More Eat ‘n Park TV Fun

On October 10, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


For the latest series of Eat ‘n Park TV spots, Sarah Marince asks employees what they love about Eat ‘n Park (besides their paycheck.) In my favorite spot of the new “Team” series, Sarah gets to put the icing on EnP’s iconic Smiley Face Cookie.

I currently shoot these spots on 2 HDTV digital cameras. All the sync sound sequences are shot on a Panasonic AF-100 equipped with Canon and Olympus lenses. I use the very heavy 14mm – 35mm F2 zoom for most wide angle scenes. Either a 50mm F1.4 or a 85mm F1.2 lens handles talent close-ups.

My second camera for quick, hand-held cutaways is either a Panasonic GH2 or a Canon 5D mk2. All the cutaways in this spot were shot on a GH2 equipped with a 20mm F1.7 lens.

Over the years, I’ve found that the only way to direct and shoot this “scripted spontaneity” is to think of each sequence as a very short play.

While gaffer, Ted Wiegand is setting lights with the crew, I’ll have the talent first perform the scene or sequence without any direction. Invariably, people will naturally stay too far apart for TV. After a couple run throughs, I’ll get the desired distance between the actors. Then I’ll determine the best wide shot or master shot angle to cover the action. The close-up, return shots between actors happen naturally based on the master shot.

Although I often use a Fisher 10 crab dolly, for this spot I shot all the test kitchen dialogue with my camera mounted on a monopod. It gives the scenes spontaneity and just enough movement as if the action was natural and unrehearsed.

When you’re working in tight quarters, such as Eat ‘n Park’s test kitchen, the choices of camera angles and camera positions are limited, so you make the most of the best overall background for your master shot. The backgrounds for close-ups will be out-of-focus, so you can add, subtract or cheat certain scene elements.

One last bit of advice, when working with “real people” as opposed to actors, let them play themselves. As long as the role they’re playing is within their normal “world” you can usually get a pretty credible performance. I’ve found that non-professionals do their best on the second or third take. After that it’s a crap shoot.

BTW, that’s actually Sarah perfectly icing the cookie in the close-up!


Background Info: Don Nehlen is a former head coach of the West Virginia University “Mountaineers” football team. For 20 years, he lead the team to winning seasons and bowl games. Nehlen retired from his successful coaching career in 2000. You know you’re appreciated when the road to Mountaineer Stadium is named Don Nehlen Drive.

A few years ago, West Virginia University Healthcare performed triple-bypass heart surgery, which saved his life. Coach Nehlen agreed to be featured in a TV commercial for the WVUH Heart Institute.

This commercial is an example of combining the best image quality attributes of 2 completely different 1080P HDTV cameras. I shot all of Coach Nehlen’s on-camera interview scenes with my Sony F900R. All the cutaways or “B-Roll” scenes were shot with my Panasonic AF100.

Personally, I’m sick of seeing “interview” spots where the subject is looking and talking off-camera to some nondescript, unidentified person. I wanted Coach Nehlen to tell his story, first person, directly to the home viewer. I resurrected an idea and technology that I first pioneered in the mid-eighties. We hooked 2 cameras and teleprompters together so the coach could talk directly to a virtual image of the interviewer’s face which appeared to “float” in front of the camera’s lens. The technique worked very well and added to the believability and sincerity of the Coach’s on-camera delivery. Thanks to Gary, Jay, Heidi and Mary of WVUH’s marketing team for putting up with my crazy production techniques…

The HDTV commercial is scheduled to begin airing in August throughout West Virginia.

Executive producer, Jim DeVincentis & Coach Don Nehlen

For 20 years, retired WVU Football Coach Don Nehlen brought the WVU Mountaineers from obscurity to a powerhouse in the Big East Conference. Thanks to Nehlen, WVU has one of the best college football stadiums and training facilities in the country. His athletic leadership abilities have been missed in Morgantown since his retirement. You know you’re appreciated when the road to Mountaineer Stadium is named Don Nehlen Drive.

