Behind the Scenes: Hubitat

Client: Hubitat
Location: Los Gatos, California

Hubitat came to Fossum Creative with a special request for the launch of their new smart home automation hub, Hubitat Elevation. As a small-sized startup consisting mostly of engineers, the company had their technical how-to videos covered on their side. What they wanted from us was to tell the emotional story of Hubitat Elevation - how does this product make lives better and why should people choose this new automation hub over existing ones? They needed something that would pulls some heartstrings and speak equally to their target audience of middle-aged family men who were early tech adopters and already familiar with the benefits of home automation, as well as to their wives, whose approval is often required for this sort of thing.

The Concept
We explored several concepts with the client, who fortunately green lit our favorite one. It tells the story of a father and son who decide to surprise their wife/mother by installing Hubitat Elevation and a variety of smart devices throughout the house while she is away for the day at an important meeting. The interaction between the father and son allowed us to casually mention all the key marketing points the client wanted to cover in the spot. The family dynamic at play throughout the video aimed to resonate emotionally with the desired target audience and pull on the heartstrings in ways that the company's existing instructional videos simply could not. And the story itself had enough of a dramatic arc that viewers would want to watch it through to the end to see the reaction of the wife and whether the project is finished in time.

The Cast
The script was written by Cory Fossum, principal at Fossum Creative, knowing that our Chief Shot Caller, Trish Caron (who is also his wife) would play the role of Woman. In fact, she agreed to do so before he even finished asking. However, the role of Man and Boy were originally written for "real actors" so that Cory could direct and film the spot himself. The plan was to find a 40 to 48 year old actor to play Man, while the character of Boy was supposed to be about seven years old in the original script. Easier said than done. As the shooting date grew closer and Cory grew more attached to his script, he realized that the likelihood of finding professional actors who would simply go along for the ride and perform well under his run-and-gun style of shooting was very slim. Additionally, since writing the script, the characters had become clearly defined in his head, in large part because he had based them on his own family. So it only made sense that he would play Man. And who better to play Boy than his actual son, Ethan. If the characters in a commercial are based on a real family, you may as well have the real family play those characters.

The Crew
Since he knew it would be next to impossible to both star in the spot and also operate the camera, Cory called upon his good friend and frequent collaborator, Mike Cestaro of UpAbove Creative, to fly out from Cape Cod to film and co-direct the commercial. With such similar style and working sensibilities, Cory and Mike were the perfect partnership to pull off the complexities of the shoot in the limited time they had available.

The Shoot
The Hubitat video was filmed over three very long days and nights during a weekend in January 2018. Due to some wonky lighting issues, some additional pick-up shots of Woman arriving home were reshot in April. The house in the video is located in Los Gatos, California and was provided by Mish Chadwick of Mish Designs (www.mishdesigns.com). It's even more beautiful in real life than it is in the video. Fortunately for us, Mish and her family were on vacation the week we filmed so we were able to work long days and nights without interruption. 

The Equipment
As always, we used the incredible Panasonic GH5 to film the Hubitat video in 4K. A variety of lenses were also used, including the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8, Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8, Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.4, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART, and the Rokinon 12mm f2.0. Lighting was a combination of the Aperture LS 120D with the Light Dome and IKAN LED panels. We also used the Zhiyun Crane gimbal for the opening and closing shots of the house.

Produced: Fossum Creative
Directed: Cory Fossum
Director of Photography: Michael Cestaro
Edited: Cory Fossum and Michael Cestaro
Music: Michael Cestaro

CAST:
Man: Cory Fossum
Woman: Trish Caron Fossum
Boy: Ethan Fossum

Camera: Panasonic GH5
Edited: Final Cut Pro X

 

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