- Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
Starring George Clooney and Natalie Dormer, the latest Nespresso campaign entitled "The Quest" invites viewers into an epic journey to find the most exceptional coffee in the kingdom. To bring the global campaign to life around these extraordinary talents, commercial post-production boutique Big Sky Edit reunited with Untitled director Grant Heslov and executives from McCann New York. For Big Sky's editor Chris Franklin and his colleagues, it's their fourth straight year working in such great company, alongside the agency's team, as well as Heslov and Untitled's executive producer James Evans.
"Nespresso sets the global standard when it comes to quality coffee, and we've felt all along that the quality of these productions must live up to the brand promise," said McCann EVP and Executive Creative Director Larry Platt. "A tall order, but collaborating with Chris Franklin and his amazing team has allowed us to pull off the miraculous, year after year. It's incredibly liberating for us creatively to know that anything we dream up can be achieved with Grant and Big Sky, only better than first imagined."
The latest campaign includes two different versions of the :60 spot entitled "The Quest," another :30 spot entitled "Really George?" and more than 20 different video elements for use in the brand's Nespresso Boutiques and across its social media universe. Representing Nespresso's largest campaign to date, these works – and the campaign's print assets – debuted over the past several weeks in more than 30 countries.
The scale of this year's campaign reaches new heights for Big Sky as well. Specializing in commercial editorial services as well as VFX and sound design, the spectacular Nespresso campaign has been phenomenal for Big Sky. As one example, Franklin won the 2017 Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) Outstanding Commercial Editing Award for editing last year's spot, entitled "Comin' Home."
"Based on our history working with McCann's executive producer Kathy Love, the creative team of Larry Platt and Danny Rodriguez, and Grant, we have a mutual trust and shorthand that allows us to experiment a lot together," Franklin began. "And we laugh a lot, which is essential."
During pre-production, Franklin and Big Sky's VFX supervisor Ryan Sears were involved in planning with Evans and Heslov to discuss the VFX workflow and challenges before the shoot.
"Having Ryan and his team involved so heavily from the beginning was essential in being able to visualize the spot fully from beginning to end, and also allowed for early work in experimenting with sound design," Franklin added.
While the production for the spots took place on a soundstage in LA and at a Nespresso Boutique in Beverly Hills, all of the story's modern-day action plays out in New York City. Achieving this storytelling magic was a labor of love between the production talents, including director of photography Phedon Papamichael (Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography for "Nebraska"), line producer Carr Donald and their team, along with the post-production producers and artists at Big Sky.
In addition to Franklin and Sears, Big Sky's full team also included executive producer Sarah Van Tassel, producer Ali Corsie, VFX artists Agnes Gunawan and Joshua Howard, and assistant editors Colleen McKay and Hannah Wederquist-Keller. Sears went on to detail some of the more involved VFX challenges behind the scenes.
- To show Clooney exiting and re-entering the movie screen, the theater scene was shot first. The same camera angles were then used in shooting plates where Clooney and the court could be composited into the screen and given the "crossing" effect.
- In many scenes, Clooney – and later, the entire royal court from the Middle Ages scenes – ride through NYC atop one of the city's ubiquitous double decker sightseeing buses. Originally photographed on green screen in LA, a NYC based crew with Untitled used the Ultimate Arm rig to capture background plates from the streets of NYC and in front of the Nespresso Boutique... all matching the precise angles of the LA footage.
- The VFX artistry extended to matching scenes in window reflections, adding a custom 3D billboard into a city composite, adjusting foliage and fabricating the NYC Nespresso Boutique's doorway for the original cinematography in LA. Clooney was then composited into Big Sky's interior footage from the NYC Boutique.
"Since we were doing the editing and all the VFX here at Big Sky in New York, we were able to do rough compositing during the edit," Sears explained. "For our very first rough cut screening, no one had to imagine what would be behind the green screens; everyone was able to focus on the story being told. All of that made the approval process much more efficient and smooth."
Since its debut, the campaign has received high-profile editorial coverage worldwide. As many journalists have mentioned, "The Quest" makes excellent use of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill." Worth noting, Gabriel has donated his licensing proceeds to Autism Spectrum Disorder research and treatment. Additional campaign music tracks are courtesy of APM Music.
In Franklin's words, "For everyone here, working with this dream team is really as good as it gets. It's a perfect collaboration, from beginning to end."
Post-production credits also include Tim Masick from Company 3 as colorist, Sound Lounge's Tom Jucarone as mixer/engineer, and finishing at Big Sky Edit. Complete credits are available upon request. To learn more about the Nespresso campaign, please visit https://www.nespresso.com/us/en/thequest.
About Big Sky Edit
Launched in NYC in 1992 by editor Chris Franklin, Big Sky Edit is a client-focused commercial post-production boutique. Located on the 20th floor of Manhattan's iconic Mercantile Building, 10 East 40th Street, Big Sky is home to many accomplished producers and artists including Franklin, his fellow editors Valerie Lasser and Ben Jones, and VFX supervisor Ryan Sears. The company's award-winning expertise also spans sound design and all facets of picture finishing. To learn more, visit http://www.bigskyedit.com or contact executive producer Sarah Van Tassel at 1.212.683.4004.