Wartman Boxing Commercial :60 – Execution of the Vision (Part 3 of 3)

Director/Producer: Benjamin Wilt
Director of Photography/Colorsit: Nicholas Matthews|
RED Epic & Cooke S4s with ¼ BlackPromist
Graded in DaVinci Resolve & Cinegrain added

(to view an inside look at the Director’s vision for this project visit http://www.benwilt.com/#!wartman-brothers-boxing-/cwzs)


Given these two important variables that I was balancing (creative storytelling & pragmatic execution), I decided that we’d spend the night before our shoot pre-rigging the gym to highlight and hide what we wanted for our stylized, moody boxing commercial.

img_2087img_2163img_2488 img_2533

We didn’t have the crew or money for a generator, so we were stuck with the power in the gym.

For our main setup in the gym. You can see we chose to mount Tweenies to the ceiling over the ring. This gave us a hard, controlled toplight that didn’t spill all over the room. It spotted the ring, kept us from relighting for each setup involving the ring (a good thing when you have limited time with talent and a small crew), made sense for the location, and gave us a lot of light to overcrank. I was nervous about flickering, but we didn’t see any in the monitor for the ring shots. We hit the backwall and trophies with more Tweenies gelled with ½ CTB and filled in the ropes in the foreground of the ring with a diffused baby. We cut off any daylight leaking in from the door. Lastly, we filled the room with fog before each take to bring out and diffuse the lighting a touch.

Location Scout_mg_9885Behind the Scenesimg_2044 img_2095Production StillsWS - RingWartman Boxing Gym 1080 - FINAL

For the setups with the speedbag and punching bag, I loved the idea of using a strong backlight to really bring out the shape of the boxers—making it more about their form than the boxers themselves. We lit with a single leko which dramatically flared the beautiful Cooke S4s; we used negative fill to enhance the dramatic look. This created an elegant interplay of the silhouetted boxer and the bag. With the light bouncing off the bag up onto the face of the boxer, flaring the lens as the bag bent with each blow. We fogged the room up for this as well.

Location Scout_mg_9879 _mg_9880Behind the Scenesimg_2550Production StillsHeavy BagSpeedbag

Lastly, our setup involving Charlie was pre-rigged to keep him moving between shadow and ¼ sidelight, just until we finally see his reveal. We wanted to present him in a way that captured the intensity and character he exhibits. We used a mixture of lekos and Babys to accomplish this.

Location Scout_mg_9872 Behind the Scenesimg_1970 img_1966 img_1968 img_2602 Production StillsCharlie 2 Charlie 1


It’s beautiful. 🙂

We really pushed the Epic with our use of Tungsten lights, cool blue look, and the slow-motion material. I for one feel that the camera performed fantastically. It especially handled the high-contrast imagery beautifully—I love the way the overexposure blooms with the softness of the Cookes and the filtration (¼ BlackPromist) we used.

Personally, I love starting with a sharp image because it can be softened however you desire. Though the RED Epic isn’t a perfect camera, it offers so much at such a considerably low cost. We rented for one day and received the ability to shoot slow-motion & normal speeds with a cinematic sharpness, dynamic range, and resolution. It’s a no compromise sort of camera. You’re not constantly fighting with the camera’s weaknesses to achieve cinematic imagery, you’re working with it. For us with such a small budget and crew, being able to know what we shot instantaneously is so powerful. We don’t have to worry about an expensive re-shoot because we buzzed the focus—you can see exactly what you got in 1080 on the confidence monitor.


Are there things I would change about this spot if we weren’t shooting a fast-paced, low-budget, commercial with a small crew? Yeah, but I’m thrilled with what we achieved with our time & budget. I think lighting has the ability to make good stories great, but it can’t save a bad story. I love telling good stories with light and I want to keep doing so. To do so means making creative choices that are pragmatic for the project. Great storytelling has to be creatively and fiscally responsible and inspired.



Nicholas Matthews is a director of photography who specializes in story-driven commercials, narrative films, and music videos. To see more of his work visit http://www.nicholasmatthewsfilm.com.


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