happiness

The United States Declaration of Independence has an oft quoted line – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s misunderstood by a lot of people. Your happiness is not guaranteed…the sentence is supposed to give you the basic unalienable human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (emphasis mine).

What is happiness? Well, it depends on the individual but it is your right to seek your own happiness. To me, happiness is a state of mind where you’re content with everything in your life.

flying

Happiness is something money cannot buy. A lot of people are unhappy about their financial situation but I believe that’s an unnecessary worry. The Chinese has a proverb that goes “Money is something that you can always earn back when you lose it”. There’s another phrase that goes “There will be water if God wills it” but that comes from the less reputable and more modern Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King. ;)

roman bath

Happiness is a state of mind that I always try to strive for. I’m happy when I’m doing the things I like such as travelling. It enriches me and makes me a more understanding and better person when I meet new people and learn about new cultures. I’m even happier when I’m spending quality time with loved ones – friends, family, my girlfriend.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget about the simple things in life that lifts your mood:

  • Finding a parking space as soon as you enter a full car park
  • The smell of freshly cut grass
  • Laughing at corny jokes
  • Having a baby smile at you
  • A fellow commuter stopping to let you drive out of a particularly busy exit
  • Waking up and realizing it’s the weekend so you can sleep in
  • Watching a sweet TVC that makes you smile

These are all little things which makes yout day just that little bit brighter. It has a cumulative effect and happiness is highly contagious – it’s like laughter. It’s meant to be shared. :)

I watched the Cadbury TVC and repeated it twice coz it was just so sweet. I found it adorable – the simple sweet joy (pun not intended) that permeates the entire commercial. It has all the elements done right – the humor, the camaraderie of neighborhood love, and a dash of romance.

resort

I took it upon myself to make a video similar to that. I was in Miri, Sarawak at that time to help my girlfriend move her stuff to KL. We spent a weekend in the Marriott Resort and Spa in Miri. It’s located right on the beach by the South China Sea and we booked a chalet facing the pool and sea.

You just need to open the sliding glass door to get out. There’s a balcony which is less than 10 meters from the pool – it’s almost like having a pool right at your doorstep!

view

I thought up the idea of having a series of unfortunate events much like the original TVC. The entire video was shot over a period of 2 days. I didn’t have a professional videographer so I had to think of how to get the scenes right.

I also wanted a “happy” vibe so everything is shot in daylight – it’s bright and sunny with no indoor scenes except the initial phone call. I’ll go through the more interesting bits to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the video. :)

The splash

tripod

The first mishap you see (the one where I exit the house just to get splashed by a wayward neighbor’s dirty mop water) is done using a tripod. The one holding the bucket is…*drumroll*…Jeanie herself. The bucket was too heavy for her and we had to do two takes. I ended up changing coz the first splash totally failed – she went into the scene, propelled by the momentum and weight of the bucket of water.

We filled it with less water in the second take. I didn’t want to use up the rapidly dwindling backpack of attire I brought along. :x

The car not being able to start

You’ll see the same car in the next scene so I did an extreme close up so you won’t see the make, model or color of the car. :)

The accident scene

car

This one wasn’t too hard to do. It only required the two of us to pull it off. I filmed Jeanie driving towards me. I told her to put her foot on the gas and not worry about hitting me.

After that part was filmed, I passed the camera to her and she filmed me being caught like a deer in the headlights as the car (apparently) came barreling down on me.

The next scene was me twitching on the car bonnet after being “hit”. It took some video transitions to make it look comically realistic (without actually hitting me with the car).

It was originally longer but I thought the bit where I ended up wandering about dazed after being hit was a little too much so I cut it from the editing board. You can watch the full original scene here:

I spent a lot of time editing the videos – it’s a good learning process but it took me the better part of 3 days of almost continuous tweaking to get the timing and synchronization right. I’m a newbie in video production, thus the learning curve.

The sea

beach

This is one of the scenes that I took out of the video as I thought it won’t contribute much to it. The beach walk also had to be sped up 4x so it won’t drag on.

