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Please critique this commercial.


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#1 Martin Solvang

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 01:57 PM

Shot this unofficial commercial for a rock´n´roll
brand of clothes (cheap monday) right after finishing
film school this june.
Would like to know what you think about it.



Considerng the weather that day, going from heavy rain to hard sun,
I´m pretty happy with the lighting.

This was shot on Arri D21, recorded with Codex portable,
and color gradet.
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#2 Martin Solvang

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 09:56 PM

10 views no replies..
something is not working..
;m
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#3 Tom Jensen

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 11:40 PM

If you hadn't told me it was a clothing commercial, I never would have known. A lot of the shots were redundant. I was waiting for a little story to unfold but it was never developed.
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#4 Simon Wyss

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 01:38 AM

I can double Tom's remark. Neither are the clothes brought to a bodily feel, nor is there a point in the people's doing. They (dis)appear as employees of the brand who paint a logo on a rock for no one. Abstract backward idea
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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 04:35 PM

Ditto on the previous comments. For a commercial it's way, way, way too long. Too long for TV, web or any medium, frankly. It should be no more than 30 seconds, and even that would be something of a director's cut. Really, you could aim for 15 seconds and have more impact.

The story does not work. I mean, why are these people engaging in a Banksy-esque act of graffiti, in a place where no no will see the work, where the act of "rebellion" in which they are engaging is essentially moot? These are people whose clothes are decidedly urban, and the story would function far more logically if they were doing the act in an urban environment. Instead, their clothes in the wooded environment have the unintended effect of suggesting they are hobos (the sack he carries over his shoulder does not help either).

The clothes felt very thrown together, and didn't seem to represent a single brand. They felt more like Salvation Army/Thrift Store pickups, and that's bad...because why should they buy YOUR brand, when they can get those clothes at second hand store? There needs to be a stronger statement, a better assemblage of examples of this brand that strikes the crucial balance these clothes need between a casual devil-may-care attitude and careful, image-conscious calculation. We need to see why they are special, and different.

The camerawork and editing are not appropriate for the medium either. Clothing ads are all about envy. We should be allowed to linger on these attractive young people, to see their clothes and how confident they are in them. We should want to emulate them, to be them, but we are not given a chance because the camera insists on darting around, while the editor cuts away before we have a chance to take the details in. Even the final shot, of the logo, the MOST IMPORTANT shot of the whole film, was borderline unwatchable. The shakiness was so distracting that I was left not caring about the brand, and as I write this, I honestly couldn't tell you what the name was. I don't remember, because it was not the dominant element of the shot, and that is BAD, BAD news.

The whole film felt very unplanned, guerilla, low budg, and that is the wrong aesthetic. I don't think this is the result of poor planning or incompetence. It has a professional quality to it, but I think the style is wrong. Commercials are a different beast, and you can't just apply the methods and practices of a short film or feature shoot to it. You can't just "shoot a commercial." You're in a battle with the clock, vying with dozens of other commercials for space in the memory of the viewer, and so EVERY SINGLE SHOT, if not EVERY FRAME, must be calculated for maximum effect. I don't know what your pre-prod consisted of, but if you didn't storyboard, it, you ought to. When it comes to making a commercial, pre-prod should be the hardest part...the shooting and editing ought to almost be afterthoughts.

Those are my three or four cents. Good luck with your work!

BR
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#6 Martin Solvang

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for your comments.
Not gonna try and defend myself,
but i didnt feel your critique was very constructive on
f.ex lighting, (this being a cinematography forum) but never mind.
Brian, I have to dissagrea on alot of what you are saying,
in my world of film making and photography not everything is so black and
white as you say. Most of the stuff you dislike is what i like the most about
the film, funny right..
Might be a cultural difference "Europe vs. US"-thing.
Again, thanks for the replies.
m
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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:50 PM

Thanks for your comments.
Not gonna try and defend myself,
but i didnt feel your critique was very constructive on
f.ex lighting, (this being a cinematography forum) but never mind.
Brian, I have to dissagrea on alot of what you are saying,
in my world of film making and photography not everything is so black and
white as you say. Most of the stuff you dislike is what i like the most about
the film, funny right..
Might be a cultural difference "Europe vs. US"-thing.
Again, thanks for the replies.
m


On the contrary, I'm not so sure you understand what a cinematographer does. Our responsibilty does not end with the lighting and the cameras. We're involved (with the director) in the entire look and feel of the picture, which includes costume, sets, laying out the whole story.

