Tag Archives: spots

Using editing to influence the tone of a spot

By Maury Loeb

We all have a basic understanding about what editing consists of. In the simplest terms, editors stitch together raw footage to create a cohesive and coherent story. But one of the most vital features of a “good edit” is the establishment of tone. Tone is the aspect of a piece that describes its particular mood, character, atmosphere and flavor. Dictating the proper tone of an ad is a deceivingly sophisticated endeavor that goes beyond the simple mechanics of a few well-spliced shots. Editors need to tell a cohesive story, but we also have to tell the right story.

While some commercials can be ill-conceived and fundamentally “tone-deaf,” trying too hard to project “cool,” the best commercials make viewers feel connected to something. Wieden + Kennedy’s original Go Forth work for Levi’s is a great example. It’s a hipster anthem, but one that makes bold tonal choices in the edit to unique and memorable effect.

Another is the hilarious It’s a Tide Ad, which so precisely and successfully recreates the tonal doppelgangers of existing ads that it’s actually deceiving at first. The ability to produce a very specific, intentional flavor from disparate, raw ingredients is what elevates editing from a craft into an art. The script might be the script, and the footage might be the footage but creating the right tone for a spot not only honors the vision of the ad, but also enhances and elevates the finished piece.

This requires an editor’s technical skill of manipulating and synthesizing their raw ingredients, but more importantly, it relies on an editor’s taste, creativity and sensibility. In the commercial world, offline editors are uniquely positioned to get the first crack at establishing the tone of a spot and the opportunity to shepherd a spot through its finishing, making sure that the intended tone of the ad is realized at the end. It takes the brilliance of talented colorists, sound designers, musicians and animators to achieve a polished finished product, but a good offline editor can sketch out a comprehensive “tonal roadmap” for a spot.

Sound, picture and pace are the most fundamental determinants of tone. Editors manipulate these elements by employing an infinite arsenal of weapons in order to achieve the intended tone of a commercial.

Sound
Sound and our emotions have a primal relationship. Sound is essentially a form of “invisible touch” that is processed in the same part of our brains that processes emotion and perception, making it an ideal parameter of tone. Music is probably the most effective, immediate and raw influencer of tone. It is quite literally a construct designed to create an emotional response. Throw three different pieces of music against the same footage and you will walk away with three entirely different experiences. As far as weapons in an editor’s arsenal go, its standard issue for a reason. Would ASPCA ads be as iconic with any other track besides Sara McLachlan’s “In the Arms of the Angel” even if they were equally as cloying and maudlin?

A thousand different tracks could have complemented Sony’s famous Balls spot, but would it have had the same impact without Jose Gonzalez’s dreamy, slightly unexpected version of “Heartbeats”? Tone can be equally dictated by an editor’s approach to sound design. Google Chrome’s “Speed Tests” dynamically toggled between hyper-real and overtly stylized sounds, creating a piece that’s both observational and awe-inspiring. The result is a unique tonal voice that is utterly engaging with just the right amount of cheekiness.

Color
Editors can inform the tone of a spot beyond the images initially captured in the camera. Manipulating the color palette of the film colors the character of a spot in profound ways. Editors can dial through a range of emotions as they dial through the color spectrum, capitalizing on a color’s ability to elicit specific emotions — from the isolation and melancholy found in blue tones and the menace and danger found in greens to the welcoming warmth of rich reds and golds. A film’s light and dark tones can telegraph an impressive amount of information to an audience as well. Consider the flat palette of Skittles commercials and the way it helps enhance their awkward, comedic tone. Or the way crunchy contrast and saturated colors can make a tabletop spot look punchy and appetizing.

Pacing
Editors also set tone by the pace at which a commercial is cut, both in the tempo of the edits and the speed of the footage itself. The tonal adrenaline of Nike’s Write the Future is due in large part to its dynamic edit as it jerks the audience through kinetic bursts of flurried cuts and pregnant lulls of over-cranked shots. Likewise, Ikea’s Lamp wouldn’t feel nearly as sad if it weren’t for the deliberately paced, measured editing. Nike’s Michael Jordan ad Frozen moments played out in real time would feel like a trite highlight reel, but the deftly handled ramping between super slow motion and real time creates an epic grandeur that amplifies the message of the spot.

Double Duty
Commercials have the unique role of being little films in the greater service of advertising something while also representing a particular brand. In commercials, an editor’s sensibility is key. Is the tone of a particular spot congruous with its message? Does its tone align with the sensibility of the brand? Commercial editors have the dual duty of approaching their task as both stewards of the filmmaking process and stewards of the brand itself. Our role is crucial in making sure the end result both conveys the intended message of an ad in a way that jibes with how a brand wants to be perceived.

Editors are crucial at establishing tone in broad-strokes, but also on a granular level, understanding how a particular line is delivered or graphics are placed can have an impact on the overall tone and experience of a spot. It’s important that brands and agencies see editors as more than just craftspeople who know how to cut footage together using certain programs. Good, experienced commercial editors are tonal specialists who understand how to influence the tone of an ad and make it just feel right.


