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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.

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Old September 1st, 2007, 01:39 PM   #1
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Unprinted cereal boxes and aluminum cans

I am working on a short comedy where I need to make my own cereal boxes prints and soda cans. I found ones site that will make the boxes for me, but i`d have to order 250 of them which is unneccesary. How can i go about making my own boxes and soda cans (art being done in illustrator) without them looking like 8th grade craft projects? I want them looking as legit as possible. Is there anywhere to get blank aluminum cans?
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Old September 1st, 2007, 03:57 PM   #2
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For the cans, take existing ones and print out on sticker stock paper with your printer. Apply sticker to can at room temperature of course.

For the cereal boxes, again, use existing boxes and print your own labeling on thin paper then use tacky spray (available at art stores) to apply. Or print full sheets of sticker stock.

Just my .02,

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Old September 1st, 2007, 04:19 PM   #3
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We did a short film a while ago with a paper ink jet print wrapped around a can and it looked surprisingly good on video. If we had printed on plastic or something similar, it would have looked great.

Probably the best solution for the can would be to remove the paint from a can with some nasty chemicals, then wrap it with a transparent plastic print. You could let the silver shine through with that approach. A pro print shop might be able to print on something really thin and matte, which would look great.

The cereal box should be a piece of cake. Just print on large enough card stock and bend it around the key corners. Score it with an exacto knife on the inside for sharp bends. Again, a print shop will have large format printers.

But keep in mind, TV news sets look like hell in person and look great on video. Don't sweat perfection. If the artwork is good, the audience will buy it.
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Old September 1st, 2007, 05:56 PM   #4
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Apropos the quality of 'build' on TV. I had a chance to tour the original Star Trek bridge at the Smithsonian. Sure, it was old and beat up... but the build quaility was pretty poor at that. The costumes and props were nasty too. I recall an interview with Shatner where he said by the second or third season, they were using the TOYS because they looked and worked better than there props!
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 12:10 PM   #5
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Having done this for network TV and Hollywood films for years, I can say it is almost always real boxes, cans, bottles, etc. that have the labels pasted over, painted over and changed, etc. etc. It can be a whole label replacement or just one or two words changed.

Whether or not it looks real is about 99% design and appropriate dulling and or aging treatment. Depending on whose around, you might get an art student to make them for a copy of the video.

The safest is to basically copy a legit design and change the words. If you don't want it to be recognizable to the audience, go online and get a picture of a product not sold here and use that design.

The stuff can be printed any way imaginable, ink jet, color laser, offset press, etc. and color zerox is used a lot when there are multiple packages.

In many cases you can paste on a strip to cover the main name and replace it with your own. Text that has names or other you don't want to use can be "greeked out," meaning you add lines or curves to the letters, so they still look like words but are unreadable.

You can make the changes on a box and then zerox it. Cans need printed labels that you can wrap around an attach with double sided tape at the end, spray glue, or a dab of glue at the end of the label. The physical can design can present issues. If you use aluminum cans with the ends rolled over, just make a color change just before the roll as part of the design and wrap the label around the flat part of the can. You also don't have to cover the hole can. If the can artwork design permits, just put a strip aroung the middle that covers the part you need covered with the changes you want to add.

Matte spray, spray glue and various fabric and floral sprays (light and semi transparent paint) are your friends for taking off shine, attaching and aging or taking that fake look off.

Closeups may require a little more care, but as pointed out above, what something looks like in person and how it "reads" on screen are entirely different. In fact, something that looks good in person can look terrible and fake on screen if the design, colors and any aging or wear treatment aren't right.

There are only two ways that help know how something will look on camera: put it on camera, or trust the experience of the artist and art director (though their judgment can also be very wrong). The lighting will also make a huge difference on how something reads, so keep this is mind (is the object in the dark in the background or is it front and center, closeup in full light). The type of light can also make a difference, for example a hard light will give a paste on strip a shadow, but with a softer light the edges of the paste on will blend in.

However, while something that looks bad in person can read well on camera, remember that if you're not the top boss and you're supplying the art, the director and/or producers are going to see the item in person, and if it just looks junky, no matter how it reads, they might get a bad impression of you.

If you want a large quantity of labels or something that is pretty standard (such as a newspaper with your own headline and you don't want to make it) the Hollywood go to for years has been Earl Hayes Press. Here's the address and phone number: http://www.studio-props.com/earl_hays_press.htm

They have all kinds of pre-made labels of different eras, etc. etc. etc. Call them as ask if they have what you want and how much.
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Old October 17th, 2007, 08:14 PM   #6
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Someone has to say it.
That was a really, really great reply.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 12:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jasmine Marie Adams View Post
Someone has to say it.
That was a really, really great reply.
Agreed. I'm going to sticky this thread with that excellent post from Jack.

Thanks for your generous sharing of insider knowledge, Jack.

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