Last month, we saw a behind-the-scenes look at the cinematography and production of Apple’s vibrant HomePod ad directed by Spike Jonze. Today, the video editor behind the film has shared an inside look at the post-production process and his own creative workflow with Frame.io.
Following its premiere in early March, Apple’s 4 minute HomePod ad was an instant hit, racking up nearly 9 million views on YouTube alone. The film’s dramatic use of color and surreal environments led to many questions about the technical aspects of its production, including the use of practical effects vs. CGI. In AdWeek’s behind-the-scenes video, we learned that most of the shots were entirely practical. The ad’s editor, Jeff Buchanan, provides more color:
With such a tight turnaround, we didn’t have time for lots of VFX that might take months to finish, so almost everything was shot in camera. Other than the mirror dance scene, where we had some motion control shots, pretty much everything else was practical.
Buchanan notes that the film’s tight, 2 week post-production schedule was a driving force behind not only the technical production of the piece, but his editing workflow as well. Having worked with Jonze for over 15 years, Buchanan is no stranger to demanding schedules. Past projects include award-winning films like Her, and ads for major brands like Audi and Porsche.
…Within 2 hours of shooting we were already editing in the corner of the stage. Footage came off the camera, to the DIT for transcoding, to my assistant editor, and then we were cutting.
Jonze and Buchanan wished to convey strong feelings and emotions through the film by building a strong relationship between the viewer and FKA Twigs’ character. By setting a somber tone early in the ad, a dramatic transformation could occur as HomePod fills the room with sound.
Emotions were as important to the editing process as they were to the viewer experience itself. Buchanan made cuts based on his instincts, rather than relying on his tools to do the heavy lifting. The end result was a piece that felt more human and relatable.
Editors need to trust their feelings. When you watch something, pay attention the first time you see footage. Be very conscious of everything, and then get right into the editing. Don’t have a bunch of different openings, just go with what really grabs you. It’s all about trusting your instincts.
The full interview on the Frame.io blog is full of technical details about the equipment and software used in the film that videographers and editors alike will appreciate. Interestingly, the ad was edited using Avid Media Composer, not Apple’s own Final Cut Pro X. Buchanan also shares more of his creative insight, including the important role that sound design played in the piece.