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Hot Spots: Cutting Commercials

Editors showcase creative cuts that tell wistful, inspiring, informative, under-the-hood and behind the scenes-style stories for Werther’s, Major League Baseball/Stand Up To Cancer, Seventh Generation, Dodge Ram and Supercuts.

Editors showcase creative cuts that tell wistful, inspiring, informative, under-the-hood and behind the scenes-style stories for Werther’s, Major League Baseball/Stand Up To Cancer, Seventh Generation, Dodge Ram and Supercuts.

By Christine Bunish

Dodge Ram looks under the hood to the “Heart” that goes into making the fabled trucks.
Dodge Ram looks under the hood to the “Heart” that goes into making the fabled trucks.

Edit house: Lucky Post/Dallas

Editor: Sai Selvarajan

Advertiser:
Dodge Ram

Ad agency:
The Richards Group/Dallas

Production company:
Lucky Twenty One/Dallas

Directors/DPs:
The Chartrands
Colorist/online editor:
Brian Buongiorno, Tone Visuals at Lucky Post/Dallas
Graphics:
Lucky Post/Dallas
Sound mixer:
Scottie Richardson, Lucky Post/Dallas
Acquisition formats/cameras:

RED Epic, Canon 5D, GoPro
Editing system:
Apple Final Cut Pro
Beyond broadcast:
“Heart” is a non-broadcast spot; it plays on the web and was used at the Chrysler Group’s new product roll out in Las Vegas in September.

The storyline: “Heart” is a non-broadcast spot that goes way under the hood to pay tribute to the team at Dodge Ram who design, engineer and build the brand’s fabled “guts and glory” trucks.

Why the spot’s on my reel: “When I first saw the script, I thought it was very poetic; it really spoke to me,” says Sai Selvarajan. “Then I saw the great footage; the texture, the macro cinematography and motivation behind each shot inspired me as I crafted each edit.”

The biggest creative challenge: “Going through every shot and organizing it with the hopes of telling a story and conveying a feeling.”

The biggest technical challenge: “Dealing with all the acquisition formats – RED Epic, Canon 5D, GoPro and more – and cutting to all the different formats seamlessly. The directors, the Chartrands, were exceptional. They captured great stuff on-the-fly, shooting in the main Ram plant in Detroit.”

Input from other creatives: “The agency creatives had a great script that went beyond the macho truck feel to speak to a broader audience. It showed the people side of Ram trucks, the design and art that go into it. The directors were also key; I showed them my first cut and the direction I wanted to push the edit.”

Why the spot works: “Everyone who participated gave their all. Everyone who saw the script and treatment felt it could be something special, a real piece of art.”

Editor Sai Selvarajan
Editor Sai Selvarajan


A young woman is about to be transformed into a little girl again when she samples Werther’s caramels.
A young woman is about to be transformed into a little girl again when she samples Werther’s caramels.

Edit house: Therapy/LA

Editor: Kristin McCasey

Advertiser:
Werther’s
Ad agency:
Sterling Rice Group/Boulder, Colo. Production company:
Untitled/LA
Director:
Linus Ewers
DP:
Adam Marsden
Colorist:
Marshall Plante, Ntropic/LA
Compositor/VFX artist:
Wren Waters, Therapy/LA
Online editor:
Omar Inguanzo, Therapy/LA
Design and effects:
Ryan McNeely and John Cranston, partners; Dustin Bowser, CG; Oliver Regueiro, matte painter; Visual Creatures/LA
Sound and music:
Kip Kuepper, composer/mixer, Coupe Studios/Boulder, Colo.
Acquisition format/camera:
ARRI ALEXA
Editing system:
Avid Media
Composer
Beyond broadcast:
Web spot
Award:
Nomination, 2012 HPA Award, Commercial Editing

The storyline: “Magic” follows a young woman as she relives the wonder of childhood and becomes a little girl again when she enters a candy shop selling Werther’s caramels.

Why the spot’s on my reel: “The spot was very beautifully shot and is very cinematic,” says editor Kristin McCasey. “Its emotions connect with people, and the story takes you back to your childhood.”

The biggest creative challenge: “The biggest challenge is always telling a story in 30 or 60 seconds. I had so much fantastic footage. ‘Magic’ was shot almost like a short film – it could have been a two- or three-minute piece. I had to pull out the essential moments, which was amazingly tough – but it’s a good challenge to have.”

The biggest technical challenge: “There are subtle reflections in the window of the girl skipping along as the woman approaches the shop. I had to match the woman’s gait to the little girl’s and give a hint of what’s to come” when the woman transforms into a child and back again.

Input from other creatives: “The agency created a story that’s universal, and Visual Creatures created a lot of seamless elements and background plates you don’t notice that help sell the magical feel. Coupe Music nailed the score, which had to be cinematic in scope to match the sense of the spot.”

