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30 Second Commercial Run Time

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Chris Mercury
30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 27, 2011 at 2:53:46 pm

I'm prepping a 30 second commercial for air for the first time, and I just have a quick question about the total run time. I know it should only actually run 29.5 seconds, but is it better to export a straight 29.5 second clip, or put black on the beginning and end so that the entire clip is 30 seconds long, with the important 29.5 seconds being in the middle? Or, am I just over-thinking this, when it really doesn't matter?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 27, 2011 at 3:16:05 pm

I make all my spots 30 seconds on the button (NTSC). Frame 0 is 100% black, and :29:29 is 100% black. That's for files going into the station's server -- if it's going to tape or going out of house, my spots are :29:28.

I normally use a 10-frame fade up & down at the head & tail. Some people always cut to and from black; I don't like it except as an aesthetic decision for the spot.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Gary Hazen
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:34:44 pm

[Chris Mercury] "am I just over-thinking this, when it really doesn't matter?"

Yes. Make a 30 second spot and be done with it.


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Chris Mercury
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 27, 2011 at 8:15:09 pm

I actually had one station request that it only be 29.5 seconds, but from what you're saying, it sounds like they were just saying it to cover themselves more than it being completely necessary. Either way, I've already cut it down to 29.5, so I'll just throw a few extra frames of black at the beginning and end, and leave it at that. Thanks.


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Mark Spano
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 27, 2011 at 8:39:14 pm

Another vote for 30.0 seconds. If start TC is 1:00:00:00, then last frame of video is 1:00:29:29.



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Richard Crowley
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Apr 29, 2011 at 5:53:28 pm

And another vote for 30.0
One satellite channel I am familiar with says:

5. “COMMERCIAL” OR PROMOTION LENGTH(S): Commercials accepted for Hope Channel broadcast will be exactly the following lengths (and not one frame more or less):

a. 30 seconds
b. 60 seconds
c. 90 seconds
d. 120 seconds


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Paul Lewis
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on May 7, 2011 at 4:36:45 am

Yep, a 30 second commercial is actually 30 seconds now.
Back in the days of tape only delivery, it was usually 29secs or 29sec15frames, Etc. Now most of my spots are file based and 30 secs right on the beezer. Some Cable network spots don't even touch black at the start or finish now. Some things come in from FTP, get tagged and go out, having never been on tape. And a lot of playback in master control is done from servers now. H264 and MPEG2 program stream and transport stream are replacing the Betacam SP and DVCpro decks. Geez has it changed since I started in '87. =:)

Cheers,
Paul Lewis


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Sean Herbert
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Jun 12, 2011 at 9:09:58 pm

In the UK, for Adstream (FTP delivered), commercials run as follows:

5" Bars & Tone
27" clock + 3" black
30" commercial (or whatever duration of spot is)
10" hold of last frame
5" black.

No audio for the first 12 or last 12 frames of the actual spot.

So, OP - instead of cutting to black at 29.5" in, why not just hold the last frame? It could get rejected by QC if you only let it run 29.5" for a 30" spot that cuts to black too early. At least if you hold the last frame, it's related content as opposed to black video!


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Michal Trzaska
Re: 30 Second Commercial Run Time
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:31:32 pm

I wish there was a straight answer for this one but the fact is that each TV station has different requirements for delivering TV Commercials. So just make your spot 30 sec long and be ready to have a frame of black at both ends, or 2 seconds of black or bars and tones, slate, 2 sec of black then the spot and then 2 more sec of black. or w/e other combination the station calls for.

The good news is that a lot of stations have FTP delivery set up so all you need to do is send in the spot exactly as it will be on screen 30 sec long. You still need to make sure that the file format is according to the specks they need.

Best thing to do is to call up the station and ask the specks they need, they are really good about that.

Best of luck,

Michal Trzaska
Editor, Colorist, Director of Photography, VFX Artist and Motion Graphics Artist
MeHow Design
TV Commercials for your Google TV ads. Web Videos that get results


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