Several years ago, Nehlen’s life was saved by triple-bypass heart surgery at West Virginia University Hospitals. We had the pleasure of filming Don as he told his story for an upcoming WVUH Heart Institute commercial. It’s always fun working with the marketing team at WVUH and agency, Fahlgren Advertising. Stay tuned… I’ll post the commercial as soon as it’s finished.


Taye Diggs stars on ABC-TV’s “Private Practice” He’s a Hollywood “A” list TV actor with a long resumé of shows, movies and guest appearances.

16 years ago in ’95, Taye Diggs was a young actor making the rounds doing New York casting sessions. I was in NYC, with agency producer Frank DiSalvo, casting a series of Giant Eagle Supermarket TV spots. We were looking for a young male actor to play the “helpful, polite deli clerk” (that’s how the client approved script referred to his part.) 24 year-old, Taye Diggs had a great look and did a killer job at the session.

We flew Taye to Pittsburgh for an all-night shoot in one of Giant Eagle’s Supermarkets. Back then, Giant Eagle insisted that all TV production be done between 10PM and 6AM. Taye did a great job and maintained a positive attitude… even at 3AM!

Next thing you know, he’s featured on an episode of NBC’s Law & Order. Then he’s a regular on Ally McBeal… next he lands the lead on the TV series, Kevin Hill … then it’s Grey’s Anatomy… Now he stars in the popular, Private Practice airing every Thursday night at 10PM.

I’d like to think that Taye’s good fortune started when he appeared in our 1995 Giant Eagle spot… after all, his agent requested several VHS dubs of the commercial to send to West Coast casting directors. You know…the more I think about it, Taye Diggs owes his success to Giant Eagle!

American “Pop” Artist, Burton Morris

On May 3, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Director, Glenn Przyborski and artist, Burton Morris

Just finished shooting an internet video project with Burton Morris, one of the country’s hottest artists. I love his energetic, vivid, fun style of unique “Pop” art, which is a tribute to artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Although Burton now resides in L.A., he has family and professional ties to his home town of Pittsburgh, PA. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Burton started his career as an art director at several major Pittsburgh ad agencies.

Burton Morris has created major works for CocaCola, The Academy Awards, Heinz, the Olympics, Absolut Vodka and hundreds of other corporations. Although he’s an internationally famous artist, Burton Morris’ is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

He just completed a fun project for Eat ‘n Park Restaurants. Burton created his own original art to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Smiley,” Eat ‘n Park’s corporate cookie icon. This summer, Burton Morris’ original artwork will adorn t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items that are sold in Eat ‘n Park’s chain of over 80 restaurants.

Sorry, I can’t reveal Burton’s original “Smiley” artwork, ’till it’s unveiled in June!… stay tuned!

Eat ‘n Park’s Strawberry Pie TV

On April 28, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski


I used Panasonic’s new AF100 to shoot the latest HDTV campaign for Eat ‘n Park, a Pittsburgh based chain of restaurants. In one 10 hour shoot day, we had to set, light and stage a sequence inside the company’s test kitchen. This included several tasty food shots of strawberry pies. The second half of the day was used to film “customer testimonials” and customer interaction with country singer and company spokesperson, Sarah Marince. (Sarah just celebrated her 21st birthday!)

The shots inside Eat ‘n Park’s test kitchen were lit with 3, 1200 watt Arri HMI’s located outside the kitchen’s windows. To create a warm feel of early morning sunlight, we put CTO gel on the HMI’s. The interior fill light was from 12″ x 12″ daylight balanced LED panels. I manually set the AF100’s color balance to 4700K to keep the warm feel without going too yellow or orange. Most of the kitchen scenes were shot from a Fisher 10 crab dolly. For the pie cutaways, I mounted my AF100 on a small, homemade tabletop dolly with skate wheels. I used my Olympus 14-35mm F2 lens for the wide and medium wide shots and an older Canon 85mm F1.2 FD lens for close-ups.