Editor Kristin McCasey  
Editor Kristin McCasey  

Why the spot works: “The actors’ performances are great and the set feels magical so you really get it on a story level. Every detail was attended to – Linus Ewers is one of my favorite directors because he always pays so much attention to detail. And he comes from the European tradition of directors who work with editors: He and I spend quite a bit of time editing before the agency even comes in.”


[Clockwise from Top Left] Steve Carell relives an exciting play in Major League Baseball history. Colin Hanks demonstrates the artistry of Major League Baseball. Colin Hanks relates an unbelievable play in Major League Baseball. Steve Carell and Ken Jeong celebrate a Major League Baseball play for the history books.

[Clockwise from Top Left]
Steve Carell relives an exciting play in Major League Baseball history.
Colin Hanks demonstrates the artistry of Major League Baseball.
Colin Hanks relates an unbelievable play in Major League Baseball.
Steve Carell and Ken Jeong celebrate a Major League Baseball play for the history books.

Edit house: jumP/LA

Editor: David Trachtenberg

Advertiser:
Stand Up To Cancer and Major League Baseball
Ad agency:
Switzerland/Portland, Ore.
Production company:
@radical.media/LA
Director:
Andrew Becker
DP:
Tom Krueger
Colorists:
Stefan Sonnenfeld, Company 3/Santa Monica; Paul Byrne, Outpost Digital/LA
Assistant editor:
Erwin Fraterman, jumP/LA
Online editor:
Tom Sawyer, Outpost Digital/LA
Music:
Greg Chun, composer, Beta Petrol/LA
Sound mixer:
John Bolen, Play/Santa Monica
Acquisition format/camera:
RED Epic
Editing system:
Apple Final Cut Pro
Beyond broadcast:
Jumbo screens at many MLB stadiums

The storyline:In a six-spot package, Steve Carell, Ken Jeong and Colin Hanks retell legendary Major League Baseball plays as if they were the announcer, conveying that the unbelievable is believable in support of Stand Up To Cancer.

Why the spots are on my reel: “They are fun and humorous spots with an important message,” says editor David Trachtenberg. “The performances are great, and blending Carell, Jeong and Hanks with actual [archival] MLB footage makes for fun spots that are brought together through the edit.”

The biggest creative challenge: “I always start with the best performances and build from there. In this case, working with the caliber of actors we had, that part came quickly. The next challenge was to keep a balance of the comedy with the drama of each of the baseball plays and still have the impact and sincerity of the message at the end.”

The biggest technical challenge: “We had a couple of different color options for blending the MLB footage with the main story: Do we make the archival footage more stylized or keep it true to its original look? We ended up keeping it true to its original look in an effort to capture the nostalgia of the material.”

Editor David Trachtenberg  
Editor David Trachtenberg  

Input from other creatives: “Bedonna Smith from Stand Up To Cancer as well as the agency creatives were very appreciative and respectful of the creative process. They allowed Andrew [Becker] and me to play and work the edit until we had something that really worked every moment. Andrew and I went in all different directions for the music in the beginning: Should it be funny to complement the performances or more contemporary rock like and ESPN highlights reel? We liked everything a little but nothing worked until Beta Petrol got involved, and it all came together with an orchestral piece that was more vintage and authentic in feeling.”

Why the spots work: “They’re a blend of sincerity, comedy, nostalgia and energy. Andrew was able to get great performances, but at the same time create an elegant visual style that meshed well with the historical footage.”


Onstage with band Vintage Trouble and the Supercuts stylings that make them look like rock stars.
Onstage with band Vintage Trouble and the Supercuts stylings that make them look like rock stars.

Edit house: Hooligan/NYC

Editor: Barney Miller

Advertiser:
Supercuts
Ad agency:
Element79/Chicago
Production company:
Detox Films/NYC
Director:
Barney Miller
DP:
David Lanzenberg
Additional editors:
Erin Bowser (“Laura Bell Bundy”), Jordan Green (“Ken Loi”), Hooligan/NYC
Colorist:
Les Rudge, Nice Shoes/NYC
Flame artist/conform:
Andrew Granelli, TANQ/NYC
Sound mixer/sound designer:
Dan Dzula, Shout It Out Loud Music/NYC
Acquisition formats/cameras:
ARRI ALEXA, Canon 5D and 7D, iPhone
Editing system:
Avid Media Composer
Awards:
“Vintage Trouble” named Adweek’s Ad of the Day
Beyond broadcast:
Miller also captured one-shot “Band in the Box” music video-style segments for the web during the shoot.

The storyline:Supercuts’ Rock the Cut campaign takes a documentary-style look at bands Vintage Trouble and The Gold Motel, country artist Laura Bell Bundy and DJ Ken Loi with glimpses backstage, onstage and at Supercuts for stylings that make them look like rock stars.

Why the spots are on my reel: “I’m a big music fan,” says Barney Miller who directed the four-spot campaign and edited the :60 “Vintage Trouble” and “Gold Motel” commercials. “I played in bands, worked on music videos as a director and editor, cut MTV promos. I’ve prided myself on being a sound-based editor: audio, music and sound design drive a lot of the spots I do. These days there’s a lot of cross-pollination between advertising and music, and these spots turned out excellently.”

