I think it’s pretty well known that I consider my line of employment to seriously beat working for a living. Well, that just got taken to a whole new level with my latest project – a technology promo video for the Canadian Pacific Police Service. Yes, they have their own full-on police force but that’s a story for another day. The job here was to show off all the funky communications & digital technology the CPPS is using to improve their effectiveness.
So, the ‘what’ was clear but the ‘how’ was a little tricky – we’re talking a pile of radio waves and computers here. Fortunately the client, an aspiring movie mogul, felt pretty strongly that any video being made about the police should show the police in action. I needed no convincing on that front but it was going to take more: For a few years now, the “Art of Making” by Deep Green Sea has been a favourite of mine and this was a perfect opportunity to try their motion graphics concept in my own work. It took all of 5 seconds of DGS’s “The Carpenter” for the client to enthusiastically agree. Fun!
We ended up with 5 scenarios to shoot in order to capture the technical, operational & geographic range of applications. And that was when having a police force and a railway line at our disposal really started getting fun! A murder scene was contemplated but turned into a chemical spill with full Hazmat team. In the opening scene I had a real live train to play with for a few hours. Ironically this was quite a treat for me because despite doing a lot of work for CP I never get to call the shots on train movement – in the yards they’re too busy and outside the yards they can be bloody difficult to track down as there is no regular operating schedule.
The sexy ops centre in scene 2 was actually still under construction. The first three hours were spent mostly getting the screens working & dusting every visible surface. The funky shadows on the walls are due to the tiles not yet all being in place – in future I will remove tiles from the ceiling when trying to sex up interior scenes!
The final scene, shot in the Ogden yard in Calgary, is set in the US complete with US uniforms & car decals and an officer flown up from Chicago.
Turns out cops are great at role playing – as soon as I called “Action!” on the arrest scene they leapt straight into character and I was so transfixed by what was going on I just kept shooting and forgot to call “Cut!”
After two days of shooting we had a pile of great footage but really the work had only just begun. As a photographer turned videographer I’ve finally become accustomed to the enormity of the post-production process but this time around it was just plain enormouser. We partnered with the super-amazing crew at Calgary’s Jump Studios for the motion graphics and colour grading. We “only” had 150s of video to cover but it was a 5 week sprint to be ready just in time for the video’s release. It is spectacularly rewarding to have a client like CP support my creative vision and to be able to rely on the genius of a worldclass outfit like Jump to make it a reality. It seriously beats working for a living…