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Billy on the Street

This was the first ever Cinemagraph used as a broadcast TV spot, that’s right, here you go! There are many ways of doing a Cinemagraph and figuring out what the end result looks like enables you to piece apart the production and execution of the image. Essentially, they are videos, but the whole idea of a Cinemagraph is that it’s a still with motion although playing them you have to play a video. The idea behind them is that they are arresting to look at. In fact, the statistics for advertising regarding cinemagraphs state that they get clicked on over 3 times as often over a still!

Here we wanted the couple frozen in the foreground with a classic time lapse behind the image. That meant 2 shoots, one with lights to shoot the couple in the street, then the time-lapse motion “plate” for the background. Since the background was time-lapse and not “real” time motion, the whole shoot could be done with a still camera.

The production permitted Times Square at magic hour, which also happened to be rush hour; this became a logistical nightmare which we had to solve. We boxed off the area with equipment so people did not walk through the shot, shot about 300 images of the couple with a strobe, removed the couple and the light and started the time lapse. During the time lapse sequence, all the PAs had to keep everyone from walking through the box that were set below camera. We shot 3 to 4 sequences like this, moving the setup in slightly different locations in the area and pointed in different directions.

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The best images were at dusk, but because the ad was for the show Billy on the Street which takes place during the day, the network wanted the piece to look like day. We picked the master shot, retouched it and then made the sequence for the after effects artist putting the piece together at my direction.

Since the best images were dusk, I ran the video sequence three times, once for the sky darkening it, once for the buildings to bring out the light, and once for the street to lighten it to look like day light. The after effects team then had to mask in each section of the background, sky, buildings and street to make the final motion plate. Then they placed all the Pizza Hut graphics on top of the signage in the street. Don’t believe the Flixel behind the scenes, their software was not used to create this spot. This was a labor of love between me and some very talented After Effects artists. I won an American Photo Motion Arts Award!