Commercial Editing with Spot On Media
Spot On Media is a production house based in Glendale, Calif. that specializes in TV commercials, infomercials and industrials. The company began producing commercials in 2006 for the local market and has expanded its base to include national clients, like Nissan, ABC TV, RE/MAX and Life Alert. According to Co-Owner Danny Simonzad, Spot On Media is a boutique company that strives to do as much as possible in house, including postproduction.
Simonzad began his career fresh out of Cal State University Northridge’s film school with a job at Craig Murray Productions, a company that specializes in promos and movie trailers. While there, Simonzad trained on Avid and Adobe After Effects and learned how to write copy. “I left there as an associate producer to do commercials on my own,” says Simonzad, who has been making commercials ever since with his Spot On partner Shervin Youssefian. He and Youssefian do most of the postproduction on their commercials in house, but they occasionally hire freelance editors and graphic artists to lend a hand when things get busy. While Simonzad learned editing on the Avid system, at Spot On he and Youssefian use Premiere Pro from the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5. “To me, it’s a lot easier to use on short form projects,” explains Simonzad, adding that they primarily use a combination of Premiere and After Effects for all their productions.
Simonzad likes the way Premiere so easily integrates with After Effects and Photoshop, which is not surprising since, like Premiere, they’re both Adobe products. “If I change something in Photoshop, it immediately changes it in Premiere,” reports Simonzad. “Or if I export out something in After Effects, it updates the file in Premiere. I don’t have to keep going back and forth between programs.” The way Premiere is structured streamlines and simplifies Simonzad’s workflow process. He also uses Premiere for audio mixing on smaller projects. “We have a library of sound effects and music that we use, so it doesn’t require that much mixing,” he says. “But if we have a more complex mix, we will take it to a post audio house.”
When Simonzad and Youssefian first started shooting commercials and music videos with a RED ONE camera, they were faced with workflow challenges because their computer couldn’t handle the RED footage. As a result, the footage had to be transcoded before it could be edited. While the first project they shot with the RED turned out to be much more complex than they anticipated in terms of workflow, they learned from that experience and quickly invested in an upgraded computer system that could properly handle RED footage.
At press time, the team was in postproduction on their first feature film Crossroad, which provided a new set of learning curves for Spot On partners. “With commercials, we have to be able to tell an entire story within 30 seconds most of the time,” says Youssefian, adding that they take into account the likelihood that viewers will see the commercial multiple times. “With a film, viewers have to understand what they’re looking at the first time, and letting shots breathe.” Youssefian wrote, directed and edited Crossroads, and he learned some important lessons about the differences in pacing features and commercials. He also saw color correction as another area that had to be treated differently. “With commercials, we will tend to make colors more vibrant to grab a viewer’s attention,” he explains. “We pack as much information as we can in a 30-second commercial, [so] I take on a completely different mindset when editing commercials.”
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