Capturing the Look of Tech with Nan Li


The world loves tech gadgets. Regardless of race, language, culture, or any other number of identifying traits; we all love tech. The rub therein is; how does a new gadget stand out amidst this cacophony? While there are a number of possible tactics, the most tried and true is by presenting a product in a manner which is both informative and appealing, with a little “cool” factor thrown in. Homey put together a production team to create an Indiegogo crowdfunding commercial for the launch of their “PowerUp Smart Charger” that consisted of professionals from the world of film, television, and documentary films. By presenting a commercial that looked on par with industry leaders like Apple, Samsung, and the like, Homey gained the attention need to take the PowerUp Smart Charger past the initial phase and into the massive public market. Director Peikai Hou and cinematographer Nan Li were most responsible for manifesting the look and style that helped launch this gadget to immense popularity.

Technology is about progress and updating your perspective. Prior to becoming a cinematographer, Nan Li’s work as a Director of Photography allowed him a perspective which differed from many other DP’s. Having an outlook which focuses (no pun intended) on the big picture rather than only the camera eye causes Li to stand out. Of course, that’s no reflection on his substantial talent as a DP, reinforced by his multiple awards for Best Cinematography on this film Son of Wanderer (Li won Best Cinematography at the London Independent Film Awards and the Los Angeles Film Awards, among others).

Nan found the uniqueness aspect that this PowerUp Smart Charger production was created as a crowdfunding commercial to be intriguing. Artists like himself often embrace these types of limited budget projects which will be presented via a different medium (online) to be more compensational in what they teach than any other facet. He concedes, “There was almost no budget for lighting and only two days of shooting. If you want to stay on top of your game, these are the kind of scenarios that build your confidence. Although the client used it for their official YouTube channel, this commercial was created specifically for Indiegogo crowdfunding. This is totally different from making a TV commercial or a film. For traditional TV commercials, usually the market is mature. We don’t need to educate the customers about the functions or how a product works. Branding and designing are very crucial. However, for startup companies and new high-tech products, informing people about how it works and the benefits of this product are the most important. Because you’re persuading the audience to invest, you must build confidence. It’s a completely different use of the camera than a film. Film shooting is about camera language. The camera should always service the story. We use the unique film language to guide the audience to immerse themselves into the story and follow the mood we create. This project allowed me to use my main tool, the camera, in a completely way.”

While one might not expect it, many of the emotional cues that Nan Li surfaces with his talent for award-winning films are also present in this production. Displaying data transfer presents a romantic scene with a lady and a gentleman who fall into with each other and use the product to transfer a picture of themselves. Dolly shots, slow-mo, and VFX are all a part of this commercial that brings tech-geek and casual consumer under one tent. Ultimately, this is the goal of any DP, to create something universal that touches everyone in some way. A crowdfunding commercial is an unlikely place to find this but that’s exactly the reasoning for Nan’s inclusion. The commercial’s one-hundred and two-thousand YouTube views and Indiegogo’s Crowdfunding acquisition of more than four-hundred ninety-eight thousand dollars confirms the ad’s excellence in connecting with viewers. For this acclaimed DP, it has also led to many similar projects such as commercials for The Oriental Vision’s Hoofoo crypto-currency wallet, Outofwall Technology’s official product family video. Still working on films, the People's Daily documentary, and the television series 100 Year Finance in China II, Nan Li finds himself a casualty of his own success. With only so many hours in the day, he’ll need technological advances to meet all of the productions available to him.

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