Creator Chronicles: Commercial DP Carter Ross

Carter Ross blends his technical precision with a passion for facilitating creative visions. Whether orchestrating content for iconic brands or crafting mesmerizing visuals, Carter's attention to detail elevates every project. His clients include: Conde Nast, GQ, Vogue, Wired, TikTok, Food Network. 

Creator Chronicles: Commercial DP Carter Ross

Carter navigates the complex world of commercial production with finesse and a steadfast commitment to collaboration. A problem solver through and through, his proficiency in transforming expansive conceptual frameworks into tangible realities is apparent in the visuals he creates. He is deeply invested in the pre-production and preparation phase of filmmaking, dedicating significant attention to these aspects regardless of the duration of the project. His enthusiasm extends to conducting camera tests and experimenting with special effects, even on shorter assignments. While references serve as valuable inspiration for Carter, he prefers to use them as a springboard for crafting something original.

One project he worked on that required immense vision and ingenuity was a commercial for White Castle’s new Impossible slider. His preparatory work revolved around a straightforward concept: a floating spaceman reaching for a slider. In the quest to capture this scene, Carter was tasked with a project that required imagination, innovation, and the layering of images onto a green screen. Engaging in countless discussions on the practicalities of their vision, the team delved into the intricacies of green screen technology, meticulous set design, and strategic camera movements. 

Amidst the creative whirlwind, every detail was scrutinized, from the choice of focal length to the manipulation of spatial distortion, culminating in the mesmerizing spectacle of a spaceman gracefully suspended in zero gravity, reaching for the slider. Amidst the cosmic spectacle, even the humble burger became a star, choreographed on a macro insert lazy susan to achieve cinematic perfection. Understanding that accurate lighting is paramount for success, particularly in space-themed scenes devoid of diffused light, Carter worked to strike the delicate balance necessary to evoke the ambiance of outer space. On set, they fine-tuned various elements, shooting multiple versions with differing contrast ratios before selecting the most effective rendition for the final product.

Carter's proficiency in shooting food stems from his passion for both cooking and presentation. Treating each plate he prepares as if it were a professional food shoot, he captures the moment as a means of preserving cherished memories, storing them in an album on his phone. For him, there's a unique satisfaction in enhancing the visual appeal of food, as it allows him to experiment with textures and colors. When prepared with care, he believes that well-made food has an innate ability to speak for itself, requiring minimal intervention to create captivating imagery.

Carter worked on one of White Castle's premier shoots for the new Impossible Slider.

Carter believes lighting is evocative, emotionally instructive, and key to the perfect shot. While others may fixate on lenses and cameras, he understands that lighting is the linchpin of visual storytelling. With meticulous attention to lighting, any subject can be captured to evoke a desired emotional response. As he aptly puts it, "Lighting is the foundation of aesthetics and emotion, shaping the look and feel of a scene from which everything else can be built." 

When hired by Vogue to capture an immersive profile piece about Priyanka Chopra, Carter wanted to ensure that he was capturing her true nature. The client's request for beauty lighting for Priyanka set the tone for Carter's creative direction. Tasked with ensuring she looked radiant while also highlighting set pieces, Carter collaborated with his gaffer to devise a soft light source. This approach allowed for versatility in capturing Priyanka's movements within the set while ensuring she remained the focal point. Carter's meticulous planning extends to providing the talent ample space to explore and express themselves freely. He believes in preparing for every possible scenario, even if not all outcomes are ultimately needed, to facilitate a seamless production process.

Carter’s approach is always centered on fostering a sense of comfort and ease with the talent. By building rapport, he seeks to create an environment where authenticity can flourish. He values moments of genuine connection over staged performances, gravitating towards candid shots that capture the raw essence of the subject. Whether they are directed away from the camera or engaged in unscripted interaction, he is drawn to more organic shots, allowing viewers to see individuals as they truly are, unfiltered and unguarded. Priyanka’s personal narrative, recounted through her own words, proved to be captivating and Carter's ability to encapsulate her spirit resonated profoundly, earning him a repeat engagement with the team.

Carter's attention to personal detail, like this piece with Priyanka x Vogue, is what gets clients to keep coming back.

Another great passion of Carter’s is travel, so when he was offered the chance to shoot a commercial for Resorts World Las Vegas, he jumped at the opportunity. With ample time for scouting, Carter and his team meticulously planned the narrative arcs of three characters within the expansive resort, aiming to showcase its diverse offerings. Carter's attention to detail extended to the color palettes of both the sets and characters' wardrobes, allowing for visual contrasts that enhanced the storytelling. Each character's traits were reflected in the composition and lighting of their scenes, from vibrant blues for the tech-savvy individual to warm reds for the outgoing woman and slate grays for the business-minded man.

Navigating the client's involvement in the process added complexity, as every setup required their approval. Carter prioritized transparency and communication, proactively addressing potential concerns and sharing his cinematographic insights to ensure alignment with the client's vision. He views this educational aspect as integral to his role, striving to empower clients with a deeper understanding of the filmmaking process. Despite the challenges, Carter relishes travel-focused projects, seeing them as both a passion and a product of his work.

One such project was one he did with Resorts World Las Vegas, capturing its essence perfectly.

Carter mentioned collaboration a number of times, highlighting the importance of strong relationships among crew members, as it fosters a shorthand communication that enhances efficiency on set and leads to a more enjoyable atmosphere. With just a glance, they can make split-second decisions, operating seamlessly in real-time. As a director, he values this dynamic, not only with his crew but also with camera assistants, understanding that cultivating such rapport takes time but yields invaluable results. Clients consistently commend the caliber of crews Carter assembles.

Carter is a professional who possesses a clear vision and purpose, yet remains adaptable and open-minded. He values the synergy between having a solid foundation of goals and the flexibility to explore new ideas. To him, these qualities serve as the essential building blocks, providing the necessary springboard for creative endeavors.