Like all beautiful and seemingly simple high-speed food shots, this 6 second Lipton tea demo sequence is made of many elements. Designing the shoot carefully allows us full control over otherwise impossible timings and precise content compression.

For example, a cup of tea takes three seconds to pour, filming this in slow motion (1000 frames per second rather than the usual 25 frames per second) means watching the same action back would take 40x as long. That’s a whole two minutes! So we need to propel the water/tea so it pours faster, and manipulate the frame rate to allow maximum impact. This can be done using a series of time compressing techniques; a high speed camera and a super-fast moving robotic motion control rig called a Bolt.

This is a breakdown of those parts and how I would manage them to create a seamless beautiful sequence…

A still of the sun flare as it might appear on a sunny blue sky back ground... 

A still of the sun flare as it might appear on a sunny blue sky back ground... 

An example of the movement of that sun flare.

An example of the movement of that sun flare.

The demo sequence start takes its cue from the sun-flare through the cup of Lipton tea in the preceding live-action shot. Using the sun-flare as start point enables the tea demo to follow any live-action shot with a well-placed light glint or highlight to create the sun-flare in post-production.

As the sun-flare recedes from its fullest size, we see appearing behind and from the middle, coming towards camera tumbling fresh green tea leaves. As the tea leaves travel with energy outwards we see the individual flavour ingredients appear. This creates a vibrant and visually arresting burst of colour and movement. This slow-motion action is a descriptive and fascinating movement that immediately captivates and engages the viewer. We will call this the ‘flavour event’!



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Almost immediately a stream of clear water, as though being poured from a kettle, enters frame. As the flow passes in front of the ‘flavour event’ the image refracts and distorts the shapes of the ingredients creating a cascade of dancing light and colours. That refraction allows the flavour ingredients to disappear. This dynamic event is symbolic of the infusion of flavour ingredients with water which creates Lipton tea.

The camera follows the leading edge of the stream of tea as it falls past the rim of the clear glass tea cup. As the liquid passes into the cup the infusion of flavour begins to take full effect on the water and the warm brown hues of Lipton tea can be seen.

Lipton tea is the hero of this story; using the real product and a real pour will create the naturally beautiful curl of dynamic liquid. Getting the honest and natural colour from the teas on the shoot day is the best way to ensure beautiful images for the grade and edit. Shooting different teas at different strengths will allow us to make good colour judgments on the day and therefore minimise the work required at post-production stage in the colour-grade.

To create the movement and magic in the swirling Lipton tea I will use a ‘beauty’ light attached and synchronised with the camera. This light will shine through the walls of the glass tea cup illuminating the deep golden hues in the liquid and adding a sparkle to the Lipton tea as it twirls.

The world outside the glass cup is a soft focus limbo of colour resembling sunshine and blue sky; this will give the right tone and palette to compliment the warm hues and tones of the softly undulating Lipton tea. A warm shimmer of sunlight should dance on the tea’s surface and give the rim of the glass a gentle gleam.

I will shoot high-speed using the Phantom Flex 4 camera which will ensure a crisp focus at up to 2000fps. Attaching this Phantom Flex onto the Bolt rig means the camera can move at an incredible pace, allowing us to get the lens from along-side the cup to looking up through its base in under a second. We will also put a twist into this high-speed move creating even more dynamic movement to the Lipton tea swirl.

The tea is delivered using a robotically controlled system connected and triggered by the Bolt motion control rig. It will allow adjustment in volume, delivery, speed and timing to help ensure we can capture the desired dramatic arc of Lipton tea to swirl around the cup.

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The camera follows down the side of the cup and lands, looking directly up through the base of the cup. If Lipton branding is required to be etched into the base of the glass cup this could be done in post-production. We then have a cross-fade mix from the underside of the cup to a directly over-head shot of the cup. The viewer will be unaware of this transition as we see the same circular shape of the cup.

We see the tea now from above as it has almost settled, a waft of steam rises giving the Lipton tea it’s comforting visual aroma. This steam can be added in post-production.

Shooting the demo sequence in this way will enable all these layers to be combined to create a beautiful, magical and engaging event with plenty of taste appeal. It also provides fully flexible design for continued use within future commercials for new and different varieties of Lipton tea.