The underwater scene

underwater

This is a bit of a retrofit. It was meant to be all fluff – a cool video taken underwater. I have a waterproof digicam and I figured it would be nifty to take a video underwater. I knew it won’t make much sense since I appear with my shirt on in the next scene…until I saw someone being escorted out by security.

pool

The Marriott has a strict policy – only guests are allowed to use the resort facilities and The Proverbial Light Bulb (TM) came on. It shall be the scene where I evade the guards! smirk

I put that in the caption (used the Confucius angle), and the rest, as they say, is history.

The end scene

people

After all those trials and tribulations, we finally shot the last scene beside the pool. There’s this comfy sofa and we enlisted the help of a kind lady from France who was more than obliged to help us film this scene. The inter-cuts you see at the end is filmed by us – I did her and she did me.

The chocolate

cadbury old

I swear this was the hardest part of the video – we went to several different shops in Miri but none of them had Cadbury Dairy Milk. They have others – the ones with nuts, Old Gold, and others…but not the original. It took us 2 hours before we stumbled upon a shop that sells it. I bought 5 x 75 gram bars.

cadbury new

I then realized that it was the old packaging when I chanced upon a shop with the new packaging. I bought more of it and re-shot some of the scenes again. I have a lot of chocolate now but I love Cadbury Dairy Milk so it’s all good. :D

cadbury dairy milk

We actually did share it – there were a couple of kids running around in the resort and I passed them several bars. I thought their parents would balk – candy from strangers and all that, but they thanked us for it and one even bought us drinks from the poolside bar.

poolside

The kids loved it. One of them came up to me and she showed me her toy – a launcher she was playing with beside the pool that launches a baby dinosaur up into the air by pumping air into the tube. That was the highlight of doing the video – sharing the Cadbury chocolate and seeing the little ones enjoying it by the pool during their holiday. :)

Here’s my masterpiece:

What do you think?

Do you need a dose of happiness? Join the Cadbury Facebook page and get some! :)

nike script

I received the Nike advertorial pretty late in the game (pun intended) and scripted out two major scenes that I wanted to be in the writeup. The first was to be shot at an athletic wear/sports gear shop/active lifestyle outlet (I don’t even know what these places are called nowadays anymore ;)) to do the visualization (Read: camwhoring) aspects of the design contest.

script

Due to the limited number of such outlets in Sibu carrying Nike products, I decided to go to Lea Sports Center at Wisma Sanyan since I distinctively remember them having a Nike showcase while I was…er, getting adidas trainers earlier this year. ;)

cast crew

Thus, I geared up in my Nike ACG (All Climate Gear) windbreaker that I got in KK back in 2004 before climbing up Mt. Kinabalu (the highest mountain in South East Asia) for a bit of product placement pimpage and went out with Clare to do the photo shoot after work.

script 1

It should be noted that my tracksuit trousers were actually adidas and so were my trainers. It doesn’t look very obvious though so I thought it would pass The All Seeing Eye of Nike. ;) I do have Nike apparel in my current wardrobe – I remember getting a limited edition Nike tennis shoe during the Melbourne Open 2003 and have several other pairs of Nike trainers.

nike sweatshirt

There’s also a Nike sweatshirt with a hoodie that I got for chilly spring weather in Melbourne which has found a new role as a tattoo concealer for Casual Saturdays in the office. The dress code in my office does not allow for visible tattoos so I wear long sleeves every single workday – even on Saturdays. Yes, we do work half day on Saturday over here in Sarawak.

nike swoosh

We then proceeded to eat dinner at Sushi Tie and got the waitress to camwhore with me. I liked the deer-caught-in-headlights expression on her face. I’m going to caption this “Fear the Nike Swoosh“. :)

script 2

I proceeded to Delta Mall to meet up with Mary who was going to do the second major scene for the advertorial. I got a a lot of stares from people due to my athletic gear – I looked like I just finished a particularly grueling training session, but I kinda liked the attention. Heh! You’ve got to be able to take the double takes and stares if you’re a blogger going all out.

