How We Made It - This Is DDC
Part of an ongoing series that gives a glimpse of behind-the-scenes production for projects past and present. We were excited to get the call from the Crosswell's, owner operators of one of Alberta's most successful SME sand, gravel and concrete materials providers located in Northern Alberta. This multimillion-dollar company runs at least 15 trucks to their own sand and gravel pits, a relentless convoy that doesn't stop for ten or 12 hours a day, up and down the dirt roads and tarmac a few hours north of Edmonton. They wanted to shoot a video showcasing some of their new trucks, and initially wanted us to shoot the trucks pulling in and out of the yard slowly, in 360 degrees, to capture the equipment. We had a better idea. Why not show the energy and drive the company shows every day to deliver for their customers. A tagline was born, and we set upon capturing the energy of a repositioned brand.
Donovan storyboarded the concept loosely; I say loosely because we weren't sure what to expect on site that day, from weather to availability. Luckily the day was largely clear all morning. Availability was trickier. We couldn't stage anything because the owners didn't want us to interfere with load runs. We couldn't get between or stop the trucks, time being money. Arriving at 6 am, we scoped the situation and decided the best place to set up was at the entry of the pit mines. The idea was to capture the trucks coming and going, and then pick up B-roll inside the site. We knew it would look boring to just stay on the ground; we wanted to get up high and have the ability to move around. So in addition to a stills photographer and an on-the-ground videographer, we engaged one of Alberta's best drone operators with instructions to bring four drones. We only had so much time to capture this commercial for DDC, and we didn't want to be replacing batteries in a single drone or two and miss any piece of daylight or a great shot opportunity. We set up first at the gate to the site, and got footage of trucks coming at us. We would sometimes have to wait for trucks to come, and sometimes they came together too closely or too far apart to make a good shot. All of this was done with a drone hovering about eight to ten feet in the air to capture a headlong POV. We then moved about halfway down the main dirt route to try to capture a truck coming at us from the site. The day was very windy and it was hard to stabilize the drones for steady shooting, so I really commend the operator for his skill in challenging conditions. We hoped to backtrack with the drone and lift up over a truck, first tracking it at about side-mirror level, and then smoothly coming up over and above. We did several takes of this partly because of windy conditions, but to also get the right perspective we were looking for. Luck is planning, and we really got lucky with what we made the hero shot, a red truck coming out of natural shadows and into sunlight, tracked backwards long enough (this was trickier than it looks as it had to start quickly and stay outfront of the truck speeding towards us). The drone operator himself got so close to the truck for the perfect shot I got a bit worried for his safety. We could see on the viewing monitor we at least had something, so we decided to stop this pretty risky shooting area (standing in a ditch!) we then moved to the site itself. Here we used drones for the majority, using them at eye-level, passing in front of the operator, and up and down the conveyor belts. In the studio we moved things around a bit, discovered we had a real hero shot for the middle, and found music that helped push the action and represent the brand. With a few simple edits, we came away with a product that had energy, positioned the company strongly, and really helped tell the right story for DDC, an Alberta company Driven to Deliver for customers all across and north of the Greater Edmonton Region. The total team we employed for this project was seven people: a stills photographer, videographer, drone operator, video editor, creative/art director, writer, and a designer. The company was very happy with the end results, and it really helped differentiate them from their competitors. I'm told the grandson, who was six at the time, couldn't get enough of it. I guess he's set to be the next generation marketer of the family business.