Hal Honigsberg, Chrome: HP "Picture Book," "Francois," "Relay"
"Picture Book" began for me in April 2004, four months before the shoot even happened. I was finishing up the offline cut of another HP spot, "Statue," when Goodby's exec producer, Josh Reynolds, handed me an old 1968 buried treasure of a song by the Kinks called "Picture Book." He needed some :30 cut-downs of the song. I instantly loved it and still do, even after several thousand listens. I ended up cutting that song over 30 different ways before everyone settled on a version. I was invited to come to the shoot by the creative team (Steve Simpson, John Norman and Josh Reynolds) and Tool/ Paranoid Projects director Francois Vogel. They decided that I could begin cutting on location before the serious editing began in the U.S. For six days, I set up at each location with my laptop editing system. Each day I digitized the previous day's dailies to check on how the effects were working.
But for me, as an editor, the real value and luxury of being involved early in the process was getting the "backstory." It allowed me to digest the unique visual language that Francois created and Goodby wanted for these spots. When I returned to the U.S., the foundation was built; the music bed was cut, selects were pulled and the ground-rules were established.
Throughout the four week offline process I would collaborate with Francois and the creatives, everyone brainstorming ideas. With Francois on AfterEffects and me on Avid, we'd volley composites back and forth, sometimes coming up with unexpected results. For instance, in "Relay," a happy accident led to a great idea, which created a solution to a pacing problem we were having. The final result was a rapid-fire succession of images that made the ending much more dynamic.
Each spot had its own editorial challenges. In "Francois," Francois sits behind a desk filling empty frames with self-portraits. Looks simple enough-after all it's a one-taker (who needs an editor?). But it took us several days of trial and error to comb through over 40 takes and find the one that worked perfectly after applying the effects.
It took us nine weeks to go from offline to online completion. To me, the true success of these spots is that the visual effects are both startling and seamlessly natural. I feel extremely lucky that Goodby has invited me back for this year's campaign. It's a bit daunting to try to follow up a campaign named Best of the Year. But we're working on it.
Angus Wall, Rock Paper Scissors: Nike "Magnet"
From the very beginning, director Jake Scott and Wieden+Kennedy creatives Mike Byrne, James Selman and Hal Curtis were clear that this was to be an emotional piece. Jake and James are avid cyclists, which added to the veracity of the spot.
As soon as we got all the material from the shoot, Jake came in to put together an assembly. Then the guys from W+K came in to help finesse that. Jake is very specific in his coverage, and he essentially executed his extensive shooting board. There was a lot of footage that we went through, with the goal of finding all the best pieces, as always.
We worked with a music track which was ultimately replaced with the one made by Elias. Also, we had to pull plates for A52 as we went, so they could get started creating and compositing all of the CG animals (dolphins, geese, fireflies, bats, etc.). Pre-selecting those scenes locked us into some of the shots before the edit was done. We first did a :90 and a :60. The subsequent :30s were interesting in that several were not lifts of the longer edits, but rather single vignettes expanded out to :30.
This was a well thought out project before it came into our office, so my job was a pure joy. About a week after it was on the air, I overheard some neighbors talking about the spot. It was nice to know it was well received by many outside the industry.
Public Service Announcement
Vito DeSario, Version2: ONDCP "Rewind"
Editing is interpreting a concept. The goal is to create the strongest possible impact of the conceptual message, which in the case of the ONDCP spots is for parents to confront their children upon the discovery of alcohol or drug use. In the case of "Rewind," the story is played in reverse action, which opens with the worst case scenario of your child passed out alone on a couch in a club. Eyes snap open. Rising from the couch upon which she had fallen, she leans against the wall, disoriented. She stumbles down the hall from the toilet where she had just vomited. In short, she's fucked up from the alcohol and drugs we see her take during the course of the film, which ends with her walking in reverse past her mother who just found drugs in her coat pocket and said nothing to avoid the confrontation. Freeze frame, VO, forward action, mother stops her now and says, "We need to talk."
My approach to all spots is to bring more to the spot than just a straight edit. The easy way to edit this story would be to cut a linear story and then reverse the entire spot. However, by doing it this way I would miss the nuances and the frame oddity of performances played in reverse. I also knew that I had to think in reverse as well as edit the story in reverse. First step, reverse all footage in the Avid. Next, it was important for me to create an editing style that enhanced the disturbing visuals, to really see and get how our girl felt. I did this by speed-ramping various takes of the same setup, off-matching the action, combining them, then selectively removing frames for the net effect of a drug-induced time displacement. (There are close to 100 edits in the first 15 seconds of the spot and a combination of five takes of her stumbling down the hallway alone.) I then slowly eased out of this technique as she is less high and by the time she enters her home there is none. Viewing the final edit it works fine, but on my reel I condensed the story further and use my original ending edit that doesn't have a freeze frame to signify reverse to forward action. I like it better.
