Last week I received the final video shown above that was produced by Velux as part of their “Why Skylights?” contest. It is my hope that people learn a little something from the video about how my firm approaches projects and possibly even appreciate how much thought and time goes into designing even a small space. Since I love engaging in a design process (which is just as important as the final end product) I thought I would share a post about the process of making this video. It was fascinating to me, and I have a whole new level of respect and admiration for those in the film/marketing industry!
Sometime last Spring I happened to stumble upon the entry for the contest and thought, “why not?” so I submitted a photo and some information and then promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to mid November 2016 when I received a phone call telling me that the Studio 360 project had been selected as the winner! They asked that I verify the skylight manufacturer used on the project and then promptly sent me some prize money (best part!). They asked to schedule a day to come see the project, take photos of it and also shoot a video. After contacting the client (we have stayed in touch since the completion of the job, a dear sweet couple as you will see) they gave their permission and a date was set!
It turns out that the day they came in December was record setting cold. Since the project is an OUTDOOR PORCH in Virginia this posed a bit of a problem, but the team came prepared at 8 am with an amazing attitude,hand warmers and hot coffee! The project leader for the video was very organized about the entire shoot. We had emailed for days prior, confirming details like arranging for window washers and advising me on what NOT to wear (beige). Two staff flew here from NC along with LOTS of equipment and cameras. 3 other local professionals (lighting, still photographer and gaffer) were hired. They were considerate, conscientious and very professional. I felt like I had made 5 new friends by the end of the day. The first thing they did when they arrived was to unload. And unload. The sight of all the equipment outside my office made me panic!
Next step was to get the camera angle and lighting right for the first shot. It was adjusted each time they changed angles. Meanwhile I was frantically trying to clean up, move drawings and books around until they kicked me out of my own office!
The Team Leader/ Productions Manager could tell I was nervous, so she said I should start by just drawing. I thought, OK that is something I can do! So I got out my sketchbook and started doodling. That part didn’t make it into the final video, but it helped me settle in with all the lights and cameras in my face.
The gaffer, (or sound guy in the back with the headphones on) and I got real cozy that day. I’m not used to men threading microphones down my shirt but he seemed to think this was no big deal and had a whole system of wiring rigged in my lap and up my sweater. Awkward for me, but by the end of the day we were in a groove and I could even clip my own mike to my necklace!
After a bit of tests with lighting and sound, the Project Lead sat on my couch in my office and just started asking me questions. None of it was rehearsed and we talked about many different things, most of which was not included in the video. She helped me feel comfortable and would occasionally say, “could you tell me that again but this time don’t bite your lip” or “tell me again without the clients name”. One time we re filmed because my monitor in the background “went to sleep” mid sentence. Another time my dog (who is often at my side) started barking because the mailman came. The gaffer loved that! Poor guy almost lost an eardrum.
Some humorous details include the fact that the night before the shoot, I was organizing my books, overloaded the shelves behind me, and pulled one right off the wall. So at midnight the night before I was in my office with a drill and brackets trying to re-attach the shelf. (zoom in and you’ll see it in the corner) Another side note is that I’ve had this blank wall in my office for way too long, so I was finally motivated to get some art in prep for the shoot. I couldn’t find anything I liked on short notice so I ended up painting my own canvas (with my daughter’s help!) a few days before.
We wrapped up the shoot by noon. The team had brought lunch so we quickly ate together (had to stick to the schedule) and by 12:30 we were on the road to the project site. Of course we hit a major traffic jam on the way, so we re-routed to some side roads but made it in time. The clients gave the team such a warm welcome and were incredibly gracious to allow us to take over their first floor.
After about an hour of set up, carrying in lights, more wires in the shirt, we were ready to film the short segment with the clients. We set up in the kitchen while the photographer was shooting the porch. They filmed about a 5 minute segment of the clients and I talking and basically reenacting the very same conversations we had when I showed them the initial designs for the space. I sort of wish they had included that part because these clients are very savvy and had great feedback and were NOT a passive client in this design process. They very much had a vision and desire for how the space should work and we went through about 4 iterations before getting to the final scheme that was built. It was an absolute joy to work with them and it was fun to reminisce about our previous meetings.
After filming inside, we braved the cold porch shots in below freezing weather. Again, the clients were so helpful and loved demonstrating how they use and enjoy the porch. The fireplace helped, and they do sit out there year round, however this day was quite chilly and not one that they would normally sit out there. You can see in the photo below the team all bundled up in hats and coats while the clients look cozy warm in front of the fire! My fingers were numb so I watched from inside. I know, I’m a wimp when it comes to cold.
After filming another 2 hours at the site, we cleaned up and packed up and headed out. I loved catching up with my clients. Congratulations are in order as they are soon to be grandparents for the first time! They also gave me some encouragement and advice about my son’s school as they have a child who attended the same program. We also discussed a possible next project. What a privilege to have such amazing clients!
I even learned some things about the porch I didn’t know until the clients were interviewed! For example, in the summer the sun comes through the skylights and shines right on the center of the fireplace. (um, sure I planned that!) I learned that the hammock really is the perfect place for an afternoon nap, and that the clients love to sit out on the porch in thunderstorms and watch the clouds roll out overhead and listen to the rain. All very rewarding to me!
In the end, it was an exhausting day to film from from 8am til 4pm. All of which got condensed to tell a story in a 3:05 video. Its so similar to my design process where I might draw 12 options to get to 3 good ones worth showing a client to then tweek with them to get one great one. I extend my thanks again to Velux for selecting this project and for the significant investment that VeluxUSA made in the whole process.
If you have any questions about our design process, or about the making of this video, please feel free to comment below or “like” the video and comment in Youtube. Many friends and clients have already commented and expressed your support on the Studio360 facebook page. Visit and follow at https://www.facebook.com/studio360llc/ or my personal page on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/saraharmstrong_aia/