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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:09 PM  
Commercial shot with 5D
Martin Guitar Martin Guitar is offline April 27th, 2010, 02:09 PM

I shot this commercial (for the web only) last Friday using the Canon 5D. Lenses used were the 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4 and 80mm 1.8

Using only natural light and 1 kino 4' bank.

Cut with Sony Vegas using Cineform codec and Firstlight for very minor grading.

YouTube - Snap Recordings "Small Business" commercial from the "Based on a true story" campaign

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Old April 29th, 2010, 03:49 PM   #16
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OK, but the length problem was just the FIRST clue I had that this was produced with someone who doesn't have much experience with commercial production. So I stopped watching it with much seriousness.

So let me give you the time issue. Let's say that you run this on a web-only world.

So I'll ONLY critique aspects of the spot itself.

First, overall there's little consistency. For example, your slate colors keep changing. Butterscotch, Bright Blue, Black, Why? You have an opportunity to "brand" your client with a consistent color approach - but waste that opportunity by shifting slate colors.

Your FIRST live scene is DULL. Freeze on it and LOOK at the scene. Large negative space issues with the walls, broken by pieces of unidentifiable wall fixtures (the upper left cut-off poorly) Also this scene seems DULL and lifelessly lighted - particularly juxtaposed to the tile shower scene which POPS nicely. Where's the image grading? Who's watching luminance levels? Your first shot MUST grab the audience. Yours is the weakest in the spot. I'm clicking elsewhere.

Next you've got an iPhone AND a USA today in the next shot. Every aspect of BOTH of those designs are massively copyrighted. Have you secured permission to use them in an ad for this product? I suspect not.

Next shot. Interesting creative decision to split the lead character in half with the mirror seam. Personally, I would have pushed his position so the seam still touched his face to make it clear it's a mirror shot, but would have positioned his face so that it read as less garish - most face available to the audience because after all, he's the HERO and he's going to choose our product in the end.

A few scenes later - again the logo problem. Watch commercials on TV. The REASON you see circles and bland unbranded laptop logos all the time in spots is because it's nearly impossible to get permission to use copyright logos in any form of advertising.

The animated logo is very nice, however.

That's your spot through the eyes of a guy who worked in advertising for nearly twenty years and has been responsible for producing commercials that don't cause clients MASSIVE problems after they run.

For what it's worth.
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Old April 29th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #17
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If you can look past the old-industry bitterness, Bill has a couple of good points. I make it a point to not critique work which people have not asked for critique on, but somewhere inbetween "ZOMG IT'S NOT :30 IT CAN'T BE A COMMERCIAL!!11one!1", there are a couple of points of consistency that could stand to be addressed.

Absolutely my biggest frustration with old-industry and emerging-industry is this notion that because you're producing a video for a company, that you have to charge $40k and bring in a grip truck and a crew of twelve. I don't know what you were paid for this (I don't know if you were paid for this), but I suspect little or none, and if that is indeed the case, it is commendable work.

If you want critique, please ask. If not, carry on. :-)
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Old April 29th, 2010, 05:21 PM   #18
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Those are all valid points Bill. Thanks for your input.

No pay, did it as a favor.
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Old April 29th, 2010, 09:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Your FIRST live scene is DULL. [...] Your first shot MUST grab the audience. Yours is the weakest in the spot. I'm clicking elsewhere.
Although I'm not a fan of giving unsolicited critique, I certainly agree with Bill's comments. So if I was you, I'd rewrite & reshoot, and maybe even try to punch it up with some humor or something that'll keep us interested. And speaking of -- a colleague if mine just sent me this spot (which isn't very professional either, but at least it keeps our interest up and has a funny punchline): YouTube - big rock brewery light beer

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Old April 29th, 2010, 10:38 PM   #20
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Really wished you hadn't shared that video - pretty gross ending.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 02:46 AM   #21
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Its important to make the Inscriptions correctly. "Small business, big image." Everytime a space after ",".
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Old April 30th, 2010, 07:15 AM   #22
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The critiques seem valid even if sometimes harsh. All I can add is to look at the piece at the size on screen similar to how most people will view it. If it will usually not be viewed full screen it may need to be shot tighter.
I believe all ads should entertain (not necessarily humor). There's a lot to like in this ad.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 10:40 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the critiques.

Even though i had not originally asked for comments, i am very happy that everybody chimed in. The video is now down for maintenance.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 05:16 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mike Watson View Post
If you can look past the old-industry bitterness, Bill has a couple of good points. I make it a point to not critique work which people have not asked for critique on, but somewhere inbetween "ZOMG IT'S NOT :30 IT CAN'T BE A COMMERCIAL!!11one!1", there are a couple of points of consistency that could stand to be addressed.

