The Song Remains the Same

It never ceases to amaze me how the fantastic technical changes in the film industry, and the astounding growth of the online video industry, are being received.

Oddly, there’s a very interesting division in the professional community. Some people are adamant about how everything is different now; “The Internet and online communication is totally different, it’s a whole new world, and everything has changed.” Then there are others who see these great changes and shifts more as an evolution to the creative basics that have existed forever.

As a filmmaker & storyteller I’ve always looked at these changes as opportunities. Sure things have changed, but the basics haven’t. You’re still telling a story, engaging the viewer, and as an advertiser you’re introducing new ideas and adjusting behavior. I realize that I’m being a bit simplistic here, but there’s a point; The core of what we are doing is basically unchanged, but the delivery methods, environment and context in which we engage the audience has changed.

To meet these exciting changes, I’ve partnered my production company with a creative digital agency. Custom web video should not live in a vacuum. If it is to be done successfully, it should be designed and produced in concert with a digital team that is creating the final environment where it will exist.

In a recent project, we designed a series of interactive expandable rich media ads for Wendy’s. One contained live action talent, a person who walks onto the banner and challenges you to take a quiz and test your “burger skills” and reacts according to interaction throughout the entire experience. Another ad featured a football player who craves Wendy’s burgers. He runs out of one banner ad and sneaks on to another ad on the same page and rips the burger out of that ad, in a crazed desire for a Wendy’s burger, and runs off.

The production day was classic teamwork. The whole project was shot in a greenscreen studio; the material was patched directly to a laptop. Mattes and frame sizes, the ins & outs were checked repeatedly for technical accuracy. We confirmed lensing and depth of field by compositing the banners with the video directly on set in real-time. This enabled us to adjust lensing and provide natural perspective as our talent moved about the web page and within the banners.

And yes, we adjusted frame rates and shutter speeds to coordinate the very physical action and rapid movement of our on-camera talent with the required digital compression of the video. All this so our online servers would load the video quickly enough to the viewer so that there was no noticeable lag upon page load.

But, at the end of the day, forgetting a multitude of cutting edge digital & interactive production solutions, the basics of filmmaking came back into play. Did the audience like the talent, were they engaged – did they stay with our story till the end? Ultimately that’s how success is judged. And, that’s what I as a director find so exciting, so much has changed and yet so much has remained the same. You gotta love it.

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About Arlen Tarlofsky
President, Head of Production - Glow Productions - Arlen has been a directing & designing award-winning programs for over 20 years. His strength is his ability to create dramatic, engaging, and visually impactful stories. His wide range of directorial experience includes; documentary, theatre, comedy, and Healthcare. Arlen’s online digital work has consisted of award-winning interactive live action rich media, websites and a series of interactive live action online transmedia games. In partnership with Glow Interactive, Glow Productions has recently developed LEAP, a dynamic, video-based communication platform that enables pharmaceutical companies to present information as a unique interactive video experience. Recent clients include; CANON, USA Networks, FORD, Hyundai, Crestron, Sanofi-Aventis & Wendy’s.