The saying, ‘home is were the heart is’ varies from person to person but for me, my heart is still with the place I was born. Saskatoon, SK is a city smack dab in the centre of Canada in the province of Saskatchewan with a population of about 300,000 people. I recently teamed up with the crew at Tourism Saskatoon to produce a few videos to help promote the city. Out of the five videos that I am producing with the team, we decided to put together a time-lapse portrait of the city. What I want to do with this post is give you a look into the production to shed light on what it took to produce this campaign. This post will be evolving as each of these videos start to be released so make sure to keep an eye on this post as I hope to go in depth about each of the portraits.

Campaign Brief

For this project, we wanted to tell the story of Saskatoon through it’s people. We wanted to use these unique stories to show how the city is full of energy and a place that you would want to visit.

Stories. The framework for a culture, community and cosmopolitan. These stories and experiences created and shared with others are what define the true essence of PLACE.

#ExploreYXE Breakdown

#ExploreYXE was shot over four days in the heart of the downtown utilizing the Nikon D4’s and Kessler motion controlled equipment. For this project, I wanted to create a portrait of Saskatoon’s downtown. With having only spent four days shooting this, it does not capture the entire portrait of the city, rather a feature on it’s downtown. As this project evolves, I will be updating this video to include more perspectives of the city as well – and work at integrating ‘story’ into this portrait.

Equipment Breakdown

I shot this project on 2 Nikon D4’s, the Nikon 14-24mm, 24mm, 24-70mm, 35mm, and the 70-200mm. I am continually blown away by the quality of this equipment. As for the motion controlled equipment, most of the shots were captured utilizing Kessler’s CineDrive System. The system performed flawlessly on this film and allowed me to capture unique shots that I would not have been able to without the system.

A Closer Look at the Campaign

Beyond the #ExploreYXE film above, I was hired to develop four case studies that will help illustrate the main concepts.

  • Moments of Discovery, Kindred Connections, Spirited, Leadership Legacy.

We will interview four people who are staples in the community who have unique stories to share. These people must demonstrate a love for the city and embody the concept they are chosen to represent.

The interview content for each of the videos will be crafted from the main concept but we will also include the questions below to ensure a common thread exists between all videos.

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • Why do you choose to call Saskatoon home?
  • What makes Saskatoon unique?

These stories will be delivered in four two minute web videos to be distributed on Tourism Saskatoon’s Youtube Channel. This concept also has the potential of extending beyond this campaign by combining all elements to tell a cohesive story.

Moments of Discovery

Our character will guide the viewer through their unexpected journey of discovery and appreciation for the city they call home. We will take a closer look into who they are as a person and what drives this individual to embrace their surroundings. Visual focus is the environment and the venues – the hidden gems that only locals know about but want to share with others. From a small jazz club to the edge of a river, our character will take us on a personal journey of the place they call home. Ideal candidates would either be athletes, artists or musicians.


  • Where do you find you are able to be yourself?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • Where do you spend your time?
  • Where is your favourite local hangout?
  • Any hidden gems?
  • What is one event that you can’t miss?
  • Tell me about an experience you have had in Saskatoon that you could have never planned.

Possible Shot list:

  • Music Venue, Coffee Shop, Rooftop patio, River Landing.
Kindred Connections

Our candidate must have a desire to be heard through either written or visual form. These stories are inevitably drawn from personal experiences while living in Saskatoon. These candidates would be great for capturing the broad roots of what Saskatoon stands for as a whole – a humble and welcoming city. The visual elements will be drawn directly from the chosen candidate with the end goal of relating their inspiration to the city and the people that shaped who they are. Each candidate has a very unique story so it is imperative that we craft this video around their personal journeys showcasing the influence of PLACE. Ideal candidates would be actors, authors or educators.


  • What are the key elements that build a strong community?
  • What role has place played in shaping who you are today?
  • Would you consider Saskatoon a supportive and encouraging community?

The viewer will be taken on a journey through Saskatoon from the perspective of the candidate. A focus will be placed on the relationships and networks built within the city as our candidate reaches out to different corners of the city. We will drive the entertainment side of Saskatoon through this story as well as how the foundation of place helps drive the supporting nature of Saskatoon, it’s programs and its people.


  • What makes a city vibrant?
  • What are the foundational creative elements a city needs?
  • Why is culture and entertainment so important for a city?
  • What events bring the city together as a whole and why?

Possible Shot list:

  • Jazz Fest, Folk Fest, Fringe, Music Venue, Coffee Shop, Rooftop patio, River Landing.
Leadership Legacy

Our candidate would be a staple for the community supporting the youth and providing mentorship. We would focus on the strength of community and the systems that allow this to exist. Although focused on the leadership and mentorship in sports, the same principles apply to the other sub-headings that are part of this broader concept. These subheadings will emerge through such elements as the passing down of knowledge, inspiration and history. We will also touch on the importance of programs such as these in establishing a diverse city. Ideal candidates would be coaches and/or mentors.


  • What impact do sports and recreation programs have on the framework of a city?
  • Can you talk a little about Saskatoon’s legacy?
  • What role do leaders and mentors play in these programs?
  • Why is it important for a city to support its youth?

Possible Shot list:

  • Sporting event, practice field, locker room, University.


‘Saskatoon is Calling’ will be shot on a combination of Nikon DSLRs and the RED One Camera. By selectively shooting scenes in 4k, the shelf life of these clips will go beyond this project and have the ability to be part of future campaigns.

Shooting RED will also allow for a great deal of control in the post production workflow giving the Colorist the ability to tailor the look of ‘Saskatoon is Calling’ easily, without degrading image quality. Stark lighting ratios for dramatic flair with a warm / cool contrast between environments.

Controlled, subtle dolly movements will help tell the story and create depth as we move throughout the scene. Showcasing the surroundings while focusing on the characters will help create a larger sense of environment than locking the camera off for each shot. Small moves create a large atmosphere, further sinking the viewer into the story.


Preston Kanak

Posted by Preston Kanak

Based in Saskatchewan, Canada, Preston Kanak is a filmmaker and time-lapse photographer. His portfolio includes broadcast and independent work with a focus on capturing the human condition as well as the environment they live in. For the past three years, Preston has been filming a series of three minute short films focused on experimenting with various techniques and workflows. In 2010, Preston produced a short film everyday for the entire year. Currently, Preston is producing an extensive time-lapse tutorial as well as offering workshops across Canada — with the end goal of establishing an online educational resource for new media creatives. He also currently works with Kessler University producing tutorial and educational videos.