Television advertisements advice

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by FroColin, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #1
    My question is unfortunately vague so I'll start out with just a short explanation of what is going on.

    So as we all know, local television commercials are pretty much crap though there are obviously some exceptions. A while back I had the idea that it might be fun to try to get into that market. I'm 17 years old and so I don't NEED the money but I'm a pretty serious hobbyist and thought it would be fun. The idea was that I would talk to a local car company who already advertises on TV and call them up, offer to make them a free commercial so long as they considered me for future ones, or make them a commercial and they could chose to buy it or not. I never really did anything about that plan till now when I've started talking to some friends about doing this. I've done some research but it has not exactly been that informative. The issues are obviously that I don't feel equipped to handle the distribution to the television companies and I have no clue how that all works. If I talk to the car company and make a commercial and they like the commercial (and those are all big ifs but lets just assume for the purposes of the discussion that I'm not an idiot and am capable of making a decent commercial [I have actually read a fair amount about advertising and taken some classes so it's not a totally unrealistic assumption]) then... what? What do I do after that, how will this probably work? Should I give up now?

    Basically I'm just asking for any advice or previous experience. What format will I need to output in, I know I'll need things like a minute of bars and tones or whatever and timecode but... how will this work? Is this even possible?

    Thanks in advance
    (I don't really want this to end up being a discussion of whether or not I have any clue how to make a decent commercial, if I can't then the car company won't buy it and it won't be an issue)
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

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    Nov 28, 2010
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    #2
    What editing application do you use? And have you talked to your local TV station, the one broadcasting those commercials, what formats they accept?
     
  3. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #3
    Primarily FCP 7 I have premier but never really use it although I use After Effects. No I haven't, that was one of my questions although I'll probably contact them this weekend for that kind of stuff.
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

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  5. macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #5
    Before you just go contacting businesses, I can think of a few things I'd do first to prevent yourself from coming across as just some kid.

    Don't worry too much about the station. I'd try to shoot and edit in 1080 and you'll likely be okay from there if it gets as far as going onto the tv. If you're worried, give the station a call. It doesn't hurt and I don't have any experience in this area.

    My big recommendation: Don't go to a business and talk to them about making a commercial unless you have already have made a commercial (real or fake). If you really want to get into this market, I really think you should at least try to make a fake one. This will give you an idea of how to work with audio so it's clean, different shots, and you can even post it on here for some real critiquing. If you've never shot a commercial, you won't know how long it's going to take to make or how much of their time will be involved. Keep track of your hours to get an idea for future projects or shoots and this will allow you to track your improved efficiency.

    If you don't really want to go through the effort of at least making one fake commercial, then I guess just go talk to the owner. At the very least, come up with a plan, create a script, maybe some basic sketches of what you want the commercial to be like. Let them know what you have in mind. Unless you know the owner of the business, you will come across looking like someone that you really are: a high school student. Do your best to avoid this reputation.

    There are a ton of recommendations as far as shooting/editing etc because no one here really knows your skill level or the equipment you have. I know you said you don't want this to be about if you have the skill level to make a decent commercial, but keep in mind that you are wasting some of the time of the owner and business. If you've never attempted to shoot a legitimate commercial of any sort, my advise is for you to try at least one commercial and get a ton of input.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 6, 2011
    #6
    You got already some decent advice. Most important thing: watch out on the impression you make on the owner when you meet him the first time. "Saw your vid on the tube the other day - it sucks" will close the door in front of your nose. The owner spent money and effort on this commercial. You're not gonna tell him it was a waste.

    A demo reel is important. You have classmates who's parents own shops? Mom and pop stores, plumbers, whatever? Shoot commercials for them and put them on your reel. A businessman doesn't have much time, and the less time you take away from him the better the chances. Give him your demo disk (rendered to a couple of different codecs to be 100% sure he can watch it) and your business card, so he can watch your work at his own leisure, and call you back. The solicitation talk shouldn't take any longer than five minutes.
    Watch out how you dress. Don't go overboard with tie and suit, but leave your torn jeans in the drawer.

