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Better Safe Than Sorry

Have you ever seen a commercial where an important piece of information, such as a website or phone number, wasn’t fully displayed on the screen? This is a big problem that not nearly enough production companies pay attention to. The issue here is that footage isn’t being edited with respect to Center Cut Protection.

What’s Center Cut Protection?

Great question! This applies to Standard Definition footage that was filmed in High Definition. HD is meant to be viewed in 16:9 aspect ratio, however SD is only 4:3. So since many SD channels still exist, footage edited in HD need to be down converted in order to be aired on these channels. Specifically, Center Cut Protection refers to graphics or text that’s edited into commercial spots. In the photo on the left, you can see how HD footage is supposed to be viewed, with the website clearly within the safe areas. The photo on the left, however, shows how that same footage would be viewed on an SD channel. In this medium, the website gets cut off.

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How do I fix CCP errors?

It’s important to be cognizant of title safe and action safe areas. These are lines that indicate that what’s within the boundaries will be completely viewable by audiences. Anything outside is at risk of being cut off depending on the viewers’ TV. These areas differ for HD and SD.

Screen shot 2011-06-08 at 12.14.20 PM

In this photo, the outer line is the Action Safe area and the inner is the Title Safe area. The tiny vertical dashes on each line represent the Center Cut Protection.

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I’m sure that at some point you’ve been watching TV and the screen appeared like the one above, with black bars on the top and bottom. This is to keep HD in 16:9 aspect, even though it’s being displayed in a 4:3 frame. Some channels want to get rid of these bars and adjust the picture to 4:3, like the photo below.

Screen shot 2011-06-08 at 12.21.11 PM

In this photo, the blue lines coincide with the small dashes in the first photo. This is why it’s important to stick to Center Cut Protection when editing for SD. Because while your normal safe boundaries may be ok for HD, when that same footage is viewed in SD you may lose important information. This makes the commercial less credible, and thus, your company in the eyes of your client.

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The Top 4 Reasons You Should Care About 4k

If you are reading this article, I assume you’ve heard of 4k at this point.  If you’re still not sure what it is, here’s a brief overview. You’ve heard of 1080p which is a video with a resolution of 1920×1080. That’s a lot of pixels and produces some great images on your home TV if you have HD content like Blu Ray, HD cable or Satellite, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 etc.

Now imagine multiolying that resolution by 4! Now you have 4k or Ultra High Definition (UHD.) The term 4k comes from the hollywood film industry because they have been scanning and projecting film prints at 4k resolution for many years now.

So, why should you care?

  1. It might be the next big thing.  There’s always a “next big thing” in technology. Eight years ago (in 2004) 1080p HD was introduced. Seven years before that was when DVDs became the next big thing. If you follow that pattern in technology, we are due for a “next big thing.” The industry tried to push 3d on us (mainly because it’s harder to pirate,) but that has proven to be more of a niche thing.

If you’ve followed CES 2013, you may have learned that almost every major TV manufacturer has just announced a 4k TV set. Sony in particular seems to be going all in on it announching 4k TVs, 4k broadcast and disk formats, 4k camcorders, and there’s a strong rumor that the PS4 will be the first 4k gaming platform. Many signs indicate that 4k UHD will be the next big thing in media.

        2.  For some of us, it already is the next big thing.  We’ve been filming TV commercials, web videos, and documentaries in 4k for about a year now. There are at least 2 other video production companies in town doing so as well. I’ve had many people ask me why we are filming in 4k. Here are the top 4 reasons I give them:

  • Acquiring footage in 4k gives us sharper 1080p images.
  • Future proofing our library. In 5 years, when 4k is mainstream, our clients will have a 4k library of footage to draw from.
  • Flexibility. I can film a wide shot and later change it to a close up and still be well over 1080p resolution. I’ve done it before and it’s gotten me out of a couple of pinches.
  • Bragging rights. It’s a character flaw. I’m an early adopter. I like being out on the bleeding edge. It costs me time and money sometimes, but it also means I can write this article so you can learn from my mistakes.

         3. Movie Theaters. You may or may not know that movie theaters have been projecting 4k movies for several years now. So how does that affect you? Well, if you are producing a TV commercial or documentary that you ever want to play in theaters, you will be able to take advantage of the power of 4k UHD. There is a company called RED (who happens to manufactuare the 4k cameras we use) and they have jumped in the 4k theater distribution game. What this means is that in a couple of years, there may be a way for you to very easily screen a low budget film in a local theater at 4k UHD.

         4.  It’s Beautiful!  A funny thing is that even though I have been filming in 4k for over a year, up until last month I have never SEEN any of my images in 4k. That all changed when we discovered a high end home theater company in town who has a 4k projector installed in a $200,000 home theatre demo at their office. They too had never seen 4k footage on their beautiful set-up. That’s because there are still no devices that are capable of playing back 4k footage.

We spent several weeks building a custom computer rig that was up to the task of 4k. Last month when we sat down to finally see true 4k projected I was blown away. I saw details in the footage I had shot that I have never seen before and I have looked at the footage for hours upon hours. This was good and bad, because I realized that I am going to have to raise the bar in some of the ways I am shooting because 4k shows off every mistake you make.

 So, the bottom line on 4k for consumers is that it’s coming. I imagine the TV sets will be starting at $5,000-$7,000 and will drop in price from there in much the same way 1080p did. TVs are getting larger, so an 84″ screen will soon cost the same as a 60″ 1080p screen did a few years ago. Content is also on it’s way as several companies have introduced formats that can pack 4k into a bandwidth similar to bluray discs or even less.

For companies that are producing videos, commercials, etc, you can hire a local company like ours and have us produce your video in 4k for not that much more than producing it in HD. (There’s about a 10-20% increase in cost due to equipment and data storage costs.)  Here’s a commercial we recently finished that was shot in 4k and was broadcast in HD last month on local TV.

If you have any questions about 4k, email me Ammon Ehrisman at ammonATblueforesstudios.com because I love talking about it!

(Ammon is the Creative Director at Atlantic Creative located in Raleigh, NC.)

 

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Carolina Ale House TV Commercial Part 1

Just as 2010 drew to a close, our creative department launched what would become one of our most successful videos. This of course was our process video, which you can check out here. With this playful and imaginative video we were able to give potential clients insight into how we work, as well as a taste of our humorous side.

Storyboard for Carolina Ale House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to our process video we won the opportunity to work with Carolina Ale House, a great sports themed restaurant based in Raleigh with locations all over the Southeast. Check out their site and take a look at that delicious Triple B Burger. YUM!

The challenge was to create a 30 second TV spot that incorporated the restaurant’s theme of “Food, Sports, Fun.”  After several creative meetings we decided on an idea that centered around talking food and a fun roller coaster ride that would end not so well for our food protagonists but excellent for customers. It was a fun idea that meshed food beauty shots with a thrilling ride that showcased what the restaurant was all about. Our three food stars were originally: Triple B Burger, Caribbean Fish tacos and Buffalo Chicken Salad.

Once Carolina Ale said “go”, there was a flurry of creative meetings, story boarding, and hands on rig building.  The main idea was to have the plated food zooming through the restaurant on a tray enjoying what would become its last bit of fun before a delicious and agonizing end with plenty of napkins needed. To accomplish these shots we built a tray mount for the camera and used our Canon T2i paired with a fantastic 14mm f2.8. We were ready to shoot.

Stay tuned for Part Deux, the exciting conclusion…