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Grinder Director/DOP Simon Barnes recently directed a Meta Beer commercial for the Durban-based agency The Hardy Boys for their client Diageo. The TVC entitled “The Journey”, follows the movement of a drop of beer on it’s “journey” down the side of the Meta Beer bottle and we see how it activates various visual effects on it’s way down. The project involved shooting liquids at high-speed on the Phantom 4K Flex and required extreme attention-to-detail in terms of the liquids & packs styling and SFX. The project was shot in Grinder’s Cape Town Tabletop Studio. Full video-post was handled by Black Ginger and the original music composition & sound design was produced by Milestone Studios.

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Grinder’s Simon Barnes has been joined by ex-M&C Saatchi Abel Cape Town Producer Sarah Matthes to focus on the increasing demand from the South African food & beverage market.

Barnes’s Christmas TV campaign for Woolworths was a highlight at the end of a busy year that saw him shoot an impressive 22 days for Havas WW London for Birds Eye, Iglo and Findus. This in addition to his ground-breaking ads for MK Norway – Skyr (yoghurt) and Møllerens Flour (which scooped Best Ad at the Norwegian SRF Ad Awards). Both the ads for MK Norway were produced at the recently-launched Grinder Warsaw office in Poland.


“Simon brings his technical expertise in right from initial concept development, so that he can portray the product the way it needs, and deserves, to be seen” says Matthes. “For a flour ad, that only features the flour, to win Best Ad really is proof of his exceptional skill and understanding of what the clients need.”

Barnes works easily within the high-tech playground of the Phantom 4K Flex and the high-speed Mo-Co Camera Robots. His technical expertise combined with a lighting skill honed from his years as a much-lauded international food & beverage photographer, allows him to push the boundaries in visual communication.


“We can make the food, the liquid, or the cosmetics the star of the show; we can explore visual avenues that audiences haven’t seen” explains Grinder Exec Producer David Rowley. “There is huge potential for Simon in the South African commercials market and bringing Sarah on board shows how seriously we are approaching this. She will work exclusively with Simon as a team, bringing her knowledge and experience of how agencies and clients work and her understanding of what they need.”

Sarah joins Grinder from M&C Saatchi Abel where she worked with brands including Heineken, Yardley, Mützig Beer, Primus Beer, Takealot, Hollard Insurance and MWEB.

For more information visit www.grinderfilms.com.

Or contact Sarah Matthes on Sarah@grinderfilms.com

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Grinder Slingshot-Rig Test

Grinder recently designed-and-built a high-speed rotation-rig which we call the “Slingshot”. This purpose-built SFX camera-rig allows us to rotate an inward-facing Phantom Flex camera shooting at 2400 frames per second around central subjects at extremely high-speeds of 80 Hz which translates to around 1,5 full axis rotations per second. When you see this rig in front of you at full rotation it is a rather scary sight I must admit ;) We still need to tweak and perfect a few things here-and-there such as lighting concepts and lensing but we are almost there and the visual results so far all point to an amazing result. This rig is definitely a game-changer and shot-maker in terms of creating very unique visuals. Here then is some pretty weird and wonderful test-footage we shot recently on the rig in our studio – once you have seen this I am sure you will agree it makes for some pretty awesome, unique and interesting imagery. We hope you like it :)

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Simon Barnes directs Amarula Gold product-launch TVC

Grinder Films in-house Director/DOP Simon Barnes recently shot the Amarula Gold product-launch TVC by Cape Town agency DraftFCB for their client Distell. They shot 2 days of high-speed liquids cinematography on the Phantom Flex in Cape Town’s Grinder Tabletop Studio. Liquids Styling and SFX was handled by the competent crew from FXPacs.

Amarula Gold is the first addition to the Amarula product portfolio in 25 years and coincides with the brands 25th anniversary. Like its cream counterpart, it’s made using hand-harvested Marula fruit indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, double-distilled and aged in oak for 24 months. The global product release has started with the South African market and is expected to launch into other markets in September.

After many years as a tabletop photographer for some of the world’s top 10 food and beverage brands, the Amarula Gold TVC is Simon’s first foray into the world of directing Tabletop commercials. “The ease at which Simon has made the change to cinematography is simply astounding and impressive at the same time” said Grinder’s EP David Rowley. “I’ve been working with tabletop directors for some years now. From the skill of his lighting to his command of the latest technology, I can see that Simon is simply a very talented natural.”

View TVC here: Amarula Gold TVC

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Tabletop Director/DOP Ronald Koetzier joins Grinder roster

Grinder is very happy to announce that the tabletop-specialist Director/DOP Ronald Koetzier has joined the Grinder roster for representation with immediate effect. Ronald’s strong visual style of eye-catching, poetic and contemporary images with an exceptional attention to detail is unmistakeable . His exceptional experience with Motion Control and the integration of CGI in combination with both tabletop & live action is impressive. Ronald works on all camera formats such as 35mm, Alexa, Red, 5D and is a specialist on the Phantom Flex high-speed camera & Bolt High-Speed Motion Control, all of which are available through our Grinder studio in Cape Town, South Africa.

