Smirnof Commercial

Commercial Breakdown – Smirnoff

September 30, 2014

Dan takes a look at his latest commercial grade and shares the thinking and techniques behind the grades.


I just completed one of my biggest grades to date!

The project was  an international spot for Smirnoff Vodka, which was a great adventure and a lot of fun to grade.

In this Insight, I’m going to share as much as possible with you as I can about my work on this job.

Unfortunately, I can’t show before and afters but what I can do, is talk about the decisions and thoughts that went into each scene.

The commercial was shot on Red Dragon and we worked natively off the r3d files in Resolve. At one point in the timeline (the big sliding scenes) we had 28 layers of video going on so it was an interesting challenge!

I rendered out full res DPX files for the VFX guys as there was extensive camera tracking and post work to be done so we decided working at full resolution was the safest option.

Once I finished the grade and rendered it onto a hard drive it was sent with a runner on a plane to LA as the deadline was so tight!

I’ve added some information below about the director and dop and then check out the video below for my commentary on the grade!

–  Dan

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14 thoughts on “Commercial Breakdown – Smirnoff”

    1. It wasn’t actually too bad! Most of the tracking was automatic with a couple of shots where people cross over each other I used the frame mode in the tracking panel to manually fix some bogus tracks.

      I used a lot of holdback windows in this. So for example there is a circular window on the barman’s face and then I used lots of Power Curve windows to stop the people walking on front of him getting affected by the grade.

      They key on this job was I had a lot of time so I could precisely mask things.

        1. Its hard to put a definite time on it as we did quite a lot of sessions but spread out.

          I graded most of the look in about 4 hours with the Director.

          We then spent about a day grading all the elements and plates and adding windows etc..

          We then took a break for a month while all the post happened!

          I then spent about 2 hours doing final tweaks of the CG and helping everything flow a little better.

          I’d say I probably spent about 2 days in total working on it due to there being so many layers and it being quite a complex job!

          1. Wow, thanks for the reply Dan. It’s amazing how quickly things can be done and how much value can be added to a project. Great insight!


          2. I’ve had difficulty in the past tracking eyes, is there any tips you can give for Resolve?

            Seems a lot of windows/track questions maybe good idea for a series on here?

    1. Lots and lots of feathering. I like small windows with as much feathering as possible Everything is tracked and masked quite carefully as I had enough time to fix everything by hand that was a little rough or needed refinement.

      Glad you can’t see any!

  1. Would have been beneficial to have been on set with a live grading setup? Seems like with dramatic lighting it would have helpled to know they didn’t have to flood the room with light . Does you company offer that as a service?

  2. Hey Dan,
    Sorry if I go a little bit off topic, but as the first part of the spot lives mainly in the shadows, I would like to ask if you have any technique for spotting color casts in the blacks? Like besides using the scopes, for example on footage with less color information (like GoPros). I’m somewhat new in the business and it seems very difficult to train my eyes to see when the blacks are tinted. You know the feeling when you get the shadows right and everything falls into place (considering that tints in the highlights are easier to spot and they shouldn’t be a big problem).
    I realize that there could not be a straight answer for this, but I’m really struggling lately to train my eyes for this 🙂 Cheers!

    1. Hey Man!

      Great question. I have a very low tech solution I use for this sometimes.

      Find a still image that you love the blacks in and they are all perfectly balanced.

      Import that into your project and then turn on your reference wipe In Resolve.

      I then stare at that image for a second or two and then turn off the wipe and look at my footage immediately.

      I find my eyes are more sensitive to the tints then. It may be a little blue or green etc..

      Another great method for doing this is on the viewer in Resolve zoom your image in all the way until you can see the pixels and do the same thing.

      Makes it much more obvious!

      Might not work for you but helps me for sure!


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