Maury Loeb, P.S. 260; Adidas "Unstoppable"
Cutting "Unstoppable" was definitely a bit of a departure from the way I normally edit a television commercial. First of all, it was a ridiculously effects-heavy spot, and big effects jobs always bring their own unique set of challenges. For this job, I was going to have to start cutting on set, a process which always tends to be pretty intense.
The spot basically consists of an army of these badass Lilliputian soldiers who try to stop Tracy McGrady from making a basket during practice drills. We needed to create this epic, large-scale, cinematic battle sequence and compress it into the timeframe of a television commercial. The director, Brian Beletic, was firmly devoted to realistically maintaining the military integrity of the battle. Although T-Mac's world is imaginary, everything within it has to play by its own relative set of natural rules and physics.
To achieve this, the spot would be a combination of live action and CG, which was masterfully provided by Digital Domain. All of the action was shot almost entirely on a greenscreen soundstage. All that existed on set was a piece of floor, a piece of wall and a basketball hoop. Digital Domain had the Herculean task of creating the entire multidimensional environment and all of its realistic occupants. In terms of the edit, T-Mac would basically serve as our background plate and the soldiers and vehicles would be shot as our foreground plates. The trick here was that we needed to pick and commit to "hero" takes of McGrady on our first days of shooting, so that on our subsequent days of shooting we could accurately capture foreground action with the proper miniature scale perspective, composition and blocking. I had to cut T-Mac's action sequence right then and there as our background plates so we could then accurately forecast how our miniature army foreground plates should be shot. If your perspective is off on a spot like this, you totally blow the illusion.
My assistant, Sarra Idris, and I set up a fully rigged Avid on the soundstage-no wimpy laptops for this one-so I could edit, key mattes and present cuts to Brian and the agency as we were going. I was receiving a signal from the VTR guy off of one of the monitors, so I could load every camera take as we were shooting. I wouldn't be getting footage with any meaningful time code, but I could essentially create an edit on set and then recreate it in a suite later on with real dailies.
Usually, one of an editor's toughest jobs is negotiating through thousands of feet of film, trying to structure a story. In a way, I had the opposite issue with "Unstoppable"-I had to start cutting the spot as we went to first help determine how we were going to shoot the story. Because of this type of precise, surgical approach to a spot, I had the unique experience of using every single scenario and scene that was shot in the end edit-a first for me.
Pacing proved to be another big challenge on this job. Most of the footage I was dealing with was just this guy alone on a greenscreen, none of the CG men or vehicles were created yet, so it was an interesting challenge imagining how T-Mac would maneuver and interact with the miniature army from frame to frame. I was dealing with storyboards, scripts and even a pre-viz, but when it came time to structure and pace out the story, I just had to start making sound effects with my mouth, pretend helicopters were attacking T-Mac's head and imagine how I thought this battle scene would best play out.
Paul Martinez, Lost Planet; Target "Raining Bull's-eyes"
The main challenge here was creating cuts around a graphic element that didn't exist yet. The creatives did come to the table with a fantastic track by Cornershop, which helped set the tone and pace of the commercial. Within the spot, I tried to create little vignettes of different characters in different scenes, but I intercut between scenarios for a nonlinear feel. Speed ramps helped create much of the energy since a majority of the footage was shot overcranked. There was also a nice disconnect between the speed at which the bull's-eyes were moving as opposed to the live-action footage, which was visually appealing.
Above all, my collaboration with Ring of Fire was vital. They would create graphics of moving bull's-eyes that I would integrate into my cut and adjust the edit accordingly. I purposely played with the pacing of the spot so it didn't feel rushed, yet still retained the energy that this type of musical editing requires, which was tricky. In some cases I found it was better to hold on to a scene longer than I normally would in a musical edit, but followed it up with three quick jump cuts to retain the dynamism and not let the spot get boring. During the entire edit, Dave Peterson of Peterson Milla Hooks was actively involved with the process, which was invaluable because of his clear vision of the concept of the spot, as well as his knowledge of client expectations and the history of Target's branding campaign. But for me, Ring of Fire deserves the utmost credit for making this spot a success, creating bull's-eyes that looked less like flat 2-D animation and were much more integrated with the live-action footage.
Overall, it was a fun way to accomplish branding in a spot, helped enormously by excellent casting, almost reminiscent of characters from a Tim Burton film. But in the end, the music track was the backbone of the commercial, driving all edit and graphic decisions all the way to the final product.
Big Sky Editorial
Lost Planet Editorial,
Lost Planet Editorial,
Big Sky Editorial
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Rock Paper Scissors, Nike
P.S. 260 adidas