Maury Loeb is the co-founder of and editor at PS260 , a creative editorial company in New York City, Boston and Venice, California. Check out his reel here.

Nomad adds editor Jojo King to its New York roster

Editorial house Nomad has expanded its New York roster with the addition of editor Jojo King. King brings a diverse resume and has cut music videos for Janelle Monae’s new single Pynk and Moses Sumney’s Worth It, as well as films and spots for Vogue, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas Originals, Marc Jacobs and Victoria’s Secret.

He recently edited a music video for indie star Lykke Li (directed by Iconoclast’s Anton Tammi) and wrapped jobs with Droga5 and Johannes Leonardo. Adobe Premiere is his editing tool of choice.

“Jojo coming on was perfect timing,” explains Nomad executive producer/partner Jennifer Lederman. “When we expanded Nomad New York, we were determined to make it a place that focuses on the creativity of our team. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary in our new space, and we’ve grown our VFX and support staff a lot in the past year, so it was the ideal time to add on a new editor. We got so lucky that Jojo found us, as he brings a new style to our offerings. He combines this intense artistry with the narrative arc, which leads to his cuts being fun and surprising. He brings that artistic sensibility into our office every day, and his reel is something I love to show.”

Nomad also has offices in Santa Monica and London.

Behind the Title: Nomad editor Jason Kileen



Name: Jason Kileen



Company: Nomad, with offices in Santa Monica, New York and London.

Can you describe Nomad a bit?

Nomad is primarily focused on traditional offline editing. We also offer finishing and have graphic artists and sound designers at our disposal to give a creative vision its life.

What I love about Nomad as a company, besides the level of work we do, is that the culture from top to bottom promotes learning and creativity in every aspect of the job, all the way from management to the vault. Everyone is so supportive here.

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Emmy-winning audio pro Brian Beatrice joins Nutmeg Post

Emmy Award-winning sound designer and engineer Brian Beatrice has joined New York’s Nutmeg Post.

Before joining Nutmeg, Beatrice worked at audioEngine, Bionic and Tonic. He began his career in 1997 at National Video Center and Recording Studios in New York.

Beatrice is known for his short-form work for Nickelodeon, Food Network, USA Network, Syfy Channel and truTV, as well as commercials for Baron and Baron, Publicis, Anomaly and Consulate.

In addition, Beatrice’s work on long-form programs includes WNET/PBS’s Nature, Secrets of the Dead, Wide Angle and National Geographic Channel’s Secret Service series. Documentary credits include work for PBS, VH1, Lifetime and The History Channel. He has also worked on numerous independent films. He won an Emmy for his work on Christmas in Yellowstone, an hour-long documentary that airs seasonally on PBS.

“Nutmeg provides all of the services and resources that clients demand today. You can work here on any format, with an experienced and dedicated in-house support staff ready to help,” he says. “We make it easy for clients by offering mixing, editing, graphics and color grading all under one roof, while realizing significant cost savings along the way. This is a great time to be at Nutmeg.”

In his spare time, Beatrice is actively engaged in various exploratory studio projects, enjoys composing original music and tours with his acclaimed band.

Former ‘South Park’ lead editor Tom Vogt joins Spot Welders NY

Spot Welders’ New York studio has added editor Tom Vogt to its staff.  A specialist in comedy work, Vogt worked closely with Trey Parker and Matt Stone as lead editor on their South Park series. His work also includes commercials, feature films, television series and documentaries.

He has a deep background in editing long and short form comedy for broadcast and cinema. In addition to his South Park work he also provided editing for Team America: World Police and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.

Vogt also spent two years working closely with the director Morgan Spurlock, for whom he edited POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock’s take on sponsorship and branding. Formerly on staff at Bluerock and MacKenzie Cutler, he has since freelanced for a range of agencies and post houses.

Vogt says the ability to move back and forth between spots and entertainment is a big part of what attracted him to Spot Welders.  “I see this as growing into a symbiotic relationship,” he explains, noting that other Spot Welders editors work outside of the advertising arena. “I see us as birds of a feather, kind of like kindred spirits.”

His commercial work includes spots for FedEx, Axe, Oberto Beef Jerky, eBay, ESPNU and AT&T (starring Will Arnett), to name a few. His deft timing on Bud Light’s famous Dude spot helped launch the campaign that became an early internet sensation.

Nellie Chung joins Brand New School as VP of strategy/biz dev

Brand New School, which specializes in animation, live-action spots and branded content, VFX, branding, digital projects and apps, has hired Nellie Chung as VP of strategy and business development.

Previously she was VP of client solutions at broadcast communications and digital production company Synaptic Digital. Chung was also part of the teams at Magnet Media, Vidicom, Nielsen and Encompass Media.

Brand New School recently created a philanthropic interactive installation for long-time Boston Marathon sponsor Poland Spring that included two video walls with motivating messages as well as an interactive fundraising effort. Other examples of their client offerings include an animated Times Square digital takeover for Oreo, and a commercial for Knob Creek.