Making an advert: From conception to completion
One of the aspects of what we do here at Pace that excites us the most is the advert production end of things. It’s when we get to let our creative juices run wild and help our clients see their product or service come to life on the small screen.
So we’ve asked our Production department to give us a rundown of what it takes to make stand out TV ad. If you think we can help you in bringing your idea to reality get in touch HERE or call us on 020 3567 1096.
This is the final leg of the production, but we’re by no means finished yet. Now we enter Post-Production. This can be the lightest or heaviest part of the job depending on how much of the advert requires effects work. It really will depend on what kind of job you’re doing, but any production will require at least some degree of post-production work done to it. In this final blog of the series we’ll lay out the different processes of post-production.
Where the last blog left off we’d finished the shoot, got the necessary footage from the camera and audio takes, now we just need to sync them up, and get them ready for review. Ever wonder why we use a clapper board to mark the start of each take? Among other reasons, like knowing what scene or take number, it’s so that you have a visual and audio queue to line up in your editing software. It’s not always the case that you can record audio and video together – so these are often recorded separately. This allows the camera operator greater movement, not to mention it gives the Sound Recordist more room to move closer in with the microphone. See, sound is harder to pick up than people realise – microphones often need to be held right by actors faces (but out of shot) – it’s a tricky balance to get right! It’s also worth mentioning that sound isn’t necessarily recorded by the microphone you see mounted on the camera – this tends to not pick audio up very well.
When it comes to watching any kind of footage, I’m firmly in the belief that regardless of the quality of the video, if the sound isn’t right, it’ll bring the value of the whole production down….audio is a lot more important than people give it credit for!
What we need to do next is what’s called an assembly edit. This is the first of many different edits included in the editing process – but this is the roughest. This is where we sync audio with video, and separate the takes into their scenes, making it easier for the Editor to choose their favourite. We’ll need editing software to do this – there are many available, Adobe Premiere and Avid are great examples, but our favourite is Final Cut Pro 7.
As ever, organisation is key, as there may be multiple editors working on one project. The Editor will begin the rough, or Assembly Edit. This is the first time we’ll see all our footage together in one go. Note: it’s not worth the Visual Effects Artists starting work their work replacing the green-screen with background until the client is happy with the takes that are included.
And so begins a back-and forth between the Editor and the Client until everyone is satisfied with the result.
In the end, we’ll end up with something like this:
This section of the process is known as the offline edit. It’s to give us the best idea of what the final advert will look like before the remaining visual effects are completed. It also gives us a chance to experiment with music and sound effects.
It’s worth checking in with Clearcast again at this stage – remember them? They clear adverts for UK tv to ensure there’s no inappropriate content included. As our ad featured a corpse, it was important to check up with these guys as often as possible to make sure we were still good to go to air.
Everyone happy? Great! That’s picture lock. Where no more changes are made to the shots in the advert (besides slight tweaks). And the final visual effects work begins.
For Criminal Case, there were a few effects shots:
• Keying the green screen background behind the actors and adding a VFX scene
• Tracking the VFX section to the live action Criminal Case folder to show a seamless transition between scenes
• Tracking the reverse of this, and adding the ‘Case completed’ stamp
• Building the end pack
Once included, we have a fairly complete advert! But it’s not quite there yet. We send it to the client for final sign off – hopefully having liked everything so far they like the final piece! With this, we can have the Audio Mix completed – making sure the music, vocals, and SFX sound at the right levels. We can submit it for final compliance, and, as long as the client is happy – we can output the final advert. At this stage, we can also handle the dubbing of the French Canadian advert – this campaign also ran in Canada, meaning we had to have a French Canadian voiceover recorded by separate artists, which we could add over the top in place of the English lines.
Everything ready to go with both versions? We re-link the temporary files we’ve used for editing to the highest res copies possible – and send it to be colour corrected. This is the last stage of the Online Edit.
Client still happy? Great – time to send to the relevant TV channels, it’s ready to go to air.
It’s a long path – it involves constant planning, preparation and contact with a number of people to check that everyone is happy at each stage of the process. It’s also not the only project we were working on at the time – because different processes run to different times, we have to keep careful track of things as they all progress. Remember the schedule? That’s why we stick to it!