After completing his studies in Photography, Ronald worked as a Cinematographer for the past 20 years on many international award winning spots. He has been directing in combination with cinematography for the last 15 years. He has filmed in well over 30 countries and specialises in food & tabletop in combination with live action.

To view Ronald’s latest Tabletop Montage 2014 please click the link here.

For more info please contact: theproducer@grinderfilms.com

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Grinder’s roster of 9 international directors

Grinder’s footprint in the tabletop market grew substantially over this last year with an expanded roster that now includes 9 of the world’s top directors. Recent signings include Steve Downer and David Wynn-Jones. Downer, known for his mastery of filming liquids, is one of the world’s leading specialists in high speed motion control, standing Grinder in good stead now that the Bolt high speed motion control rig is here and based at our Cape Town studio. Wynn-Jones is known all over the world for his tabletop work, especially his expertise in filming chocolate where his skills are unsurpassed. His portfolio includes Cadburys, Snickers, Galaxy, M & M’s, Ferrero Rocher, Mars, Alpen & Milka.

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Ian Difford shoots 4th Carte d’Or ad for BBDO Moscow

BBDO Moscow returned to Cape Town in November to shoot their fourth Carte d’Or ice cream commercial for Unilever with Grinder and director Ian Difford. Pistachio nut models were manufactured in London at 300% scale then shot through the air and filmed breaking up at 2500 fps. Sot over two days in our studio in Cape Town we also produced the Carte d’Or Stills campaign with the Grinder-represented photographer Alain Proust.

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Carl Prechezer – latest to join Grinder roster

Combining strong performance and appetizing tabletop, Carl’s work has long brought synergy to brands such as Coca Cola, Fol Epi, McDonalds, Maggi, Alpen Gold and Thomy.

The youngest ever recipient of the BAFTA Shell Fulbright scholarship, his directing career includes Oscar shortlisted films, awarding-winning commercials and beautifully crafted documentaries.  His all-round skills enable Grinder to offer one director for both table top and live action.

Carl joins Grinder’s roster for representation and shooting in Africa.

View Carl’s works here

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Red Cola for Krypton Films, Portugal

In December, Grinder shot an edgy liquids shoot for the packaging relaunch for the Refriango-brand Red Cola with Ian Difford for Lisbon’s Krypton Films and the ad-agency BAR. Shooting 2 days on Phantom Flex in the Grinder Studio in Cape Town, the job involved synchronising complex lighting effects, moving-rigs and liquid pours in split-second timings. The Liquids Styling & SFX team of FXPacs were pushed to their limits and director Ian Difford made good use of his exceptional skills in lighting “It was all very nerve-wracking stuff” recalls EP David Rowley, “but as always, we got it in-the-can perfectly in the end”.

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Simon Barnes signs with Grinder for exclusive representation worldwide.

Simon’s move into directing was a natural progression after years as a sought after tabletop photographer for worldwide f & b brands including McDonalds, Guinness, Heineken, Woolworths, Amstel, Windhoek, Heineken, Ceres, Appletizer and Liquifruit for both UK and South African markets.

His work stands out for his attention to detail and exceptional lighting skills; he is a master in the art of making food and liquids look enticing and natural, while focusing on the brand as hero.

Grinder’s David Rowley adds “Simon has the energy and vision to constantly innovate new visual styles. He is a breath of fresh air to the world of tabletop directing and we are really excited to have him at Grinder.” Simon’s most recent work at Grinder has been shooting the pack-shots for Jupiter Drawing Room’s recently released Windhoek Lager commercial with Didier Drogba.

View Simon’s work here

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Checkers Cheese & Wine TVC with Gordon Ramsay & Nataniël

The follow-on and second TVC from the existing 2013 Checkers campaign with Gordon Ramsay and Nataniël has just been released and is on air. This TVC features the Checkers local and international selections of cheese & wine and represents part of an ongoing TVC campaign for a whole new range of products being introduced by Checkers. The Cape Town based advertising agency 99Cents approached Grinder Films in May to produce two new promotional TVC for Checkers featuring the TV personality and Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay with the SA homegrown celebrity Nataniël. Here once again the unlikely duo are featured together while testing & tasting the various cheese & wine products. As per usual, Ramsay convinces with his professional and expert approach while being observed and commented on by the dry-humoured Nataniël. Grinder shot the TVC at the wine estate and gourmet cooking-school Leopards Leap located in Franschhoek near Cape Town.

To view the TVC click the following link on the Grinder Films Vimeo channel  >

Checkers Cheese & Wine

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Grinder shoots Gordon Ramsay & Nataniël TVC for Checkers

The Cape Town based advertising agency 99Cents approached Grinder Films in May to produce a new promotional TVC for Checkers meat featuring the TV personality and Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay together with the SA homegrown celebrity Nataniël. The fun and entertaining TVC features the unlikely duo testing the new meat range which includes the steakhouse classic rump known as Picanha, its Brazilian name, which is the most highly sought-after beef cut in Brazil. Also sampled was a farmstead premium pork rump that is often hard to track down and is, according to Ramsay, “One of the most difficult cuts for a butcher to master.” The TVC is a follow-on from the existing 2012 Checkers campaign with Ramsay. The chemistry between the two personalities was very successful and represents the first of an ongoing TVC campaign featuring Gordon & Nataniel for a new range of products being introduced by Checkers.

