One of the more ambitious projects we’ve worked on was a 60 second spot for Amazon, showing off their new Virtual Try On (VTO) feature. The concept is that while you’re shopping for shoes with the Amazon app on your phone, you can use VTO to aim your camera at your feet, and “try them on” as you shop. Using some slick Augmented Reality (AR) trickery, the app overlays the shoes you’re shopping for on top of the shoes on your feet.
Matt Genesis was the director and editor of this spot, had the entire piece pre-viz’d in 3D, which gave us a great starting point to plan the shoot.
The goal was to feature six vignettes in six different locations, showing off different people using the app.
The creative called for tight close-ups on the phones in the actors’ hands, demonstrating how the app works, tapping on the screen and using the phone’s camera. Because the app was still being developed at the time of the shoot, we needed to use placeholders on the phone screens, which would then be replaced with the finished app graphics in post.
This is where motion control came in. To get the desired effect, we put together a rig to fix the phone directly to the camera, which ensured that the screen would stay in place and look sharp and clean. We would then program a camera move to mimic the motion of the actor pointing the phone’s camera at the their shoes. They’d simply hold the phone in their hand, and let the robot do the move.
Once that piece was shot, we’d shoot another plate using the phone’s camera, to get a reference for the proper perspective. Then, without changing the focus, we’d pull the phone rig from our camera and shoot another plate, giving us a clean background that would be used to paint out the phone rig. Finally, we’d change the focus on our camera to shoot a pass with the actor’s feet wearing the different shoes they were “trying on”. These would all be comped together in post, along with the finished app’s graphics, creating the final shot.
They also wanted shots where the various actors’ shoes would change dynamically as the camera moved around the scene. This was to be done using traditional multi-pass motion control shots, where the shoes would be changed out for each pass, and then cut together in post.
We also took advantage of being able to program the camera moves precisely to get a couple of fun transitions shots, like the wheelchair wheel to the laundry machine.
The most challenging aspect of this job was the logistics of shooting in two locations per day, back-to-back. To make this work, we’d start the day working outside with the Bolt X. After the rig was fully set up, half of our team would then move on to the second location to set up the Bolt Jr+. Then they’d return to our first location to help break everything down. Those were some very long days, to say the least. 😉
We were thrilled to see how well the final product came out, which featured 25 (out of 26) shots made with motion control. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Matt on another project soon!