BASF - Biologicals
Bringing a unique vision to life with cloth plants and a bank vault.
We’ve all seen trade show videos. They’re often a collection of type-driven pieces and less than stellar CGI. We wanted to give BASF something more eye-catching with a human touch.
Director Adam Cohen saw a connection in the natural elements of BASF Biologicals and the natural look of practical props. It became the driving force behind the video’s concept. With this vision in place, it was time for execution.
Prototype of Plant Build
Enter master production designer Spike Hoban.
“We went through a whole slew of possible solutions before landing on the one that was just the most obvious.” – Spike Hoban, Production Designer
That obvious answer? Shoot everything upside down.
At the moment of “action,” a felt plant would hang upside down, appearing fully grown and standing tall through each pegboard hole. Then the plant would be pulled back up, looking like it disappeared into the ground. The final footage would be reversed and flipped to make the plants appear to grow toward the sky. Easy – right?
Now all we needed was a makeshift pegboard, a pulley system, 1152 yarn stalks, and 3500 individual cloth petals hand-tied to each stalk.
Such a large undertaking needed a large space to work in. We enlisted the help of a local realtor to find the right space where Spike could hide away, crank up the music, and drill 1152 holes into MDF board. That space happened to be an abandoned bank vault. It’s hidden somewhere underneath the streets of downtown Raleigh. Ask Spike about it and maybe he’ll let you in on its secret location.
Once the pegboard ground was prepared, the plants all hand-tied together, and each one pulled through the holes with tiny surgical forceps, it was time to put the whole thing together.
On the other side of the plant peg board was an assembled bamboo lattice structure that acted as a grid connected to the bottoms of the plants. This was rigged up to a cable mounted to a pulley on the ceiling. The entire contraption was operated by a hand crank to give the illusion of plants growing from the ground for our shoot day.
“There was a great symbiotic relationship between myself, the art director [Brittain Peck], and our ‘mad tinkerer’ Spike. We kept throwing him challenges, and he relished solving each one.” – Adam Cohen, Director
The edit was unusual – put the thing down, flip it and reverse it – but it brought the whole piece together. The production may have been upside down, but we delivered a video that was just right (…side up).