Making Of: Canoo // Skateboard

June 5, 2023

The Story

This job was incredibly unique for a few different reasons. For starters, we were tasked with capturing half a car. Before we get there let’s find out a bit more about Canoo as a brand.

Although the brand is fairly new to the EV space, the leaders behind Canoo aren’t new at all. Led by industry legends Ulrich Kranz, Tony Aquila, and Richard Kim, they’ve been the department heads at some of the most prestigious automotive companies. This group is made up of some of the most forward thinking people we’ve had the pleasure of working with in our careers to date.

Spending time around such forward thinking individuals is not only motivational, but forces you to be ahead of the curve. We joined them to bring to film and bring to life the core platform of the company:

The Skateboard

The technology platform itself is what drives Canoo and allows for a multitude of easily interchangeable styles and applications to be developed efficiently. The Skateboard platform will support each different vehicle design, and is available for other manufacturers to utilize should they choose to partner with the brand.

What we quickly found out (and why we knew this project would be so insane) is that the Skateboard drives as a platform itself… with no top half.

This is largely due to the ‘Steer-by-Wire’ technology the company has developed. It allows the drivers seat to be re-positioned on the vehicle in under 30 minutes. Then boom, you’re off again. Not even Elon thought of that one. Simply put, it’s a game changer.

We are proud to have shared a moment in history with this company and look forward to sharing the details of our journey below. Enjoy!

“Canoo is a director’s unicorn client: they placed total creative trust into our hands and encouraged risks that other clients might not be comfortable with. The pressure was on.”

The Creative

Creative is handled in-house at Canoo by a few awesome minds. Paul Kim, Nick Gronenthal, & Nathan Smith are some of the leads, and their incredibly crafted boards came in handy during concepting and pre-production.  Canoo is specific, and that makes them a joy to collaborate with. They know what they want, and how they want it.

Below are a series of client boards and our actual shots from the film. From start to finish we maintained their vision and are proud of the final result:

Agency Shot List — Warehouse

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Production Stills — Warehouse

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As seen above, we really stuck to the blue / teal tone of the brand. Keeping to their palette, we scouted their facility to determine where we could set the scenes. Our DP Jared Fadel was instrumental in orchestrating the lighting / mood.

Agency Shot List — Desert

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Production Stills — Desert

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When we took to the desert - we knew we had to make an epic arrival. A dry Lakebed was the perfect setting. It allowed us to demonstrate the skateboard's performance on an open course. The acceleration is immense, and the car needed room to run. Sticking with the creative boards from client, we went with a minimal color palette really emphasizing the neutral tones.

Directors Process

I was beyond excited when I got the call from Canoo for this one. The last time we had worked together was over a year ago on the release video for their Lifestyle Vehicle prototype, so to have another first-of-its-kind vehicle (especially one without a body) was a chance to further expand on our creative vision for the company.

Canoo is a director’s unicorn client: they placed total creative trust into our hands and encouraged risks that other companies might not be comfortable with. The pressure was on.

I actually storyboarded this one on a plane back from our shoot with Genesis in Oregon as the wildfires raged out the plane window. It created a surreal energy in the cabin that I think got translated partly into this piece.

Canoo had already presented us with some incredible visuals, so I really wanted to work on our through-line and find what the common thread was to link our journey from their headquarters in Torrance to the desert.

For me, the piece was really centered around the unstoppable force that accompanies an obsessive idea. I wanted to take the viewer from the moment of inspiration, through the countless work hours, to the exaltation of finally seeing one’s dream become reality. We needed a cinematographer who could elevate those moments into an almost surreal quality, and when Andrew introduced me to Jared Fadel’s work, I knew that the piece could only work with him.

Over a series of calls, Jared and I were able to bounce creative references and tonal samples to build our goal for the aesthetic of the piece.

In the early hours of the desert shoot, art mirrored reality as Canoo’s team unloaded the skateboard off the trailer bed. The entire set was charged with Canoo’s team’s excitement watching their Skateboard rip around in the lake bed for the first time. The energy from their team was contagious, and I think you can feel it in the driving footage we captured on the day.

Cody's Plan

DP Highlight: Jared Fadel

We admire a myriad of talented DP’s at Porch House - one of those being Jared Fadel. His experience in this space is incredible, and the way he’s able to shape light adds an entire layer to the overall look. He set the stage for us to succeed with his meticulous lighting diagrams, planning, and tech scouts. Each time we arrived at Canoo we thought of new ways to craft the space to be truly unique to our film. The color tones were matched perfectly — and the entire piece was shot on Alexa Mini with Panavision E-Series Anamorphics. Below are some BTS photos of Jared & the team at work:

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Post Process

Editing, color & final finish is always a key part of our process and we handled everything in house with Nate Cali. We set out to deliver one action packed :90. This is kind of the dream when it comes to editing, because we’re so used to creating 9:16’s and 1:1’s for IG & Facebook. The edit we crafted for Canoo was so cinematic, and we were happy to give the Panavision E-Series lenses the space to live on a true 16:9 format.

The color was done by Parker Jarvie over at Company 3 - he’s always an awesome collaborator. The idea was to create two contrasting environments between the blues and oranges. But we didn’t want to go too far into the desert, so we kept the tones relatively neutral and really leaned into the blues on the manufacturing side.