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Shuntian Jiang brings beautiful lighting and accentuated humor to ‘Knives Out’ commercials

From the moment Shuntian Jiang first heard the term “motion picture” he knew he would one day be behind the camera, making movies of his own. He has always been fascinated by films, and instantly fell in love with the idea and artistry of cinematography from a young age, intrigued by all its possibilities.

“I have always believed that a good cinematographer must able to produce beautiful pictures in motion with time and light. As a cinematographer, I specialize in poetic long takes, naturalist lighting style and intimate handheld camera operating. I think not only as a cinematographer, but as an artist, and my goal is to tell poetic and emotional stories. The human race has been telling stories through pictures for thousands of years, so I have always believed in the magic of images,” said Jiang.

Jiang’s passion is evident in his work, and he is a sought-after cinematographer in both China and abroad, known for his work on films like La Pieta and Stain, music videos such as “Barbarian” by Muslim American Rapper Mona Haydar, and large commercial campaigns including the mobile game Battle Warship and the Japanese sports apparel company Descente.

Jiang is no stranger to making commercials for the Japanese market, and frequently works on spots for Knives Out, a first person shooting mobile game produced by NetEase Games. It is a very famous and popular game all around the globe, but Jiang’s work is for Japan, where the commercials have allowed the game to become number one in the Japanese App Store.

“It feels great to know this project has been such a success. I am always very happy to check the official Twitter of the game. The players are constantly discussing the new commercials and the game live in the comment section. Even though I don’t understand Japanese, I still feel good about so many people liking the game. I’m glad my commercial is able to bring more talking points to the community,” said Jiang.

Jiang’s work for Knives Out is a commercial series where each individual spot has a different story. There is a Valentine’s Day theme, new school season theme, anime theme, etc. The commercials are mostly distributed on the App Store and the official Twitter of the game, as well as other social media channels. Each individual piece has more than 50 thousand views on Twitter alone.

“I enjoy every story, because they are so funny. I read the story in English, but the actors are performing in Japanese. I don’t understand Japanese, but the actions and facial expressions of the actors are so funny; it’s really delightful working with them. Also, different from commercials with a physical product, gaming commercials are more about the happiness of the gamers, so I was able to enjoy the performance more,” said Jiang.

Working closely with Director Zhihe (Evan) Wang, Jiang was in charge of the composition and lighting to create this fun commercial. Because they are comedic spots, they go for a bright and clean look on every commercial. Normally Jiang doesn’t like to use backlighting on his subject, because he finds it can make a person look unnatural. However, on these commercials, they decided to backlight frequently to bring out the light tone and focus the audience more on the performance.

“I really liked the pace of the shoot. As I mentioned before the director really knows what he wants, and he did all the planning before the shooting days. That made the shoot very smooth. I had a small crew, and small equipment package. But the limitation actually made me think harder on how to achieve the right look with a simpler plan,” he said.

The commercials can be seen on Knives Out’s Twitter page. Jiang plans to keep making commercials for the game for the foreseeable future, so keep an eye on the page for future videos.

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