One step “a-head’ of the common cold


The trees have lost their green petticoats, the morning frost has snuck into
gardens, woolly scarves and puffy coats have wrapped themselves over goose-
pimpled skins and summer cheer has been drowned out by a resounding choir of
sneezes and sniffs. Winter is here, bringing with it an army of mutant bugs,
designed to make one feel as if one’s brain has been replaced by a vat of
cottage cheese.

This feeling is articulated brilliantly in a new commercial which portrays a man,
who is suffering from nasal congestion, going about his everyday business with
a heavy head. Conceptualised by JWT Cape Town and produced by Platypus
Productions, the Sinutab spot hits the nail on the giant head when it comes to
showing how people feel when flu has them in its clutches.

Director Ian Chuter immediately liked the quirky concept by JWT, and felt that it
was a distinctive and memorable idea. “What was key for me was that the hero
has a heavy head, as opposed to a big head. His head is large and
cumbersome, because it is a personification of how the head cold makes him
feel; clumsy, distracted, befuddled; it has become difficult to concentrate on
simple things. As it increases in size, so we feel the weight of this more and
more. I was keen to be much more obvious about the size of his head, and start
the commercial with the head already large enough for the viewer to notice
The ad was shot at the beginning of April at a number of locations in Cape
Town, including a house in Constantia which was used for all the domestic
scenes, a bus stop in Thibault Square, a Pharmacy in Tokai and offices in
Durbanville. Along with Chuter, DOP Vicci Turpin, art director Sally White, and the
team at Searle Street Post who executed the VFX, were responsible for bringing
the simple, clever concept to life.

Chuter remarks that even when there is a pivotal post-production effect driving
a commercial, he always places focus on the performance aspect first, preferring
to un-complicate the technical side of things as much as possible.
“In this instance I was able to shoot everything live with nothing on chroma key
at all. There were no separate close-up shots for the head. This means we had
the freedom to focus completely on the actor’s performance and also have
perfect continuity,’ says Chuter.

The commercial was shot on a Red Dragon camera, which allowed the team to
shoot in such high resolution (over 5K), that they were able to zoom into the
heads to enlarge them as much as they wanted, and then connect them back to
the body. On set they were able to create still frames in Photoshop to double-
check the final size and look of each scene.

Chuter concludes: “In post-production, over and above the seamless blending of
the enlarged head back onto its body, the key thing was to be able to add
natural shadows back in, to make it look totally realistic.’


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