A few of the in-restaurant scenes were filmed from the Fisher crab, but for most I used a Manfrotto mono-pod. This created a more spontaneous and unpredictable feel to the back and forth dialogue. Most of these scenes were shot with a EF series, Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens, wide open at F2.8. All the in-restaurant footage was lit with HMI’s outside the restaurant and LED panels and white bounce cards inside. We exchanged all the warm-white CFL bulbs for 5000K lamps.

The second portion of the video is a movie theater ad that plays between shows in hundreds of theaters in Western Pennsylvania. I shot this simple on-camera delivery spot at the end of our shoot day.

S&T Bank spot featuring Jerome Bettis

On April 21, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

I used Panasonic’s new AF100 HDTV camera to shoot this commercial which features former NFL SuperStar Jerome Bettis. With the exception of the airliner cutaway, every scene was shot at 1080P using Canon FD series lenses. I shot the Airbus 319 airliner cutaway in the pouring rain using my smaller GH-2 camera. The spot was fun to shoot and the folks at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, PA and Spirit Airlines from Ft. Lauderdale were very accommodating. Jerome Bettis always arrives on-set with a great attitude and gives 100% to the project. The commercial will air on numerous stations and cable systems in Western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh based Elias-Savion Advertising is S&T Bank’s advertising agency.

Shooting in Florida

On April 21, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Producer, Judy Gurchak dining at JB's Boca Raton, FL

Just got back from Florida where I directed and photographed a new commercial for Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s amazing orthopedic services. We had a great crew from Miami who primarily work on the popular show, Burn Notice. Pittsburgh based, assistant director, Rich Schutte made the trip with us. We shot continuously from 6am to 4pm! I’ll post the new spot as soon as its edited.

New Technology HDTV Cameras

On April 12, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Przyborski shoots with Panasonic's new AF100 HDTV camera

The biggest trend in commercial production is to create images with very shallow, film-like depth-of-field. This “look” was easy with 35mm movie film. As a general rule, the larger the film frame or imaging device, the “tighter” the depth-of-field and more selective the focus. This contrasts with previous HDTV digital cameras that achieved sharp focus throughout the entire frame.

 

Although I love film and have shot over 2,000,000 feet of it… today’s budget for a typical spot doesn’t have the luxury of $10K to $20K for 35mm film stock, processing, HDTV transferring and sync-ups.

Using “film-like” shallow depth-of-field to separate actors or products from a scene’s background can now be achieved with new, cost-effective cameras from Sony and Panasonic. They use large scale digital imagers that approximate the size of 35mm film negative. Since these cameras record to solid state memory, there’s no added size, weight or expense related a tape mechanism.

I recently shot a series of commercials with Panasonic’s new AF100. I love the fact that all my Canon and Nikon 35mm lenses work perfectly with this camera. Plus, it will shoot 1080P, true slow-motion at 60 frames-per-second. I don’t have a lot in common with James Cameron, but we both agree that professional cameras need to be smaller and lighter.  Technology marches on…

1995 Pagetime Commercial with Dagmara Dominczyk

On April 1, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Glenn Przyborski

Dagmara Dominczyk is a Hollywood star. In addition to movies such as “Running with Sissors” and the “Count of Monte Cristo”, Dagmara has been featured in dozens of popular TV series. “24”, “Law & Order SVU” and “Third Watch”, just to name a few.

Back in 1995, Dagmara (who was born in Poland) was a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. We cast her as a principal in a TV commercial for Pagetime, a division of the now defunct Adelphia Cable Corp. Glenn Przyborski remembers arranging our shoot day so filming Dagmara’s scenes didn’t interfere with her college class schedule. We believe the commercial was Dagmara Dominczyk’s first appearance on commercial television.

The original 1995 commercial was filmed by Glenn in 35mm for Stan Muschweck and The Birmingham Group Advertising Agency.

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