Shining a Light on Remote Production with Hostage Films

When developing a digital and social spot for Candleosophy meditation candles, director Ruben Latre was faced with a new challenge, one he had not yet encountered during his 20 year career: due to COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home requirements, Ruben was tasked with producing the commercial from start to finish in his home in New York City.

Latre owns New York City-based Hostage Films, a full-service commercial film production company and creative content studio producing films, television commercials, branded/digital content and music videos. No stranger to delivering premium content for his clients despite unforeseen conditions, Latre was quickly able to pivot from shooting the Candleosophy spot with a full cast and crew on location, to developing a new premise, and shooting and completing post production all within 10 days at home.

Thankfully, Latre has a post production studio in his house complete with a Mac Pro workstation, monitor, color grading panel, as well as Blackmagic Design’s UltraStudio 4K capture and playback device and DaVinci Resolve Studio for grading.

Working from Home

“I started my career in post production as a motion graphics designer and editor, so I’m really comfortable with the post workflow,” explained Latre. “Even though I am hired as the director or director/DP on most of my projects, I always edit, color correct and sound design my director’s cut by myself at home.”

With an at-home post production studio already in place, Latre was able to grab his camera and start shooting. The spot features close-up shots of flowers, wheat, wood, feathers, leaves, crystals, honeycomb and more organic items, helping to invoke the different candle scents. Shot with natural light, the spot is calm and serene with light music.

“We had originally discussed the feeling of being in a meditation,” said Latre. “The spot was never supposed to be just showing candles. I tried to go for a raw feeling, but at the same time stylized.”

“Since the commercial was more about the vibe than the product, grading really helped set the tone. It was also important, as a candle company, to try to convey the sense of smell through the visuals; macro and intimate. Grading was used as an extension of that mood,” added Latre.

Finding Balance

Latre relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio to help finesse the color, achieving a perfect balance between the raw, stylized look. Highlighting and pushing the tones that he captured in-camera, he was able to retain the natural light, crisp footage and tranquil feel.

“I love all the capabilities of DaVinci Resolve Studio. I think it makes the difference in everything I do,” noted Latre. “I spend a lot of time looking at colors, thinking about the mood and testing looks. Color correction and sound design, I believe, are two of the most important parts of the finished product.”

Latre added that DaVinci Resolve Studio’s all-around ease of use is also beneficial to his overall workflow. “When I edit, I first trim my selects in DaVinci Resolve Studio’s editing page, then I color correct my selects in the color page. There’s a seamlessness in transitioning from page to page in DaVinci Resolve Studio and having all the tools there as my needs dictate,” he said.

Having used DaVinci Resolve Studio on more than 50 projects, as well as Blackmagic Design’s Micro Cinema Camera in the past for creating unique angles on certain projects, Latre frequently turns to Blackmagic Design to bring his projects to life.

“On other projects, I’ve found DaVinci Resolve Studio’s stabilization feature really helpful, and I love the color space transformation plug-in, as well as the skin tone retouching,” he concluded. “Blackmagic Design gear, and DaVinci Resolve Studio in particular, has enabled me to create looks I never before could have. I’ve been grateful for access to this software for a long time, but now more than ever.”

About Hostage Films

Founded in 2012, Hostage Films is a commercial film production company, working worldwide on commercial and narrative content. Led creatively by director Ruben Latre, Hostage Films takes pride in full creative collaboration, relentless vision and production excellence.

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