Newsletter #115 - Aug 5, 2006
the Pace of TV Ads and
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
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.
was great to see two features I requested
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
Getting the TV Show into Movie
I took a couple steps to get the recorded
TV (DVR-MS) file into one that works well in Movie
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
... 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
Complexion of the
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
- A man kicking a ball - 1.4 seconds
- Light-burst fade into a verisonbusiness logo, which had some subtle neat
lighting effects going on - 1.4 seconds
- A line of text fades in under the logo... and the logo/text stay there for
the rest of the clip - 2.2 seconds
Ad - Comfort Suites... the first of 3 ads that ran
for 30 seconds each... using 20 clips
- man talking... 3.45 seconds
- woman talking... 2.25 seconds... both she and the man were at the 2/3
position from the left (rule of thirds)
- man talking again... 2.3 seconds... at the 1/3 position
- woman talking again... 2.4 seconds... at the 1/3 position
- man talking again... 2.3 seconds... still at the 1/3 position
- woman 2.85 seconds.... 2/3 position...
- man for 1 second.... walks from 2/3 to mid-point
- woman for 1 second.... at 2/3 position
- Comfort Inn sign... 0.8 seconds
- Comfort Suites sign... 0.65 seconds
- Quality Inn sign... 0.65 seconds
- Sleep Inn sign... 0.65 seconds
- Clarion sign... 0.65 seconds
- Visa card... 2.8 seconds steady
- Visa card moves to the left as 6 small thumbnail Inn/Suite signs move in
from the right... 0.3 seconds
- The thumbnails sit there for... 2.75 seconds with fine print at the bottom
- The fine print fades out... over 0.2 seconds...
- More fine print fades in... over 1.1 seconds
- The thumbnails scroll to the left as text/design flows in from the
right... 0.35 seconds
- The final text sits there for... 1.3 seconds
10 Second Ad for a TV Show... 9 clips
with 2 longer transitions
- 1/2 second... still shot with narration bubble... man at left 1/3 point
- 1/2 second... still shot with 2nd narration bubble... man still at left
- 2-1/2 seconds... video talking head inside fixed frame...easy title
overlay with xml code
- 1/4 second... man scrolls off to right as woman (Nancy Grace) scrolls in
- 1/2 second... still shot with narration bubble... woman at left 1/3 point
- 1/2 second... still shot with 2nd narration bubble... woman at left 1/3
- 1-1/2 seconds... video talking head inside fixed frame...easy title
overlay with xml code... 0.40 second transition into a still of both heads
inside frame-type overlay
- 2 seconds... banner bubble changes text 3 times during it... 1/4 second
bright transition to city 3D scene with text in perspective
- 1-/1/2 seconds... city and text move slightly showing 3D effect... and
fade out to black
Another 10 Second Ad for a TV Show 'No Survivors'...
- 1 second moving landscape type video with text... zooming in
and rotating as it comes in... widescreen letterbox style with 2
line text in the lower black bar... transitions brightly and quickly - about
0.2 seconds, fading out to a standard split
- still pix for 2 frames
- black pix for 2 frames
- still pix for 2 frames
- black pix for 2 frames.. slideshow type action with CNN text a constant in
the lower black bar
- still pix for 1/2 second fading into the next still pix
- video clip for 1.2 second
- video clip for 3/4 second with bright fade to talking head
- 1-1/2 second video clip of talking head
- 3/4 second... closed shot of same talking head
- 1-1/8 seconds... zooming into still or video clip with overlying text...
with bright transition to the next clip
- 3-1/2 seconds... still pix with 2 lines of overlying text... the second
line of text is fading in with a cute transition style...
- 2 frames of a black pix...
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.
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
m you can see
the complexity of 3D text and eye candy in the snapshot at the
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
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
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
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
scene 3 about the IRS losing millions runs 20
seconds... using 3 video clips... the standard CNN text is at the
m 3/4 second still video clip... bright transition
m 8-1/4 second video clip... slow pan down a
m 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
m 17 second video clip of fire, zooms in a bit... the
text at the bottom goes down at the
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
The next segment is a single scene about inmate
firefighters, like a special documentary used between two segments
It runs 2 minutes and 28 seconds, using 26
- 11-3/4 sec... Susan talks about the
subject as the lead-in.... with some fixed text and scrolling headlines
running along the bottom.
- 3-1/4 sec.... zooming into a fire
- 1-3/4 sec... firefighter walking
- 9-1/2 sec... fire and a passing
firetruck... fading into the next clip.
- 4-3/4 sec... group of walking
- 1-1/2 sec.... walking firemen from a
different perspective... down low about knee level
- 3-1/2 sec... firewoman walking... head
level... camera keeping pace
- 6-1/3 sec... one being interviewed...
wearing a mask....
- 6+ sec... a fireman setting off little
- 2 sec... fire and firemen clip
- 6 sec... panning from firemen to
fire... fading into the next clip
- 13 sec... reporter interviewing one of the
- 10 sec... panning from fire to reporter...
