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Old March 22nd, 2005, 11:00 AM   #1
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Making a simple commerical

A friend of mine who knows I am getting into the Video buis, has asked me to do a simple commerical for them. They have a Lawn Care buisness and would like to do a short 1-2 minute commerical for the local TV channel. What can be expected from this?
What type of format do stations require to air something.
What "non-forseeable" things have come up in your experences?
What type of budget is required if the video and editing equipment is already owned?

Chris
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 11:32 AM   #2
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Chris, I'll try to answer your questions:

Q: 1-2 minute commerical for the local TV channel?

A: First, if it's commercial television you're shooting for...it's usually 30 seconds. Sometimes 60 sec. if you wanna pay for it. But, 1-2 min. commercials are usually crappy time slot pieces that aren't worth much for the advertisers. They end up playing at 3am or some other bad time. Actually, if they have a lot to say...maybe go for an infomercial? They can get 30 minute slots on weekends like the car dealerships. Local cable likes to fill time with those 30 minute car shows...usually pretty cheap too.

Q: What can be expected from this?

A: Geez, a loaded question! Experience because you haven't done anything before (it sounds like?). Instead of charging to earn money - I'd charge enough to cover expenses. If you screw up this first time out you don't want someone after you. It's better to say up front that it's a learning experience for you and you're trying to get a reel together. They might be into getting a really cheap production out of it? I'd ask.

Q: What type of format do stations require to air something.

A: All stations are different. You need to call them and ask to speak with someone in charge of airing commercials from outside productions. It could be the Master Control operator, Sales Manager, Senior Commercial Producer or even some intern! It's possible they will take anything and convert it. But, don't be shocked when your Mini-DV tape is dubbed to 3/4" 100 times by the time it airs and the quality makes you want to puck.


Q: What "non-forseeable" things have come up in your experences?

A: I was inside a car that caught fire during a commercial shoot! How does that sound for "non-forseeable"??

Q: What type of budget is required if the video and editing equipment is already owned?

A: If you own a DV camera and decent audio - you're almost good to go. But, remember to budget for all travel expenses, tapes, battieries, food for anyone you have helping you and also TIME. If you are working on this project for 2-3 days...that's $. Time is $.

Don't forget a production meeting with the clients. Also, DON'T over promise my friend.....that's #1. If you over promise you're screwed. It's better to say "I can't promise that, but I will try" and then be the hero when you pull it off....then to promise and look like a retarded ass. (and maybe have to go back and give them what they want or risk being sued or whatever)

*** Always charge more than what you think you need because profits go POOF when you least expect it!

Chris
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 11:42 AM   #3
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"DON'T over promise my friend.....that's #1. If you over promise you're screwed. It's better to say "I can't promise that, but I will try" and then be the hero when you pull it off....then to promise and look like a retarded ass. (and maybe have to go back and give them what they want or risk being sued or whatever)"

Out of everything that Christopher said, this one merits repeating.
Overpromising is the easiest way to have an uphappy client.
Do what you can to set realistic expectations. If they know what they are getting from the beginning, then there is no reason for them to be dissapointed.

As a friend of mine always says, "Underpromise and Overdeliver."


Not to say that you won't have unreasonable clients sometimes. I once had a situation wiht a clien where I got the script approved, storyboards approved, test shots approved, plus the client was there all the time during our 2 day shoot....and then when I showed up with the finished spot the client looked at me with a completely straight face and said "What's this? This isn't what I wanted!"

Some people are just ridiculous.
I now have clients literally sign off on the script and storyboards.

But, back to the topic at hand....
I think many of your questions will be answered if you simply sit down with your friend and discuss what it is he wants. Then talk to the television station to find out what they require. As Christopher mentioned, many stations will dub a tape to their required format, but in my experience they are never happy about doing that, and don't do the best job. I simply budget for any dubbing that will have to be done, and take my DVCam master to a local dub house I know I can trust. That way I can go over there and see the copy that will be given to the TV station. Generally this doesn't cost me anything more than an extra $20, and I think it's worth it.

As far as what is needed to produce the commercial...well, that's like asking how much does a car cost. It all depends on what you want. I know you said "simple" commercial... but that could mean a lot of things.

Get some ideas down on paper, talk to your friend, and once you have a better idea of the content of the piece it will be easier to budget and plan for what is needed.

Good luck.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 02:13 PM   #4
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Thanks for the stories and advice. The "at night, (early AM) showing I believe killed the deal. Prices seem to be higher, (multiples of 10) for day time showing.
Well it was a nice thought anyways. Maybe we will just make one for fun to get some experence. Thanks again for the advice!!

