Case Study Låt Det Regna and Volvo Cars Japan
Winter baths, cinnamon buns and Swedish dads when Volvo Cars shows off Stockholm in Tokyo
By Fredrik Munthe
CEO|24 April, 2023|10 min read
Låt Det Regna, a Swedish production company, faced the challenge of creating a car commercial for Volvo Cars Japan that showcased Stockholm from the perspective of a car and its driver. Executive producer Florian Dezfoulian and director and DOP Johan Von Reybekiel, along with their team, needed to ensure that the customer in Tokyo could communicate with the team in Sweden and follow the shooting in real-time.
The production team used advanced technology for the shoot, including a Red Komodo 6K camera with a Ronin RS3 pro combo gimbal mounted on a Tilta Hydra Car system. The gimbal was controlled wirelessly on two axes with a Tilta Remote control system handle. A Bolt 500 transmitter with SDI was used to transmit the video signal to three receivers in the car, including a monitor for b-photo to control focus, and a direct link 600 mobile/backpack to stream the video to KLASH Studio. The direct link used four different SIM cards to ensure good coverage and quality. B-foto controlled focus with an Arri WCU-4 hand unit and CForce mini motor on the lens. The DJI Drone was also used for aerial shots. KLASH real-time live streaming was used for transmitting the video signal to the customer in Tokyo, with recording enabled for generating "takes" for feedback. The team used a combination of call-back and Slack messages for communication. The shoot resulted in two movies of two minutes each, with a total data storage of 4 TB. The computing setups included a Macbook Pro M1 Max 16 inches and iPhone 14.
The production team rigorously tested everything to ensure correct formatting, colour spaces, and wireless control of the camera and car mounting system. They even did test drives a couple of days before the two recording days. To optimise streaming quality and FPS for the best quality/latency ratio, test signals were transmitted from the Intinor mobile pack to KLASH studio. The mobile pack contained four different SIM-cards transmitting their own data packages to cover for weak signals. The data packages from different SIM cards were fused into one high-quality video signal before transmitting output data to KLASH in the cloud. This optimised streaming protocol resulted in a smooth HD video stream in ultra-low latency between Stockholm and Tokyo.
The Production and Dailies Workflow
During recording, sessions were monitored both technically and manually. The film was shot in various locations in Stockholm, including the highway and the island of Djurö in the Stockholm archipelago. Shots were taken in chronological order as per the storyboard. The filming took place over two days, from early morning to late afternoon.
The first day had great weather, but the second day was cloudy, which resulted in an extra day of filming that was unplanned for. This required the team to mount gear on the car once again, redo the shots in chronological order, and use rotoscoping and masking to incorporate the extras who were not present on the new day. Johan and Florian needed more budget for this, but the customer's desire for sunny footage made it worthwhile. "Weather is always a challenge when filming in a location like Sweden," said Johan. "You plan ahead, but it's impossible to know what the weather will be like. You try to find sunny days, but there's always a risk of bad weather."
The Volvo C40 Recharge attracted a lot of attention in Stockholm, with people stopping to take photos.
Johan and Florian found KLASH's lack of caption on data storage compared to alternative services valuable. The team also appreciated KLASH's ability to complement "takes'' in live mode, reducing the need for uploading dailies and saving time and cloud storage costs. "With KLASH, we can do a customer call-back between shots and scenes," said Johan.
Director Johan Von Reybekiel said, "Our customer in Japan wanted to communicate directly with our production team in Sweden without having to travel. KLASH's cutting-edge live streaming technology allowed us to provide our customers with crisp HD quality in real-time from Stockholm, while saving time and travel costs."
Organising The Material
The Låt Det Regna production team appreciated the possibility to control KLASH directly from on set cameras. Starting a new stream when starting and stopping the camera, which generated takes. They thought it was good that it took care of itself. Placing recordings for the different shots in chronological order in the version history in KLASH Studio, with the latest shot in the top. After that, having the possibility to markup in a timeline.
Cloud folder structure was as simple as different folders for different locations. Director Johan Von Reybekiel edited raw files on his laptop computer. The video editor was Adobe Premiere. Proxies were in H.264 and master files in Apple ProRes.
On KLASH, new versions can easily be shared with the customer through “stacking”, where you drag and drop files on top of each other to update the versions in the customer's share links.
In total, the production resulted in 4 TB material from cameras Red, Alexa and DJI drone.
Effective communication is crucial to the success of any production. For the Låt Det Regna production team, Slack and call backs were the primary communication tools used between the agency and the customer in Tokyo, as well as between Låt Det Regna and the agency in Sweden. Slack's integration with KLASH allowed team members to easily share updates and screenshots with each other. Meanwhile, call backs provided the team with a full-screen viewing experience, freeing up their hands to operate the cameras. By communicating in Japanese with the customer and Swedish with the agency, language barriers were eliminated, allowing for smoother collaboration. Clear and efficient communication was essential for keeping the production on track and achieving the desired results.
The Post Production Workflow
Once the project was reconnected to the original camera files, it was back "online". Viktor Tegreus from We Are Shook handled the online editing, while Johan Wiman handled the colour grading. Martin Mighetto was in charge of sound. The production team used local resources in the strong film hub of Hornstull in Stockholm, Sweden.
In terms of the audio workflow, all sound was added in post. Johan highlighted the importance of sound in the project and provided examples of sound reviews, such as "Great sound in Södermalm (a famous area in Stockholm), but we need a happier sound in Gamla Stan (the old town) - more 'Euphoria'. When you drive into the alleys, it feels a little eerie. 'Have you heard about Stockholm's bloodbath?'"
Within just a few weeks, the team had done around 10 rounds of reviews with the client through KLASH share links.
Quality Control (QC) was performed visually to check for black pixels, borders, and any other errors in the movie. Due to the relatively short format, this was not a major issue and did not require an automation tool.
The final deliverables were two movies for the Volvo Cars Japan showroom in Tokyo. These movies will be shown on a 5 x 2.5 metre LED display in the Volvo Cars flagship store and in the Volvo Cars app for the launch of the Volvo C40 Recharge. The app technology incorporates both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
"KLASH is interesting in that you can go from production to post production and screening on one platform with grade A security. The KLASH team is talented, and the support we received is best-in-class," said director Johan Von Reybekiel.
The Bottom Line
Låt Det Regna had a cutting-edge workflow through preparation, organisation, and communication. However, no matter how good the technology, the story is central to the final outcome. Director Johan Von Reybekiel explains, "This was one of the biggest challenges in the project - how to tell a story from Stockholm, but from a driver's and car's point of view." Johan and Florian used creative speakers to tell stories about characters that represent Stockholm. They showcased the winter bathers, Swedish "fika", Swedish dads, and a musician girl who spoke about Stockholm culture. Sustainability was also an important part of the project.
Capturing what Sweden is all about was essential for Johan in the demo reel. "We drove around in Stockholm to tell a story about what's special about Stockholm and 'Stockholmare.' The other movie tells a story about where Stockholm is located: the environment, lakes, snow, ice, water, and bridges," he said. The first movie ended with the famous weather phenomenon, the Northern Lights, just as the film crew passed the city hall in Stockholm. "You don’t get much more fortunate than that," Johan said with a smile. "That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Johan explains that Japanese people find Swedish "fika" and taking coffee breaks during working hours very strange. They can relate to winter bathers a bit more, but they find it odd that Swedes do it in the middle of the town. "In Japan, it's more of a ritual," Johan says.
So what was the easiest part of the production? "Recruiting winter bathers," said Johan. "There was enormous interest from people of different ages. Swedish people are very proud of this tradition."
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