PapaJohn Productions
Newsletter #115 - Aug 5, 2006
the Pace of TV Ads and Content

I'm not sure how to count how much time I watch TV... does it include when the audio is off and I'm glancing at it between a couple computer monitors? When Bernadette walks in and asks about the show that's on, my standard response is '... I don't know, I'm not following it...'. If that doesn't count, then I'll be generous and give it about an hour a week. Taking long walks replaces the treadmill during this time of the year... so TV viewing loses out to the 2 hours a week of 'real movies' at the cinema.
But in that hour, the pace of the clips flowing in ads and content is such that I see over 1,000 of them a week. And for the better ones, I'm thinking "... how can I do that one in Movie Maker or Photo Story?..". They provide lots of inspiration.
What can we learn from them? For this issue I used my Media Center Edition laptop to record an 8-1/2 minute segment of CNN Headline News, starting in the middle of some ads, catching a couple sections of 'content', and stopping the recording in the middle of the next group of ads.
Here's the list of clips from the recording session, once they were in Movie Maker for assessment.
I'll go through the clips and assess them from a Movie Maker perspective. I'll be looking at what's happening, how fast is it, and could I do it in MM2 if I wanted? I'll just be doing the visual part, leaving the audio off for now.
... before getting into it further, a note...

Vista Corner...  I notched my installation up to the latest build 5472 and checked DVD Maker... giving it 67 minutes of Renaissance wedding videos.
It was great to see two features I requested
I used the project file feature right away. My 3 attempts to burn a disc each failed, something I hadn't experienced in previous builds. After 2 hours of renderings for each attempt, at the 99% complete point I got an error message telling me to check the DVD burner or try another disc. I gave up, saving the project file to go back another day.
.... back to the main topic...

Getting the TV Show into Movie Maker 
I took a couple steps to get the recorded TV (DVR-MS) file into one that works well in Movie Maker. 
It was easy and quick, the quality of the visual and audio was good and I was especially impressed with how well the audio/video sync held in there through the entire recording.
I started with the AutoDVRconvert utility...
... which I keep in the same folder that the recorded DVR-MS files automatically go. The input files are right there, and the outputs go there too... no need to fish for the folders.
The conversion is from DVR-MS format to MPEG-2 with a file extension of MPG.

Then I converted the MPEG-2 (MPG) file with VirtualDubMod. It was already at the 720x480 pixel size needed for the Panasonic DV codec, so all I needed to do was select the video compression codec and save it to an AVI file.
The AVI file imported into Movie Maker... ready for use in a project. It looked and sounded great. In this case it was there just for some analysis.

Complexion of the Clips
Let's look at the clips to learn a bit from the pros... first the initial batch of ads.
Ad - Verizon... I started the recording while this ad was running so I picked up only the last 5 seconds... with 3 clips
Ad - Comfort Suites... the first of 3 ads that ran for 30 seconds each... using 20 clips
10 Second Ad for a TV Show... 9 clips with 2 longer transitions
Another 10 Second Ad for a TV Show 'No Survivors'... 13 clips

The tally for this first group of 4 ads is... 55 seconds of playing time... 45 clips at an average of 1-1/4 seconds per clip.

With the first group of ads finished, the next segment is the first with 'content'... let's see how they differ from the ads.
Content 1
First comes the lead-in or opening, a 2 second dynamic 3D graphics scene that exceeds the kinds of things we are doing with custom xml files... 1 clip
m you can see the complexity of 3D text and eye candy in the snapshot at the left
The next scene is a hello and introduction... 7 seconds with 1 clip
m the two lines of text fade away over the first 1/2 second, leaving the talking head to continue through the end of the clip. It fades into the next clip, the first of the content scenes.
Content scene 1 about violence in Israel runs for 26 seconds... using 5 clips (just 3 if you consider 2 of the 5 were used twice).
m 3/4 of a sec video clip... with 3 lines of neat text graphics, all fading into the next scene
m 5-1/2 sec video clip... with the 3 lines of text continuing. A standard cut to the next clip, with the text continuing.
m 12-3/4 sec video clip with enough problems with holding the camcorder steady that you or I wouldn't think twice about it... we wouldn't use the clip. Yet it's the longest one in all of these scenes.
m 5-3/4 sec video clip... the same one as before... reused for emphasis, or for lack of having another clip...
m 1 sec video clip... another reused clip... with a bright fading out
Content scene 2 about Iraq runs 16 seconds... using just a map (still pix)
m 16 seconds... map with 3 lines of standard CNN text... bright transitions in and out of the clip... like a headlight moving across the darkness.
Content scene 3 about the IRS losing millions runs 20 seconds... using 3 video clips... the standard CNN text is at the bottom
 3/4 second still video clip... bright transition in
 8-1/4 second video clip... slow pan down a building
 8-1/4 second video clip... slow pan sideways of the building... bright fade out
Content scene 4 about the hot weather runs 17 seconds... using a single video clip 
 17 second video clip of fire, zooms in a bit... the text at the bottom goes down at the end. 
The tally for this first round of content is... 6 scenes with 88 seconds of playing time... using 12 clips. The average clip duration was 7-1/3 seconds.

Inmate FirefightersThe next segment is a single scene about inmate firefighters, like a special documentary used between two segments of content.
It runs 2 minutes and 28 seconds, using 26 clips
this was obviously the most planned part of the show.... it had the most video clips, shot from different and creative angles...
5.7 second average clip duration.

