warmth to the shot. We removed most of the appliances and ornaments that were around the kitchen, leaving only the things we wanted (e.g. the green mats, the bowls, the plant etc).

For the gym scenes (shown above), we only had a small area to work in as the gym was still open for members of the public to use. We set up the 300d with softbox and egg crate on camera left, providing the bright light seen on the left side of Emma’s face. The 120d was setup not far away to provide some fill for the shadows and to bring a bit more light into the space.

For James’s bedroom scene (shown below), we setup the 300d with softbox to complement the sunlight that was coming through the window. We were, again, limited by space but were able to get a nice soft light wrapping his face

For the office scenes (shown above), we used our company office because of the cream stone walls and natural light. We added in the 300d just outside of right side of the frame to boost the sunlight’s presence, as well as the 120d behind the camera to add some fill to the shadows. We used the desk lamps to add some warmth to the shot and bring focus to. You can see our incorporation of the brand’s colours through the mug, the cereal and the plants in the frame, as well as the bottle itself.

For Morgan’s scenes, we were once again limited by space. For the kitchen scenes, I initially tried to light through the kitchen window but decided to setup behind the camera instead as I felt there was enough light coming through. Setting up in the kitchen provided a nice fill light for all the characters. Similar to Emma’s kitchen scene, we left the kitchen lights on to provide some extra light and warmth to the scene. We chose to use this kitchen because of the natural light and neutral colours of the marble worktop. The green clock added a nice touch to the scene.

The dance studio proved to be the hardest to light and setup. The colour of the walls made it hard to separate Morgan from the background, and the time of day made parts of the frame look gloomy. To try and combat this, we set up the 300d with a softbox behind Morgan (camera left in this frame) to provide the hair light. This light was motivated by the windows that sat high in the walls behind. We also used the 120d with a softbox to fill in the shadows and to provide some light to the front of her face. We removed all of the frames and knick knacks that were on the walls, to make the space look less cluttered.

POST-PRODUCTION

Our deliverables for this project were 1x 90 second advert, and 3x 30 second edits of each character. After completing the first round of editing, we agreed with Borna that the 90 second version should be cut down to 60 seconds.

VFX

There were a number of shots that needed to be touched up in post to ensure the brand’s colours/themes remained the consistent. For example, in this shot the red mini stands out against the stone background and detracts from James walking. Additionally, in the shot of Morgan and the girls, the purple and red marque roofs distract from the greens and creams that appear in the video. We used Davinvi Resolve to fix these issues, changing the colours to green.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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women walking video production

This proved to be more difficult for Morgan’s shot as the girls stood directly in front of the colour, as opposed to being separated from it (by standing away from the mini, I was able to better separate and mask James out, preventing his skin colour from being changed to green as well. Skin tones are composed of a mix of red, orange and yellow, so highlighting and changing the red in the girl’s scene without masking them out would have made their lips green).

We also used VFX to fix some damage to the milk bottles that weren’t noticed on shoot days. This was done in photoshop and then masked into the shot in FCPX.

COLOUR GRADING

The clips were graded with Color Finale Pro for FCPX. We wanted the videos to look and feel cinematic (as we always do), but we wanted to ensure they were bright like the adverts we had analysed during the R&D/pre-production stage. The grade was custom made, and focussed on lightening the mids and highs of the clips, while lowering the shadows slightly. This brought a bit more light to the scenes, while also giving a bit of contrast and depth to the blacks. We also added a bit more vibrance to the greens and reds, making them pop out slightly more against the other colours.

DELIVERY

WHAT DID THEY THINK?

“McGill Productions demonstrated a great understanding of our business and the target markets we communicate to. They valued our input in all stages and we couldn’t be happier. The team, organisation, communication and end result are excellent” 
Inesa Slevaite, Marketing Executive, Borna Foods.

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WHO ARE WE?

We are McGill Productions, a global video production company based in the UK built around the beauty of visual content. Day in, day out, we elevate some of the most innovative and forward-thinking brands to new heights, growing their conversations and building engaged audiences with captivating, cinematic videos. We aren’t a short-term solution, we are a long term partner.​