Back in March 2016, one of our oldest (and favourite) clients Ian Macleod Distillers approached Coolbox to make a very special film indeed. They were looking to showcase an incredibly rare product, the Tamdhu 50 Year Old. Obviously the whisky had already been made over decades past (53 years, to be precise), it was our task to document the production of the beautiful crystal decanter that the whisky would be presented in.
Our journey began at Dartington Crystal in Devon. We spent the day filming the glass blowers, where the guys are working with material from the 1100°c ovens to produce the crystal bottle, that will go on to be decorated with silver, gold & platinum. We primarily shot with the FS700 at 100 – 200fps, along with a few establishers on the full framed Sony A7s.
Next we visited Hamilton and Inches on George Street in Edinburgh, to film the silverwork being crafted and applied to the exterior facade of the bottle and box. Above the grand jewellers on the ground floor, is a warren of beautiful dickensian-looking workshops, you can’t help but imagine these rooms looked almost identical 100 years ago. Aside from a couple of wide establishers on the A7s (and slider), most of these sequences were shot using the Canon 100mm 2.8L macro lens.
In September, we embarked on a trip to Aberlour in Scotland, to visit Tamdhu. It was our first time at the distillery, and the crew instantly fell in love with it. OK, it’s not your stereotypical whisky distillery (no whitewashed walls, pagoda-style roof, etc) but it’s just as charming and beautiful in its own Victorian and functional way. Distillery Manager Sandy McIntyre was the perfect host during our stay at the distillery – putting on a BBQ for us, letting us watch GBBO and even allowing us to sample a tiiiiny drop of his prized 53 year old beauty.
Our friends at Sky View Video and Drone Operator Richard Elliott shot the fabulous establishing aerials while we were in Scotland too – although they only last a couple of seconds on screen, it was absolutely imperative we nailed these as it would be set the tone for the rest of the film.
Finally, once work on the decanter had been completed, we collected bottle #1 from Edinburgh – carefully couriering it down the M6 to Manchester, where Director of Photography Mike Staniforth and I (Marc) began work on the last day of filming.
We worked with Justin at Big Shed studios in Trafford to shoot the final packshots for the video. It’s a tricky fella to light, what with the ring of ‘cuts’ around the whole neck and body of the bottle. Luckily, our friend Chris Lomas had already completed the pack shot photography up in Edinburgh, and was at the end of the phone to talk us through how he had lit the bottle in his studio.
Our studio work was also shot on the Sony FS700, but this time combined with Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q+ recorder/monitor (pictured to the right). This enabled us to record a much higher bitrate (and wider dynamic range) than the camera’s internal codec would allow.
Mike has written a fantastic blog post about how we lit the bottle in the studio.
The edit came together relatively easy, although the scope of the brief was quite vast, we’d been very concise when shooting at the four primary locations. All that was left was for Alan and Galen at Blackad in Glasgow to write the beautiful poem, and for our voiceover artist David McCallion to work his magic.
The care, dedication and love that goes into making a product like this is immeasurable. We feel truly blessed to have been a part of telling the story of this wonderful whisky.