- 3-1/2 sec... line
of walking firemen... shot high
- 3-1/3 sec... walking firemen... feet
- 2 sec... walking firemen... from a medium
- 3-1/4 sec... close-up of one fireman's face....
camera rotating around him
- 5-3/4 sec.... firemen walking... with camera
walking behind and with them
- 10-3/4 sec... interviewing fireman... close
shot... fades to next
- 6 sec.... interviewing firewoman... close
shot... fades to next
- 4-1/2 sec... firemen walking
- 2 sec.... interviewing firewoman... close shot
of both her and the reporter... fades to next
- 9-1/4 sec... firemen walking... pans to the
fire... fades to next
- 9+ sec... interviewing firewoman... close shot
of both her and the reporter... fades to next
- 4-1/2 sec... walking firemen... long fade to
- 5-1/2 sec... the fire
this was obviously the most planned part of the
show.... it had the most video clips, shot from different and creative
5.7 second average clip duration.
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
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
m 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
m 2 sec... aerial shot of a
m 3-3/4 sec... close up of workers on the oil
m 2 sec... aerial of oil rig
m 3-1/4 sec... aerial view of an oil refinery with bright fade
m 2-1/4 sec... gas station pumps filling
m 4-1/2 sec... view of gas pumps
m 6-1/2 sec... man filling his
A 21 second segment
about Nissan, using 5 clips
m 6-1/4 sec... talking head opening statement
m 1/2 sec... Nissan sign on
m 3 sec... billboard type
sec... panning a
m 3 sec... another showroom
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
- 5 sec... talking head
opening statement... fading to next... with slick CNN
Headline News flying text
- 2-1/4 sec... fishing boats
- 3-3/4 sec... view of
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
m 11 sec... movie
m 3/4 sec... quick ending movie screen
A 15 second one for Travelers
, using 7 clips
m 1-3/4 sec... biker action with foreign
m 3/4 sec... low view
of biker's head
m 3/4 sec... biking off cliff
m 2-3/4 sec... landing, losing wallet, with cartoon of Travelers
Checks fading in and taking over full screen
m 3-1/4 sec... cartoon goes to a do not disturb
m 2 sec... plane emerges, turns and goes
m 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
m 2 sec... two researchers,
m 1-1/2 sec... another
researcher, fading to
sec... another 2 researchers
m 1-1/4 sec... another 2
sec... robotic arm
sec... presentation session
m 2-1/2 sec... handshakes
sec... URL being entered
m 2-3/4 sec... closing
A 30 second ad for Hampton
Inn, using 16 clips... widescreen letterboxed...
m 1-1/4 sec... culturally different groups approach each
m 2 sec...
the old-fashioned group... low shot
m 1-3/4 sec... the punk
the opposing heads meet... close-up
m 1-1/4 sec... shot of feet... the
old-fashioned guy is more nervous... his kid is licking an ice-cream cone in the
m 1-1/2 sec... the kid
with the ice cream... top scoop falls off
m 1 sec... two groups
sec... punk group... gal looks up to guy
m 1-1/4 sec...
old-fashioned group... gal looks up to guy
m 1 sec... 2 guys...
nose to nose... hair goes up
m 1-1/4 sec... punk guy
looks at other's hair
m 1-3/4 sec...
old-fashioned guy has a glimmer of a smile
m 5-1/4 sec... bed
in the clouds with Hampton logo
sec... punk guy look quizzical
sec... old-fashioned guy is relieved
m 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
m 2 sec... close-up of the
m 2-3/4 sec... man
talking on chair... translucent text overlay at
close-up of him talking
m 2 sec... laptop... entering a
m 1-1/2 sec... man at
laptop... text flowing in
m 1-1/2 sec... the
m 3/4 sec... close-up
of plane wheels
sec... front of plane from side
sec... man walks to get in plane... side view of plane
m 2 sec... man seats
himself in plane... expensive antique plane.... the man must have made a lot on
m 4 sec... the
advertiser tells you that you should use Ameritrade
The section took 125 seconds and used 48 clips.... 2.6 second
- 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+
- 21 separate topics... with an average duration of 24 seconds
- 150 clips... an average of 3-1/3 seconds
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
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?
clips for ads flow by 3 times as
fast as clips for content
we're used to Movie
Maker fading to and from darkness... many or most of the TV clips
are fading to or from lightness
if TV represents the norm for our
society.... then my movies are way too slow... assuming mine fall into the
area of 'content' I need to pull the average clip duration
down to under 6 seconds
if I assume my videos, especially
the samples I roll out to the website, are for amusement
and advice like commercials... then pulling them even more to a 2
second average would align them with the average attention span of
special effects are in just about
every clip... with the zillions of dollars spent for commercials it's no
wonder they look so great. It's fun to emulate them with Movie
Maker, as long as we don't have the schedule pressure that a TV show has... to
fill every second of every day with content, or ads with
super visual and audio effects.
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
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
Have a great week...