Phonak is a worldwide leader in innovative high-end hearing aid devices based in Stäfa, Switzerland. Their hearing aids are made for the high-end consumer. For their new video ad campaign, they worked directly with the .diff ad agency and Think In Motion, based in Nürnberg, Germany, and Visual Popcorn, to provide personalized video production services in Miami, to create the videos.
The conceptual approach to the video production was to show random people reacting to the innovative Bluetooth features that come complementary with their new high-end hearing aid product. To get the reactions, we would interview unsuspecting people on the street through Man-On-The-Street interviews.
Because Phonak is a worldwide brand, they wanted to capture their interviews with people from all over the world. And since .diff and Think In Motion are based in Germany, and with the main shoot for this project based in Munich – a city known for its aging German-speaking population – it first came as a challenge to achieve the worldwide look that Phonak was seeking. Miami, for instance, is a unique city in the world because it is a hub for a lot of South Americans, Europeans, Snowbirds (Americans wanting to live in better weather over the winter), and other people from all over the world. After much thought, our video production team thought that the city of Miami would present us with a unique opportunity to achieve the worldwide look that Phonak was interested in for their ad campaign in a single location.
This is where Visual Popcorn’s video production services came into play.
Due to traveling expenses, it would have cost twice as much to pay for the traveling expenses of a production crew based in Germany. The challenge was to find a talented crew in Miami that could match the look of the German crew to create a seamlessly edited video.
Man-on-the-street interviews are fun, yet challenging because the reactions can be amazing or completely flat. We would need an excellent interviewer to elicit honest reactions, a warm and friendly interviewee recruiter who would make ensure a high level of natural comfort for strangers, a camera crew who could react in a moment’s notice, and someone knowledgeable of the locations in Miami to gear us towards areas that maintained a high volume of foot traffic. Most importantly, we would need someone who could clearly and quickly communicate with the team in Germany and translate the requirements to the team in Miami, ultimately ensuring that we were on top of every detail required to end up with a seamless production. Our video production services are about finding the best people for the job and within budget.
Right from the start, this project was forced to endure a number of challenges – the first of which was to find a couple of locations that met very specific criteria.
Foot traffic was a must-have.
We had one day to get fifteen engaging man-on-the-street interviews, and this was most certainly a tall order.
Since we were in Miami, we wanted a modern, outdoor look that featured palm trees and vibrant colors, but because it rains often, we also needed to have a backup indoor location that still had a modern look.
For our targeted demographic, we needed people who liked high-end, innovative technology. So, with this in mind, we scouted specific walking malls that seemed to fit the bill for great modern locations with the most foot traffic.
Because of its color scheme, clean modern look, and huge tourist location, the first natural choice was the Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach, Miami. Lincoln Road Mall, being located right in the middle of South Beach, is a trendy area with plenty of high-end stores like Apple and Nike, etc.
The modern architecture (even their parking space at 1111 Lincoln designed by Herzog & de Meuron!) was an added bonus. This mall is also frequented by tourists and residents from all over the world, which meant that we would receive not just a large amount of foot traffic – but also a diverse crowd with people who hail from locations all around the world.
The hardest part was finding the right indoor mall within the budget. We went and scouted 10 malls in Miami and South Florida. Could we get a mall within our budget? Would they allow us to interview their patrons?
Some of the other video production services adding to our challenges was the need to match the look of the main crew in Germany.
They gave us detailed instructions..
..with questions, lighting scenarios, lens requirements, and even camera height. These specifications helped to ensure that we followed the lead of the team in Germany, so that we could guarantee a seamless production when the shooting in Miami was complete.
It was a fairly quick and easy process to get a permit for Lincoln Road through the Miami Beach Film Permit Office, but working with private properties is very different, and we had to go through a myriad of authorizations.
Unfortunately, at the last minute, our favorite indoor location said they were uncomfortable with us interviewing their patrons, but we had another indoor mall for a backup location. In order to ensure that our video production services remained on schedule, we were sure to lock this location down within a day.
