South African Suzuki shot on Canon EOS 7Ds

by planetmitch18 Comments

UPDATE: Added a Behind the Scenes vid at the bottom!

The other day, Marc from Unleashed contacted us about this cool South African Suzuki Canon EOS 7D commercial – and he's gone into great detail about the making of the commercial – which really gives you more appreciation of how things like this are accomplished (especially for those of us like me who aren't in the commercial business). Thanks for sending all of this in Marc!

Redrock Micro

From Marc:

Unleashed were commissioned to create a 30 second TV commercial for Suzuki South Africa. I wrote the following up to demonstrate the process from start to finish

The concept for the ad was to showcase each vehicle in the range and transition between them in a really eye catching style.

The ad would breakdown to about 80% footage and 20% motion graphics, my partner Ryan is the VFX genius at Unleashed, we spent a good few days working out how we were going to incorporate the footage with the graphics, and more importantly, how we needed to shoot the set up shots for him to animate – was a bit complicated but the end result is awesome!

Story Boards

I wanted to use strictly HDSLR's for the shoot, client wasn't convinced sure as all their previous ads ad been shot with film. South Africa is generally film biased, its a uphill battle to convince anyone to use anything different, especially if no one else has.

Penquin has a really cool creative director, his attitude was that if we are confident, he is confident. Awesome!

I was directed to the Bandito Bros for inspiration by one of my twitter friends – thx @VisionWrangler – we watched the M3 viral ad and got some cool ideas from it.


2 x Canon EOS 7D
GoPro HD

The Go Pro HD produced some amazing shots, this camera is well worth the price, use as a crash cam, splash cam.. etc

Canon 16mm-35mm L F2.8
Canon 15mm-85mm Kit F2.8
Canon70mm-200mm IS F2.8
Sigma 30mm Prime F1.4
Sigma 50mm Prime F1.4
Tokina 11mm-16mm F2.8
The 16mm-35mm was the star of the show!

Grip stuff:
A Panther multi mount kit was utilized for the car mounted shots.
A 4m Jimmy Jib was used for tracking jib and standard jib shots.

Swit 7″ and 8″ HDMI and Composite HD/SDi monitors

Matte Box
Genus Matte Box

Ca Vision Shoulder Brace / rails / follow focus
Genus Rails / Chroziel Follow Focus
Manfrotto 519/525
Secced 100mm Tripod

Syngh-Ray Vari ND
3 /6 /9 4×4 filters
Optic Flats
Polarizer 4×4 and Screw on

Zoom H4n

The Shoot

We shot over 2 days and a night.

The shoots all had their own challenges. The night shoot was really scary for the DOP and his Focus Puller, we had them strapped to the back of my van traveling over a bridge very late at night. Drunk students driving home were encountered on the bridge, lots of communication had to happen between crew to keep everyone safe. The local traffic department did not help close off the bridge as planned – thanks guys!

The race track scene with the Swift sport has to be my favorite, we used the Jib alot and had loads of fun skidding the car round the corners. My stunt driver couldnt get the hand brake turn right at the end, so i jumped in and nailed it.. its a given though that he would annihilate me around the track if we were racing for time.

4×4 Jimny, what a great location, the 4×4 track was right behind the track used for the Swift – Bonus! this shoot was a lot of fun, dirt, mud, long grass, awesome shots.

The Moto X track with the car, bike and plane was epic, we had ground to air comms with the pilot, i was directing the bike when to pull off to try and meet the plane mid air, 10 takes later and we had the shot! Professionals all around. My wife was drifting the SX4 on the Moto X track, she did a great job, and only almost ran me over once or twice.. Cindy was that intentional :)

The family shots and Grand Vitara had a different set of challenges, too much light in some areas and not enough in others. We used large polyboards to bounce light and get the shots of the car under the palm leaves lit well. End result is pretty good, the car coming out of the shadows looks pretty good. Happy. The follow shots were as before, crane and operators strapped to the back of the truck and driven around a beautiful leafy area in Johannesburg.

These pics were taken by Penquins pro photographer, Martin – thx dude :)

Photos copyright Martin

And that was a wrap!

Lots of post production took place, the footage did not need much grading, drop blacks, bit of saturation – we shot, very flat. Ryan created the zoom through transitions, they were made up from stills and footage and comped together in After Effects.

Simon from created a completely custom one off track for the ad, live musicians and vocal were recorded to keep with the “way of life” payoff line.

