How do you capture the arc of a life in 60 seconds? That was the challenge Director Ian Karr and creative boutique IKA Collective were asked with for the debut of Discovery Life Channel. The :60 image spot, “Love Every Step,” captures the life story of a young woman from childhood to the birth of her own daughter. Using an immersive POV style, the campaign pushes the limits of technology while pulling on our heartstrings.
“So many people are moved by this spot, I directed it and it still chokes me up,” Karr says. “This was one of those great projects where the whole became more than the sum of the parts, kind of like life itself. For this spot to resonate, it couldn’t just look like real life, it needed to feel like real life. Only we had to condense that lifetime into two days using actors, lights, wearable cameras and visual effects. That required an approach that looks deceptively simple, but in reality was incredibly complex and nuanced.”
Shot on location in Newark, NJ and at New York-based production space Gary’s Loft, ’Love Every Step’ opens with a POV shot of a baby in her crib while her excited parents coo over her. From there we travel through a series of moments that make up a young woman’s life – birthdays, friends, first kiss – until about 20 seconds in when, just as in real life, it takes a life-altering turn courtesy of a serious car accident. The spot then adopts a redemptive tone as she recovers, falls in love with the EMT who saved her, marries and starts her own family. The spot ends with the woman and her husband watching their daughter’s first steps as a female voiceover intones, “Life is a journey. Discovery Life, love every step.”
Concept And Casting Development:
The creative for the brand spot was led by Matt Kendis, Marketing Creative Director for Discovery Communications, and Kyle Russell, Sr. Director, Marketing Production Management, who oversaw the development of the POV concept with their in-house agency creative team, led by Brett Krauss, Senior Art Director and Tara Belkin, Executive Producer. Senior Vice President Doug Seybert is at the helm of the Discovery Life Channel marketing team.
“Discovery Life is the story of life’s most challenging and rewarding moments. We wanted to make sure our introduction to the brand was relatable, immersive and an experience to remember,” Kendis says. “Ian immediately saw the potential in the concept and captured pitch perfect performances. The spot is hitting the exact notes we wanted it to, and has brought more notoriety and interest to the network than we could have anticipated.”
Casting by Elaine Del Valle would also prove a key component to success, especially for Claire Hampsey, the unseen actress that is the heart of the spot. For Karr, much would be riding on her ability to act while also wearing the camera rig that captured her perspective.
“Because we never actually see her, Claire needed to deliver especially strong vocal and physical performances to connect with the audience — all while controlling the camera,” Karr explains. “In a way I was directing her on two levels: one for her acting and another as a camera operator, which wasn’t always natural from a performance standpoint.”
For Karr and his Director of Photography Bill Winters, getting the right tone for the POV concept meant experimenting in pre-production with an array of cameras, rigs and lenses. The one that worked best was the popular consumer camera GoPro, albeit tricked out in a way few extreme sports enthusiasts that have made the wearable camera so popular would ever do.
GoPros with modified lenses on a special headband rig recorded the action to a Convergent Design Odyssey7Q recorder at 48fps. Recording ProRes at twice the intended frame rate insured maximum quality, while a wireless unit was connected to the recorder so Karr and Winters could see the camera moment and direct the action.
“GoPro was the best solution because of its small size and light weight,” Winters says. “Our actress needed to wear the camera on her head for many hours over the course of two days and anything larger would have impeded her movement and performance. We wanted her to be able to move as freely as possible and not limit her movements with a heavier camera and rig.”
He adds, “We also liked the look of the GoPro, which had a more authentic feel to it. With higher end cameras, the footage felt too polished and produced. The GoPro felt more real, and the combination of the modified lenses and the higher frame rates added to the hyper-real feeling.”
Making sure that the “real life” feeling stayed throughout the post process, Karr personally edited the spot and supervised a detailed color grading session with Roman Hankewycz at posthouse Harbor Picture Company, New York.
For Russell, because this was such an ambitious project, Discovery Life thought hard about who would be the best creative partner.
“We’ve worked with Ian and IKA before and they immediately got what we were trying to achieve,” Russell says. “Working on a giant branding spot for a network is never easy, but there was never a time when we felt like this wasn’t going to be fantastic. The heart of marketing is communication and when you create something that truly touches someone and makes them want to watch it again — that’s what we’re all striving for and what we’ve achieved here.”
About IKA Collective:
IKA Collective is more than a production company. We’re a creative collective of writers, producers, editors, directors, composers, digital artists, fashionistas, foodies and horror film fanatics who love to tell stories. Whether it’s a commercial, a network promo, a digital media project, or our own original content, IKA Collective is all about communicating in a way that entertains and gets results. Our facility includes, five edit rooms, an insert stage, digital color grading, graphics, compositing and audio mixing suites, allowing us to deliver great work at any scale. Recent clients include FOX, Discovery Channel, United Airlines, Hallmark Channel and Penguin Publishing. For more information go to http://www.ikacollective.com
About Discovery Life Channel:
On January 15, 2015, Discovery Fit & Health became Discovery Life Channel – a network that embraces all of life’s unplanned moments. Discovery Life brings viewers a kaleidoscope of human emotions and experiences through the true stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. From critical turning points to unexpected moments, Discovery Life tackles life’s surprising twists and turns. For more information, please visit DiscoveryLife.com , facebook.com/DiscoveryLifeChannel, or twitter.com/disclifechannel. Discovery Life Channel is part of Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in 220 countries and territories.
Click here to see the Discovery Life “Love Every Step” anthem spot:
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Client: Discovery Life Channel
Project: “Love Every Step” anthem spot (:60)
Network: Discovery Life Channel, Silver Spring, MD
Senior.Vice President, Marketing: Doug Seybert
Marketing Creative Director: Matt Kendis
Senior Director, Marketing Productions Management: Kyle Russell
Senior Art Director: Brett Krauss
Executive Producer: Tara Belkin
Production/Post: IKA Collective, New York, NY
Director/Editor: Ian Karr
Executive Producer: Robert Chafitz
Producer: Nattallie Schiavo
Director of Photography: Bill Winters
Visual Effects Artist: Fred Camino
Music: Musikvergnuegen, Hollywood, CA
Audio Post: Mixology, New York
Engineer: Rob Kahn
Color Correct: Harbor Picture Company, New York, NY
Colorist: Roman Hankewycz