Absolutely my biggest frustration with old-industry and emerging-industry is this notion that because you're producing a video for a company, that you have to charge $40k and bring in a grip truck and a crew of twelve. I don't know what you were paid for this (I don't know if you were paid for this), but I suspect little or none, and if that is indeed the case, it is commendable work.

If you want critique, please ask. If not, carry on. :-)


Mike,

I now you're not the original poster, and I understand your points, but I'm confused (perhaps an age thing) about your concept of "old industry" - verses some "emerging industry" distinction.

So this is not just for you or the OP, but for everyone following the thread, in the hopes that it will help you better understand why some of the "old ways" came to be.

But first two digressions....

My critique of the scene lighting is (to my brain at least) kinda either true or false. If it's true, yes, a grip truck could well have solved it. But it's also true that a $100 rented Arri kit, or even a $40 rented Lowel kit could have fixed all the problems. That this wasn't done isn't OLD school or NEW school. It's the difference between looking at a monitor and saying "It's fine" or looking at the same monitor and saying "It can be a LOT better than this" That judgement ability will NEVER lose value.

As to my original (and so heartily reviled) "spot-length" comment. Perhaps my experience as a radio station production director is coloring my opinion, I just know that when we got a spot in that was 40 seconds, or 54 seconds, or even 31.5 seconds, the FIRST thing everyone in the station thought was the the producer must be a newbie, because NOBODY involved in advertising EVER takes a second of time for granted. Heck, it's what you're SELLING. Seconds are precious. And If I have 2:40 programmed into a break - that yields 5 30's plus 5 second station ID's at the head and tail of the break. The 40 second spot means I LOSE an "avail" (ad industry jargon for an "available spot" for advertising - the number and placement of which are AGONIZED over by the programming and sales departments. Losing an "avail" could easily cost my station pa couple of hundred dollars REAL DOLLARS in revenue - and no business is going to allow that.

At some point, whether it's time as in broadcast radio, or in BANDWIDTH in the modern internet era - the 43 second "commercial" is going to consume 25% more of those resources than a properly timed one and might even be REJECTED because of that fact. - it's simply unacceptable in a business environment. TIME matters in commercial production - PERIOD.

OK, now to the core of what I wanted to say here. Essentially, I'm confused by your quoted "frustration" comment.

It's typical "outsider" thinking and again, shows that someone to be unfamiliar with the structure of how the advertising industry works.

Budgets are NEVER arbitrary. And if someone has a $40,000 budget for something it's because time and experience have indicated that spending THAT sum will either generate or protect a sum far greater than the sum being spent.

Advertising is an "inverted pyramid" game. The BIG costs aren't EVER the production of the advertising - the big costs are in putting that advertising in front of a measurable number of people and therefore driving a measurable number of resulting actions.

So a production budget of your $40,000 might support a media campaign worth $400,000. Somebody ( a company in nearly every case) is committed to spending the $400,000 in advertising. And so whether they spend the whole $40,000 or $20,000. Or even 46,000 becomes of LESS significance than the fact that that don't MISS something like what we're talking about here and spend the $400,000 but achieve less than the optimum effect that they can achieve.

NOTHING in the "emerging industry" can possibly change that.

Even with the internet, the challenge isn't the creative so much as being able to assemble the AUDIENCE to expose that creative to.

Now, you can argue that it's now possible to do a $5,000 production that is designed to go exclusively on the internet that has most of the quality of the $40,000 spot from before. And that's fine. But if the people churning out those $5000 spots don't have the background to even SEE issues like the copyright ones I noted in the original discussion, they don't just stand to WASTE the $5,000 - they stand to put the customer in the path of a lawsuit that might eat up many times the $5000 in PENALTIES. The BIG companies can shrug that off. But the small companies like the ones who are working with the inexpensive and inexperienced producers might be CRUSHED by mistakes like that.

This is NOT good. And when any and everyone can get a pretty picture using a 5dMkii - the distinguishing criteria behind who helps their customers and who screws up to the point where the lawsuits fly ARE increasingly important.

BTW, that has not changed since I was starting out in the business. I made the same mistakes. Bunches of them. I suspect that if Mr Guitar sticks with the industry - he'll be fine over time.

Just as I was.

Unfortunately for him, there's less reason today to to talk your way into a TV station or Ad agency where you'll be surrounded by folks ready to teach you that it's a BAD idea to use an unsecured corporate logo in a spot to be seen in public - or to allow yourself the indulgence to write scripts where the timing of the performance of the same is NOT a major consideration..

So it's up to old curmudgeons like me to say something.

Maybe.

Or not.

