Is it me... or is this the T-Rex of Tabletop?

Been to Heathrow lately?

If not, watch out… Wagamama’a new T5 22-metre widescreen is attracting humungous attention. Part signage, part display, this massive offering pumps out mouth-watering food 

The T-Rex of Tabletop. 

But how does a director prepare to shoot for such a giant screen? Can a 16:9 image be adapted or are we talking brave new world?

With a lot of experience in cinema-style-ratios, systems such as Hawk and Panavision anamorphic, I knew we had to adapt our thought process for such a giant ratio, but an early test and conversations with the screen’s supplier determined that anamorphics were out, potential distortion. So we needed to work within a 16:9 frame at a resolution that would hold up when most of your image is surplus to requirements. 

Danny Coster and his team at Locomotion established that shooting 4K would give us enough resolution for the 22:2 frame and we began storyboarding based on our new tech spec. Also, working directly for the client meant no agency backup. We had to get it right and we only had 2 days to shoot over forty set ups. So...

High speed special effects – EG: PHANTOM see Philips blender, were out. Too expensive and no way to pump high light levels into a live restaurant without frying the diners. This was all about appetising food shot in a quirky appealing way. We needed to be clean and straightforward, like the dishes. Locomotion had previously shot stop frame for Wagamama Takeaway so we knew a more graphic animated route worked. 

Shot on location at Wagamam Great Marlborough Street excellent home economist Lisa Harrison teamed up with my talented camera crew of The Wine Show fame: Cliff Evans and Jamie Knights. Whether it’s tabletop, location or UFC breakdown these guys can make it look great, but this was a real mission. 

We decided to use the live restaurant downstairs to give depth / a big backdrop and set up two mini tabletop studios upstairs on the mezzanine. Directing both simultaneously was a task - you should have seen the spreadsheets needed to coordinate the storyboards,  almost as epic as the giant screen.

But how did we view the monster 22:2 frames?  Trade secret.  No, joking aside, we programmed a mattes into the monitors and split the result between two displays. In fact the technical challenge wasn’t the monitoring it was working out how to shoot that wide. You have to retrain your brain to use a whole different set of lenses and staging, or else you end up with a twenty two metre mouth eating noodles, not so nice. Luckily…

The result was stunning.

In fact the campaign was so successful we went on to shoot social media content for Wagamama displayed on Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms.

That's waga-tastic!

Carl Prechezer