Written by Sean Alami. 

Exploring has always been a part of me as an artist, because it enables me to learn from different things and create different styles. It makes an artist creative and unique. Although experts in any field, especially photography and videography, recommend specialization in a specific niche, I find it interesting trying out and learning new things—it's very inspiring.

Even though my background is in architectural and interior photography, I was given the opportunity to work on a coffee ad, which was a style that I never had a chance to approach.

For the coffee ad, I was required to create a suitable video on some of their exotic lattes.

Check out my how-to video below, then read on for more detail.

How I Approached This Project

This local coffee shop wanted me to create four to five short videos for their social media platforms and website.

And I had always been fascinated by having elements of a drink or food of some sort fly in a realistic 3D environment, and that's what I did.

The lists of the drink were:

  • Caramel macchiato
  • Gingerbread latte
  • Pumpkin latte 

My elements were pumpkin, gingerbread cookie, and caramel cubes.

Commercial_coffeeCredit: Sean Alami


This kind of project was entirely new to me. But, as I usually do for something I haven't done before, I approached it by carrying out proper and thorough research to build my knowledge on the project. For this one, I researched by reading blogs and watching YouTube videos to get the right information.

Choosing the Right Gear

I knew I needed an effective macro lens that could get real close and capture details of these elements adequately, so the lens of my choice was the Laowa probe lens.

Also, one piece of equipment I needed was a turntable. A turntable will give the product a full and smooth all-round coverage, and my Kessler second shooter came in handy on this shoot.

Crafting the VFX

After that, I proceeded by putting the elements on a toothpick, putting a green screen behind, and then allowing them to turn. I learned this technique from Daniel Schiffer.

Changing the lights gives the product and the video a realistic look. Schiffer probably learned that from someone else, which is the real essence of learning; sharing oneself with others.

After that, I shot my main plate shot, which was the drink itself along with some decoration around it. I made sure I had all the raw video clips I needed before I proceeded to the editing suite.

Coffee_ad_1Credit: Sean Alami

Heading Into Post

The green screen was used to isolate the element. During the editing, the toothpick used for my setup gave me a tough time when I tried eliminating it in the clips. It was essential to get rid of it, and I eventually did.

Adobe After Effects remains one of the best for video editing software due to its amazing features; for this project, the roto tool was used, and it is a fantastic tool. But the video was difficult to deal with because it was 120 fps 4K footage, which took hours to do.

So, for the purpose of any work, I would recommend converting your footage shot in a similar way as mine to 60 fps and HD if you are doing a video for the web; this way, it saves you a lot of time and stress.

There Is No Grandmaster

For projects like this, finding your source of inspiration is key. 

When I was studying cinematography at Capilano University in Vancouver, our teacher, who was a veteran cinematographer in the film industry, always told us that "in this field, it all has been done before, you are just recreating it in a different shape and form." 

This implies that we need to be very creative at every level. We are free to research and go through other people's work for inspiration and then add our own spice to create our unique style.

I believe that we are all students in this field; there is no grandmaster. We are all students in different stages and levels, so it's cool to be inspired by another artist or a specific ad or film you see. You take that and add your knowledge and taste to it. That has always been my principle and that's precisely how I do all my projects, be it a short product ad or a short film.

You can find more videos at Sean Alami's YouTube channel.