When Bernstein Rein Advertising endeavored to create a multi-spot, multi-faceted advertising package for its client, Wal-Mart, the agency turned to a familiar partner: Stone Core Films, Dallas, TX, and Norry Niven, Director/DP. The national campaign showcased Niven versatility as both a Director and Director of Photography.
‘B-R came to us for an eclectic assortment of different focuses,’ says Niven. ‘The spots range from comedy dialogue, visual comedy, celebrity talent, to children, and even one with designed graphic, stunts and green screen work. The coolest part of the experience was that the agency had the confidence to let us create all these different looks.’
In addition to directing the commercials, Niven was also the Director of Photography. ‘Every spot has its own look, it own style, and it own visual feel. Even the two spots featuring Queen Latifah, which were similar in nature, have a slightly different feel lighting-wise.’
Included in the campaign are the spots ‘Occupations,’ ‘Queen Patrol,’ ‘Fashion Show’ and ‘Site to Store.?‚àö√´¬¨¬¢’ In addition, Stone Core and Niven worked a previous package of holiday themed spots ‘Shopping Day,’ ‘Jesse Fans’ and ‘Cool Cubed.’ The commercials were shot in a variety of cities ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® including Los Angeles, Dallas and New York ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® over the course of a three-month period.
Two of the ads spotlight the Wal-Mart toy department. ‘Occupations’ features vignettes of children with their future careers graphically highlighted while playing Operation, Monopoly and Twister and Trouble. Great casting and clever set design makes each vignette unique. ‘Fashion Show,’ which focuses on the Bratz Wild Wild West dolls, opens on a country and western-themed fashion show, complete with live-action models and horses. Eventually it is revealed that a mom who is playing with her daughter Bratz dolls is imagining the fashion show.
Three spots Norry helmed feature celebrity talent. Actress/rapper Queen Latifah is featured in two of the spots. In ‘Shopping Day’, Latifah goes shopping with her mother, who makes things much easier by opting to buy everyone Wal-Mart gift cards. The follow up spot, ‘Queen Patrol’, finds Queen Latifah scrutinizing the items that her friend Kelly is buying with the gift card she gave her for Christmas. A humorous encounter plays out when Queen puts a little pressure on Kelly to pick up a copy of her latest DVD release, ‘Beauty Shop’.
The spot featuring Jesse McCartney, ‘Jesse Fans’, features the teen idol at home with his family on Christmas Day, who are enjoying new electronic gifts found at Wal-Mart. McCartney doesn’st even notice the screaming hoard of young fans when he opens the front door to let the cat inside the house. When his little brother Timmy tries to borrow on Jesse celebrity with the fans, he is humorously rejected.
Last but not least, two spots in the package were for the Walmart.com business. ‘Site to Store?‚àö√´¬¨¬¢’ highlights Wal-Mart program of the same name where one can choose merchandise on the store website and then have it shipped free to their favorite Wal-Mart. The graphics-driven and fun ‘Cool Cubed’ showcases the world smallest MP3 player, the cube-shaped mobiBLU?‚àö√´¬¨¬¢, that holds up to 500 songs and is only available at walmart.com. The spot shows people wearing the tiny player while engaging in running, snowboarding or simply heading to work.
New Production Technology
For the edgy and stylized commercial ‘Fashion Show,’ Niven utilized a new device from Panavision called the Hyl?¬¨¬©n System. This System allows the user to manipulate an intermediate image in ‘real time’ with a range of organic optical effect ‘plug-ins’ prior to image capture. ‘It a cutting edge tool for us to take more control of a look as opposed to relying on someone to do it in online for half a day. We can do it in-camera now,’ said Niven. ‘In this case its specific purpose was to create this bizarre, other-worldly look to the catwalk scenes for the fashion show.’ According to Niven, Stone Core is among the first to use the System in the Southwest.
About Stone Core Films:
Director/Cameraman Norry Niven and executive producer Elaine Sibert are the driving forces that brought the Texas-based Stone Core Films to its 10-year anniversary in 2003. The company is represented by Cathy Brittingham in the Southwest and Southeast; and Hilly Reps in the Mid-West.
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