Lighting Up Paris for Givenchy's "Play for Her"
How Nola Pictures and wild(child) Post Played with Lights for a Time-Lapsed Spot
“The whole spot is a story of Justin and this girl running through Eiffel Tower in a mysterious kind of way. And then they get there. We discover that Justin actually is there to show her how this new product can turn the whole city of Paris alive,” Pineyro says.
Filming in ParisA production team from Nola Pictures used Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras to film the entire spot-both video footage and 16-bit still images-in Paris. The team shot in two locations simultaneously from dusk to dawn to gather enough footage to create the lighting effect. During dusk, when natural lighting changes drastically, the photographer shot a frame every minute, and then every five minutes during the night. On top of that, they team shot video footage every hour.
Matin didn’t go to Paris for the shoot, but he kept in close contact with the photographer. “I had quite a few conversations with him to alleviate technical issues that might have happened and to make sure what was shot on video lined up with what was shot on still,” Matin says. “Doing the shoot, I was always on call with him because of certain factors like whether to underexpose or overexpose, or whether to leave it at a fixed exposure throughout the whole time.”
The production and editing teams sought the most natural, realistic look possible for the lighting effect, while still stylizing the visuals, Matin says. “The whole process itself was quite a challenge. Normally, stills would be used just for effects, but in this case [they] were used for the whole commercial. I wanted the time-lapse done in stills and the Canon 5D as an option. Justin [Timberlake] thought that’d it be a great idea to shoot the whole thing [with 5D cameras],” Matin says. “We had not done before that much visual effects work with Canon 5D.”
Editing the lighting effectAll the night photos were combined into one plate for maximum light. “So if one building had twenty lights at 8 o’clock and it had another set of lights at 10 o’clock, we had a sense of all the light,” Matin says. “Basically, we went through and combined all the images together into one really bright, lit-up image.”
Matin also used plates from dusk and dawn, when the city lights were out, for dark images in the spot. Beyond aggregating photos into plates, Matin used matte paintings in 3K resolution to darken the city. “We basically had a moving plate of the city where all the lights are lit and then a moving plate where all the lights are off. Then we began the process of making an animated map,” Matin says. He used software provided with Canon cameras to create the time-lapse effect.
Matin used Autodesk Maya for camera positioning, rendering and creating a product shot for the end of the spot. To create a pulse moving through Paris, he synchronized the light’s movement with the main beats of the music using Adobe After Effects scripts.
Nola Pictures, wild(child) post and Anton & Partners worked together to decide on the style, look and expectations of the spot. “Once we created the plates, the animation could have gone into many different directions,” Matin says. “At this point it was crucial we worked closely with the clients to find a direction and style that was working for all of us.”
Setting the paceMatin worked with the editor Yvette Pineyro from the post-production company wild(child) post from early on in the process, providing her with rough compositions to work with and explaining his process to her. Because the video footage was available before the lighting effects were added, Pineyro could start editing and setting the pacing of the spot before Matin finished the effects.
Pineyro also worked closely with director Pierre Morel of Nola Pictures. “In editing we had to come up with the right balance, in terms of pacing, to give the reveal of Paris coming to life with a dancing light effect and to synchronize the music,” Pineyro says.
Working in the Avid suite, Pineyro set the spot at a pace that has intensity and mystery, as Timberlake runs, leading a woman, in the Eiffel Tower and pushes the play symbol on the “Play for Him” product, sending dancing lights across Paris. “With editing, the beauty is to let the whole effect breathe and have the audience feel the reveal of what’s happening is happening along with them,” Pineyro says.
Beyond the visual effects and storytelling, Pineyro had to keep in mind that the spot’s purpose was to advertise a beauty product. “There’s also the high glamour fashion aspect, where every piece of hair or look had to be perfect because we were selling a high-end product,” Pineyro says.
“You have to get the audience to understand that this is kind of like a fantasy in storytelling in terms of intrigue in the beginning and then the reveal in the special effect,” Pineyro says. “But at the same time you have to treat it like a beauty spot, where the characters have to look perfect in every frame, and the end product has to be perfect, and the looks have to be perfect. It was a mixture of fashion, beauty with storytelling and visual effects.”