The client is completely over the moon with the end result! They now do not see the point of using film and only want to use HDSLR going forward.. result!

60 Second version (exclusive to planet5D)

Suzuki 60sec version from dialate Unleashed on Vimeo.

30 SecondVideo version

Suzuki 30sec commercial from dialate Unleashed on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading, Hope you enjoyed it. Any questions are welcome!!


Behind the Scenes:

Suzuki Behind The Scenes from dialate Unleashed on Vimeo.

We shot a Suzuki commercial recently.. heres some behind the scenes footage.

(Photo credit: snap from one of Martin's pix)



  1. Firstly…ooks great!

    I’m suprised you used a crane in the back of a truck…I’ve tried that years ago and just can’t get it smooth. Even with the de-shake software and shoot it with the highest shutter speed it still doesn’t look right. How was your experience with that?

    Thanks for sharing this info…very cool.

    1. it was tricky, but we tested before hand and used FCP’s smoothcam plug in, plus a few shots were motion tracked in After Effects..

      Thanks for the positive feedback

  2. wow!…
    ok, so yes they shot it on a 7d, but this is a seriously terrible ad, really terrible. i work in post production and im totally amazed that this got to air!

    check out the 30 sec vid at 22 sec in, its a comped shot, a photo of the car plonked in there with the wrong lighting and the people are lit completely wrong. then the zoom through! eugh! did they seriously have a director on this? i looked up the guys that did this and they are one of those budget marketing agencies.

    suzuki really got what they paid for with this one… very little.

    1. thanks for your feedback. you sound a touch bitter? as was stated, story boards and concept were all passed through Suzuki. They had seen a previous ad that we created for Sony and wanted a similar effect during the transitions – hence the zoom through.

      Lars Cox was the DOP and a seriously accomplished one at that, i assure you, the lighting is correct.

      I directed the shoot.

      If you work in post production and you are so quick to slate my company, why the anonymous name, no website or a company link to where you work, or the work you have done.

      Have a great day buddy :)

      1. marc, i apologise for sounding so harsh i really do, i never meant to slate your ad, i saw your twitter post and clearly it made you very angry and for that i apologise.

        it was just that one shot that concerned me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the rest of the ad.

        i have worked in post production for many years and that shot really stood out to me. i really never meant to have a go at your company or the people working there. ive seen your reel and you guys do great work.

        my sincere apologies again and keep up the great work.

  3. This post is really great.

    It’s always very interesting to see and know how people in general, professionals and studios use these fantastic cameras.

    We can still remember how hard we all pushed to show and spread the huge potential that the 5D Mark II has, and then the later cameras with Full HD capabilities.

    Thanks a lot to The Unleashed and Planet5D for sharing this VERY interesting information! It is much appreciated.

    Very rarely we can find so much details of a production.

    P.S.: We still dedicate our best efforts to help on improvements for the 5D Mark II (a firmware update will come in near future to fix the issue we have been reporting, and maybe incorporate some new features… The later will also depend on users’ requests to Canon, so don’t hesitate!) but we also support improvements for all Canon DSLRs.

  4. Looks great and I’m excited that you were able to prove to your client that they can shoot with these cams, very cool!

    I’m curious what frame rate(s) and resolution(s) you shot at?

    Awesome breakdown of the entire process, thanks!

  5. Fascinating. But does everyone in Africa wear those hats and shorts? Maybe the DP should make a trip to wardrobe? Just kidding guys. Great work and congratulations.

    1. Optic Flats are protective filters that you put over your glass, will protect the lens from flying stones, dirt, mud etc..

      nice ad bud.. i like it ;) good job

  6. Great job guys.

    And even greater breakdown and generous spirit to have such a detailed behind-the-scenes account of the whole thing.

    Is the reason to shoot on 7D a budget concern? Because as much as I love HD (and I shoot mostly in that format) cars in general still look better shot on film.

    You guys did a fantastic job and I love the whole thing – just wondering what the main reason was to shoot using HD?


    1. Thanks for the comments and the intelligent response ;)

      In a perfect world we would all love to shoot on film, budgets are prohibitive and have been slashed by 60-70% from previous years – the guys quoting on film are not getting the work.

      We are getting a comparable result with HD, it might not have 100% the look of film in how it takes in light etc – but im happy with it.

      The client was very happy with the end result – more so than their last ad, which was shot on film!

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