How I shot a $ 50 car ad
This YouTuber decided to do a car commercial to prove some valuable lessons.
This post was written by Sean Alami.
Budget becomes the most inevitable issue when producing high quality commercials. When it comes to car advertising specifically, filming can cost anywhere from two to three hundred thousand dollars. I managed to make one for only $ 50.
A couple of weeks ago I was inspired by an incredible Audi commercial. As you will see, the Audi video has stunning cinematography and impeccable editing. Although you can’t hear the sound, the music and sound effects were wonderful too.
As a YouTuber, I’m always looking for inspiration for my next video and this commercial was exactly the catalyst I needed to stimulate my creativity. So I decided to do my own auto commercial to give a few valuable lessons:
- In this day and age, you don’t necessarily need cinema equipment to get good results.
- You can definitely do this at home!
Before I start this breakdown, let me clear up a few things. There were facets of this project that I didn’t have to worry about. The generation of ideas and the implementation of a storyboard were already two aspects next to each other. All I had to do was take this template and recreate the same commercial for less money.
Also, some assumptions need to be made before collecting the equipment. You have experience in operating a camera and a gimbal. AndyYou have a good understanding of cinematography.
Check out how I did it below.
We come to the preparation for the essentials.
- You’ll need a gimbal and a 10-bit 4K camera to compare with the cinematic look of the ad. A Sony A7SIII or a Canon R5 are what I recommend.
- Without a budget on proper auto rigs, you’ll have to adapt to something big enough to shoot from another car. I used a van that had enough space.
- You must have FPV footage. Of course I make my own, but I don’t expect that from everyone. Find a friend or colleague who has the ability to make this happen. In my opinion, normal drones will not have the necessary effect.
- After all, and above all, you need a great team. We all have different expectations and standards.
When putting together a crew, just focus on being reliable. Reliability is the most important element of a good crew. In my case, I couldn’t afford to pay them, but they had to trust me that it would lead to something else, just as I trusted them to do a good job.
Essentially, I’m asking friends a favor. Waking up as early as 3:30 a.m. – yes, you heard that right, 3:30 a.m. is calling to drive to a location and help film something that is not a priority for them. These are some good friends!
Without a budget, your time is limited. So we refrain from re-shooting or rescheduling. In order to take pictures of the car, we had to select a Sunday extremely early when the streets were empty.
My team was as follows:
- Two actors
- A cameraman
- A driver
Yes, that’s all.
Because of the size of my squad, filming would have stopped if I had last-minute absenteeism. Fortunately, that didn’t happen because they were exactly as I had hoped – reliable. I’m incredibly grateful for your help, and to really say thank you, I’ve created an introductory B-roll that you can see in the video.
Each project now consists of two parts:
Part 1: Plan, plan and get your A-game going.
Part 2: Obstacles You Have No Control Over. The weather, for example. Some people call this part luck, be it good or bad. I try to stay positive by calling it good faith.
I was fortunate that not many obstacles raised their ugly heads during the filming. Because if they did, the game would undoubtedly be over!
We started around 5am to wrap up the FPV footage. And surprise surprise, it just wouldn’t get hot. We were immediately 30 minutes behind schedule. So we made the decision to move on to shooting without drones.
When I take photos, I always tend to save my favorite photos from the list of photos first. In this case, my preferred shot is when the car is turning at the intersection.
The plan was pretty simple. Drive slightly ahead in a different lane, but next to the BMW. Then go straight through the intersection as the BMW turns.
In editing, I letterboxed the image to make it more cinematic, then added a color grade with some light and a sound effect. Voila!
The bumper shot was taken on a different day. I met Marlon from the team in his garage. I shot it stationary with a gimbal but pulled it across almost like a pan. I then put it in the mail and removed the background. I took it in slow motion and added stock footage to the background with a blurry bumper in front. The footage I used was the exterior of a moving train filmed from the inside.
The window shot was a little complex because we had a zoom lens and the van was manual so there were a lot of start-stops when changing gears. In the end, we decided to only stay in one aisle so it would run more smoothly.
The wide angle shot in the original commercial was one of my favorite shots, and I really wanted to make sure it was right. While scouting the places I couldn’t find the right spot to get the effect I wanted when driving through the intersection.
The best way I found out was to walk across the street with the gimbal in hand. Not quite the same effect, but adapting to your surroundings is everything in this game. So I did it, sped it up in post-production, stabilized it, and used some lens flare, which made a huge difference.
The hardest shot of all was the exterior of the car from behind. We had to get taller to get this increased effect. So I got on the van and prayed that the driver would protect me. Needless to say, I’m here to tell the story so he did a fantastic job! (Editor’s note: We Under no circumstances will you tolerate unsafe and / or dangerous shooting methods. Instead, try to learn about car mounts!) We couldn’t go too fast because of the danger involved, so I had to speed it up in the mail.
The front shot was similar, only this time I was sitting in the back of the van. Again we walked slowly and sped it up in the mail. Sound effects played a huge role in bringing this shot to life.
Now for the FPV recordings. I have only been photographing FPV for 18 months and only in open spaces and closed environments. So this time I had to be careful of the obstacles when flying in built-up areas. Fortunately, the arm problem went away as it was a minor GPS problem. (Editor’s Note: Make sure you know FAA regulations before you fly.)
With all the changes in the rules and regulations regarding drones for FPV, you now need a second person who can keep an eye on the drone at all times. Andrej helped while communicating with Marlon in the car.
The result was pretty straightforward as I would have liked to get closer to the walls or the car, but we just didn’t have the time, and as you know, certain shots sometimes have to be sacrificed for others.
For the FPV recording on the bridge, I had to take a separate day because I needed more time until the streets were empty and therefore needed another early morning. Marlon escorted me to a risky shot I’d never taken before. It was worth it in the end as I was thrilled with the results.
Before you go, let’s take a closer look at the cost of all of this. Yeah, I say it was $ 50 but obviously I had all the gear and managed to put together a good team with a van and a pretty fancy car. The $ 50 I split between the two drivers was $ 25 each for the gas money.
If you don’t have the equipment or favors, you’ll need to buy or rent them. But in most cases, that’s all you need. Some decent gear, some gas money, and a great group of friends ready to help you across the finish line!