The production was shot at the wine farm and state-of-the-art cooking school venue Leopards Leap in Franschhoek. The production required 3 cameras running simultaneously and in TC sync with live sound recording in a type live-recording approach to capture the best moments of the live action and spontaneous humour.

To view the TVC as well as the behind-the-scenes Making-Of, click the following links on the Grinder Films Vimeo channel  >

The Checkers TVC

The Making-Of



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We love this film ❤

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Grinder signs new food and beverage directors.

As the world’s focus on food and beverage advertising has increased steadily, so too has the demand for specialist F & B directors. The days of one-director-does-all are over. Grinder Films’ impressive roster now includes Ian Difford (exclusive for the international market) whose recent shoots include Carte d’Or ice cream for DDB Poland (his third for Grinder), KFC, MacDonald’s, Steers, Danone & SAB Miller; world renowned chocolate specialist  David Wynn-Jones; visual master Michael Buckley; expert all-rounder Manfredo Leteo and the liquids guru Giaco Angelini. Grinders EP David Rowley: “The expansion of our directors roster gives Grinder the ability to better react to the steady increase in board-flow we are experiencing in addition to better address requests for directors of specific food-types. With a few more top director signings pending we are really excited about where we are right now”. Grinder also represents a selection of top F&B specialist photographers such as Alain Proust, Simon Barnes, Gerda Genis and Anthony Johnson in addition to growing its reputation for being a centre of excellence for top f & b stylists for shoots around the globe. Grinder’s list of recent clients include InMarko Unilever, Heineken Breweries, Steers, Knorr and the SA retail chain Checkers.

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Grinder shoots the new Steers Awesome Meal TVC

Grinder Films and their Director/DOP Robert Payton were recently invited by the Johannesburg agency TBWA & TV Producer Aileen Kennaugh to pitch on the latest Steers Awesome Meal TVC campaign. Needless to say we were totally stoked and honored to be awarded with the job. The production was shot and produced on the Phantom Flex in the Media Film Service studio in Johannesburg which has a specialized kitchen prep area which is perfect for food shoots. Food Stylist on the job was Natalie Bell who did a fantastic job in the very tight pre-production time. The Offline was edited by Tim Goodwin, Grade done by Nic at Pudding and Online in the Flame by genius Jaco at Blade. And to finish it all off the audio was masterfully mastered by Freq’ncy JHB. After all the rush-rush hectic of the short time-line production delivery we are really…totally…happy with the result …and of course we hope you like the result too :-)

Check out the commercial here above.

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Grinder glass filming oven proves itself in action.

Grinder was happy to host the Johannesburg based film production Machine for a shoot day in our studio with our Grinder glass filming oven. The time-lapse filming of rising cakes was shot on a Canon 5DMk2 and has been produced for an upcoming commercial for the Unilever brand Blue Band Margarine. Director and DOP on the job was Clive Will and Food Stylist was Emma Longman. Needless to say the delicious baking smells in the studio were driving us crazy all day. And we managed to get a sneak peek at the footage that was achieved and it looks fantastic. So happy production, agency and client and once again our glass oven proves it can deliver on the day what is required.

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Grinder kicks-off 2013!

Oh boy…can you believe the speed that 2012 flew past us…? Here we are at the beginning of 2013 …and it seems like January 2012 was only a few months ago!  Grinder has some pretty exciting new developments to bring to the market in 2013…but more about that later ;-) It definitely is going to pay to plan the year 2013 as soon as possible and that’s just what we are doing right now. Our summer production season 2013 here in Cape Town is in full swing already and the Asia Adfest in Thailand in March is only 8 short weeks away. Fact is…2013 is probably going to be a fast year for sure but if it can be as great a year as 2012 was for Grinder then we are in for a fantastic ride :-)

Grinder would like to wish all our friends, clients and supporters all the very best for this year 2013!


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Grinder Films wishes you a delicious festive season!

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Grinder Films shoots Knorr SA Chefs campaign for Unilever

After shooting the Unilever Knorr Chefs campaign in Europe over the past year, Grinder Films was awarded the latest South African market Knorr Chefs campaign commercial by DDB Johannesburg. The commercial was shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa and featured genuine Knorr development chefs to highlight the brands commitment to real food prepared by real chefs. The story plays two Knorr chefs and their specific products against each other in a type “cook-off” with dead-tie as the outcome. Cross shooting with 2 cameras and filming at a real kitchen was a great bonus, allowing the chefs to relax and concentrate on the food and not the technicalities of performance or film-making.

The commercial which is airing now,  exploited director Rob Payton’s forte in combining beautiful looking food with credible performance. Rob’s sentiments: “After so many international jobs it was great to be shooting for the local market again.  It is always good to see your work appear on your own TV set!”

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Knorr Chefs Stew “Cook-Off”