    Equipment: a decent camera (I have been shooting some commercial stuff with an HV30), solid audio equipment and some light. Most of all, know how to use that stuff.
     
  7. Ricky Smith, Mar 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2012

    macrumors regular

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    Boston, MA
    #7
    As someone who actually works in the industry my "advise" is its not going to work. You're not going to just but a $500.00 camera that is "HD" and shoot something to edit on your home computer. There's a reason productions cost so much.

    There's a reason those commercials look like crap and those ones easily paid 10k+ for that "crap" commercial.

    When we shoot pilots for television shows those easily cost 50k plus and I'm just talking non-fiction low budget.

    You need camera, lighting, sound, all the crew associated with that, post production etc...

    There's a lot to learn before you go and attempt this. Especially for broadcast commercials because those clients are spending thousands just to air it one time.

    So from a business owners perspective it doesn't make much sense to have someone shoot it spend thousands to get it aired only to have sub-quality.

    Just to add its not nessierialy the equipment that makes the project either. It's knowing what you're doing and how to use what you have. You theoretically can shoot something with a 500.00 camera that looks better than something shot on a 10,000 camera if the guy shooting on the expensive camera has no idea what they're doing.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 18, 2010
    #8
    If your idea is better than what they are already airing, then even a 100$ camera will suffice...
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    #9
    It has to be a good idea and it has to be executed well. There are lots of short story videos on youtube where the idea or concept is good, but they aren't edited and shot well so you immediately notice that. You could film it on an iPhone as long as you have good audio and be alright assuming your shots and everything else is setup correctly.

    There are a lot of things that go into a commercial. If you are serious about it (which you sound like you are), you are lucky enough to have an endless supply of examples at your finger tips. Analyze them, notice the transitions, the framing of the shots, moving between close and wide angle, the titles, text advertising on screen, dialogue and anything else you can notice to improve your video. Count how many different cuts there are in a commercial you are trying to emulate, then go back to your script and see if you are anywhere close. Often people starting out will think of 4 different shots, take them, start to edit and then will be at a loss of how to make it better. This is where a multi camera setup can really help create some variety.
    Also, don't forget to take more b-roll footage than you think you will need. It's always easier that way and you wan't to try and shoot it all on the same day to avoid any changes in weather and time (lighting).
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    #10
    Ricky, as you advise heavily against FroColin's plan, one quick question: how did you start up in the industry?
     
  11. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #11
    My suggestion is to make you own commercials, for whatever you want, so you can get a feel for what it takes and get a job or internship at a local production company, TV station, cable access show, etc.. You can learn more in a month of working there than you can in a 6 months of trying to figure things out for yourself.

    Many times the local TV stations and/or cable providers will off discounted ad rates to companies in exchange for the company having the station make the commercials in house for dirt cheap. If a local business is already airing a horrible ad it's probably because price is their number one concern and even having you make all their commercials for free might not be enticing to them if they are already working with the TV/Cable station so they can get discounts on their ad rates.


    Lethal
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #12
    I'm not advising against him getting into it I'm just advising he seek other routes or reevaluate his game plan.

    Like I said start taking some classes
    Voulenteer at a public access studio
    Go to school for it


    Everyone has to start somewhere, but my impression was he thinks he can go out and just start producing way better commercials than others out there and the responses he got seem to be from people who have never worked in the industry. It's far more than just buying a consumer camera that shoots 1080 and exporting a QuickTime file.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    #13
    there are 2 different kinds of people:

    1. Those with money
    2. Those trying to make money


    Your number two, now there are two kinds of people that are trying to make money:

    1. With talent and determination
    2. no talent and trying to make a quick buck and thinks they know it all

    I dont know which one you are only you can decide, Dont listen to people who say you cant do it or it can take years blah blah thats crap, just do your research on what equipment you need, and then press ahead from there.


