06.04.2023|By Daniel Mendoza|9 Minutes

In August 2017, we were hired to be part of an exciting collaboration with LOLA agency and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. The goal was to create a microsite 360 experience featuring 6 Napa vineyards. There were 3 production teams involved in producing the content. OmniVirt & Axis Images was to capture 360 content and create the microsite. Vinnie Finn and his team were to capture stills of products and the vineyards while we were tasked with creating video content that would populate the microsite “hot spots”.

Before venturing the 700 miles to Napa, we had a pre production phone call with all the teams to go over logistics and details. This was a great way to get to know what to expect as far as workflow and timing. The main takeaway was that photo and video teams would need to work around the capture of the 360 content so that we wouldn’t end up in their shots. Since we were all serving different purposes it should be fairly easy for us to all find our spots to perform our tasks.

Being our first time in Napa we were definitely swept away in the natural and manmade beauty of the region. But it was important for us to remain focused as we were to cover four vineyards over a two day period. We did quickly scouts of the vineyards to get a feel for the visual offerings of each property then headed to the hotel to settle in before a quick pre production meeting to go through the schedule for the following day. We were in for a couple of long days as we would be up to film at the first property by sunrise and expecting to wrap after sunset at the second location.

Day 1 started off at Trinchero, a stunning property with an incredible drive up to the Estate, we knew that the aerial coverage here would be breathtaking. The photography team was pretty close to us most of the trip as we were able to piggy back off one another to get the content we needed, while the 360 team was certainly much more distant and removed from our experience due to the nature of their process and objective. The aerial coverage gave us quite a scare when we realized that the drone somehow managed to fly through some power lines that blended into the landscape. It was only when we watched the playback that we realized how close we came to the potential hazard. Fortunately nothing happened and we were able to continue using the drone for the remainder of the trip as well as helped us do a better job scouting for possible hazards moving forward. After finishing up filming B Roll footage around property we began to set up for our interview with R&D Chef Jessica. The tasting room/event room was a great backdrop for the interview and we wrapped up just in time to grab lunch on our way to the next location.

Franciscan Estates, as it was called at the time, was our next vineyard and the focus points for our coverage was around the sustainability practices as well as the renowned Rutherford Bench, which is a prominent landmark in Napa. We covered the property extensively before preparing to interview Fleming’s Wine Director Stephen. When watching Vinnie and his team work so efficiently we were inspired to reflect on our own processes and begin looking for ways to improve our own workflow. He had an assistant to help with the lighting set ups and a team of three working on food prep and styling. The lead food stylist was the incredibly talented Suzy Eaton and we would strongly suggest giving her and Vinnie a follow on Instagram to see the impressive content they regularly produce.

After wrapping up we headed to the hotel to back up footage and audio as well as charge up batteries in preparation for the following day.

Day 2 was a particularly early start time at Schramsberg Vineyards as the styling team was to begin working on the table setting at 4:30am. This property was easily our most memorable of the trip as it provided some memorable events. We began filming in the maze of caves that run under the property to capture the Riddling process. The main challenge here was the limited lighting and access to power for our lights but we made due and managed to capture some exceptional content. There is certainly something mentally and physically challenging about filming in underground caves we discovered. After exiting the caved we managed to capture some great aerial footage of the lush greenery lined drive up to the estate and it was made even more special by the fog that was prevalent that morning. After filming with Wine Director Stephen and his tips on proper sabering technique, we headed out to grab a bite on our way to the next vineyard.

Oberon was the fourth and final location for us on the trip and it was a vineyard. No tasting room or Estate to film in so all of our coverage would take place among the vines. Seeing the grapes on the vines throughout this trip was truly special. Our last wine project took place at DAOU vineyards and the vines were rather bare at the time just due to the season. After concluding our aerial coverage we set up for another interview with R&D chef Jessica as she demonstrated how to make a demi-glace sauce. Our second interview was with Tony Coltrin, the head winemaker and quite a revered name in Napa. Due to the timing of the interview and the fact we were outdoors, Tony wore sunglasses during his interview which led to some challenges in post production as you could easily see our team and the agency in the reflection of his lenses. We used some post production processing to try to minimize the issue and have since learned to either avoid sunglasses or embrace the reflective challenges.

Despite being in Napa less than a week it certainly felt longer just due to the fast pace and long days lugging gear around and covering so much ground with our two person team. We learned a lot about ourselves as well as working collaboratively with other production teams and we are grateful for the connections we made on the trip. We went into the production with an open mind and it allowed us to remain nimble and flexible when things changed. It was truly special being able to tell some great stories about each property and without a doubt it opened doors for future projects and relationships. We have been to Napa three more times since then for other projects but as the saying goes, you always remember your first.

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