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Agency Team Overcomes Challenging Facets of Jewelry Shoot

Every advertising film shoot has its trials – the model that looked a lot younger in the head shot, the impossible to please client, the sunny day that turned dark and cloudy. There are elements that can be controlled and those that can't.

But when you're shooting a jewelry ad with a macro lens, control of light and movement are critical. The slightest change is magnified immensely. A perfect wedding ring can look dull or lackluster.

Through a combination of teamwork, communication, metal shop fabrication and hours of testing, Big Shot Pictures helped Fred Meyer/Littman Jewelers showcase its line of wedding rings, engagement rings and bracelets beautifully.

The big challenge was ensuring that the client would receive the same quality that one would find in New York or Los Angeles – at budgets more aligned with the Pacific Northwest .

“Six years ago, when we began shooting the annual network campaign for Fred Meyer/Littman Jewelers, we found it necessary to bring expertise in lighting, direction and rigging from out of market in order to achieve the quality we were looking for,” explained Jim Card, CB&S Advertising.

“Relying on out of market resources made it cost prohibitive to produce more than one campaign a year. We sensed that Fred Meyer/Littman Jewelers would have more options if we owned the technology and utilized NW crews,” commented Big Shot Pictures Vice President, Julie Patterson Holland.

Patterson Holland turned to director Kevin Costello for help and explained that her team needed a technology they could own right in their own backyard and make it work with someone who can work at a moment's notice.

Costello consulted Director of Photography Gary Payne. Payne had shot dozens of food and fitness jobs for Big Shot Pictures, so he knew how to make bodies and brownies look beautiful. But jewelry?? Costello and Patterson Holland trusted Payne to capture the nuances and facets of the jewelry and create a working rig. With Costello's guidance, Payne got to work on the rig.

This was a liaison role for Costello because he had directed jewelry shoots before. He described the axis and speeds required. The rig should be well-designed, engineered and constructed.

”I had two months to design, build and test a display rig that would mount and rotate a piece of jewelry on two axis,” explained Payne. “Renting a rig isn't an option because this type of gear is just not something that's widely available, so I drew on my automotive and metal shop experience and went to work. When you're filming in the macro world, any aberration in the movement will show. The whole world is sitting on a cubic inch in front of the lens. Rotations must be slow, smooth and accurate.”

Payne opted for fabricating the rig from scratch instead out of existing parts. He also created some specialty parts and made a clean, light, easy to assemble rig that's also very versatile.

Once it was built, Costello directed the shoot. After knowing Payne for as many years, when he said he had it, Costello never questioned it. Still, it was exciting and a relief to see it work so beautifully on the first shoot.

“This project was about choreographing objects in a microscopic world and expecting the same complexity and fluidity of movement that you would from objects in a full-size studio,” explained Costello. “It could have been a nightmare, but Payne understood the need for precision because everything is magnified including the flaws.”

“Big Shot Pictures has worked to make it possible for us to find these resources right here in the Northwest. Most importantly, they have been instrumental in the development of a motion control rig that allows for smooth, fluid rotation of diamonds at extreme magnification; a great improvement in quality over the work we were getting in the past. Thanks to Big Shot's help, we can now shoot network-quality fine jewelry spots with 100% Northwest crews and expertise, saving us a tremendous amount of time and money,” added Card.

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