Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Final Cut Pro Basics:

Final Cut Pro is a great tool for editing your footage. To optimize your Final Cut experience, here are a few things to remember throughout your project.

Get Organized
Before editing a project, it is important designate where media is saved to prevent you from losing your files within your computer. This is called setting a scratch disk. You can set the scratch disks by choosing the scratch disk tab in system settings and saving your project to the appropriate folder.

Format Video
Some clients request footage in HD format while others prefer standard format. Depending on your client’s needs, it is recommended to correctly format the video size settings before capturing and editing your project. This will ensure your client’s satisfaction and prevent you from having to recapture and edit footage.

Prepare Audio
When editing a project, try to make sure that your audio levels do not go “in the red.” This means that the levels are too high, which results in a distorted sound. Although the audio may appear fine when listening on the computer, when the footage is exported the distortion will be apparent. Try listening to the audio levels with headphones to hear the true sound.

Protect Your Project
Remember to continuously save throughout the editing process! You do not want to lose hours of hard work due to unexpected technical issues.

Ryan Maloney, Michelle Ortendahl, and Ashley Roberts
Interns, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Studies, Villanova University, West Chester University, and La Salle University

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3 Helpful Hints For Formatting a Broadcast Commercial Script


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.


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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Most Common Video FX

Video effects can really bring a TV spot to life. It is important to capture and maintain the viewers’ attention to ensure the message of the commercial is understood. Here are the most commonly used and most beneficial video effects.

1. Optical Flares- Optical flares, also referred to as lens flares, create a “flashy” look to text on the screen. This look draws viewers’ attention and highlights important information. For example, in a car dealership spot, optical flares may be used when there is text about pricing or financing because they are key focal points in the spot.
2. Drop Shadows- Drop shadowing is used to generate depth in text and graphics. It separates the text from the background by creating the shadow of the text or graphic, which helps to eliminate difficulty when reading the text in front of background images.
3. Gradient- Another way to create depth in text or graphics is with the gradient effect. This effect will make the text look 3D by feathering out different shades of a color. You can go from a lighter shade to a darker shade or vice versa.
4. Compositing- Compositing is when you combine multiple elements, (i.e. Text, green screen footage, b-roll footage, logos, etc.) into one coherent video.

Equally combining all of these effects will create an eye-catching spot that captivates viewers’ attention. However, using too many of these effects could damage the overall appeal of the commercial and distract viewers away from important information.

Michelle Ortendahl and Ashley Roberts
Interns, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Studies, West Chester University and La Salle University

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Most Common Audio FX

Audio effects can be very important to an audio spot. Knowing when to use them and how much of them to use can be critical. Over or under usage of effects can ruin a well-read commercial. Here are the most commonly used effects.

1. Filtering – A filter can be added to a voice by using an Equalizer. An Equalizer can control the high and low tones of a sound. For instance, if the voice is very deep, you can use an equalizer to filter out the low tones and make a clearer sounding voice that is friendlier to the listener. This can also work in the opposite way and make a high-pitched, thinner voice sound deeper and more powerful. Filters are also used is to make certain parts of the voice stand out from the rest and be more attention getting.

2. Delay – A delay is an echo. In order to make important parts stand out or sound more important, a delay can be used to literally echo a message so the listener hears it again.

3. Reverb – Reverb, or Reverberation, can change the size of the room the speaker is in, from a small shower to a large, empty church, and can add to the context of a spot. However, adding just a little bit of reverb can have cool sounding effect on a voice and is another way to make certain words stand out from the rest.

4. Time Compression – Time Compression is an effect that is used in almost all radio spots. It can shorten an audio file in order to fit in a desired time slot, usually 60, 30, or 15 seconds. While time compression is very helpful, it is still important to try to have the original voice as close to the time as possible because too much time compression doesn’t sound natural.

Kevin Grove
Intern, Propulsion Media Labs
Communications Studies, West Chester University

Friday, March 11, 2011

10 Things To Keep In Mind On The Set Of A Local TV Spot Shoot

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.

Desiree Holm
Intern, Propulsion Media Labs
Communication Major, Villanova University