Content 2
Next is the 2nd set of flicks with content, the money segment of the show.
The 5 second opening lead-in clip is so slick it must have been made by multi-million dollar equipment and software, or a pretty experienced Movie Maker user taking a long time and using many different custom xml effects. It faded into the first of the content segments.
An 18 second segment about the stock market for the day, using 2 clips
m 6-3/4 sec... talking head opening statement... fading to next clip
11 sec... slow zoom into the clapping at the end of the market session 
A 29 second segment about the crisis in the Middle East, using 8 clips
m 4-1/2 sec... talking head opening statement... bright fade to next clip
2 sec... aerial shot of a oil rig
3-3/4 sec... close up of workers on the oil rig
2 sec... aerial of oil rig
3-1/4 sec... aerial view of an oil refinery with bright fade to next
2-1/4 sec... gas station pumps filling cars
4-1/2 sec... view of gas pumps
6-1/2 sec... man filling his car
A 21 second segment about Nissan, using 5 clips
m 6-1/4 sec... talking head opening statement
1/2 sec... Nissan sign on building
3 sec... billboard type sign 
6-3/4 sec... panning a showroom
3 sec... another showroom view
This section took 73 seconds and used 16 clips... 4-1/2 second average

The next 11 second segment was a quick commercial for an upcoming segment of the show... it used 3 clips

My final recorded segment was a batch of 5 more ads...
A 23 second one for Summer Buzz, using 3 clips
m 6-3/4 sec... talking head opening statement... fading to next clip
11 sec... movie scene
3/4 sec... quick ending movie screen
Ad Group 2
A 15 second one for Travelers Checks, using 7 clips
m 1-3/4 sec... biker action with foreign sign
3/4 sec... low view of biker's head
3/4 sec... biking off cliff
2-3/4 sec... landing, losing wallet, with cartoon of Travelers Checks fading in and taking over full screen
3-1/4 sec... cartoon goes to a do not disturb sign
2 sec... plane emerges, turns and goes off-screen
3-1/2 sec... Traveler's check goes from full screen to an icon view... of the biker going back the other way
A 30 second ad for Heart Disease Research, using 10 clips. Widescreen letterboxed.
m 14-1/4 sec... lots of emerging text... with 3D view of 4 people talking individually... cool effects a bit beyond Movie Maker
2 sec... two researchers, fading to
1-1/2 sec... another researcher, fading to  
1-1/2 sec... another 2 researchers
1-1/4 sec... another 2 researchers
1-1/4 sec... robotic arm
2-1/4 sec... presentation session
2-1/2 sec... handshakes
1 sec... URL being entered
2-3/4 sec... closing text     
A 30 second ad for Hampton Inn, using 16 clips... widescreen letterboxed...
m 1-1/4 sec... culturally different groups approach each other
2 sec... the old-fashioned group... low shot
1-3/4 sec... the punk group 
1-2/3 sec... the opposing heads meet... close-up 
1-1/4 sec... shot of feet... the old-fashioned guy is more nervous... his kid is licking an ice-cream cone in the background
1-1/2 sec... the kid with the ice cream... top scoop falls off
1 sec... two groups square off
1-1/3 sec... punk group... gal looks up to guy
1-1/4 sec... old-fashioned group... gal looks up to guy
1 sec... 2 guys... nose to nose... hair goes up
1-1/4 sec... punk guy looks at other's hair
1-3/4 sec... old-fashioned guy has a glimmer of a smile
5-1/4 sec... bed in the clouds with Hampton logo
1-3/4 sec... punk guy look quizzical
1-1/4 sec... old-fashioned guy is relieved
3-1/2 sec... punk group divides to let the other group through
A 27 second ad for Ameritrade, using 12 clips
m 2-1/3 sec... blue-screening man walking in with neat still image 3D background
2 sec... close-up of the man
2-3/4 sec... man talking on chair... translucent text overlay at bottom 
5 sec... close-up of him talking
2 sec... laptop... entering a trade
1-1/2 sec... man at laptop... text flowing in
1-1/2 sec... the laptop again
3/4 sec... close-up of plane wheels
1/2 sec... front of plane from side
2 sec... man walks to get in plane... side view of plane
2 sec... man seats himself in plane... expensive antique plane.... the man must have made a lot on that trade
4 sec... the advertiser tells you that you should use Ameritrade
The section took 125 seconds and used 48 clips.... 2.6 second average

The Statistics
  • 8:20 total playing time (500 seconds)
  • 6 topical segments: ads > content > special intermezzo > more content > self-serving ad > more ads... average duration of 83+ seconds
  • 21 separate topics... with an average duration of 24 seconds
  • 150 clips... an average of 3-1/3 seconds each
the Winners
Shortest average clip duration... 10 Second Ad for TV Show 'No Survivors'... 13 clips... 3/4 of a second average
Longest average clip duration... content scene 4 about the hot weather... 17 seconds for a single video clip
the Statistical Perspective
The first group of ads had a 1-1/4 second average duration for 45 clips... the second group was a bit slower paced at a 2.6 second average for 48 clips.... overall average duration of a bit under 2 seconds.
Content takes longer... the first group averaged 7-1/3 seconds for 12 clips, and the second group 4-1/2 seconds for 16.... overall average duration of 5-3/4 seconds.
The documentary type inmate firefighters segment had the same average as the content groups... 5.7 seconds.
Ads moved along 3 times faster than content....

Conclusions and Closing
What did I learn? 

With our vacation to Europe less than a month away, I'm phasing out of newsgroup and forum postings for a while... and I won't be issuing newsletters while traveling.
Movie Maker and Photo Story will be on my mind as I shoot video on the 40 mini-DV tapes I'll be bringing... and using the 2 megapixel snapshot feature of the camcorder to put still pix on its memory stick. Bernadette will have 5 and 7 megapixel cameras for the still shots.

Have a great week...