    The important things:

    1. Talent
    2. Research
    3. Money
    4. Experience

    not necessarily in that order but thats what you need, everything will have cost you something, the computer you use, the camera you use, the dvds to burn your film on, blah blah, you havent yet mentioned what camera you want to use or anything..

    It seems you have an idea, now either start researching for everything you will need then post up your ideal setup or I personally wouldnt bother.

    The best films are made by people, this is not determined by their age..
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    #14
    Thanks for the clarification, Ricky.

    Actually, we don't know if he can pull it, but if he doesn't try, he won't know either.

    We don't know how big the market is he lives in. He wrote about local TV. It is not very difficult to produce anything better than what I see on our local TV station sometimes (majority of them are made with consumer cams that shoot 480 - I'm cutting a lot of their stuff). I don't think he strives to create the next Superbowl halftime commercial. Let him try it.
     
  15. macrumors demi-god

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #15
    I don't think anyone is saying he shouldn't try making commercials, but that maybe he shouldn't try soliciting paying clients as a first step. You only get one chance to make a first impression so why unnecessarily rush it? I think he should make the spec commercials I just don't think he needs to offer himself up as a production company to potential clients.

    If he makes a spec commercial on his own and it's awesome he can use it to try and get paying work but if it sucks only he knows about it. If he makes a commercial on spec for a client and it's awesome he can use it to try and get paying work but if it sucks that's a strike against him for this client and to potentially anyone this client has a relationship with (word of mouth can hurt as much as it can help).


    Lethal
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 6, 2011
  17. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #17
    Oh I certainly have no delusions that I am going to make anything resembling the quality of a super bowl commercial, or even something close. Most of my training (and mostly self taught) has been in sound design and color grading so I understand what it takes to make a quality product and also understand that I'm not going to be able to pull it off the first time around. I didn't get a 500 dollar camera and decide that I was gods gift to the cinematography world. I have taken some film classes and things so again, I'm not.... totally unaware of the amount of work that it takes to make these things and I have helped with larger productions generally doing some form of sound work because I have some decent sound equipment and have a lot of experience (for someone of my age) in that area and helped out a couple projects doing color stuff. I am very aware of the limits placed on me by equipment and things and I didn't mean to insult anyone by appearing as though I thought nothing of the work that goes into making these things. I certainly am aware that I have a lot to learn and am not in the position to go out and make spectacular videos the first time around (though this is not my FIRST time making a video)

    I'm from Seattle so there is a HUGE variety in local commercial quality. I see some pretty impressive ones and then some pretty awful ones. It's a good idea to have something to show first. I do have a demo reel of sorts but never really done much with it. I'll be sure to make some sample commercials first so I can really understand what all goes into it.

    As for cameras I have a T2i (which I realize are pretty soft and I would love to use something like a C300 or something of the sort but of course this is FAR out of my budget), I will have access to a 5D mark iii pretty soon but really the image is supposed to be no sharper and the new codec apparently has a bunch of noise (or so I've read). I have some nice lenses at my disposal (50mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 24-105mm 4.0 and a sigma 10-20mm) and really the area where I shine is audio with an assortment of shotgun and lav mics and some field recorders. These are not mine (I am not that spoiled) but I have the use of them from friends and parents. Lighting is where I fall apart but I have some lights from home depot and know a bit about color temperatures and things of the sort so it generally ends up working out although I have almost no experience with lighting.

    Thanks a bunch for your input. The things Lethal said were (as seems to be the norm here) particularly helpful so thank you for that.

    Perhaps the idea is impossible but I'm not too concerned with making money. I'll shoot some test commercials and once I have everything more or less figured out I'll probably make some calls.
    Anymore thoughts would be appreciated
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    #18
    If you want to have a sharp image out a (somewhat) affordable cam, check the XF100. I get beautiful images out of it.
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    #19
    As has been mentioned before, there's a reason why a lot of local advertising looks like crap. It's usually due to the fact that the company has ultra low budgets for tv, they are just simply unwilling to spend more, and/or they devote the majority of their budget to ad time and not the ad itself.

