Two men looking at a wireless monitor on a film set

For Crewcible, working hard is in our genes; working smart is something we’ve had to learn over the last 15 years in the game.

And speaking of games, one of our biggest challenges was shooting one thousand tutorial (yep that’s 1000) videos and six cinematic, branded videos in ten days.

Here’s the story of how we did it. 

We love working with cutting edge companies in product development. A few years ago we did a lot of work with an emerging Melbourne app development company providing regular branded content. We had regular opportunities to make promotional content for several interesting tech clients in the app space. OnTheBall Global was one of them. OnTheBall is a football coaching app that allows its users to coach themselves with world class soccer training techniques.

When I first met my client, I knew he was a man with a big idea. Exactly how video was an integral part of that, I was yet to find out.

I was sitting in his new house in Melbourne listening to his story. He was explaining how he wanted us to work together and what his vision was...but first I had to know about his history. Turns out he was an ex-professional level football player (soccer for some of us). He played at the top level for years. After a groin injury, he turned to coaching and helped many dedicated younger players make it to the big leagues. Through this he had many high level connections to the multi-billlion-dollar international football business.

I had just finished shooting a dozen tutorial videos for another client's Youtube channel. My new client had seen these and he liked our work and the Crewcible style. He told me he wanted to create an app from which young players could access professional level training in their own backyards. He imagined hundreds of football drills available via smartphones or tablets with a small membership fee. I was intrigued.

After an hour of brainstorming the best ways to shoot the drills, we went to the nearest soccer pitch and shot a test clip. I brought along my Panasonic GH5 with Sigma 18-35 ART series with me. It was a wet and foggy Melbourne morning. The grass was slick with condensation. We managed to get some really great test shots and our personal dynamic was just as good. After that we went for coffee excited about the idea. I flew back to the studio in Canberra the next day to edit it together.

My client decided he liked the test clip and we then proceeded to lock in the logistics for shooting one thousand tutorial videos and six commercial quality branded videos (which we could then downsize for social media use) in ten days. The goal was to build a strong body of content to market along with all the video content necessary to launch the app. So we planned a ten day production shoot, with a one day break in between. A huge project undertaking!

Pre-production began and our producers began to sort through all of his coaching methods and lock in the scheduling for the tutorial videos.

Over the next three months Crewcible Studio scripted, produced, and location scouted for several different scenes to best capture the extent of training opportunity provided through the app. We visited rooftop soccer fields throughout Docklands, North Melbourne. We explored several stadiums and went deep into the city to find graffiti etched walls for more urban/street feeling vibes.

Simultaneously, we decided on our crew. For the TV commercials we needed a full commercial production crew, close to fifteen people. We wanted a full size crane so we could get some nice shots with the RED Epic 6k camera. The size of the film crew was mainly due to the number of locations and lighting requirements we were looking to hit. We decided the tutorials could be shot with a smaller crew, with myself as lead cameraman, and two camera assistants helping me run the DJI gimbal and looking after the mini jib with the Sony A7S and FS5. We also had a professional video producer looking after the locations, scheduling of tutorials for the day, the football talent and the clients. As in movie shoots, it was important to keep us fed and watered when creating such a large body of video content.

OnTheBall was busy arranging the professional talent, and not long before the shoot date, three football players who used to play for Chelsea in the Premier League flew down to join us for the duration of the shoot. I’m not naming names but maybe you can recognise them from the photos. It was breakfast at the same spot, at the same time every morning for ten days. I then began to understand this was going to be a massive shoot, and I was the one directing while also carrying the gimbal!

We decided to go all out and shoot the majority of the complex footage at the start. The crew was large and that was going to require some coordination given the problems of parking and the accessibility of the locations. The first day we hit up two of the major locations to film each of the talent in their scenario. We rolled in as a pack, this included cranes, trolleys, lights and permits. We then did the same the next day. The TV commercials went off without a hitch, save for a very muddy road into the graffiti warehouse. Thanks to the absolutely professional crew from Melbourne for all their hard work, and the crew from Canberra who travelled down for the extensive project.

Over the next four days we slowly chipped away at the tutorial video at a rate of about one hundred and twenty videos a day. These footballers were phenomenal in their performance and endurance. Running back and forth for eight hours a day? Oh yeah, I had to keep up with them. We then took a one day break to recover and rest before jumping into the final four days of shooting. After the final shot it was hugs all round.

In terms of camera gear, we shot the majority of the tutorial content on Sony A7S II camera series. The auto-focus, when combined with Sony lenses, was far superior to any other camera at the time. This was a huge benefit when shooting several drills over and over again. Especially when the players would make errors alongside the cameraman. Over ten days people definitely got tired and mistakes were made and the complex drills required perfection on the final shot.

We weren't settling for anything less. Our professional social and behind the scenes photographer was also using a Sony camera for the same reasons as above.

Other essentials on the equipment list include the DJI Ronin-M series gimbal. Lightweight enough to be able to carry all day and much easier to be rigged for low to the ground shots than newer models - especially when you’re running. We shot our high-end promotional commercials over two days using a RED EPIC-X 8k with Orion Anamorphics. Data management for the project was looked after using LACIE Rugged TB drives, about ten terabytes in total. The post-production took place on an Apple MacPro, grading on Final Cut with some round-tripping between Adobe After Effects and Premiere for motion graphics and minor tweaks.

Things learned: Schedule generously, wear short and hats, you can never drink enough water on set, back up data three times and throughout the day.

Taking on epic video projects like this is what we love doing. We knew it was going to be a big task but video production is what excites us and getting our clients return on investment is most important. OnTheBall now has over 20,000 subscribers on both Apple and Google Play's stores and it grows each day. We get excited knowing that our videos help children who might not have access to professional coaching, and can give them the skills to reach the top of their game. If you are looking for the best football coaching app available, download it and check it out for yourself.

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