We're part of a larger whole, trying to entertain, educate, or in your case, sell a product. It is fine that you like your work on that film. I take pride in my work too, but our own opinion is hardly important. Our success, our livelihood is dependent on our others regard our work.

And the general consensus is that your film fails as a commercial, and because your cinematography should first and foremost be in service to achieving that goal, your cinematography fails too. It is not enough for camerawork to look good, professional or pretty. It must serve the story, serve a purpose, and I contend your work does not serve the story you were trying to tell..

To reiterate my earlier comments your shaky verite style of shooting, and the rapid fire, nonsensical editing (suggesting a lack of camera coverage) fatally distract from the purpose of the piece, which is to sell clothing. As others said, it was not even clear by the end what exactly you're trying to sell. As I said, I couldn't even recall the name of the brand, because I was too distracted by the clumsy, handheld look of the final shot.

As for lighting, what was there to say? I mean, you're using the biggest damn light there is: the 20 million watt light in the sky, as Herzog might say. It's rather hard to f-up that kind of light, as long as you've got your exposure down, and you're white balanced. It all looked very pretty...

And as for the "cultural differences," explanation, I'm sorry but that's an utter cop out, and likely you get you a strong tap on the head from just about any director out there.

There are many different ways to tell a story, and I've seen films from dozens of European, Asian and African countries, from big budget 70mm epics, to the low budget video work out of Nollywood. All have different styles, techniques, modes, methods, yet all are united by a common thread which knows no cultural boundaries: they all craft images which serve their story. It is why silent films from Germany did well in the U.S., and vice versa, because there was no language barrier (apart from title cards), only images, pure visual imagery which is universal and is bound only by the human experience. If the success of your work depends on being seen by only a few people raised in the "correct" cultural background to understand what you're doing, then your film hasn't really succeeded at all.

I can tell you find all this harsh. You asked for a critique, and I gave you my honest thought. If it is consolation, you clearly have talent and skill and if I thought otherwise, I wouldn't have wasted my time.

And I have been in your place. Of various pieces I've shot, I've been told they're terrible, not good, and in one case an interview I lit, which I thought my best was called "shockingly bad." These words came from close friends, who were also seasoned professionals, so while their words hurt, I tried to learn from them, and I'm a far better DP because of their harshness.

I hope you take our advise to heart as you embark on your next project, and that you find success with it.

BR
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#8 Martin Solvang

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 07:32 AM

Hey again Brian.
I can see you have strong opinions about this, good.
I would have hoped you had more belief in your over-seas colleauge than to imply that I dont know what cinematography is about.
My experience is that a job can be alot of different things, ranging from the ideal situation where you get involved in all aspects of the film, to just lighting (this project being the whole package).
That depends on time, the director, money etc. You probably know what I mean.
I dont want this (hopefully last) post to be about me, as I´m not offended or personally hurt by your comments. But remember that "the general consensus" is based on you and two other guys.
My remark about cultural differences is in my opinion very valid, the director hasnt tapped any heads so far..: )
My experience is that most directors acknowledges this, in fact they take pride in their cultural backround and use it, so do I (even in commercials).

Considering your comment on how the story is not coming through (based on camerawork and editing), now that is something I´ll have to consider for future projects. You migh be right in that a visual "language" like this needs to be more developed, thank you for being honest.

As for all the films you´ve seen, I´m really happy for you. I was not implying any disbelief in your competence.
I am however pussled about your comment on using the sun and how that is so easy. I dont think so. Neither was there any direct sun the day we shot, but your probably noticed how we faked our way out of that.

I thank you again for being so direct and taking your time to comment. If I were you however, I would work on my tone and not be so condescending. It creates a very unconstuctive environment, as you force people to defend themselves and their work, an activity I normaly dont get into (and as you can see I havent defended my work, rather I try to emphasize on my cultural and cinematic views).