    Of course I'm sure you're able to put together a decent looking spot, but it's not like the company producing this "crap" isn't able to either. It's just that the time and money available dictates the finished product. So it's not cost effective to add more production value.

    I think one of the problems you'll run into is how to actually get the commercial on air. Ad agencies of all sizes (even for local ads) employ media buyers whose sole job is to analyze media markets, demographics, etc. and formulate optimized television traffic schedules for each client. It can be a very complicated process. That's why cable companies like Comcast usually offer a turnkey solution for local advertisers who don't work with an agency.

    You mentioned that you would start by looking into local car dealerships. I would recommend staying away from that area of advertising. First, they're notoriously cheap and difficult to work with. Also, there's a whole subset of rules and regulations set by each car manufacturer that each ad must adhere to. Manufacturers often reimburse local dealerships a certain amount of money for advertising. However if any of these regulations/rules are broken then the manufacturer withholds that reimbursement. That process can be time consuming in itself. That's why most dealerships prefer an agency that can handle production, ad buying, quality control all at once. There's a surprising amount of work and time that goes in to some of these crappy looking commercials.

    Lastly, I'd strongly recommend against doing any work for free. It's not a precedent you want to set with any potential client. Build up your reel. That's what is ultimately going to get you the work.

    As for your questions regarding output format and such, those can wait until you make it to the distribution process. Just shoot the highest resolution you have available and make sure you frame your shot/graphics for center cut 4:3 safe.

    None of this was meant to deter you from pursuing this further. I just hoped that I could shed a little more light on what you will likely encounter.
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2011
    #20
    Everybody's advice will cover the core aspects of this venture, but as somebody who has worked in a tape room for post and broadcast production, I'd definitely contact the station or station's and find out what they need for delivered formats. While it is the content that is key, one thing that may prevent clients from dealing with you in the future will be when it comes to delivering the content to the stations. It's not just the bars and tones that you'll need to worry about. You need to make sure that everything is color corrected to NTSC "Legal Colors" and exported to the correct frame rate and tape format (yes some stations still use Digital Beta and HDCAM). Not being prepared for this could be a costly surprise for the client and may even cost you a fair chunk of change to get the dubs made if they stick you with the bill. If this is something you don't want to worry about I'd either find out what you need and charge the client enough to cover the dubbing costs, or write up a service agreement that leaves any dubbing costs to the client. Worst case scenario they find out the costs and never use the commercial, but at least you've got a proper demo. Good luck to you!

    P.S. ALWAYS WRITE UP A DETAILED SERVICE AGREEMENT EVEN IF IT'S FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  21. WRP
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2011
    Location:
    Boston
    #21
    I wish you the best of luck. But coming from someone who does it for a living, don't get your hopes up. It takes time, money and people to make even a crappy production.

    You need lighting, you need c-stands, you need AC's, you need tripods, you need a rig, you need good lenses, etc. If you roll in with a t2i with the kit lens you'll get laughed out of there. Besides, it really is a tough industry to crack.

    My suggestion would be to contact a production company nearby and see if they have intern opportunities since you don't need the money. Get learned for free and also maybe you can come out of it with a body of work halfway decent to show prospective clients you know what you are doing. It's all about who you know and the work you can show in this industry. If you have none and know no one you aren't going to make it very far.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #22
    Each station will probably have a different set of requirements. Here's an example from one of my local stations.

    All HD Commercials to be delivered in “File-form” on a DVD data disc.

    KETV does not accept HD Commercials on Videotape.

    KETV Supports the Delivery of HD Spots via DG/FastChannel and VYVX Catch
    Servers.

    KETV does not at this time Support Delivery of HD Commercials via Pathfire

    5.1 Multi-Channel Sound is not Supported at this Time, however is being
    considered for the future

    Due to the preponderance of 4:3 viewing, all Content should be “Center-Cut
    Safe” HATV is not responsible for non center-cut safe Content. See Exhibit A for
    a representation of “Center Cut Safe”.

