Yamaha ATV 'Power Steering'
200 sheep, 150 lambs, four dogs - this was the fun and games in-store for us on this Yamaha ATV commercial.
Producer Matt Dow and myself went through various stylistic iterations on how to best bring this Peter Goodall concept to life. In the end however, we decided to set it on in a genuine sheep farm. While we didn't have the budget to go out into the middle of the country to a 50,000 head sheep station, I made it my mission to give this commercial a quality reminiscent of classic epic Australian cinema.
I wanted the ability to get wide sweeping shots, which would necessitate a large crane for 80% of the shots. With large distances between setups, this would be very time consuming, and our budget didn't allow for multiple days of shooting.
Grip Mick Smith came onboard with a fantastic solution to the problem. We decided to shoot everything off a crane, which, for portability was rigged on the back of a ute. For the tighter stuff I was shooting with a 300mm lens, I simply used the 24ft crane as an oversized mini jib. Assistant Brett Tracey did a great job keeping sharps as I chased around sprinting dogs off this set up.
It's not often you get to have your cake and eat it to, but this approach allowed us to make maximum use of the limited amount of morning and afternoon light that I wanted to shoot the commercial in. It also allowed us the flexibility to quickly gain a great variety of camera moves without long setup times (as we also had to be quick in working with mob of sheep that size).
It was also a great pleasure to work with veteran animal wrangler Katie Brock (The Proposition, Babe - Pin In The City, Nim's Island) who's team did a fantastic tireless job at working the dogs and livestock for the camera. It was an intense day, and we ended up wearing out four sheep dogs, something which we thought was impossible to do. I like to jump into an edit as quickly as possible after a shoot while all the footage is fresh in my mind. This was shot on Red, and it was great to be able to utilise one of Radiums mercury powered editing suites to bring the Raw R3d files straight into premier and start cutting. This allowed me to get going on the edit the morning after the shoot.
The challenge with this was to pick the perfect moments from about an hour of footage to tell the story in a concise 30 sec timeframe. I usually like to cut to music but in this case I thought it better to let the footage find its own pace to best tell the story. Once I was happy with the cut, I brought in the epic orchestral score which composer James Vincent had written a 1min first draft of. I then cut the score and played with it's tempo to suit the cut. I then added in the Farmers calls to the dogs, which I had recorded out on location with the actual sheep farmer who owned the property. This was originally only meant as a guide, but we all fell so in love with it that we decided to use it in the final commercial.
Once all the edit was locked off I worked with James to finalise the music, and brought the footage into After Effects for the grade. I had tried to achieve as much of the look I was after in camera with filters, so the grade really consisted of mainly contrast, saturation and a little bit of shaping. Todd Levi added his great voice talents to the VO, then It was then off to the Voice Plant for final sound mix, where we could add some final touches which really brought the commercial to life.
Overall this was a great spot to put together, and I really enjoyed making a mini Australian epic film.