clare mary

Anyway, the second bit called for a video shoot in which I was getting heckled by two people while running laps around the mall. I initially planned for Mary to be doing the heckling but she introduced me to this guy who was PERFECT for the role. This is the take with only Mary doing the heckling:

I preferred the one with both of them doing the heckling so that’s the one I submitted for the advertorial. Mary is great as usual with her excellent repertoire of expressions and I loved the guy coz he pulled off the correct intonation and derisive-yet-humorous gesture in a single take. The video calls for me to be doing slow laps (basically a simulated slow run) while two people calls out:
“You run like a girl” and
“My grandmother runs faster than you”

script 3

The duo had great localization which was not in the script with Mary going “You run like a girl lah” and the guy going “Hey, my grandmother runs faster than you, okay?” which I really liked.

However, the best scene in the advertorial is, IMHO, one that I did not anticipate or script out. I was having my nicotine fix after finishing the photo shoot when I saw a security guard outside the mall doing the same. I remember the shoplifting scene for the Oreo advertorial and decided it would be fun to include the same theme into this one.

guard

I got the security guard to grab me while I was attempting to run and he was kind enough to comply. This was the best ending for the writeup since I figured I could put in a quirky caption before the contest regulations. It ended up being “…and design a lightweight pair of trainers so I can outrun mall security next time“. :)

Deleted Scenes:

ready alt

Ready…

set

Set…

go

Go…

I had also planned a Ready, Set, Go series of photos (this is the original trio) with me doing all three poses but decided to include just one (the Ready pose) due to fears of an unintentional overdose of camwhorage. ;)

The exclusion was a really good decision in hindsight coz it seems so cheesy now. Heh!

Bonus Features:

jay chou

The girls convinced me to do a Jay Chou pose. I’m not even sure why I did that, since I don’t even listen to his music!

This was one of the fastest advertorials that I’ve ever done with all the shoots completed in a day from script to editing. It was fun to go with the flow and see what scenes came out that wasn’t planned out. Cheers to Mary and Clare for helping out on this one!

script 1

The Oreo Twist Lick Dunk advertorial was one of the ones I really enjoyed doing. I enlisted the help of a couple of my friends and coworkers to participate in the script that I had written. It was more of a doodle of sorts with stick figures of scenes I had envisioned and a rough idea of the text.

cream o

The first problem came even before the photo shoot – there were no Oreo cookies to be found in the entire Sibu town. I searched every single supermarket and shopping mall and it seemed like there was a town-wide shortage of Oreo!

mary frustrated

I finally managed to find out the reason behind it – the manufacturer had recalled all the existing Oreo cookies and issued a memo to the retailers with instructions to take it off the shelves pending the arrival of the new packaging. The ship was supposed to have arrived but it got delayed at some port and no one had any idea of when it’ll actually come.

script 2

I thought about changing the script to a “Pepsi Test” writeup with people being blindfolded and asked to determine which cookie tastes better – Oreo or a local emulated version e.g. Cream-O but that would require Oreo biscuits as well. I was a bit concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the arrival of the shipment of Oreo to the Sibu market so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

poslaju

Thus, I called D, who was in KL at that time and staying at the Cititel hotel in Midvalley Megamall. She was kind enough to go to Jusco and get two packs of Oreo cookies and send it back via next-day courier service. D had to go in search of a box (so the Oreo wouldn’t get crushed) and hunt for a post office at the mall, so it’s thanks to her that I managed to meet the deadline. :)

mary stereo sad

In the meantime, I enlisted the help of Mary in my alternate scripts. I remember one of the alternate scripts was about not being able to find Oreo and wanted to title that post as “sixthseal.com and The Quest for the Holy Oreo“. The script went along the lines of being unable to get my hands on genuine Oreo cookies in Sibu and having to resort to having it sent from KL.

hb mcflurry 1

I even went to McDonald’s just to get a shot of their Oreo McFlurry, which was just about the only Oreo containing product in Sibu at that time.