    Only the HD Copy of the Commercial is required. The HD Copy of the
    Commercial will be “Down-converted” and Center-Cut for broadcast on the SD
    Channel.

    All Files must adhere to one of the File Formats on page 2 of this document.

    File Names must use the Naming Convention on page 2 of this document.

    Closed Captioning is the responsibility of the Commercial Producer. HATV is not
    responsible for improperly formatted Closed Captions.

    KETV will assist as necessary to enable use of this guidance

    Accepted HD File Formats and Naming Convention

    Updated April 16, 2010

    ___________________________________________________________

    Physical Media:
    Single Layer DVD Disc
    Format: Windows Readable Disc Only
    Content Formatting:
    •
    Slate Duration = 01 seconds 29 frames
    •
    Black Duration = 01 seconds 29 frames
    •
    60 Second Duration = 59 seconds 29 frames
    •
    30 Second Duration = 29 seconds 29 frames
    •
    15 Second Duration = 14 seconds 29 frames
    •
    10 Second Duration = 09 seconds 29 frames
    •
    Post-roll Duration = 00 seconds 29 frames

    Naming Convention:
    Syntax: ISCI CodeH_Descriptionn_Length
    Example: ABCD1234H_JOESCARSSALE_030
    •
    ISCI Code: 4 letters followed immediately by 4 numbers with an “H” for High Definition
    •
    Description: 12 charters, uppercase letters or numbers, no special characters (i.e. +,-,:, & etc)
    •
    Length: 3 number maximum however if the length is only 2 digits only two digits are required
    * ISCO Code or “ISCI-like” Codes are preferred

    Close Captioning:
    EIA708 format with 608 compatibility inserted on line 9 of the VANC

    Format A: [Preferred]
    File Wrapper: MPG
    Video Resolution: 1920 X 1080i 29.97
    Compression Codec: MPEG2 [4:2:0 GOP of 15]
    Bitrate: 35 Mb/s 8 Bit
    Audio: PCM 16, 20, or 24 Bit 48 KHz Sample Rate
    Audio Level: -20 fsd (-20 full scale digital = +4 dbm analog)

    Format B: [Secondary]
    File Wrapper: QuickTime
    DVC Pro HD
    Video Resolution: 1920 X 1080i 29.97
    Compression Codec: DVC Pro HD
    Bitrate: 100 Mb/s
    Audio: PCM 16, 20, or 24 Bit 48 KHz Sample Rate
    Audio Level: -20 fsd (-20 full scale digital = +4 dbm analog)

    Format C: [Secondary]
    File Wrapper: QuickTime
    Video Resolution: 1920 X 1080i 29.97
    Compression Codec: DNxHD
    Bitrate: 145 Mb/s 8 Bit
    Audio: PCM 16, 20, or 24 Bit 48 KHz Sample Rate
    Audio Level: -20 fsd (-20 full scale digital = +4 dbm analog)
     
  23. WRP
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2011
    Location:
    Boston
    #23
    ^Most networks I deal with wants XDCAM or HDCAM. But Omaha isn't the hotbed of technology ;)

    And if a network wants that you need a mac pro with a capture card to get SDI out. And the decks you either need to rent or spend $40K on. Or you need to bring to a finishing house to get printed to tape and that isn't cheap.
     
  24. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    #24
    Haha... They had a proposed format to accept ProRes but it had been in the "approval stages" for over 18 months. At the end of the day, each network will have a list of options and it's important to understand how you want to attack them. I'm just happy when I can deliver a file vs a tape.
     
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    #25
    personally in my opinion if i was a businessman and someone wanted to do a commercial for me and they said that money wasnt a priority for them, then I wouldnt want them working for me, because:

    1.money is what people live on, if you are claiming you dont need this then to me you dont need to live.

    2. in my opinion your less hungry than someone who wants £1000 of my cash to produce something for me they will do an advert to please the client,, i mean if your gonna do it for free how can they take you seriously? you should be saying that money is very motivational for you. and that your willing to do what it takes to get that DOE!!!
     

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