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05-30-2024 - Case Study

Shot on VENICE 2: How Carlos Veron Created This Colorful, Surreal AXE Spot

By: Oakley Anderson-Moore

AXE commercials are known to be edgy, but Black Vanilla Get Closer raises the bar. It’s no surprise that Carlos Veron, who has developed a colorful, surreal visual aesthetic in the commercial world, was the DP.

He developed his sensibility, in part, by constantly reinventing himself as a cinematographer.

Growing up in Argentina, Carlos Veron had a dream: become a filmmaker. The only problem? His parents insisted he get a real job.

“Growing up in Argentina back in the late '80s, there weren't a lot of options to make a real living as an artist,” recollects Veron. He kicked it around in engineering school, but his heart wasn’t in it, so he decided to take the plunge and move to New York and become a DP.

“I always have that first image of the New York skyline tattooed in my brain from the first time I went there when I was six years old with my family,” remembers Veron. “When I did arrive to New York, it was everything but film and all the dreams that I had. It was pretty tough, to be honest with you. That city beat me up a little bit for the first four years, but it was an adventure.”

Veron slowly made his way into the industry, befriending DPs like Pete Konczal, and establishing himself in the music video world. Veron then proceeded to get into commercials, and not just any spots, but those that push the boundaries of visual reality.

His latest work for AXE, Black Vanilla Get Closer, embodies that look. 

Collaborating with Director Joseph Mann on colorful & surreal commercial work

After the pandemic, Veron moved with his wife to her home in London, England.

“I didn't know anybody here, but I was seeing things that were happening that were very different, aesthetically, from what we were creating in the States,” describes Veron.

Veron decided to go back to his roots, which had often been seen as more European- Argentinian in style. That led him to a meeting with director Joseph Mann, who he had collaborated with once before on a wild Candy Crush commercial.

“And the rest is history, because we started collaborating and the past five commercials that he's done, I've shot for him,” explains Veron. “Joseph is a dream to work with and for. He has a very strong vision and he pushes everyone to deliver the best that we can deliver. He's at the same time conscious of the production, budget, restrictions, and timing. It's something that I really appreciate and value. I get bored when things get repetitive. And with him, it's always a new set of challenges for every job. And I love that. The guy is a mad genius.”

Why Veron picked the Sony VENICE 2 for the visuals on this AXE spot

When Veron talked to Mann about the unusual and creative AXE spot, he knew the VENICE would be perfect. He paired it with ZEISS Supremes and a few odd lenses including Optex and super wide Laowa 12mm. Veron wasn’t always a Sony user. It wasn’t until he tried out the Sony VENICE on a shoot with challenging light that he changed his mind.

“I took it to the desert, and I wanted to try it in a really low light situation,” explained Veron. “There was a massive moon in the sky, and I asked the director, wouldn’t it be amazing to just be backlit by the moon?’ I pointed the camera at the moon, with a car in the distance and it was very clean, no noise. That blew my mind. And from that moment on, I started taking it along on almost 90% of the jobs that I've been doing since then for the past two years.”

Veron knew he needed the VENICE 2 on the AXE spot, specifically to handle the unusual visuals and frame rates.

“The versatility of the camera is incredibly important when I work with Joseph. Sometimes Joseph wants to do certain things at 90 frames per second without losing resolution, without having massive changes in the way that the lens performs,” declared Veron. “The Sony VENICE 2 is a camera that provides that versatility because you have the dual ISO mode, a massive sensor, and really impeccable rendition of color and lights in different lighting situations. It's super flexible, and it's a camera that I have in my back pocket for every shoot.”

Veron’s favorite shot on Black Vanilla Get Closer was shooting inside a giant hoodie

Director Joseph Mann started the conversation with Veron about shooting everything practically. And he meant it!

“It was a little crazy to be honest with you,” jokes Veron. “Mann started talking about designing a massive hoodie that the camera would submerge into. I thought, what are you talking about? And literally, the wardrobe department sewed a massive hoodie. Mann is really someone who also enjoys the process of figuring things out little by little.”

It’s something that Veron loves about working with Mann and it’s what made this particular shoot, and all its practical effects, so much fun for the cinematographer.

“I love the hoodie shot. We had built basically the front of the hoodie with a hole and a sliding platform on the other side. It’s ridiculous. We built one for going into the hole, and then for him to go down, and then we built another one for the camera to come down all the way into the boat. So, we built a lot of hoodies. We had so much fun shooting it because her face going into the hoodie, I thought it was genius and brilliant. And we were just laughing so hard -– it's great when we all become kids again in the middle of our jobs!”

Why you should inspire your team to be their best

Veron often travels the world for productions where he works with many crew members for the first time.

“First, I try to protect the integrity of the project and the vision of the director as much as possible. And sometimes it's very easy, sometimes it's really difficult. It's difficult in many ways to protect the director from knowing all the craziness happening behind the camera! So, for me, I try to bring the crew close and inspire as much as I can for them to become the best that they can. That’s what Joseph did for me as well. It's a really good thing when you work with directors that really push you to give your best.”

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