South Pointe Park was another backup location that offered a different aesthetic. We wanted to provide our clients with as many options as possible to ensure that we could deliver. This location provided more of the prototypical Miami look with tons of palm trees and waterfront scenery.
On the morning of the shoot, it decided to pour.
If you know South Florida well, by the time summer rolls around, you can predict the exact time of day when the rain will come. But today, it looked like it was going to rain over all of South Florida, so we had to make a decision on where to send the crew.
Since the Lincoln Road Mall was our favorite location, it was important that we make our time there count, which means that we couldn’t waste time and we needed to be strategic in our planning. It was even more difficult than we had originally planned because our two main locations were about 1 hour apart. So, if one location did not work out, we would have spent precious time in our day driving to another location.
So, we made the decision to begin video production at our indoor mall location. Luckily, it started pouring on the beach right away. Members of our team did express some concern that if the weather didn’t improve, we wouldn’t get to film at the Lincoln Road Mall. Thankfully, the weather did improve.
An important part of our video production services is deciding the right equipment to get the look, but also be mobile.
We used 2 Canon C300 Mark ii cameras with our main camera on an EasyRig Vario and our B camera mounted to a monopod. For the lighting, we used a Floppy Cutter flag to block the overhead lights and bounced a 1×1 LED for a soft light, and all audio was captured using a boom mic. We wanted the setup to be compact and mobile and we were quite pleased with how our initial equipment strategy played a major role in the overall outcome of our production.
About 50 ft away, we had a client viewing area, where the client was able to watch the interviews and listen along wirelessly.
The questions and intended answers were provided by .diff in Germany. Our interviewer was able to absorb the questions and put her own spin on them, so the interviewees felt like they were having a natural and enjoyable conversation.
The most difficult part was getting the interviewees.
Once we saw someone who matched our demographic, we first confirmed with the client (who traveled from Switzerland and Germany and was on-site with the production team), and then hoped that the recruiter could convince them to be a part of the interview. During the shoot, we got rejected for interviews many more times than what we actually filmed, and there were times where we thought we wouldn’t be able to get the full 15 interviews needed, but we didn’t let our worries get in the way. When we thought we might be short on getting interviewees, the producers started to recruit people as well.
To our surprise, we reached our goal of 15 interviews a couple hours before our shoot was scheduled to end. The client was so happy that they did not see a need for us to interview anymore – and at that very moment, we wrapped up production.
The biggest let down of this project was our failure to secure the our favorite indoor mall location, which added to the client’s disappointment because of how well it attracted the demographic they wanted for the shoot. However, our clients were beyond satisfied with the interviewees that we recruited and the answers and reactions they provided.
This was the biggest reward of the shoot.
One of my favorite parts of the interviews were the instances where we interviewed couples. We had a mother and a very honest 10 year old son, and then another married couple. Their relationship and natural silliness made the experience fun, engaging, and interesting for sure.
We also went above expectations and provided b-roll and behind-the-scenes content that the team in Germany incorporated into their final advertisements.
It was quite a challenge to bring together the camera crew, talent/interviewer, recruiter, and production team for this video advertising campaign. And once we found our initial crew, we then had to capture the interviews with only one full day of shooting. We ended up with more than 15 interviews. All of them involved people that were engaging and fun.
My favorite reactions were from the people who used the Bluetooth feature for the hearing aid. They didn’t realize that they could pick-up and hang-up a call with its features. It is quite amazing to see just how these devices can disappear into the ear and no one is the wiser.
We interviewed people from the Caribbean, South America, and India. Our cinematographer successfully matched the look from the main crew’s shoot in Germany. In addition, the team in Germany also needed additional b-roll. We managed to capture that and it was featured in Phonak’s video ad campaign.
Together as a team we worked hard and achieved the goal together.
Visual Popcorn’s personalized video production services are about exceeding our clients’ expectations. And better yet, the client was ecstatic too!