hb mcflurry 2

This was the backup plan in case the package of Oreo didn’t arrive for reasons attributed to our fine postal service. ;)

oreo

Lady Luck was on my side though and the package containing Oreo from D arrived the very next day! Thus, I re-shot several of the scenes with the real Oreo. It took me two days to complete the Oreo shoot. One particular scene that stood out was the shoplifting scene.

stealing

I did the first one with Cream-O, a local biscuit “inspired” by Oreo, and I had serious reservations about submitting that since the client would obviously not want to see a competitor’s product in the photos. Cream-O looks almost like Oreo due to the blue packaging but I didn’t want to tarnish the advertorial by passing off another product as Oreo.

caught

Well, the reason this particular scene was memorable was due to one of my friend’s interaction with the clerk at a local supermarket. He has a really funny and sarcastic response during the Sibu Oreo Shortage (TM). We were at Ta Kiong and they haven’t received their shipment of Oreo as well, but one of the clerks said that there had Oreo biscuits and walked with us down the aisle and pointed to…Julie Stereo.

This prompted my wise-cracking friend to launch into a funny tirade against the poor girl.

Friend: Stereo? We said OREO not STEREO.
Clerk: Ya lah, Oreo. (points to Julie Stereo)
Friend: That’s not Oreo! How can you compare Oreo to Stereo? Do you compare a Mercedes to a Kancil? We wanted the original Nabisco Kraft Oreo.
Clerk: (speechless)

Anyway, we didn’t even know if the clerk understood English which was a bit of a mistake on our part. I walked in on Tuesday again to get some chocolates and the very same clerk called out to me and told me that my Oreo has arrived. She then proceeded to talk to a fellow clerk across the counter about getting “suan” (Hokkien for sarcastically teased) by my friend the other day.

clerk

In hindsight, it was really kinda funny. I apologized to her and told her we were only having a bit of fun, albeit at her expense. She was very nice about the entire thing though, so kudos to her for that. I got a DoubleStuf Oreo and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Oreo to supplement my meager supply of Oreo from KL. I even got her to pose for a photo and we returned the next day to do a proper shot of the shoplifting scene with their ample supply of Oreo as the backdrop. :)

Deleted scenes:

sister

Reason: Product placement overkill. The pose with the Oreo is too fake.

shoplifting 1

Reason: The expression on my face wasn’t right. I didn’t look shocked enough – in fact, I look a little bit too aggressive.

shoplifting 2

Reason: Same as above. I look more irritated than shocked at being apprehended by a security guard for shoplifting. I needed the comical horror expression at being caught in the act.

Bonus features:

mary 1

mary 2

mary 3

I was delighted to find out that Mary was such a good model to work with. She has a wide repertoire of facial expressions. She can do sad, frustrated, angry, cute and happy when called to. She’s really a pleasure to work with and has been a great help to this project. Thanks Mary! :)

The funniest thing about this advertorial is that most of the shots were done using a single Oreo pack. I had to conserve my resources and had planned out which scenes needed the pack to be open and which ones didn’t. I was so stingy with the two packs of Oreo that consumption was strictly controlled even during the scenes except when absolutely necessary. Heh!

live mooncake demonstration

It’s Mid-Autumn Festival again! I chanced upon a live demonstration
of the making of a mooncake at Wisma Saberkas and watched the progress
of a snow skin mooncake from inception to retail.

live mooncake formation

The snow skin mooncake moulds are kneaded from small rotund pieces
of filler before being filled and formed into larger pieces of round
balls.

live mooncake balls

The relatively uniform balls of snow skin mooncake is then powdered
with an unknown but non-psychoactive substance and then transferred to
a mould.

live mooncake mould

The mould is a wooden contraption where the balls of snow skin
mooncake is pushed into, forming the unique auspicious characters on
the top before being knocked out.

live mooncake contraption

It’s a relatively simple process and the molded mooncake is then transferred to receptacles suitable for retail purposes.

live mooncake retail

This is the finished product (Crystalline Twin Flavor) and it costs RM 11.50 per mooncake.

live mooncake bite

The mooncake is a yam snow skin mooncake with a carrot and lotus seed filling, a unique amalgamation of ingredients.

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