A journey through sand - SAND Co watches (part 2 | Behind the scenes)

"SAND Co is a startup aiming to produce exquisitely unique handmade watches with the following outrageous premise - No two watches identical. As crazy as it sounds, they've actually managed to pull it off, with a unique paint dipping process to create a unique watch every single time, on every single dial." - Part I of A journey through Sand


Right from the beginning and conceptualization of the film, we knew we wanted the film to be as organic, even dreamlike, as possible. Being a 100% handmade watch from beginning to end is a unique selling point few watches are able to claim, and as such, we wanted that to reflect in the video. This called for a organic style of filming, as well as very careful framing and composition. 



Shooting at sunset with the Sony FS5

Shooting at sunset with the Sony FS5

Due to the organic and artisanal nature of the product and film, we opted to shoot the film as minimally as possible. The last thing we wanted was for the video to seem overproduced and sterile, with daylight filling lighting and overly produced camera moves. 

Our primary camera of choice was the amazing Sony FS5, it was a no-brainer, really. We needed a camera which was capable of high speed slow-motion recording, good low light performance and good dynamic range. The FS5 ticked all our boxes. Paired with the FS5 was a collection of Canon 'L' lenses. (16-35, 24-105, 100, 50). 

For camera supports, we utilized Vinten/Manfrotto tripods, a Glidecam HD2000 and Kessler's "Not-So-Pocketable" Pocket Dolly slider. As for lights, well....We decided to use the brightest light available to us - The sun. Natural light, in our opinion, felt the most natural and fitted the mood of the film best. 


Filming of the piece took place over the course of 1 month, due to the busy schedules of both us and the talents, as well as the many setups at difference locations. Logistically, it was a nightmare. Eventually, though, we pulled it off, with picture wrap in the early part of June. 

Filming was very deliberate and considered, even bordering on obsessive, with every single shot repeated to perfection. 

In a way, this was also the first time I really had the opportunity to push the FS5 to its capabilities since upgrading from the 5DMK3. Many shots involved pushing the camera to its limits, especially the low light slow motion shots. I had always known the FS5 was a capable camera, but its performance through this production surprised me thoroughly. Its ability to handle itself in challenging lighting conditions and detail retention in very high contrast situations (such as the sunset scene) was superb. Paired with Canon 'L' lenses, it really was a killer combo for a very reasonable price.

FS5 behind the scenes


Premiere timeline donald ong visuals

The next step after picture wrap is, arguably, where the magic happens. It is where a mess of over 200GB of uncut footage culminates together into one coherent piece. For this, we used Adobe's Premiere Pro CC.

Once the film is put together, it's time for colour correction and grading. This is especially crucial as we shot the entire film in S-LOG, a flat picture profile which maximizes latitude and dynamic range with very flat, dull colours, giving us the most flexibility in post

S-LOG straight out of camera

S-LOG straight out of camera

S-LOG after grading. Way better.

S-LOG after grading. Way better.

Premiere timeline

For the structure of the video, we wanted the first 3 minutes to be an introduction of the brand, with beautiful close up B-roll shots of the watch as well as interviews with the founder, Jun Hong. The last 1 minute of the film is made up of lifestyle shots filmed and edited to resemble a flashback sequence or dream, with dynamic camera moves and time ramps to capture the fleeting nature of a flashback or memory.

With the footage cut together, the audio normalized and the film colour graded, the editing process is concluded.

Stay tuned for part III, where we'll release the final film alongside the official kick-starter campaign release of SAND CO's watches. In the mean time, do watch the behind the scenes video of the filming process below!

EDIT: Part 3 live now!

A journey through sand - SAND Co watches (part I)

sand watches intro

Every once in a while, a project comes along that challenges and pushes you outside of your comfort zone - In our case it was directing & producing a 4 minute documentary-style promotional feature for SAND Co watches' kickstarter campaign.

SAND Co is a startup aiming to produce exquisitely unique handmade watches with the following outrageous premise - No two watches identical. As crazy as it sounds, they've actually managed to pull it off, with a unique paint dipping process to create a unique watch every single time, on every single dial.

blue face sand watch

When Jun Hong, the founder of SAND Co watches pitched to me the idea of creating a short documentary style promotional film for its kickstarter campaign, I was thrilled... and also challenged. Product shoots and fashion shoots aren't exactly my forte. However, not being one to back down from a challenge, I agreed - and thus began a 3-months long process, from conceiving the premise for the film, all the way to pre-production and finally post production.

As with any good film, it starts with ideation - forming the basis of the film and story-boarding. Scripting for the film proved to be a challenging endeavor due to the nature of the watch - Completely personal and individually unique. Nevertheless, after many rounds of discussions, we agreed on a finalized concept, a concept and script that would carry us through the project. 

The next step, and possibly the most crucial step, is casting. Poor casting choices can completely break an otherwise well produced film. The choice of actors can completely change the mood of the film. We decided, in the end, to cast the lovely @sunnmaomao and @boonkaewnaree to portray the couple in the film - A decision which proved to be the correct one.

cast and crew

Stay tuned for part II of the story, where I'll talk about behind the scenes of the filming and editing process, as well as the final film.