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Ad production moves to desktops

Kelly Wilkin

The microprocessor has put a virtual

movie or production studio in a single room,

and one trade that has particularly benefited

from the technology’s advancements is the

creative industry.

Anyone from advertisers to movie and

music producers, novice to professional,

has been quick to seize the advantages of

the latest tools available, allowing them to

create the rich sound and moving picture

productions.

Reno creative types are among them.

Systems and software available to creative

staffs range from simple packages such as

Apple’s iTunes and iMovie, which come

standard with all new Apple desktops and

laptops (except the iMac), to more advanced

programs such as Adobe’s Premiere (retail

$550) and Apple’s Final Cut Pro (retail

$1,000), to even more powerful professional

systems such as the Avid Media Composer

9000LX, a desktop computer that is made

specifically for broadcast-quality video production.

It can retail for more than $75,000.

The cross-compatibility of many software

programs also give creatives the ability

to animate pictures using programs such as

Adobe’s Photoshop (retail $600) and

Macromedia’s Flash (retail $550). Both

software packages allow the user to export

their work as video files (.avi for Windows

machines and .mov for Macintosh), rendering

them usable in other, perhaps more

advanced, video authoring applications.

“It’s seamless now,” said Edward

Estipona of EstiponaVialpando Partners in

Reno. “You’re able to integrate everything.”

Estipona created a 30-second television

spot for the Reno-Sparks Chamber

Orchestra, which features animated silhouettes

of music conductors moving their

wands in time with the background music,

using Adobe Image Ready – a software

package that comes with Photoshop – and

iMovie; the “most basics of basics,” according

to Estipona.

Estipona used several silhouettes of conductors

of different shapes and sizes. To get

the conductor’s correct motion, he filmed a

music appreciation professor’s movements

with a mini digital video camera as he

played the selected background music.

Estipona then captured the video to his

computer and mimicked the movements

frame-by-frame in his animaton. This was

particularly time consuming because he had

to make an individual picture for each frame

of the animation, as well as for each conductor,

in video time. Video’s standard frame

rate is 30 frames per second.

“I just wanted to see if I could do it,”

Estipona said.

More typically, agencies aren’t able to use

desktop technolology to provide the quality

of broadcast that most of their clients are

looking for. It’s this reason, adds Marc

Nannini, production manager for Reno’s

Bayer Bauserman & Co. office, that basic

desktop technology is best used in the middle

of a job to give the client a good visual of

their ideas.

“We’re able to save money by not hiring

professional videographers to shoot rehearsal

pieces,”Nannini said. “Instead we can create

mock pieces, see how the clients like it, and

then hire the professionals to shoot the

final scenes.”

Most agencies, according to Estipona,

contract with professional camera people

and editors because of their professional eye

and the increased value of specialization, and

the quality that comes with it.

“At our agency we do everything from

creative to PR,” Estipona said, “but video

people do video as their livelihood, and you

can’t put a price on that talent and skill.”

Zhap! Productions, a Reno-based postproduction

facility, is the premiere video

editing firm in northern Nevada, and it uses

the Avid Media Composer ‘ the same

system that was used to edit the first two

movie installments of J.R.R.Tolkien’s “Lord

of the Rings.”

“This is the best system around,” said

Zhap! editor Tim Hosfeldt. “This system

has been built from the motherboard up

for video.”

The Avid system features a one-gigabyte

processor, one-gigabyte of random access

memory, over 430 gigabytes of hard drive

space, which can hold eight hours of

uncompressed broadcast-quality video and

two 21-inch monitors. The system can edit

film and video, maintain the proper waveforms

for broadcast standards as well as

export any movie to VHS cassette,DVD or

even the broadcast standard Beta SP.

Music producers have access to the same

high quality equipment available to video

producers. The industry-standard equipment

for audio is DigiDesign’s Pro Tools,

which can retail in the tens of thousands

of dollars.

Michael Eardley, president of Reno’s

Tanglewood Productions, which has several

sound and recording studios in his offices

featuring Pro Tools equipment, added that

technology is making it tough for some in

the marketplace.

“It’s easy for anyone to record music on

their desktop,” Eardley said. “It would

threaten me a lot if I didn’t have talent.”

Eardley offered a recurring theme among

agency and production professionals about

the addition of new tools and technologies,

one that Eardley said will be posted all over

his offices.

“Technology is absolutely wonderful, but

there is absolutely no substitute for talent.”