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#1 Ken Minehan

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 11:31 PM

Hello guys. I was talking to a guy from an Ad agency the other day and he told me that he would like a very TV commercial feel for a Corporate video coming up. I understand what he wants, but i just wanted to ask you guys how does corporate videos differ from TV commercials from a visual point of view.

Now days the shooting style of corporate videos have changed. People are shooting corporates more in the TV Commercial style. But the thing is, it is still very obvious from the shots that it is a corporate video. I showed him some of the corporate videos that we have shot that we feel is commercial like, but he says that it still has a very corporate feel.

So my question is, how is the style different from corporate video to TV commercial. Is it camera movement? the colour grading? video concept?

I understand that budget may play a large role in this conversation, but i would like to hear from other DOPs who shoot corporates in the "TV commercial" style, and how they best achieve "that look". ]

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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 02:32 AM

You have to ask the client -- and yourself -- "what commercial?" There are hundreds of different looks that could be considered "commercial." Take a look at the corporate videos that you think look commercial (but not your own that the client already rejected), and ask yourself how they are different. Take a look at commercials that might have an applicable style, and ask yourself how they are different.

Corporate projects are usually trying to illustrate something specific, like a workplace process. Commercials aren't always bound to being so literal and can be more metaphoric or "slice of life" in their storytelling -- because they're trying to communicate a feeling that the viewer will associate with the product, not literally illustrate a process.

The basics are all different -- lighting, imaging control, blocking/framing, editing, and so on. They're all different in commercials. Or should I say, "they're all different in corporate video," since no other film or TV programming has that staid, presentational style.

I did corporate video for 10 years (quite some time ago) and was constantly trying to infuse a commerical style in my work. In my case, it was usually the other way around -- the clients were generally conservative and afraid to try "new" ideas (even if they liked the stuff personally). They always ended up toning it way down, until it looked like the "usual" corprorate stuff.
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 12:26 PM

When the guys says, "commercial look", are you sure he doesn't mean the 35mm look?

Most corporate videos have low production values and are shot on video with shots that last a long time.

Most commercials are quick cut, high production values, and of course shot on 35mm.

Only the biggest of companies would have budget for 35mm on a corporate video.

R,
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#4 Ken Minehan

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 04:56 AM

both of you guys make a lot of sense. i do understand what you mean. I guess the "commercial look" that the agency guy is referring to is the very slick, saturated, heavily graded images often seen on hand phone commercials. And yes i think he is talking about the look of commercials shot on 35mm.

Our company here in singapore do mainly corporate videos with some TV commercials. I try very hard in most of my corporate shoots to try to give that slick look, but i fall short some where. For some reason it keeps looking like a corporate video.

How can i improve? I realise that is a very broad question, but i would love to hear from other DOP who infuse the TV commercial feel in to Corporate videos. If people have a corporate reel, i would love to see it too.

Thanks
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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 04:20 AM

I try very hard in most of my corporate shoots to try to give that slick look, but i fall short some where. For some reason it keeps looking like a corporate video.

How can i improve?


You're right, that is a broad question. But having been there myself, I understand what you mean. The best thing I can think to suggest is to forget about corporate video for a moment, and concentrate on commercials. What makes a good-looking commercial? If you were hired to shoot a commercial, how would you approach it that would be different from the way you would approach a corporate video? It's hard to say what to do differently if we don't know what it is you're doing now.

One thing I ran up against right away with corporate video was the mindset of the clients, as far as production was concerned. In a commercial the clients and producers know that making the image look right is everything, and will put their resources into making everything look just right -- the art direction, the lighting, and so on. In corporate video the clients often seemed to feel that a shot of the building/office/widget should look just fine on its own, and expect the cameraman to perform some kind of magic in-camera to make it look right -- in other words, not allocate any resources (like time and money) into making the photography of the subject look right. So sometimes half the battle was convincing the client that you need certain resources to make their message look attractive, and without said resources that it would look lame. At least the converstaion allowed me to get to know my client's needs and agendas better, even if it turned out what they really wanted was something cheap, boring and stale. :(

These days more corporate stuff is going to HD, and with cameras like the Sony F-900 and theh Panasonic Varicam it's easier to get a more film-like look, but on a video budget.
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#6 John Cummings

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 08:59 AM

Hi Ken-

I do a lot of corporate so I'll throw in my 2 cents.