I hope I have managed to comment on you, and not on your critique of the commercial as that would have been immature.
I´ll try and bring with me your advise and hope you look into mine.
m
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#9 Martin Solvang

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:01 PM

That was supposed to be: "Neither was there only direct sun the day we shot, but your probably noticed how we faked our way out of that."
English is obviously not my native language, sorry..
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#10 Simon Wyss

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:02 AM

Martin, you Norwegian are funny people. Take it with a smile.

Sebastian was not honest to himself. The spot is about a clothing line for degenerated urban people. It should have been set in the somewhere of global suburban everyday life. The clothes are so absolutely wrong in place like what Japanese tourists often wear at the feet of Matter Horn.

In a way your work is far better than Sebastian's. For instance, the two figures have absolutely no communication. Everything happens like planned. Do they apply the logo in many places? The brush carries already paint when taken out of the bag. I think that's what makes it so bitter to me. In spite of a liberty allure these youngsters behave like contractors of Cheap Monday.

I'd never buy a button of Cheap Monday or any other brand after such a screw. It is a plain lie. Brian has the tact to not go that far. Who wrote the thing?

What regards cinematography: If at all, I'd have taken longer shots, close together mediums, from tripod. Eye level. Perhaps only one point of view with the figures moving round me. I'd have tried to enwrap the spectator by the action. Two things must come out, the red brush and her red lips. No shaking.
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#11 Martin Solvang

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 02:31 PM

Thank you Simon for your input,
I´ll take it into consideration.
And yes I am a funny guy.
I´ll definately shake the camera less next time,
especially the next packshot..
M
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#12 Robert G Andrews

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 10:17 AM

Martin. Amateur. Flawed. Wrong.

The music sounds a little off-key and its tempo is unsure. Not good if you want to sell something and its not appropriate given that the end goal is him painting a red SKULL on a rock! Mais non, mon ami!
And... by the way, I think you have three foot shots of same type together. Good if we missed the first or the second though! Ahem... you will excuse my humour Monsieur.
By the way, the opening shot was of the side of his head... wow genius! Second shot was wrong composition because we can't see enough of her smile. Are you enjoying that cheeky smile all to yourself Monsieur? You naughty devil!
Now... her. She is... well... err... not exactly commercial material and neither is he since we're on the subject. A little tip. Use models. There are plenty out there. No excuse Monsieur.
By the way... where is his personality? Do you know that he maintained a stony face all the way through? Not ONE facial expression! I feel like I don't know him... maybe he just wants to sell something to me and doesn't care. And she? only two wry smiles,not what I was hoping for.
I was looking forwards to a BIG smile after he finishes painting that transfer on the rock, followed by, he looks at her and then she looks at it and she smiles and then they BOTH smile together.
Anyway, back to her patched jeans.... now it makes sense. He is clearly upset non?
Monsieur your compositions are not the greatest and your final zoom shot is well terrible, very cable TV-ish and carries with it NO 'je ne sais quoi'!
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#13 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:52 PM

Good lighting, good image. I didn't feel the operation was consistent. It was good for some shots, but felt odd/forced/silly in the last shot, and a few other shots I didn't care for. Overall, It looks good given the conditions you described.
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#14 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 03:48 PM

Shot this unofficial commercial for a rock´n´roll
brand of clothes (cheap monday) right after finishing
film school this june.
Would like to know what you think about it.



Considerng the weather that day, going from heavy rain to hard sun,
I´m pretty happy with the lighting.

This was shot on Arri D21, recorded with Codex portable,
and color gradet.


I'm not sure what an "unofficial commercial" is? From a photographic point of view I thought it looked pretty good although I'm sure you must have had issues with the director about some of the angles. It just doesn't seem to be about the clothes.
But I've been there, I know what It's like with a director who thinks he knows what he wants but clearly has no real story to tell. Just a series of shots loosely strung together and then a payoff..sort of. But just out of film school! I would say well done, as a cameraman you did a good job and that is your bread and butter.
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#15 Martin Solvang

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 05:06 PM

Robert: hmm, thank you for the input, u make some strong points.
Allen: Thnak you, I agrea on the final shot being to shaky.
Kieran: Not the strongest story, you are right about that.
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