Gloss

Soft Test

The Result

With over 2.5M views on YouTube – this film has not just been a crowd-favorite, it has also won some heavy-weight awards like the Silver Cannes Lion and Bronze Clio in 2014.

Of all the films we’ve done, this is the one that always brings a smile to viewer’s faces – probably because viewers are all too familiar with the roller-coaster called “parenthood” – where kids can be heart-meltingly cute for a moment, and totally mess with your priorities soon after.

The Brief

Kids of a crawling age are tasked with a simple choice – something soft or something else. Whatever they touch, the parents can take home.

Seems simple enough – right? Except the old adage of filming with kids (and animals) is most certainly true.

When the Ogilvy team shared the brief with us, we were more excited about the core idea and where the film could go than the complexity of the project to come. The potential of the idea was great and we were delighted to be part of it.

The team at Ogilvy had seen some of our previous work with kids and they liked our approach of capturing true scenarios in an honest way – so we went and discussed how to tackle what we collectively believed could be a wonderful and fun film.

Pre-production

We came to the party with ideas around how to embellish Ogilvy’s great idea, and we also brought some key experiences of working with kids on our previous projects.

Finding twelve families with crawling-age-kids meant a narrow casting window – but we also had to cast families from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, the target audience of the film.

The initial idea was to take the production to each of the three countries, but then we figured that it would be more efficient if the families flew to us as it would allow us more control over the aesthetics. So, we turned to our partners in each of the three countries to cast families locally and to start looking for expat families living in Singapore.

Since we had a shortage of Vietnamese families, we visited Vietnam to cast families on the ground and we took our cameras to document a behind-the-scenes film that would supplement the final film.

At an early stage to building, we decided that we wanted an environment where real families could participate in a fun and engaging way. A safe and natural environment was key to the integrity of the film – because it’s hard to fake honest scenarios with real people.

The scheduling of the families was tricky – as anyone with young kids will know – you have a narrow window in the day that young children will be on form for crawling and to be inquisitive, so we had to map out naps and feeding times for our young cast, then plan their involvement from there.

Finally, we understood that it might be unnerving for parents to leave their kids in a space that was perhaps a little out of reach for them, so we had to set the parents up in a room that was literally adjacent to the kids. We had considered the parents to be with the kids or for them to cheer them on (like a footie manager), but it was decided that the aesthetic would be simpler and cleaner if parents and kid were separated.

Production

The truth of filming with kids is that it can be a lot of fun – but the trick is to plan for all eventualities with plan B and C at hand. But sometimes they write their own scripts on camera – which can be a joy to explore. Most of things the kids did in the film is what comes naturally to them – rolling over on their backs, crawling in the opposite direction and the occasional fit of laughter, all of which ended up in the final film.

Once we had the environment and vibe on set sorted – we turned our focus to getting the right coverage with our cameras. Knowing that kids will be kids, we had to get a lot of angles covered for all eventualities. Our primary cameras were two RED Epic cameras shooting 4K that gave us extra options in post-production. One camera on the parents and another on a dolly to track the kids. We then supplemented this setup with Canon 5D cameras with a birds-eye-view for geography – which really came into its own when one of the kids diverted away from the un-soft toy at the last moment – and another to document a more candid angle for all eventuality.

Of course the film isn’t just about the scenario, we had to allow a second day’s shoot to allow for the filming of the props, the faceless professor’s hands and other crafted shots that didn’t involve the families. It was important that this aesthetic was allowed – to elevate the production value of the film and for it to feel like a crafted experiment.

Post-production

By the time we stepped into editing – we were confident of weaving a number of different narratives that could potentially be included in the end film.

After a bit of back-and-forth, the music direction was decided which gave the film a less obvious approach whilst keeping true to the initial idea by Ogilvy. The truly tricky bit was deciding which shots to use that conveyed the variety of emotions best – but it definitely helped that we had lots of good moments in the can.

The kids’ impromptu shenanigans made it a lot more complicated for us to lead the narrative, but it was truly incredible to see that the Ogilvy team and the client weren’t afraid to liberate the film by exploring this thread during post production.

The online meant removing a few things from the shot – such as the occasional TV cord or cameraman in the back of shot and of course balancing the camera types.

The fun of the experiment, the jeopardy for the parents and the cute kids framed by the laboratory environment really came together in the end in a fun and beautiful way, whilst remaining simple and real – true to the original concept by Ogilvy.

Looking back at this film we feel it’s a combination of all the great things that Hurrah can bring to a project; a motivated team with processes and familiarity to move quickly and efficiently on a technical and large scale project with multiple moving parts; creativity & the ability to weave a strong and fun narrative.