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Atomos: Create A Sporty Spec Ad

Posted on Apr 10, 2024 by FEED Staff

Passion Project

Being a freelance creative typically involves taking a gamble, pitching your ideas without much (if any) financial guarantees

Sponsored editorial 

Such is the case with a spec ad – short for speculative advertisement – which serves as a showcase of artistic and technical ability, with the hope of eventual employment in mind.

Wanting to add a bit more sport to his portfolio, videographer and editor Michael Fitzpatrick shot a spec ad for Nike using the tagline ‘You’re making a show of yourself’ – a positive twist on an Irish slang phrase.

He gathered a cast of Irish athletes – including Cilín Greene, Daniel Flanagan, Aiesha Wong and Ella Thompson – who excel in sprinting, CrossFit, dance and boxing respectively.

First thing’s first

Fitzpatrick first asked his friend to create a previs in a Nike-inspired style before reaching out to any talent.

This provided a solid foundation for the project, communicating the overall vision via stock footage, akin to a look book or storyboard.

Fitzpatrick then shared this with the prospective athletes, giving them a taste of how the final video might turn out.

“I saw this as a good opportunity to assemble a crew and have fun while making something creative,” relays Fitzpatrick, summarising a spec ad’s laid-back nature. “It’s low pressure. Ultimately, there’s no budget riding on the success of the project, and it can be seen purely as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Getting the gear

The absence of a budget typically equates to a lack of funding. “Generally, you have to pay for everything off your own back if you want to go down this route,” admits Fitzpatrick, noting a common yet unfortunate barrier to entry.

Luckily, Atomos stepped in to sponsor the project, lending two Shogun monitors to the cause.

Paired with a Sony FX6, the monitors served Fitzpatrick and his DOP Callum Murphy in a variety of ways. “You can plug an SSD into them and record directly onto the monitors – giving you access to file formats and codecs you wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” shares Fitzpatrick, such as ProRes Raw or Avid DNxHD. Murphy ultimately settled on Apple ProRes 422 for this project.

“Painfully, the FX6 doesn’t record Raw internally,” describes Murphy. “It does output Raw.” By using the Atomos Shogun Ultra, ‘we have a lot more to play with in the dynamic range department, as well as being able to push the colours further’, elaborates Fitzpatrick.

As for optics, he and Murphy ‘wanted to give this piece a vintage, dream-like look’, leading them to a range of Helios lenses. “They allowed us to achieve this filmic look with these beautiful lens flares that I think sell the effect and bring this feeling of triumph,” Fitzpatrick concludes.

Mission completed

The project took Fitzpatrick six months from start to finish.

With the help of Murphy and producer Oisín Daly, he shot in four locations on three separate days, working with a cast of about 20 – all unpaid.

To acknowledge their generosity, Fitzpatrick shared the high-res footage and behind-the-scenes content with the athletes.

Looking back on his first spec ad, Fitzpatrick wonders if he should have done anything differently. “It was the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it,” he enthuses. “I’m really happy with how the footage looks – I’m delighted.” Regardless of whether Nike picks up the project, we’d call that a success.

This sponsored editorial was first published in the Spring 2024 issue of FEED.

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