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Old June 9th, 2007, 03:56 AM   #1
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Infomercial Formant Question

What's you opinion and why? Should an infomercial be taped in HD or SD? I might have the oportunity to be involved in the taping of one and would like some input.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 03:01 PM   #2
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From my understanding, most infomercials are delivered on betaSP (SD) and not even digital betacam. So quality on the broadcast master end is not that good. However, it still has to look good (given their budget). Some of them are shot on the F900 (HD) because that camera looks good.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 12:12 AM   #3
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If you want to understandthe economics and proper format/budgeting of work like commericals and infomercials it helps to think of an inverted pyrimid

The HUGE WIDE block at the top is the MEDIA BUY. That's what the promoter will pay to get the work in front of enough eyeballs so that the fractional response your call to action gets is big enough to cover costs and generate profit.

The small block at the point of the pyrimid that everything balances on is the production budget.

The bigger the pyrimid, the larger the production budget, since it SHOULD always be a relative fraction of the media buy.

If you do not have a robust media budget, DO NOT overspend on production. It's a losing game.

Spend small, test small. When you know the percentage return your product/media money will generate, AND have proven it to be a sustainable number, THEN ramp up.

No station will turn down an SD spot. Heck, they won't turn down a spot submitted on 3/4" tape! The truth is they don't CARE about the the tape format unless it's truely unprofessional (like a VHS tape recorded at EP!), they're in business to RENT YOU ACCESS TO THEIR AUDIENCE what you do with that access is up to you.

Hardly ANY commercial right now NEEDS to be in HD. HD is LIMITING since HD broadcast stations make up a VERY small precentage of the broadcast stations. And ALL of those stations know how to matt a SD 4X3 standard picture into a 16x9 frame for broadcast.

As to the quality of production you need, I'd say as a general rule of thumb, the lamer the product the better the spot should look.

Really. Maybe. Seriously. Or not.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 09:30 AM   #4
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Spend small, test small. When you know the percentage return your product/media money will generate, AND have proven it to be a sustainable number, THEN ramp up.
This is such an important point for anyone producing anything marketing related, I figured I'd make everyone read it twice.
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Old June 10th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great advice guys. I loved the inverted piramid concept. I believe their buget is small. Something in the in the range 1 million, and a vast majority of that will go to product production and aire time ( it will only be a regional product I believe). They haven't given us a budget yet, but I'm am not expecting much. I guess the reason I was asking was because the only camera we will have available will be an XH A1. My thought was to shoot HD and Scale down and crop to SD. What are your thoughts on that?
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:54 PM   #6
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1- Shooting HD and downconverting is a legitimate way of shooting SD. (*There are different ways of doing downconversion with slightly different results. There's a thread on that somewhere...)

But I think you should focus on what's more important.
-Will it give good imagery in the situations you'd be shooting in? (studio? exteriors?)
-Will the look be appropriate for the project? (i.e. is the shallow depth of field an issue?)

-Does it fit the budget? Would going with another option take money away from elsewhere? (especially lighting)
-Do I need a bigger camera that would look better to the client? If you have a big budget, then perhaps you want to rent a camera or stuff to beef up your camera (35mm adapter, mattebox, etc.)

Last edited by Glenn Chan; June 11th, 2007 at 10:18 PM.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 09:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Neo Castillo View Post
Thanks for the great advice guys. I loved the inverted piramid concept. I believe their buget is small. Something in the in the range 1 million, and a vast majority of that will go to product production and aire time ( it will only be a regional product I believe). They haven't given us a budget yet, but I'm am not expecting much. I guess the reason I was asking was because the only camera we will have available will be an XH A1. My thought was to shoot HD and Scale down and crop to SD. What are your thoughts on that?

Here are my thoughts...

Stuff that matters in descending order of importance.

1. The Overall Budget
2. The Media Plan
3. The Product
4. The Script
5. The Pitchperson
and 95 other things I won't list here...

The brand or model of camera you use would fall somewhere below 100 on my list of the important things affecting the success or failure of an infomerical.

And whether you decide to "shoot in HD and downconvert to SD" would fall somewhere below 1000 on the same scale.

For what it's worth.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 10:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Here are my thoughts...

Stuff that matters in descending order of importance.

1. The Overall Budget
2. The Media Plan
3. The Product
4. The Script
5. The Pitchperson
and 95 other things I won't list here...

The brand or model of camera you use would fall somewhere below 100 on my list of the important things affecting the success or failure of an infomerical.

And whether you decide to "shoot in HD and downconvert to SD" would fall somewhere below 1000 on the same scale.

For what it's worth.

I totally get what you are saying, but I have no control over those things, including casting. I just have control over the recording, lighting, and editing only. So my concerns for the project are trying to get the best performance about of the actors given to me and create the best possible recording of that.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #9
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Looks like I might not be able to direct this after all. It seems that all of the companies they contact for airtime must also produce and take a cut of the infomercial as well. Seems odd to me, but I guess that's just the business.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 03:38 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Neo Castillo View Post
Looks like I might not be able to direct this after all. It seems that all of the companies they contact for airtime must also produce and take a cut of the infomercial as well. Seems odd to me, but I guess that's just the business.
Huh? That don't sound right. So if I wanted to produce my own infomercial selling widgets, and buy airtime on Time Warner Cable there in S.A. or here in Austin, they are gonna tell me they have to produce it and take a cut?

Can you give a little more details?
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