There are a million threads here that will tell you how to try to make video look like film.
Technically, depth of field, film style lighting, 24p widescreen and camera movement is a good place to start. I've found that many clients love a letterbox look.
If you're shooting SD and don't know your way around a camera setup, the Panasonic SXD900 has good looking filmlooks and scene files that are worth a look.
Do some tests and bounce them off the producer and the client. Everybody needs to sign off on a look that you'll have to commit to.

Once you have the look, you're only half way there.

If your client wants a 20 minute video, a good producer should be able to tell a story in half that time or less. Quick cuts, good music and good pacing will make a big difference.
To sustain any kind of commercial pacing for a 5 or 10 minute video--which is almost impossible--you'll need to shoot a massive amount of coverage...keep that in mind when you start scheduling this thing.
Having said all that, if your client insists on having a old bald guy doing a 5 minute talking head--you're dead in the water!

I apologize if I sound like I'm talking down to a newbie, It's just that I don't know what your experience level is.

Good luck-
John

PS--I'm an old bald guy, too.
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:19 AM

If your client wants a 20 minute video, a good producer should be able to tell a story in half that time or less. Quick cuts, good music and good pacing will make a big difference.


(Sigh) This is all bringing back memories...

Yes, I remember the "cut the asking run time in half" rule ;). If a client says they want a 15 minute video, chances are it really needs to be about 7 minutes. The fact of the matter is that many corporate clients aren't necessarily as media-savvy as ad agency creatives or video producers. Their intentions may be good, but sometimes they don't necessarily know what makes for a good, or even watchable, video. Of course I'm not speaking of all corporate clients; some do indeed know their stuff. But these are problems I've actually run into.

I remember the panic upon receiving a script from the client (in the "video" two-column format) with a page of audio on the right a brief one-sentence description of video on the left. :( Ugh.

Other times I remember walking out of meetings realizing that what the client really needed was a printed brochure or pamphlet, not a video. But as a hired gun (by the producer), I had to somehow turn an idea that didn't really make for a good video into a video that the producer could charge for...

When these sort of things happened I resigned myself to the fact that the video I was making wouldn't necessarily flow like a commercial would. So I strived to make the cinematography look as good and polished as possible, within the budget and schedule constraints. Since I was editing as well as shooting, the timing of the shots and sequences became very important to me. In a :30 commercial, all the relevant action in a single shot has to happen in about two seconds -- you're trying to tell maximum story in minimum time. In a corporate, you often have to stretch the timing of your action to fill up more screen time than it would normally need. This can mean getting additional coverage as well as slowing down the timing of action (compared to a commercial).
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#8 John Cummings

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 07:50 AM

"all the relevant action in a single shot has to happen in about two seconds"

Ok, Michael...imagine expanding that into a seven minute corporate video. I would imagine watching something like that would leave the viewers dizzy, dioriented and drooling.

...Or kinda like watching a Jerry Bruckheimer film.

Cheers-
John
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#9 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 04:42 PM

"all the relevant action in a single shot has to happen in about two seconds"

Ok, Michael...imagine expanding that into a seven minute corporate video. I would imagine watching something like that would leave the viewers dizzy, dioriented and drooling.


I think you misunderstood. I meant that in a 30 second commercial the action within a single shot has to be condensed in time. In a longer format program, that action may actually have to be stretched out to last longer than it would in real life. Same action, but shorter or longer duration on screen depending on the run time and pace of the edit. I wasn't suggesting using two-second shots in a corporate; just the opposite -- sometimes you have to expand and over-cover the action to fill up more screen time.

I learned this lesson the hard way since I started in corporate video before moving onto commercials, then tried to apply what I learned in commercials on my corporate jobs. As a Director/DP/editor on these gigs I learned I had to have a strong feel for the pace and flow of the edit while blocking action and doing camera moves. The shot that works for a :30 commercial falls short for a corporate; and blocking that works for a corporate sometimes won't even fit in a :30.
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