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NATL Shoots Complete Show Package for CMT’s New Saturday Night Reality Series 'Chainsaw Gang'

The leaders of creative production company National Television (NATL) are very proud to reveal their craftsmanship in creating a complete on-air promotional package for CMT’s new Saturday night reality TV series Chainsaw Gang. The show follows artist Stacy Poitras, his Deadwood Tree Sculptures business in Agoura Hills, Calif., his colleagues, his girlfriend and the surprising artistic creations they bring to life with their chainsaws.

“We have a great relationship with CMT executives David Bennett and Leslie Legare, and they know we bring our A game to every project,” said NATL’s creative director Brumby Boylston. “The stars of this series use chainsaws in a unique way: They’re artists, not lumberjacks or tree surgeons. To package and promote the show we focused on them… intercutting shallow depth of field portraits with them at work, chainsaws hurling debris in slow-motion. While it’s built around watching a blank tree trunk become a distinct sculpture, it really conveys the cast’s personalities.”

To create the show’s main title sequence and other promotional spots and elements, Boylston and NATL’s crew made the trip to the Deadwood Tree Sculptures compound for a full day of shooting. Along with NATL executive producer Jared Libitsky, director of photography Andrew Shulkind and producers Josh Libitsky and Zach Wakefield, the company deployed two camera units. For principal photography, they chose a high-speed RED Epic system with ARRI macro lenses mounted to a mobile jib, while a Canon 5D was used to quickly capture details and inserts. According to the filmmakers, the 5D was later moved to shoot elements and effects against a green-screen, and several HD GoPro units were affixed to motion-control time-lapse devices and mounted onto saws and cranes to provide additional motion elements for the tactile show package.

“Mainly we were focused on capturing beautiful, expressive portraits of the cast and amazing, balletic slow-motion footage of the carving,” Boylston explained. “We arranged for the cast to have a sculpture in three separate stages, and we filmed them working on each phase of a project.”

Several approaches were explored for creating the show’s logo. Boylston describes one end result as “a pseudo-time-lapse logo where the type emerges from a blank stump,” and a second one “made of steel and in a typeface used since the pilot.” Both were created in Autodesk Maya and finished in Adobe After Effects. He also mentioned the importance of Apple’s Final Cut Pro for creating and delivering five unique promo spots, and After Effects for handling detailed time-ramp effects, creating titles and compositing shot effects. Final color grading for the spots was handled in DaVinci, and for the open, in Red Cine X.

“NATL is an exceptional creative partner, very collaborative and always pushing the possibilities in our creative briefs,” said David Bennett, CMT director on-air design.