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Direct Response Marketing

A Technological Launch

1 Apr, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response

Short-form DRTV producers and marketers say technology, from HD to post-production to online video, is creating a new era.


At times, it seems that new technology is having its way with us. From the expanding digital television galaxy to the constantly evolving broadband Internet universe to smarter and smarter mobile phones, technology has invaded our lives on both personal and professional levels.

Improving post-production editing software has expanded the graphical capabilities of all short-form producers — from 3-D graphics to special effects.
Improving post-production editing software has expanded the graphical capabilities of all short-form producers — from 3-D graphics to special effects.

Whether you're flipping channels, surfing the most obscure Web sites or staring blankly at your E-mail on your mobile device when you should be enjoying yourself at a concert or sporting event, one could easily make the argument that many of us are simply over-connected.

However, short-form DRTV producers are having their way with technology. They are capitalizing on some of the most buzzed-about technological advances, including the growth of high-definition (HD) television, the upcoming digital TV switch and the explosion of online video.

While those in the space see these advances as positives, they are just as likely to speak about other evolving technologies that are improving the quality of their work, while at the same time simplifying and making it more cost effective for clients.

Improving post-production editing software has expanded the graphical capabilities of all short-form producers — from 3-D graphics to special effects.
Improving post-production editing software has expanded the graphical capabilities of all short-form producers — from 3-D graphics to special effects.

Advances in digital editing software and their graphics and animation programs, the ability for producers to share cuts with clients — as well as traffic finished spots to TV stations — digitally, and the growing use flash memory as a replacement for tape for storage were all mentioned by a group of short-form producers and branded-response marketers. Still, the main technological advances affecting short-form production remain HD video and editing, as well as the growing importance of online video to DR marketers of all stripes.

 

A Post-Production Tech Boom

 

Sean Fay, president and CEO of Seattle-based Envision Response, says, "There are two major technological advances that have improved short-form production. The first is the advent of completely non-linear editing equipment whereby all of post-production can be done on a computer, almost completely eliminating the need to spend $200-500 an hour 'finishing the online' at a post-production facility. The second advance goes hand-in-hand — the speed and simplicity with which we can upload our work for client review. We can finish an edit by 2 p.m., upload it within an hour, and the client can be reviewing it between 3-4 p.m. We can then get feedback for us to work on by close of business the same day."

 The Cost of Spot Production
The Cost of Spot Production

Fay is not alone in his wonder at the advances in these areas. Ava Seavey, leader of Avalanche Creative Services in New York, specifically mentions Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software, as well as its graphical capabilities, adding, "We can load a hard drive directly into our equipment and edit pristine footage. We can also create very sophisticated graphics and animations with the after effects, thereby creating a high-end look and minimizing costs for our clients."

Chas Kutchinsky, managing partner of Downingtown, Pa.-based iBox Films, concurs. "The availability of desktop editing with a Final Cut Pro system has dramatically changed this portion of the short-form production process," he says. "When doing complicated green-screen and/or tracking shots with special effects and layering of elements, the spot can basically be edited — in rough form — on set or location to assure the proper talent, camera and lighting elements will blend with the synthetic background graphic or animation effects."

ShadowBox Pictures Jeff Young uses HD equipment to shoot spots, including this one for a new product from Turtle Wax.
ShadowBox Pictures Jeff Young uses HD equipment to shoot spots, including this one for a new product from Turtle Wax.

Another true believer in modern computer-based editing is Malcolm Karlin, president and CEO of New York-based Karlin+Pimsler Inc. He contends, "This new software allows the creative to incorporate extraordinary 3-D graphics, feature-film style special effects, or computer animation for clients with even the most modest of budgets. This frees up creativity and elevates the production value, thus engaging the viewer at a higher level."

Improving digital technology on the back end of the production process also helps streamline storage and trafficking spots to TV networks and stations.

While short-form producers still script to traditional spot lengths, online video offers the opportunity to create expanded content, such as additional testimonials or even creating product tutorials.
While short-form producers still script to traditional spot lengths, online video offers the opportunity to create expanded content, such as additional testimonials or even creating product tutorials.

"Electronic trafficking of spots to stations is one of the absolutely best things to have happened in a long time," says Doug Garnett, president of Atomic Direct in Portland, Ore., and a Response Editorial Advisory Board member. "It saves costs and time for distribution."

Robert Yallen, president and chief operating officer of the Inter/Media Group of Companies in Encino, Calif., and a Response Editorial Advisory Board member, says digital storage capabilities are changing the business. "Solid-state flash memory, such as Panasonic's P2 or Sony's SxS technology, is a huge step forward," he claims. "Tape hits and degeneration are no longer concerns, and far less time is spent on logging and digitizing."

Kristy Pinand-Dumpert, vice president of sales and marketing at Boonton, N.J.-based Concepts TV Productions, agrees. "With the latest technology, tape stock is starting to become obsolete," she avers. "Now, we can shoot and record to a drive that hooks up directly to our editing systems. This eliminates the costs of tape stock and saves time in editing."

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