Monday, March 22, 2010

The 2010 Lexus Hybrid "Milestones" Commercial gets my "Over Edited" Award.

Why does the first shot of the 2010 Lexus Hybrid "Milestone" commercial cut away well before the cars actually intertwine?

Why couldn't the shot of the last drop of gas (represented by one car) coming out of the nozzle have started much sooner, like when the drop (the car) was still in the nozzle?

The close up shot of the the last "drop" of gasoline leaving the nozzle is both unneeded, and if it was to have been used should have come after the wide shot, and been an overlap shot rather than edit on action.

The end shot of the 2010 Lexus Hybrid "Milestones" commercial is a fantastic shot but falls short because of the way it was used.


When I was in my last year of college many years ago I won the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences "commercials" Internship scholarship contest and interned at Film Fair. It was at Film Fair where I was first exposed to the creative forces that come together whenever a broadcast commercial is created.

Before a commercial actually arrives at a production company, there is an ad agency that has to win the trust of a company, usually a corporation, that wants to promote a product or service on television or some other large media like radio or the internet. The agency is awarded the account by presenting the best ideas the among many competing ad agencies.

The ad agency that wins the trust, and the account of the company or corporation then puts out a call for bids from commercial production companies. The production companies may submit individual director's reels, or they may submit an overall company reel.

The ad agency tends to focus on the director they want to work with, and since the director is many times attached to an existing production company, that company is used for the production of the commercial.

Commercials' Production companies without a name director usually survive by offering speciality "services" to larger competitors with name directors. Smaller production companies can lose their bread and butter work should they try and bid on the whole job directly from the ad agency rather than accepting a much smaller piece of the pie from the production company that actually won the account.

A small production company that does not directly bid on large scale commercials is not considered direct competition by the larger production companies and can therefore be trusted to work on a specific portion of the commercial.

When the commercial is being shot, the ad agency hovers nearby observing the set up and execution of each scene. Many times the director is directing with one eye tied behind his or her back as they crook their head towards the assembled agency people to see whether they liked the last take or not.

In essence, commercial directors are on an ad agency leash of varying length. As the director's reputation grows, the ad agency's leash can get pretty long and imperceptible.

Designing and producing a major commercial for national broadcast involves intense planning as to how many different scenes should be shot and in what order they should be shot. If the agency does not shoot enough different angles and scenes, or runs behind schedule and scenes are never shot, the commercial may drag on when it is edited together.

However, if too many angles and scenes have been shot, a commercial may have so much excellent footage that when the commercial is edited together, it becomes a high energy, but unfortunately, over edited production.

Which brings me to this lexus hybrid commercial. If ever a commercial needed LESS editing, the 2010 Lexus Hybrid "Milestones" commercial from lexus would get my "over editing" award.

There is so much visual trickery that can go on in the world of high end commercial editing that I just can't tell if the shots were cut as short as they were because that was the final frame before the trick shot "falls apart", or if they just have forgotten the meaning of holding on a great shot.

To me, the opening shot is so magical that I felt cheated when the shot cuts away, and I felt cheated not in a good way. The opening shot should have gone on for at least another 3 to 5 seconds. It is just a major disrespect to put all of that time and energy into the actual creation of the opening shot and then cut it down so short that one begins to wonder if there was an accident, or if the opening shot is a fake.

This is the kind of commercial that if I had been the director or cinematographer, or ran the production company that helped create the footage, or was the stunt coordinator, I might have been disappointed at how choppy the final edited version came out.

Instead of cramming three commercials worth of shots into one 30 second commercial, how about just making three beautiful commercials with nice, long takes of the beautiful imagery that I am assuming exists in longer lengths than we are seeing.

The ending is disappointing to me as well. I would have reworked the ending and given much more of a final impact to the Lexus Hybrid Milestones commercials. I'm here if Lexus wants some additional advice. What I am basically saying is the commercial is visually awesome, but has not reached its true potential due to overediting.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

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