One of the things I love most about making films is creating a world that doesn’t exist and making it believable on camera. The act of transforming one thing into another through the tools of illusion satisfies a deep creative need for me. I recently had the opportunity to engage in this sort of creative endeavor on a promotional video for an upcoming local event, the Winter Walk 2019 in downtown Lima, Ohio.
Winter Walk 2019 is a fantastic event combining unique Christmas shopping opportunities with the chance to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of Christmas the way they were meant to be. Event organizer Jodie Robinson has arranged for a host of activities, from gingerbread decorating and prizes for finding hidden ornaments to luminary-lined sidewalks and horse-drawn carriage rides.
The challenge for this promotional video was that, although it was building off an event of previous years, most of the event was new – so there was no existing footage to use. Also, the event took place in December, and we were putting the video together in October. So we needed winter holiday footage before there were any Christmas decorations up or snow on the ground. The budget didn’t allow for any grand productions, so we had to get creative.
Of course, we could have stuck to stock footage — and we did use some to cover some elements that we didn’t have enough budget to film. However, it was important to show this is a local event, and potential ticket-buyers would be better motivated by images of locations and people they could identify as local.
Here’s How Christmas Came Early
We focused on one primary filming event at The Meeting Place on Market, a local coffee shop that is one of the event sponsors/participants. As part of their year-round ambience, The Meeting Place hangs white Christmas lights from their storefront awnings — how fortuitous! A wreath and garland on the windows and it was a perfect background for local vocal talent Ambyr Rose. Ambyr’s gorgeous red hair, red evening gown and fur shawl completed the look.
And look! Snow started falling just in time! Ok, actually, we added the snow digitally in post – but you probably guessed that already. 🙂
And those lights hanging in the garlands — reflections of traffic taillights! Unplanned, but perfect. Awesome.
If that weren’t enough, for the shot that became the opening shot of the video, we added a Christmas tree to the foreground.
With the shallow depth of field used, you can’t tell that tree is only two feet tall, mounted on a C-stand, with fiber optic lights powered by a USB charge box!
Heading Inside For CoCoa
Once we had our outdoor winter-scene shots, we moved indoors to warm up with some hot cocoa!
Being at a local coffee shop with its hot cocoa and logo-bearing mugs, made hot cocoa scenes a no-brainer as a way to customize the video to the local area. We filmed a collections of shots featuring just a mug of cocoa and a series featuring a pretty girl sipping the cocoa. My daughter, Naomi, did a wonderful job demonstrating just how warm and delicious that cocoa was. Unfortunately, due to a mishap, Naomi never actually got to drink the cocoa!
One of our challenges with the cocoa shots was that, due to filming after hours at The Meeting Place with the staff already gone home, we only had one cup of cocoa to work with. That meant we had to get the whip cream on there right the first time or there would be NO whip cream shots. Thankfully, my trusty right-hand man for the evening, Scotty Kollars, is a master with a can of whip cream and got it perfect on one try! His whip cream twirl — and fingertip — made it into the video.
Working with one cup of cocoa also meant we had a limited time to get our shots before the whip cream slumped. We worked quick to get as many good shots as possible of both the cocoa alone (many with our mini Christmas tree in the background for mood) and of Naomi sipping the cocoa before our time was up. We took lock-down shots, pans, zooms and jib shots. It gave us a lot of footage to work with, some of which may end up in future videos – perhaps even next year’s Winter Walk promo.
But the second shot chosen for this year’s video was one taken after the whip cream slumped and we emptied the cup to take more shots. Without the pressure of beating the whip cream slump, I think Naomi relaxed a little more, and we had a little different angle that worked a little better for the video.
Downtown At Christmas – Tying It All Together
The final shot that I feel tied it all together into a complete “Downtown At Christmas” theme, was the shot of Main Street with Christmas lights and snow. As with the shots of Ambyr, the snow was added digitally. But the Christmas lights are genuine and they were filmed in October. Turns out – and some of you may know this – some of Lima’s downtown street lamps have Christmas lights on them either all year round, or folks put them up very early in the season.
In either case, a fortuitous drive down Main Street one early morning resulted in this discovery for me, and I quickly returned to the scene with camera and tripod to film the shot I thought was critical and, thus far, missing from the video.
So that about wraps it up for this project. A big thanks to Jodie Robinson, The PR Queen, for the opportunity to work on this. If you live in the Lima area, please do check out the event here: Winter Walk 2019, buy tickets and come on down to share in the fun. It’s going to be spectacular!
If you’d like to see more promo videos by Noble Warrior Studios, please check out our promo video playlist on YouTube: NWS Promo Videos
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