Now, you know what we think of “Perfect” ‘round these parts; it’s an opinion, not a statement of fact. In this case, I’d say it’d be pretty safe to say that for this particular client, this was about as close to perfect as one can get.
My friend Cesar Lopez, graphic designer in town at New Leaders, gave me a call one cold Tahoe morning. We’ve worked in collaboration on several projects together for various clients of mine, and when one of their projects required a bit of visual effects work, Cesar knew exactly who to call. The project was for a new cigar trading website, focused on high end consumers and retailers who buy, trade, auction, and catalog (for insurance purposes) cigars.
The client sounded super interesting and the VFX work they needed was animating some mock-ups of the app, as this video would be created before the full website and application was complete. This was a piece of cake for us and Cesar referred us along to the rest of the team at Purotrader. This all happened at like 7am, so I’m pretty sure I took this phone call in bed and fell right back asleep assuming I dreamt all this.
A week later, it was Taco Tuesday, and I was obviously getting tacos, when a friend, Chris Feulner, gave me a call. He said he saw my name coming across an email for the VFX on a video he was producing and wanted to know if I wanted to just codirect and produce the whole thing together. He shared with me the rough storyboard and I was instantly sold. We got right to work on completing the storyboard.
We needed to talk directly to Purotrader’s clientele, and to do that, we needed to show the lifestyle of the cigar aficionado. We envisioned a Lamborghini starting up and sprinting over Folsom Bridge, turning up the volume of a high-end stereo, and sparking of a nice cigar. The fifteen second short would finish with a couple over the shoulder shots of our aficionado scrolling the Purotrader site, smoking a cigar, with the ipad screen digitally replaced with our animated mock ups of the website.
We shot the video in the Auburn Folsom area; Chris had a friend with a Lamborghini Aventador there, and Pierre, the owner of Purotrader, had the perfect man cave for us to film the rest of the video. We set up a chase car with the DJI Ronin mounted in the rear as I operated the camera from inside the cab. Chris captured the aerials of the Aventador crossing Folsom Bridge, gorgeous sunset in tow.
Pierre has one sick man cave, complete with walk-in Humidor, so it was rather easy to capture what we needed with a simple 3 piece light kit. I love the contrast we built in the grade and the tones work well with their branding. The little flick sound effect of the lighter opening is one of everyone’s favorite pieces of the video, and it was cool to screen replace something with parabolic movement through the smoke.
It’s awesome to see the reaction every time this video gets reposted. It was an amazingly innovative way to establish yourselves on a platform. They knew where their users frequented, built something that would excite them, and made them feel like they were surrounded by a group of likeminded individuals. We were able to create something with incredibly high production value, establish a statement of who the brand is and who their tribe is, excite the audience, and show off the product, in fifteen seconds.
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