Commercial Video Production: SHARP Aquos Commercial (8K)
Updated: Nov 18
Ever since the release of the Red Epic-W camera in 2016 and then the Red Helium, we have enjoyed shooting in 8K whenever feasible, and we have done quite a few video projects with 8K deliverables for tv and monitor screen manufacturers, including Sharp. When we were invited by Taipei creative team Paracosm (大人先生) to submit a proposal to Sharp to create a TV commercial and in-store demo film in 8K-60fps, we were happy to join the talented team at Paracosm and take on the challenge. Armed with a lot of relevant experience and a strong team, including project leads Yu An Lin and Janice from Paracosm, and creative consultant Len Wang, we battled against a few strong companies across Asia in multiple meetings over 3 weeks, and ended up winning the project. My role was director and cinematographer. Our final presentation was approximately 30 pages long, and included a storyboard, which included sketches like this:
Our creative pitch included the design and construction of three distinct sets in a studio, each one highlighting a spectrum of color and a different mood. We recruited extraordinary set designer Zac Gu onto our team, and he really knocked it out of the park. We brought editorial clothes stylist Melina Chen onboard, as well as makeup artist Azzurro Kuo and hairstylist Nina Chiang. After a casting and discussion with the client in Malaysia, we decided on Dutch model Noah Steenbruggen from Ulla Models and American model Adam N. from Pace. One interesting thing that came up was the fact that the main client and first broadcast of the commercial was in Malaysia, so they had to follow the Malaysian Muslim regulations for media content. As a result, we had to be quite conservative with the female model's clothing. She couldn't reveal any skin above the elbow or below the neckline, so a lot of our preferred wardrobe options were rejected. Rounding out the team were line producer James Ho, gaffer Hu Wei, AD Jason, and tech support from Elan Grip, and Bai Jie Li on focus pulling.
The project presented quite a few technical, logistical, and creative challenges. As we had to deliver the final videos in uncompressed 8K-60, we had to to follow a pure and uncompressed workflow from beginning to end. We couldn't use post stabilization to smooth out the shots because the software would eat into the borders of our frames in the stabilizing process, and result in a smaller than 8K file. We couldn't use slow motion, because our base rate for the videos was 60 fps, and at the time, the highest spec available was the Red Monstro's 8K-60. We also had to use a ton of light, as the deliverables required us to have at least a moderate depth of focus in every shot, and maximum image quality, which necessitated a minimum of F5.6 aperture, and we were trying to keep a maximum of ISO 400 to keep it as clean and noise-free as possible. As the final film would be shown on very large screens in 8K ultra clarity, everything had to be on point. The art team had to be watching the screen all the time, so on set we used a 32" SmallHD onset monitor, to catch all the details. We shot on a Red Monstro, but replaced the traditional PL lens mount for the wider angle LPL lens mount, and opted to use the impressive Arri Signature Prime lenses, which were fantastic, and it was mostly mounted on a Ronin gimbal, to act as a stabilizer, and on a 32' crane.
We enlisted the help of editor Fortis Yen and seasoned colorist Muddy Wang for this project. We tested everything on our own SHARP 55" 8K TV. We were able to do real-time 8K colorgrading thanks to our Blackmagic Decklink and 4 x Teranex Mini SDI-HDMI converters, which took the HD-SDI output from the decklink in the computer, and converted it to 4 HDMI cables each carrying a 4K signal to the TV. Watching it on the giant SHARP screen is quite stunning, and you see things that you just miss when watching it online in HD.
Here is one of the final videos - English, 60 sec, HD:
In the end, the client loved the video, and SHARP distributors from other countries did too, resulting in licensing of the commercial and demo film to 20+ countries in over a dozen languages. We won 2 Telly awards, in cinematography and art direction, and both myself and others involved have done multiple talks and presentations about it since.