Who did HBO sign for a game-winning Hail Mary radio commercial to promote its line-up of shows back in 2000? Its this Hall of Famer from Paul Turner Productions, where legendary programs like the Sopranos, Sex and The City and Arliss were “audibled” at the line of scrimmage by field general (and General Manager) Corey Dissin for this football-themed spot. Talent#1 Lance H ran his voice “between the tackles” to tell the exciting story.
With the help of such location-based technologies such as Foursquare, people everywhere are leaving digital trails of where they been and who they were with from their smart phones. For many, it is a fun way to interact with other friends and contribute to the ever-growing social media climate. For marketers and ad agencies, it means knowing what to advertise to you and when.
As those of you who watched this year’s Super Bowl commercials may have noticed, Apple failed to show an ad this year. The reason why this is notable is because Apple made arguable one of the most famous Super Bowl commercials of all time in 1984. The famous ad promoted the first Macintosh by boldly challenging the competition with an ominous promise.
This spot was created by Audio Producer Scott Spaulding for the North Dakota State Fair. But this isn’t your average state fair, because this one features performances by Kid Rock AND Cheryl Crow!
If you’re listening to the radio, chances are good that you’re either hearing a commercial or music. Although one is different from the other, they do have their similarities.
Radio commercials tend to fall into 60, 30, 15 or even 10 second segments. Quite a far cry from the average three or four minute song you hear on the radio. Now with music, you typically have fifteen seconds to catch someone’s attention before they lose interest and change the station. However, if you use that approach to a thirty second radio ad, half the ad is already gone. Music isn’t produced with any time constrictions in mind like radio commercials are. It’s much more focused on producing the sound the artist wants in their song rather than making sure that the song fits a certain time frame.
The composition and construction of a radio ad and music are also very different as well. A radio ad typically consists of a voice over, a music bed and appropriate sound effects. This results in anywhere from 6 to 16 tracks in a ProTools session depending on the amount of sound effects used. The composition of a song depends entirely on what kind of music it is, but just as an example, a music producer will often use at least 10 or 12 tracks for an average drum kit alone. Of course, if you’re working with a hard rock drummer such as Neil Pert of Danny Carey, a producer may use over 24 tracks just for their drum kits. Simply put, when you add in guitars, keyboards, background vocals, and other instruments, music producing typically involves processing much more information than a radio spot does.
While there may be more to produce in music than a radio spot, that doesn’t mean that production is handled all that differently. Both producers are still going to critique and spruce up the vocals of a song or commercial. Both are most likely going to use some EQ and reverb effects on the voice, however they may use these effects differently to get a desired sound. This mostly depends on the type of song or the radio spot. The artist may want their voice to lay low in the mix and not be the main feature while radio ad may want the reverb to distort the vocals in a stylish way and draw attention to it.
All differences aside, at the end of the day radio and music producers want to do one important thing and that is to sell their product. Both of them want you to hear their work and either go out and buy their advertised product or event ticket, or go out and buy their artist’s album.
Summer 2011 Intern
This radio spot for Camel Beach Resort was created by Senior Audio Producer Tom Trezniowski. “There was a lot of sound design that had to go into this one,” said Tom regarding all of the background ambience. “I had to really think about what exactly was going on at that house.” This spot has a bit of humor in it too. As the spot goes on, the kids go from running in the house to tying up the neighbors to shooting a dog out of a giant slingshot. How did those kids even get a giant slingshot?
Intern, Propulsion Media Labs
Communications, LaSalle University
COUNT YOUR WORDS
An easy way to get a gauge of how long a script should be is the word count. For a: 30 second spot, try and stay between 60 to 100 words depending on the tone of the spot. A sincere, slow moving spot is on the low end, and a hard sell, energetic spot can be on the high end near 100 words.
A good idea is to make sure that the video cues line up and match the audio parts. The easiest way to make sure things are clear is to separate different segments of the script in blocks. That way, the reader knows exactly what visual elements are being shown with the voiceover, and the client can easily
reference parts of the script when reviewing.
LABEL YOUR SCRIPT
On the video segments, CG (Computer Graphics) signifies where noteworthy words or information are inserted. B-Roll (Background Footage) and SFX (Special Effects) commonly appear as well. As far as the audio segments, VO (Voice Over) and ANNCR (Announcer) are labels that indicate when a talent is heard but not seen. These and other labels help the producers create a quality spot.
Ryan Maloney and Michelle Ortendahl
Interns, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Studies, Villanova University and West Chester University
10. Bring enough expendables.
You need to make sure you have more than enough batteries/battery life and tapes. Nothing is more frustrating (and looks more unprofessional) than running out of tape or battery life and having to end the shoot before you have the footage you need.
9. Know your equipment inside and out.
Being 100% familiar with your gear will make it that much easier to get the shot you are looking for. Also, if something goes wrong with the equipment, it will help you to pinpoint and fix the problem quickly and efficiently.
8. Be aware of utilities on set.
While on set, one of the first things that should be done is to check your surroundings for outlets. Be sure to plug only one light into a circuit of outlets at once – generally this means use only one outlet on a particular wall.
7. Bring gloves.
The lights will get hot, so gloves are going to be necessary when handling them. (Side note: Be sure that the gloves themselves will not melt or burn when touching hot surfaces. You would be surprised what materials do and do not burn.)
6. Use the microphone best suited for the production (and always avoid using the camera’s built-in mic).
Whether you choose to use a lavalier or boom mic, ALWAYS test the sound before actually shooting to check for ambient noise and/or distortion.
5. Be aware of camera settings.
For audio levels, you want to make sure the sound is neither clipping, nor too soft. Also be conscious of the various aspect ratio and frame rate options.
4. White Balance for every new lighting set up.
3. Get release forms before shooting.
Once set up is finished and before filming, you must make sure you have signed release forms from anyone recognizable in the frame.
2. Leave the location clean and undamaged.
After you have finished filming, always leave the location clean and undamaged. It’s a simple courtesy to the owners of the location.
1. Be respectful to everyone on set.
Whether it is toward talent, other crew members, or your boss, being respectful helps create a calmer atmosphere, makes work run smoother, and keeps networks open for future opportunities.
Intern, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Major, Villanova University