Maybe I'm nuts and everyone wants to re-re-re-re-invent these wheels yet again.

Sounds tiring to me tho.

FWIW.
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 07:37 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
My critique of the scene lighting is (to my brain at least) kinda either true or false. If it's true, yes, a grip truck could well have solved it. But it's also true that a $100 rented Arri kit, or even a $40 rented Lowel kit could have fixed all the problems.
I agreed with this, although I thought your tone a bit harsh for someone who is obviously new at this.

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Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
If I have 2:40 programmed into a break - that yields 5 30's plus 5 second station ID's at the head and tail of the break. The 40 second spot means I LOSE an "avail"...
I understand the concept of spots, avails and break lengths... it's old industry. I notice YouTube, Vimeo, and the millions of businesses with flash video embedded in their websites don't lose any money (or time) by running :45s instead of :30s. For that matter, if it's :42 or 1:12 it doesn't matter. Message is king. OP's message was :42 long, so that's how long he made the video. In old industry, he'd have either had to cut it down to :30, or buy :60 and add some filler. Emerging technology? It's :42, it runs... :42!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
TIME matters in commercial production - PERIOD.
Agreed. Disappointing it took us 60 years to get to a place where we could efficiently use time like this, eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
So a production budget of your $40,000 might support a media campaign worth $400,000. Somebody ( a company in nearly every case) is committed to spending the $400,000 in advertising. And so whether they spend the whole $40,000 or $20,000. Or even 46,000 becomes of LESS significance than the fact that that don't MISS something like what we're talking about here and spend the $400,000 but achieve less than the optimum effect that they can achieve.
Again, old industry here is that the production costs $40k and the media buy $400k. New industry is that a company without $440k to spend can produce a spot for $4k (or, in this case, $0k) and the media buy can cost $0k.
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NOTHING in the "emerging industry" can possibly change that.
I respectfully disagree. See my points above.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:16 PM   #26
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Well, congratulations, Mike.

You've just very effectively argued that we ALL now have to face a business model where everything must be provided to everyone at the ULTIMATE quality and at the ULTIMATE professionalism - yet for FREE.

If that's the "NEW INDUSTRY" - Meh.

I'll gladly fight tooth and nail to remain firmly entrenched in the "old" industry - where you work hard for a number of years polishing and refining your skills - as well as getting to know the industry standards that make the business run for everyone - THEN set rates and availability of services in a way that the best practitioners can make a sustainable living - which in turn guarantees that dependable people and shops are available when other firms need those services.

In fact, this makes me wonder why I'm wasting my time coming here to try and help people understand the practices that build a sustainable industry.

Why am I even sharing my hard fought 30 plus years of solving video business problems with others when they'll just take that knowledge and instead of becoming a part of the sustainable effort, they'll just grab the knowledge and go into competition with me using a business model that can only make things incredibly harder for the serious people - both young and old.

Great system you NEW INDUSTRY guys are running here.

Oh, sorry, I forgot, *I* am the problem with my silly habit of charging rates that actually allow me to pay my taxes, pay my crews a decent wage, pay for both my equipment and overhead, AND take home enough to pay for a home for myself and family while putting away something for retirement and to protect that same family against unforseen future problems.

I really SHOULD embrace the new reality, huh.

I could head over to Craigs List and make my fortune alongside the other kiddies who look every day for crews that must be EXPERIENCED, HAVE THEIR OWN GEAR, and be willing to commit a week of their lives to help someone else get their big break with their RESUME movie - all in return for 7 straight Taco Bell quality meals?

Clearly *I* have all of this wrong.

BTW, It's extremely arguable that what you LOSE in your brave new world of arbitrary time avails is simple. Discipline. Perhaps it's old fashioned to have someone tell you you have precisely 85 words to get your message across in a :30 - but people did for decades, and you know what grew up because of that? People who could do BRILLIANT work in 85 words. I haven't written a commercial in probably 10 years, but I STILL have the Blaise Pascal paraphrase over the desk where I write - "I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time." That's what is missing. It's missing in the OP's spot. It's soft and fluffy - where if he'd been through the school of hard knocks and experience, he would have been tighter - both in copy, pace and message. Precisely because the time constraint would have SCHOOLED him to be tighter. And tight writing is the best writing, because attention spans are so horrible in today's internet environment of 25 flashing messages on each page.

Ya think?
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Old May 4th, 2010, 10:34 PM   #27
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No need to drag this out, Bill - I think I'll let this one drop without further debate. I can tell by the passion with which you speak that you are good at what you do, and I suspect if we had a twelve-pack of beer between us, we could solve all the world's problems and find some consensus on the issue at hand.

Thanks for a spirited debate.
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