Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of Shooting a TV Commercial

March 18, 2024
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Ever wonder what shooting a TV commercial is like? Join us behind the scenes for a jam-packed day on set with the 5Gear Studios team as we capture Manitloulin’s services in a 30-second commercial. From sunrise to sunset, this one-day shoot was a whirlwind of creativity and collaboration that resulted in this video:

Like most days on set, our day began bright and early. We arrived at the quiet studio at 5:00 am sharp. With coffee cups in hand, we gathered our gear and rounded up our crew members. We all hopped into our faithful van and drove up to our first filming location.

Manitoulin Transport Terminal

Crew call was 6:00 am so everyone arrived at the Manitoulin Barrie Terminal before the sun was up. It was a small but mighty team consisting of our director Darren, the DOP/camera operator Nik (on his Arri Alexa 35), the first AC Austin, our second AC Nico, the gaffer Ryan, our electric Kate, the key grip Michael, the production assistant Hannah, and our behind-the-scenes photographer Laura. We shot in a working dock so the crew was in reflective safety vests and had to be extra mindful of safety on set.

Video Production Operating Drone over Transport Terminal

The first shot of the day was capturing the exterior of the terminal via aerial cinematography. As the sun was starting to rise we brought out the drone, making sure to log into NAV Canada NAV DRONE app, to notify them we’d be in flight. We’d previously requested permission to fly in this airspace as per the Canadian Aviation Regulations. (Check out our blog on Canadian Rules to Follow While Operating a UAV / Drone.) With Darren as the Certified Advanced drone operator, we captured stunning exterior footage of the terminal and fleet.

The next scene to shoot was a customer greeting the Manitoulin Driver while a forklift operator pulls the cargo out of the truck. Since it was visible on camera, we had to “greek” the side of the forklift. Greeking in film, TV and video production refers to blocking out or hiding logos or corporate trademarks that haven’t been approved for use. Since this forklift had a brand name on the side of it, we had to cover it in black tape so you couldn’t see it on camera

Videographer Films Two People Talking with Forklift in background
Production Assistant Greeking Forklift

Then we moved inside the terminal to the loading dock where we captured the progressive technology portion of the commercial. To get sufficient coverage, we utilized a dolly and Steadicam.

Then it was time for lunch. Around 11:00 am the crew took a break and enjoyed tasty sandwiches, cookies and of course a coffee top-up! A few of the Manitoulin truck drivers joined us and shared entertaining stories of their time on the road. One of the best parts of working on set is getting to meet so many kind and fascinating people.

Then we were back to work! The next scene to capture was the forklift loading the cargo onto the trailer. We wanted to capture this from several different angles so there would be options to work with in the edit. For one take, our DP Nik got into the trailer and filmed the forklift driving in from the back of the container. The forklift’s lights cast a mesmerizing glow against the textured walls, adding a touch of cool ambiance, creating a stunning backlit shot.

film crew films forklift
Videographer films forklift driving into trailer

We even mounted the camera to the forklift so we could get a shot from the perspective of the cargo being transported. It didn’t end up working like we’d envisioned so those shots didn’t make the final cut, but the crew will certainly remember the anticipation and anxiety of watching a $9,000 b-camera strapped to moving industrial vehicle.

Then we moved to the front office of the terminal where we captured footage featuring a Manitoulin call-person at his desk helping a customer. Some on-site Manitoulin employees stepped into the roles of call centre staff, delivering standout performances that truly brought the scene to life.

Videographer films call centre

The front office of the Barrie terminal doesn’t actually function as a call centre but with a few props and set decorating, we were able to orchestrate the scene.

Director Darren hangs photo on set

Truck drives down road, leaves in foreground

Then onto the second location! We drove a few minutes away to the Innisfil Dog Park, so we could capture the truck driving on the road. This shot took us over 2 hours to capture because it would take about 25 minutes for the truck to drive back around to the spot we were filming. Since we were filming a semi-trailer truck, it couldn’t simply make a three-point turn and drive past the camera again. They had to drive all the way down the road, turning only where they could make wide left turns, to come back to where we were filming. We had them on a walkie-talkie to notify us when they were soon approaching because if we missed them, we’d have to wait another 25 minutes to get the shot again. It was also a good thing the trucks are bright red because we could see it well ahead of time, coming down the road.

Director uses walkie talkie
videographer films outside

And if you’re wondering how we got the leaves and flowers to perfectly frame the shot, it was Nico, waving them delicately as if blowing in the wind.

camera operator sits in back of van

Finally we went out onto the road to capture the truck from a different perspective. Initially we considered capturing the truck from our car as it followed us, but decided the safer option was to put the camera on a tripod on the side of the road.

Then back to the terminal to clean and pack up. Around 6pm we were back on the road headed home to the studio to safely return the equipment and tuck away the van for the evening. We were proud of how much we accomplished in such a short amount of time, but it helps when you have an awesome client like Manitoulin and a hard-working crew like ours.

Looking for a video production team to help with your next commercial? Contact 5Gear Studios today!