The biggest creative challenges: “On the production side, we had to cover a lot of ground on the four-day shoot – seeing the artists in their element backstage, in rehearsals, performing and in the salon for the interviews, testimonials and stylings. We took a fly-on-the-wall approach and let them do their thing, and it all came together organically. On the post side, one of the things I bring to the table as a director is that I know what kind of coverage I need to cut the spot. Planning out the camera placement in the clubs in advance of the performances helped me keep the ball rolling and get what I needed for post.”

The biggest technical challenge: “We had material from four cameras: ARRI ALEXA, Canon 5D and 7D and my iPhone for a few outside shots. My assistant, Erin Bowser, made sure we got the highest resolution through the whole conversion process and into color correction. It doesn’t look like we used a bunch of different formats.”

Input from other creatives: “The two agency creatives, Chris Laubach and Ryan Bloecker, were really supportive. They had specific ideas about how to approach the interviews, but were flexible and open to ideas of mine. The whole shoot felt like a crew documenting bands on the road. Everyone pitched in; agency producer Michael Gabriel shot some B roll with his Canon 7D. There was none of the egoistic hierarchy you get on a lot of commercial sets.”

Editor Barney Miller  
Editor Barney Miller  

Why the spots work: “The spots have done really well – they’re selecting artists for another round now. The campaign could have been really scripted, but instead it feels like little behind-the-scenes pieces. Supercuts’ stylists really did cut the artists’ hair and the artists talked about their Supercuts experiences in a very natural way.”


White hydrangea blooms wilt and die in containers of leading household sprays, but thrive in a bottle of Seventh Generation’s Natural All Purpose Cleaner.
White hydrangea blooms wilt and die in containers of leading household sprays, but thrive in a bottle of Seventh Generation’s Natural All Purpose Cleaner.

Edit house: Fluid/NYC

Editor: Zeke O’Donnell

Advertiser:
Seventh Generation
Ad agency:
Colangelo/Darien, Conn.
Production company:
Fluid/NYC
Director:
Zeke O’Donnell; producer, Leanne Diamond
DP:
Mike Simpson
Colorist/online editor:
Zeke O’Donnell, Fluid/NYC
Stock music:
Elias Arts/NYC
Sound mixer:
Dave Wolfe, Mr. Bronx/NYC
Acquisition format/camera:
Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III
Editing system:
Apple Final Cut Pro 7
Beyond broadcast:
Web-only spot

The storyline:In “Last Standing,” a web spot for Seventh Generation’s Natural All Purpose Cleaner, time-lapse photography shows how dozens of white hydrangea blooms wilt and die when placed in containers of leading household cleaning sprays whose toxic chemicals pollute the air in our homes. The bloom in Seventh Generation’s natural spray remains pristine.

Why the spot’s on my reel: “I’m most proud of how unique this spot is. It’s visually engrossing, and it was done without any VFX; it draws you in. I haven’t seen anything quite like it,” says Zeke O’Donnell, who directed and edited the spot. “It feels more like a film in its approach and visual authenticity compared to what is currently out there in the household cleaner category.”

The biggest creative challenge: “My research was extensive to find the perfect flower that would react/die within the parameters of our one-day shoot. It needed to wilt in the span or six or seven hours while soaking in the competitors’ products. This had to be 100 percent authentic: No cheating allowed. The time-lapse approach seemed to be the most fitting and appropriate. I was very excited since shooting and assembling time-lapse is one of the most fun things to do. But I didn’t know until I was in the edit suite assembling images if the flowers would be dramatically drooping. We only had about 10 angles where the cameras were set up, and each camera ran a designated amount of time. So I had to make the takes we had tell the story in different ways. The music helped with that: We found a piece that had tension and the elements of a dance performance.”

The biggest technical challenge: “We shot all the raw photographs with Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III cameras so a significant amount of processing was required in post to be able to assemble and choose the intervals and framing they played best at. That was a lot of work before I could get started with the edit. On the shoot side, we had to decide what the environment would look like and how to light it – could we roll the dice on the weather cooperating? We might get nice movement of the sun in the time-lapse, but if it were cloudy we’d get jarring effects. So we opted for a very controlled environment. Once we locked down the cameras, it was a waiting game.”

Editor Zeke O’Donnell  
Editor Zeke O’Donnell  

Input from other creatives: “The agency got us involved from the get go; we went back and forth on the original concept and what we could do with the resources we had. It was refreshing to be able to help determine what we would shoot, and I’m really happy with the direction we ended up taking.”

Why the spot works: “People are so much more aware about using environmentally-friendly products, and the spot makes a good point about the chemicals we introduce in our living environments. When you have a concept as strong as this and pair it with powerful, authentic images, the spot is going to be effective.”