In 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, AirLiquide asked us to shoot a video to promote their VitalAire brand, promoting online consultations for sleep apnea products. The plan was to shoot the spot at one of their clinics. Immediately, we ran into a problem – would we shoot with the actors wearing masks and with plastic barriers or would we not?
Keeping the masks and barriers would signal that AirLiquide was compliant with all of the safety measures in place – an important position for a company working in healthcare. Conversely, we were looking ahead to the pandemic being over and the video wouldn’t age well with masks and barriers, reducing its long term value.
We decided the actors wouldn’t wear masks but we also wouldn’t stage any scenes with the actors together. And we temporarily took down the plastic shield at the clinic. When we finally shot in the fall of 2020, everybody off-camera wore a mask and we observed all possible precautions. Only the actors were unmasked.
We shot everything in one afternoon. Booking the location, the client, the actors, and the production team means that it’s not easy to re-shoot and that it’s important to get all shots on the one day. I enjoyed the shoot day but it’s stressful because of the need to get all the shots on the day. But it’s also fun and exciting because of that tension. Invariably on a shoot, we encounter challenges that need to be solved in the moment. Maybe there’s too much light from a window or an angle doesn’t work because a room is too small. Whatever the problem, finding the solution brings its own satisfaction.
During the shoot, I continually refer to the storyboard to make sure whatever changes we make will support the story we’re trying to tell. I prefer a staged shoot like this over shooting a live event because of the chance to adjust, re-shoot and control variables like light and sound. When I shoot live events, I can’t control those variables and I can’t re-shoot!
We started by editing a version with VitalAire branding and colours. Then we created a French version for audiences in Quebec and then we created additional versions for affiliate brands in other parts of the country. We ended with 8 versions of the video. One fun effect was using motion tracking to insert our footage into stock footage to make it look like our actor was on a video call.
I’m glad we looked ahead to the time after masking. We made the right decision to shoot without masks and to have single actors in each scene. Now, over 2 years later, AirLiquide continues using the video on their website. And with pandemic restrictions lifted, we’re vindicated in our decision not to shoot with masks and barriers.
Our client, Christine, was thrilled with the shoot and the final product. She said, “Working with Richard has been an absolute pleasure. Exceptional service and with his guidance, attention to detail and creative approach, our promotional video came out better than expected. I highly recommend and will definitely be working with Richard again on future projects.”
Watch the video below or on the VitalAire site.
Photo credit: Christine Macedo of AirLiquide