Derek Shapton – Timmie Doggie Outfitters – Behind-the-Scenes

by Jamie Rosenthal on January 17, 2011

From photographer Derek Shapton:

Back in September I received an email from Jorgen Stovne and Courtney Colomby at DDB with some interesting layouts. It was a project for a chain of high-end dog boutiques called Timmie Doggie Outfitters. They were revamping their website and the campaign would help announce their new online store. Each of the ads would feature a dog interacting with a digital hand, the kind that appears when you cursor-over a link in a web browser:

Original Layouts

After some discussion we decided that having two shots in a park/field setting would be repetitive, so one of the shots was changed to a sidewalk in a residential area. I usually hire a scout to find locations but I immediately had some ideas for where these shots might work so I did the location scouting myself. An added bonus of doing it myself was that I was able to use the shots as a lighting test. Jorgen wanted to keep it as natural and understated as we could, so we used as much ambient light as possible, keeping secondary light sources limited to reflectors and fill cards. With this in mind, I went to the various spots at the specific times of day I thought would work best lighting-wise. These are the locations we settled on. As you can see, the locations look close to how they appear in the final ads:

Location Scout © Derek Shapton

The interior shot was a bit different. We chose this house based on how the ambient light felt. But the interior light level was so low it would be difficult to stop motion and get a reasonable depth of field. So we planned on lighting this shot to match the others.

The next step was getting the hero prop built. In keeping with the “real” feeling Jorgen was after, we decided to fabricate a big, pixelated digital hand. By making an actual object to use in the shots, instead of doing it digitally in post-production, we hoped to add an extra level of believability. This way the lighting on everything would match perfectly and the dogs would have something real to interact with. And we thought it would be fun to have a big pixelly digital-looking hand! We called Franc Madden at Uplis and after some sketches and tests, he built one for us. It’s made of foamcore, plexi and plywood, with a mount on the back for fastening to a grip arm.

Hand Prop

Due to budget constraints we couldn’t use trained dogs and an animal handler, so we e-mailed friends and family and ended up with Harley, Lola, and Joe. For non-professionals, they were remarkably well behaved. I’ve worked with pro dogs who were total prima donnas and much less disciplined!

We scheduled a shoot day and a rain day, which was fortunate, because it poured on the first day, but the 2nd day was great. Here are some pics from the set showing the simple rig we used. We positioned the hand on a light-stand; we shot plates for the background and then removed the rig in post. Quite straightforward and effective. That’s Jorgen, the art director, in the shot of Harley on the sidewalk.

Behind-the-scenes © Derek Shapton

After some more back and forth, including some retouching tests, we arrived at the final product. The client was really happy and the posters look great! Keep your eyes open, they’ll be out any day!

Images © Derek Shapton

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