Director Robbie Dinglasan shot 300 women in one day for a Pantene campaign.
Director Robbie Dinglasan was given only one day to shoot 300 women and their flowing tresses outdoors in constantly changing lighting conditions for what was considered the “biggest hair commercial” ever done in the Philippines. The campaign marked the launch of Procter & Gamble’s Pantene Nature Care line of hair care products in that region.
“Had I shot digital, I would've had a sea of black waving stuff,” he says, lamenting a potential lack of highlights and detail. He knew shooting on film was the answer, and the client and the ad agency, Mediacom/Philippines, agreed after seeing a side-by-side comparison between digital and film. “The overall consensus was that Pantene shot on film looked glossier and higher end,” Dinglasan says.
The three spots for the campaign were shot in one location in the Philippines that had a number of different looks and natural backgrounds depending on which way they were facing. However, the area was prone to intermittent fog. “I never shoot hair outdoors unless my arm is tied to my back with a gun to my head, which I guess was the case,” he jokes.
Cinematographer Lee Meily. (Photos courtesy of Pantene Philippines and Robbie Dinglasan)
Dinglasan and his go-to director of photography for beauty spots, Lee Meily (Amigo), chose KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 5207 and VISION3 500T 5219 for matching granularity and latitude response. “The VISION3 platform captures images very well with its extensive latitude rendering soft shadows,” Meily says of the stock’s shadow detail. “A great example is the shot where a local celebrity walks into position in front of 300 girls. We shot that at around 5:45 p.m.—way after sunset! The raw stock is so good that it captured the ‘real’ hair color of the girls, which ranges from light brown to black.”
“The hardest thing with hair ads,” Dinglasan adds, “is to produce the right kind of highlight to make the hair look shiny. Since we didn’t have time to bring in the usual hard lights to do this, only film could capture the subtle natural highlights on the hair, which we pushed during telecine.”
Dinglasan had all the subjects climbing up and down stairs to get the hair to move and bounce and then quickly captured each shot. “We needed to get each scene done in five takes or less, and then move on as the sun would move,” he points out. “We plotted where the sun would be during each part of the day and scheduled our shot list accordingly.”
When the fog or cloud cover rolled in, Meily was ready with 18K, 6K and 4K HMIs positioned as backlights and gelled to simulate the sun. Kino Flo Diva-Lites were the key and hair lights at all times. Even with all the mixing and matching of lights and sunlight, no sense of artificiality crept into any shots. It was for the Nature Care line, after all. “The images came out consistent, and it looks natural, which was our guideline,” he notes.
This was aided by a few other tools, as well: an ARRI 435 Xtreme and an ARRI 35-III with Cooke S4 prime lenses and the 24-290mm Optimo zoom lens. “We love the soft, rounded and realistic images of the Cooke lenses, and the Optimo zoom amazingly matches this look,” Meily explains. “So these cameras and lenses plus our Kodak negs—that's our beauty secret!”
Dinglasan, Meily and their two camera units ended up shooting 45 rolls of Kodak film for the three spots. The footage was processed and transferred on the Spirit DataCine. At this stage, Dinglasan graded for overall colors and skin tone. Effects and cleanup were accomplished on Autodesk’s Smoke and Flame. Once the online edit was approved, though, the footage was put through a second pass on DaVinci Resolve to digitally grade just the hair for highlights. Final output/cleanup was done on the Inferno.
“Had I just shot this on HD, the colorist said I couldn't have done the double grade because the image would start to break,” Dinglasan says. “This second-pass, digital grade on the negative is the signature look that I use for Pantene.
“Film was able to bring out practically each individual head of each girl,” he continues. “The detail and sharpness after all that tweaking is still what amazes me. We just like Kodak. It looks better.”