One of Australia’s most-awarded commercial cinematographers has shot the new show opener for iconic children’s series Sesame Street.
Brisbane-based Jason Hargreaves ACS captured gorgeous slow-motion portraits of Sesame Street’s colourful cast for the 30-second sequence, which will open each episode of the show’s next five seasons.
“It was such an amazing experience to compose shots and light frames containing characters I’d grown up with — the child in me was beside himself,” said Hargreaves, whose cinematography has earned 44 domestic and international awards.
It’s the second major international job for Hargreaves, and re-teams him with the same directing duo from New York creative agency Psyop with whom he last year shot a large-scale Telekom Europe TVC in Argentina.
“While we were shooting the Telekom Europe spot, the directors — Marco Spier and Borja Pena — mentioned in passing they were pitching on a new opener for Season 46 of Sesame Street,” he added.
“I congratulated them on being put up for the job, then a few months later they asked if I was available to shoot it; naturally I was over the moon.”
The sequence was shot on the Sesame Street set at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, with a day of pre-lighting and one ‘very long’ shooting day. Hargreaves used the Phantom 4K Flex and the job was posted in 4K. Slow motion was shot at 1000fps or 500fps, depending on the specific action in the shot.
Hargreaves says he was able to depart from Sesame Street’s flatter studio lighting plan for the opener and give the iconic set some contrast and allow the characters to really stand out.
“My brief was to create images that were beautiful, real and striking – every strand of brightly coloured fur, the beautifully crafted detail in the sets and a sunny, optimistic feel that makes you want to get up and dance,” he says.
Sesame Street stars Elmo, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby and – Hargreaves’ favourite – Cookie Monster feature in the final cut.
“Cookie Monster’s portrait was my favourite, his placement in front of Hooper’s Store and the vibrant, rich colours of his blue fur made his shots sing,” he says, “and Bert and Ernie sitting at the milk bar inside sets the scene off nicely I think. At one point, as I was lining up a shot, I found myself having a conversation with Bert & Ernie in character – it was quite surreal!”
Hargreaves is available for commercial bookings through Auscrew and has shot domestic campaigns for clients including Google, Toyota, Ford, Subway, Suncorp, Energex, Ergon, Nike, Fiji Airways, Ladbrokes, Ostelin, Cenovis.
Sesame Street’s 46th season commenced January on HBO in the US and domestically on ABC TV.