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National TV spots: shot on film or video?

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Eric JurgensonNational TV spots: shot on film or video?
by on Jul 26, 2011 at 1:13:39 pm

I'm curious about what origination format the high budget national TV spots most commonly use? To my eye (it's getting harder to tell), the majority of spots still appear to be shot on 35mm film.

Has the technology gotten to the point where it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between film and digital video?

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Brian MulliganRe: National TV spots: shot on film or video?
by on Jul 26, 2011 at 3:25:27 pm

I'll bet less and less on film. More RED. Everything shot at 24fps.
Many movies were shot on RED.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Pirates of the Carribean 4
The Social Network.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor

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Shane RossRe: National TV spots: shot on film or video?
by on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:49:45 pm

Film for car spots...and a lot of higher end spots. RED, yes. Alexa, yes. AVCIntra P2 with the HPX-3000...Sony F3. But mainly film, Red, Alexa.


Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Todd TerryRe: National TV spots: shot on film or video?
by on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:35:25 pm

Most very high-end television commercials are still on 35mm film.

But yes, more and more of them are being shot on electronic formats. The Arri Alexa in particular is being used a good deal now. And yes, some RED, but possibly not as much as you'd think.

I have a colleague whose son was on a crew recently shooting a national commercial for major big-time U.S. advertiser. They had a gigantic full crew, a well-known national commercial director, and probably a high-six-figure production budget. There wasn't a 35mm camera, an Alexa, a RED, or any flavor of CineAlta in sight. They were shooting the commercial with five Canon 5D cameras (although they were "Panavised," with Panavision lenses).

I direct commercial shoots every day, and always tried to shoot 35mm whenever I could... not only for big clients, but also regional or even local mom-and-pop clients. I learned how to do that even with tiny budgets... planning shots carefully, not wasting anything, calling "action" even before pulling camera trigger, and buying bargain re-cans (I once bought all the re-cans from the third season of "The Sopranos" for less than a nickle a foot... 50,000 feet!). But now... well, I haven't even cracked the cases open on my film cameras in more than two years. When you can get electronic images now that look almost exactly like film, it's harder to make an argument for the fun (or expense) of loading magazines in the darkroom. We've even been able to fool the colorist at the film lab we use, and he watches Panavision footage all day.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Stephen SmithRe: National TV spots: shot on film or video?
by on Aug 1, 2011 at 9:12:02 pm

We used to shoot all our big spots on film. And then have them color graded and transferred in a different State. We haven't done it in a few years. I've found that one of the keys to making it look high end is to make sure you do a good color grade on it.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

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