Watch Party is a Q&A style interview series where we discuss a recent Demo Duck video production with the team that brought it to life.
The project team of Katie Williamson, Kelsie Ozamiz and Jake Allen sat down to watch their latest work and discuss their approach to this corporate video production for Twisthink.
And how they found an airport bench at the 11th hour…
Where did the inspiration come from to show a behind-the-scenes look at the Twisthink process?
Kelsie: So, Twisthink helps companies solve big problems in interesting ways. Their whole thing is twisting the way we think about everyday issues. But it’s tough to explain that high-level process to a potential client. So we thought it’d be great to let our audience be a fly-on-the-wall and show how Twisthink’s team collaborates to solve problems. We then added some trademark DD energy by making it a timed challenge, filmed docu-style, almost like a branded video production instead of a company testimonial. Some would say it’s like a tech sprint, I say it’s like Project Runway.
What did it take to get Twisthink on board with a concept that not only utilized staff as on-screen talent, but gave them a homework assignment?
Katie: We knew this type of documentary-style video would be a really good fit with them based on how enthusiastic they are about what they do. And they were ready and excited to be a part of it from the jump. Our direct client helped pick team members who they knew would be comfortable on camera and motivated to participate, which was a great help and just the sort of creative collaboration we love to do with clients.
Twisthink's process has so many components to it. How did you approach trying to capture all these moments?
Kelsie: There’s a focus that comes with knowing you can’t capture everything—and that maybe you shouldn’t. There’s parts of the process—like someone pushing pixels around on a laptop screen—that just aren’t as visually interesting for video. We worked with their team to determine what would be valuable for a potential client to see, but would also be engaging for any viewer.
Katie: Setting those expectations in advance was super helpful, because it lets us craft a shot list of everything we wanted to capture. Then, it was about getting in the mix during the actual shoot and seeing where the energy and inspiration was taking the Twisthink team. Our two cameramen (Ryan Luciani and Jon Hamblin) pursued a lot of cool, spontaneous ideas, and it felt really seamless.
“Hey, I’m going to ask this person to share what he just said direct-to-camera.” “What if we captured this for b-roll?”
Everyone had a lot of fun shooting because they were allowed that agency.
Tell me the story of the airport bench.
Katie: Ok, so once we decided that the “challenge” was going to be “twisting” how to make airport seating more comfortable and functional, we knew we needed an airport bench as a prop. The physical element would add some stakes and immerse their team in the process even more—and look great on camera. We found the bench on a certain online furniture retailer who we won’t name. You get where this is going. The price was right, the shipping timing was right…and then a few days before the shoot the client asked us “Hey, where is the seat?”
Kelsie: Ruh roh.
Katie: Turns out the delivery was delayed by two weeks. We had a small team of “Ducks” Googling airport seats and where to find them on short notice in the Midwest. Lots of good finds on Etsy and eBay but none of them were within budget or close enough to pick up. Fortunately, the client works with Herman Miller and was able to do some leg work and procure a high quality seat easily and quickly. We always try to handle tasks like this for our client, but we appreciate them using their connection.
Kelsie: For what it’s worth, it would have been fun to keep the roadtrip going to the Antique Mall in Sawyer, Michigan.
There's a slick shot of a sketch with a shifting perspective. Why did you choose to add that moment and how was it created?
Jake: Stylistically, the live action stuff was all really well put together and had a lot of dynamic energy to it. So, cutting to a close-up static image of a sketch seemed a little jarring within the context of this particular edit. So we hacked it!
We all thought it would be cool to use 3D to recreate their office environment and add some motion to these stills. A lot of the tables within the Twisthink office were bare wood, so I snagged a matching wood material from a 3D reference library. I then built the shot to look like someone was capturing it on camera. A slight angle…light coming through a theoretical window…and a shallow depth of field that indicates a zoom. Then animating the camera to move around it and rotating the lights slowly provided that nice timelapse effect.
We did this a few times in the video and it really helps keep the pace and energy we were shooting for.
How did you approach the edit?
Katie: Even with Kelsie creating a structure and shot list, we still had two cameras filming and hours and hours of footage by the end of the day. Going into post, we knew we wanted to work with an editor who was comfortable handling that much footage and the openness of the storyline. That editor was Anthony Casanova. He was able to take Kelsie’s notes on the overall structure of the story and really turn around a very solid first draft quickly. It gave us a really strong start to post production.
Kelsie: Obviously, it helps to have great footage. And pre-production helps too! But the edit is where the story comes together. He was able to process all of our guidance and put it into the edit—while also adding emotion and pacing, which was his expertise.
Any final thoughts on how everything came together?
Jake: It was cool to take something that is very “everyday” for Twistthink and make it really punchy, energetic and interesting. It kinda felt like we got to twist their own view of the process with the video!
Kelsie: Even with all the preparation, it still felt like a huge leap of faith. Which was exciting. We didn’t know what exactly we were going to capture, but we knew the client was aligned with the creative vision and down to help make it work. Also, shouts out to Katie. Having such an amazing producer is always a great help. She really pulled it all together. She even gave me a ride to Holland, Michigan. She was my spiritual chauffeur throughout the entire process.