How I Got That Shot: Finn O'Hara
MARCH 04, 2011
Client: Frito-Lay Ruffles
Creatives: Derek Blais, art director, and Laurent Abesdris, writer, at ad agency Juniper Park
Creatives at Juniper Park, the Toronto agency that handles the Frito-Lay account, wanted to use the social media site Facebook to generate lots of attention for the launch of two new flavors of Ruffles potato chips. They hired Finn O’Hara to shoot seven videos as well as stills that would appear on a dedicated Facebook page where fans could sign up to receive free bags of the new chips.
O’Hara recalls that the creatives came to him, confident that they had a great idea: To feed the ingredients of the new flavors (chicken, and chili with cheese) to a tank full of piranhas, and have O’Hara shoot a series of videos and stills of the feeding frenzy.
“I was responsible not only for developing the plan for how to shoot the fish but also how the shots would look,” O’Hara explains. “The stop watch was on: We had to make sure we delivered seven videos that would show every day for a week” on Facebook. O’Hara adds, “The week it went live, it was the fastest growing page on Facebook.” The first 100,000 people who “liked” the page, www.facebook.com/ruffles, received coupons for free bags of the new Ruffles.
Blais and Abesdris had one other request for the assignment. To reinforce that the new flavors are “mantastic,” they specified that the piranhas had to live in a bachelor pad.
With a limited budget for a prop stylist, O’Hara sourced the pad’s furniture through a dollhouse company in Toronto. “Then I had to waterproof it for the week and a half that the fish would be in there. So I had to resin coat it with a marine epoxy, put it in water and test it with goldfish to make sure the tank wasn’t toxic.” He recalls, “Epoxying all this dollhouse furniture a couple of weeks before Christmas, in a shed, with a mask on, I remember thinking: I must really love my job.”
Cameras: RED ONE, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and GoPro Hero HD with underwater housing made by Eye of Mine.
Lenses: ARRI Master Primes, an ARRI Alura Zoom 45-250, and an ARRI Zeiss Master Zoom 16.5–110 on the RED ONE. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, EF 50mm f/1.2L and EF 85mm f/1.2L II on the Canon cameras.
O’Hara says he shot 90 percent of the video footage using the high-resolution RED One, “for the ability to crop into the frame, for the variation of frame rates and for the aspect ratio” which helped them fit the images into the frame available on the long, narrow Facebook page. “The sensor is so big, it could work with the awkward dimensions we had to deliver. It also produced beautiful results,” observes O’Hara. “We decided it would be our principal camera. The flexibility and mobility of the Canons would allow us to shoot extra bits and to cover our still-photo needs.” The stills, which O’Hara says he usually shot between the piranhas’ daily feedings, were used on the Facebook page.
The Hero HD was placed in the fish tank to shoot close-ups and capture footage from the piranhas’ point of view. The special underwater housing that was made by Eye of Mine was distortion free, and allowed for wide-angle shots.
Lights: KIno Flo Bar Fly, Kino Flo Diva-Lite and Kino Flo Flathead. O’Hara explains, “We couldn’t use hot lights because they would boil the fish. They’re very sensitive.” The Kinos were unobtrusive, and provided even lighting for both videos and stills. “We put the Flatheads on top to recreate the aquarium style lighting, and used the smaller Bar Fly’s and Diva-Lites for fill.”
Post-Production: Chris Murphy and Shiv Harrilal of Relish Editing edited the videos. Color correction was done at Notch. Recalls O’Hara, “We finished five to six days of shooting, and immediately went to Relish where Chris Murphy and Shiv Harrilal started working on the files. We had one long editing day where the art director, the writer and I were there for 15 hours, making sure there were seven individual, and fun to watch, videos.” O’Hara adds, “We laughed a lot, and that’s good too.”