Canon “Horse Ride” featuring Daniel Wu

On the 22nd of February I jumped ship from another project to resume work on a Canon TVC. This commercial was shot in Hong Kong right on New Years Eve December 2009. After production had concluded, I remained in Hong Kong for the New Years Eve celebrations and then traveled to Singapore for the Offline. Over the next few days, VHQ Singapore looked after the Offline edit through editor Corrine Yong, and One-Light/ Final Grade with Corey Spykerman. The Offline was then presented to Client via ECD Hiroshi Yoda (Dentsu Beijing)  back in Beijing.

A break in works commenced as I began work on a documentary project and for the next month, VHQ began to slowly Online the TVC in my absence.

On the 22nd of Feb, we re-grouped in Singapore to finnish the TVC. Swee Aik  Khor was my Online Compositor, who slowly replaced the Hong Kong skyline with mountains and a more appropriate vista! The 3D team headed by Eric Gambini, created a 3D EOS 5DMKII Camera and a Canon Legria HM31 Camcorder plus hundreds of photo frames that represent the high quality image sequence that the camcorder can produce using the same technology that’s found inside it’s professional EOS stills cameras. Over that week, VHQ worked pretty hard to meet our deadline, which meant delivering a Master by Sunday the 28th of Feb. On the 27th of February, we stepped into AMX Studios, off Bukit Paso Rd Singapore. and David Ong mixed and Engineered Jonathan Lim’s Score.

Shooting Gallery Producers Freddie Kee & Leollyne Teng put together the shoot in Hong Kong in record time. Daniel Wu was only available for a certain amount of time before he began production of a major motion picture film in China with Kevin Spacey. That meant that the shoot had to occur with very little preproduction lead up. Amazingly, directly after Christmas, we shot the commercial. Daniel was fantatsic to work with again. I had previously worked with him on another Canon TVC shot almost a year earlier. That time I had suspended Daniel from wires, using a Hong Kong Wire stunt team. This time, we were asking him to ride a horse at high speed! Luckily for me, he’s a great guy and doesn’t mind mucking it out! Because the weather was a constant threat and it was the height of winter, the shoot had to be quick. That meant fast setups, lots of fast rigging and plenty of large scale movement across a large disused land fill site. We quickly changed from dolly shots, to hand held (using an easy rig) on a tracking vehicle chasing Daniel riding his horse. Then back to static camera shooting Green Screen shots. The day was action packed and we had to complete everything before the light fell or it started to rain! Adding to the complication were all the special effect requirements. The sequence of images that form on one particular shot involved a complicated locked off camera shot. Daniel and the Horse would then ride through at high speed. The Camera was then released from the lock-off and traveled on an arc through the line of imaginary images left behind Daniel. The ground was so rough here that it was almost impossible to get a smooth track with what we had and the given time. Still the idea is strong and I think it works.

The Hong Kong production team were really excellent again. Mostly they were the same team I had worked with a year a go, so I felt very comfortable working with them again. The combination of the locals and the small Shooting Gallery Team from Singapore were very efficient. In addition to the film crew, we also had horse wranglers, two horses, tracking vehicle department, and a large Agency team. Actually one of them, John, took it upon himself to act as the rain guardian and spent quite a bit of time directing the clouds with his arms! Luckily we completed the shoot and made it safely back to Singapore.

Back in Singapore, the filming continued. In the Shooting Gallery Studio, we completed the product shots on a purpose built S board. Raman is an in house set constructor and all round “fix it” guy who is just amazing to work with. His brain is wired to think logically and cleverly solve production problems, using anything available to him. On this job, his task was relatively easy but he did it with incredible speed and flare!

After a long day on the 28th, we “Mastered” the TVC and it was done! All in all, I’m happy with the outcome. There were many limitations placed on us while making this TVC. Firstly we had to film everything in Hong Kong – there aren’t too many places you can recreate the wild west in Hong Kong! Secondly, the weather was not in our favour! All things aside, I think we managed to produce an interesting spot for Canon.

The TVC can be viewed here. A making of video can be seen on Vimeo here . Enjoy!

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