Thursday, August 16, 2007


I’ve heard some stories about people that blog about their works and get in trouble for it. So this is definitely not about my work in any way. In fact it was something that happened to someone else. In another work place far away. At a completely different era than mine. Ummm, on a different planet. It, errrr, all came to me in a dream where the ad was shot in the server room, ahh, in my dream.


Anyway, I got to watch part of the process of creating a TV advertisement the other day. I’ve seen lots of ads on TV. I mean, who hasn’t? They are everywhere. I have never seen one shot before though. On TV the ads take 10 to 60 seconds and, if they are done well, are seamless and smooth. The reality behind that is wildly different than the perception.

The server room I have has a nice big glass window and someone along the line decided it was a perfect setting for an ad they had come up with. I got involved by first of all being asked to clean it up. *grin* Yeah, this dream had me spending some time cleaning a room.

On the day of the shoot crew members started showing up around 11 AM. They had a truck. A big truck. They started wheeling huge carts loaded with stuff to the lobby of the building and prowling around looking at lights and angles and windows. The evicted one worker from her cube and I opened the server room for them. I pointed out the things to please not touch and the things that were OK to use taking care to point which power outlets were on different circuits and therefore available for them to use – no problem they said there is a generator they will use for their own power anyway.

They then commenced to setup lights. And reflectors. And filters. And giant pieces of cardboard. And cables. And signs. And a giant camera. And lots of tape to hold everything in place. All in all I counted 20 crew members working on setting up.

The actors showed up and were cast – three made the show the rest were sent off. Two girls came and setup a bunch of chips and soda and crackers. I watched people asking them for gum and to help with tasks on the set. I guess they have the entry level job that gets all the little tasks. Props were set up and the lighting was completed in my server room. I have never seen my server room look so cool with the spiffy red and blue glows coming from it.

It was now approximately 2 PM. Makeup had been applied, angles chosen, and props setup. The actors were in place and the director called for rehearsal. .About an hour later they were ready to for actual shoots of the ad. Places were taken again and off they went.

Frankly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between rehearsals and takes except that there was slightly less fiddling between each attempt. This is where my brush at fame almost occurred. The art director decided that he wanted someone walking in the hallway opposite the actors and asked me to come along. I was supposed to walk down the hallway and give the actor a bored hi five as he passed. WOOHHH! That was cool – I’ve never been filmed like that so it was exciting. We did four takes with me doing that before the art director said that it wasn’t working for him and they asked me to leave. Drat – so close to fame and fortune. Oh well I’ll have to stay with the salt mines.

Finally, around 4 they had finished and gave each other a round of applause and put everything away. All this was for about 15 seconds of film. I have no idea how much goes into post production, not to mention the rest of the ad with all the phone numbers to call and the rest of the pitch.

This whole experience gave quite an insight into what goes into producing the calls we all see every day to buy things or to choose this product over another, or to a certain course of action. What looks simple on the surface is simply the veneer over a complex and time consuming process requiring hundreds of man hours to create a few seconds of viewing time.

My server room never looked as good as it did on the TV monitor that day. That is a lesson I’ll take from this experience.

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