Psyop: Fage “Plain”
What was CG and what was live action?
Early in the project, we learned we only had two weeks for post production. This time frame made it unrealistic to create full CG shots, so it became important for us to shoot 45 seconds of imagery that would require as little clean up as possible.
Shooting mostly locked plates was an alternative approach for us: after all, we’re known mostly for being a post house, and on typical shoots, we’d be creating elements that we could composite with. In this case, we were reliant on a strong shoot that would give us beautiful pieces of film. As a result, nearly every shot in this spot was filmed, with the exception of a purple drip that occur at the end, and two macro shots of the flower detail in the middle.
Probably the most exciting comment for us to hear is “What part of this is CG and what is real?”. It’s a really exciting place to be in when you can combine techniques so much that the medium becomes obscured.
Please talk about the visual effects supervision on the shoot for CG integration.
Once we had decided that most of this project would have to be achieved in camera, we knew a lot of experimentation would be involved. Shooting liquids and melting wax was unpredictable, and we weren’t sure which technique would help us pull off the look we wanted.
For two days we shot at Reel FX in Los Angeles, acquiring as many cool looking shots in camera.
Another question was who we would hire to film these experiments. There were DP’s that could shoot liquid and products, but FAGE, as we had envisioned it, was cinematic. We needed someone who would take risks, be crazy.
Miraculously, the amazing Christopher Doyle, a cinematographer famous for his stunning work on “In the Mood for Love” and “Hero”, became available. Although Chris wasn’t your typical liquid DP, he was the most exciting for generating beautiful imagery. Unlike DP’s who shoot liquids, Doyle wasn’t afraid of shooting blacks in yogurt, and we felt having a scale of light to dark would lead us to a compelling yogurt ad.
Since the shoot went well, our post workload lessened significantly, and the CG plates went from 6 to 3. This was excellent as we had 2 total weeks left for post.
Can you share process on development and maybe show some design work?
The poem “Plain”, written for the spot, was abstract and metaphorical and we wanted to keep the integrity of the tone by being more suggestive. Some of the initial references we pulled were Greek sculpture. Much of our design work was rooted in finding artists who created suggestive imagery such as Georgie O’Keeffe, who’s work is intimate and intriguing.
As mentioned earlier, having a scale of light to dark would play a major role in our design efforts. The winning frame was actually that of a melancholic bull, high contrast and with light spilling over his horns, made up of or dripping with milk. That this was the image everyone was on board with was a good sign this spot could be interesting.
Who’s idea / writing? agency or Psyop? Was there a creative middle ground if any?
FAGE Greek yogurt brand wanted to expand their advertising into the US market and awarded the account to Mullen Boston to handle their US advertising. In tern, Mullen devised an open creative brief that included a Suesssian-style poem about a figurative character called “Plain”. This creative brief was unusually open for a yogurt commercial, which we embraced.
Instead of being literal with the character “Plain”, we were encouraged to be non-linear, metaphorical. They wanted “visual poetry”: beautiful and sensory moments threaded together by a new language. It was a very collaborative effort. Mullen would describe their intents for the metaphors, and we would create visuals to achieve the story without being blatant and boring.
Do you think this will do for the future of yogurt? jk…but maybe talk about how this is different than a lot of ads we see on TV.
We hope so. Unlike most product ads, this commercial didn’t rely on “traditional” marketing strategies to sell a product… just beauty. This was largely due to the willingness of the FAGE Client, specifically, a Greek owner we called “Mr. Filippo”. If only there were more Mr. Filippo’s. Upon delivering the spot, the only comment Mr. Filippo had was “I don’t know what you want me to say, it’s beautiful, let’s get it on air”. Their profits are so high, they’re actually having problems keeping FAGE on the shelves. (No thanks to us really- that shit is just delicious).
What we really appreciate now is how the public is embracing this kind of spot. We salute FAGE and Mullen for taking a risk and creating something a little different than the mainstream ad. People don’t want to see women dancing around and being happy to eat yogurt to know it’s delicious. People are smarter than this. They just want to see a great looking ad.
Agency: Mullen, Boston
Production Company: Psyop / Smuggler
Music & Sound Design: Pivot Audio
Audio Post: Audio Engine