Chris
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Old August 8th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #5
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I'm also looking to do a 30sec commercial for the place i work. my biggest problem is that the commerical is part of a local package deal that will be broadcast on a few diffrent stations such as TBS, ESPN, ect. the master copy is going to be submited to one guy and then he will get copies to each station. i'm using FCP so i was thinking of just giving him a dvd with a quicktime file. i'm trying to get his number from my boss to double check, but if you knew my boss you'd understand that this might not happen before the submission date. does anyone thing that format would work, or is the another option that might be a little more universal?
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Old August 8th, 2005, 04:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Simone
I'm also looking to do a 30sec commercial for the place i work. my biggest problem is that the commerical is part of a local package deal that will be broadcast on a few diffrent stations such as TBS, ESPN, ect. the master copy is going to be submited to one guy and then he will get copies to each station. i'm using FCP so i was thinking of just giving him a dvd with a quicktime file. i'm trying to get his number from my boss to double check, but if you knew my boss you'd understand that this might not happen before the submission date. does anyone thing that format would work, or is the another option that might be a little more universal?
Chris,

If you would like to try and help your boss and your job, you could call the potential stations and ask them directly what format they would prefer.

I would assume that most stations will be able to handle the DVD format but making the phone calls may be helpful in the potential contacts they might produce.

Work it man....

Steph
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Old August 8th, 2005, 06:11 AM   #7
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Adding to Stephanie's advice, many stations and cable networks have producer's guidlines and technical specifications available online at their web sites. A Google search can sometimes turn up wonders. A couple of issues where you simply must be dead-on, regardless of anything else, is running time and such things as bars and tone leader, 2-pops, etc.
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:01 AM   #8
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techical broadcast spec question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
Adding to Stephanie's advice, many stations and cable networks have producer's guidlines and technical specifications available online at their web sites. A Google search can sometimes turn up wonders. A couple of issues where you simply must be dead-on, regardless of anything else, is running time and such things as bars and tone leader, 2-pops, etc.
I'm just now getting started commercials as well. The stations I've talked to so far mentioned "zero tone" or "0 tone." What exactly is that?

I hope I'm not taking this thread too far off topic...

Thanks,
T.J.
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #9
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From what I can gather:
Analog tone should be 0VU, peaks should not exceed 4VU.

For digital formats, tone should be at -12, -18, or -20dBFS (i.e. what shows up on your editing system's meters). Peaks should not be more than 8dB higher than tone.
Consumer formats: -12dBFS
PAL: -18dBFS
professional digital formats (i.e. digibeta): -20dBFS

Last edited by Glenn Chan; August 8th, 2005 at 01:48 PM.
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:46 AM   #10
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Usually at the very beginning of any tape for broadcast, there are "bars & tone" A full screen of various colors & black and white bars, along side a somewhat annoying 1khz tone.
They exist to help the station calibrate the video you bring them.

The color bars are checked on a waveform/vectorscope and are adjusted to bring them into spec with the broadcat equipment (Make sure reds are red, and whites aren't to white etc.) This is still a big deal with analogue (betaSP, 3/4") equipment, and needs to be done for each tape.

The "0 tone" refers to the volume at which your audio is recorded. Initially you lay down a 1khz tone on the tape, and you adjust the recording volume on your deck until the needle on your audio meter reads 0db. The station then plays the tone back on their deck, and matched their playback level to the 0db tone you recorded. This makes sure that your volume is not to loud or soft on playback.

The tricky thing is if you're using digital, like DV to record onto, "0db" is actually "-20db" or "-14db" depending on who you talk to. So when you lay back to DV, put your 1khz tone at -20db (not 0db), and when the station puts it onto an analogue format, they will calibrate that to 0db analogue.

Usually then you have a slate. Just a graphic that tells the person at the station, the name of this commercial, how long it is, when it was made and who made it.

Then comes a countdown. Usually a countdown goes backwards from 8 seconds to 2 seconds. Then EXACTLY two seconds of black, followed by your commercial. This aids the tape ops in cueing up your tape for playback. It's customary to ad a "2-pop" a one frame clip of audio right at the number 2 on the countdown. This lets the tape op know that the audio is in sync with the video. (actually this is a holdover from the film days, and not strictly necessary.)

The best bet is to ask the station how they want it formatted, and just follow what they say. They will probably be more than happy to give you an example off of one of their old tapes.
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Old August 8th, 2005, 10:03 AM   #11
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This is kinda funny. I was reading this thread and figured it was a new topic. I started reading my posting from way back...and thought, hey that's exactly what I would have said!! After reading my entire post...I noticed I did write it!!

I think that's funny. lol..
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