OnDemand

Earache My Eye

Posted on July 20, 2007. Filed under: 80s movies, 90s movies, Bose, Boston, Bruce Willis, Cambridge Soundworks, Die Hard, DVD, indie films, movie marketing, movie promotion, movie sound, movie trailer, movies, OnDemand, Robin Williams, sound editing, Toni Collete, tv ad, tv remote |

Dear Hollywood,
When I view the credits at the end of your movies I’m impressed on the number of people working on the film. One thing I wonder about though is the sound crew. Are they really necessary? From the perpective of a rabid movie watcher it seems like they’ve been severely underutilized. I recently watched the Robin Williams, Toni Collete film Night Listener. A good movie by all accounts. I enjoyed watching it. I did not, however, enjoy listening to it. 

Because I’m a bit of a multimedia geek, I have my tuner plugged into an amp powering a set of Cambridge Soundworks speakers and a pair of 80’s Bose home theater speakers as well as using my built in tv speakers.

This set up means I can control my tv speakers with one remote and have another for my stereo system. During the Night Listener I found my self on the couch playing Wyatt Earp. I had a control in each hand. I had to increase the volume to hear dialogue and decrease it every time excitable music or a loud truck came on the screen.

This isn’t the first instance of this I’ve run into. I could complain for days that network commercials and station IDs are considerably louder than their shows. I’m in marketing, I know why they do it. I also understand that networks can control volume levels in commercials and their own station IDs but not in the movies they broadcast. These films are in the hands of the producers just as DVDs and OnDemand features are.

Why then must I double fist all of the movies I watch? I know that directors and producers want to make an impact with loud noises to create a more dynamic movie. I get it. But does their need to be such a contrast between quiet moments and action sequences? In a Die Hard movie, it’s all loud. I can make one adjustment and enjoy the movie. But try watching a drama with some dynamics… it goes from whisper to nuclear blast.

Not only am I in advertising but I’m also a motion graphics artist and animator as well as a long time musician. I understand audio dynamics. I understand dynamics in a story. I understand that using audio or music in particular to enhance scenes is important. What I don’t understand is why it has to be SO dynamic.

I’ve been looking online for a compressor that will work with my setup to reduce the level jumps. I wish I didn’t have to spend hundreds of additional dollars on top of my cable, pay-per-view and DVD costs to be able to enjoy a movie in my home. So, Hollywood, could you either stop editing sound like a bad stock chart or send me a compressor? 

Thanks,
Avid Movie Watcher

p.s. If you want to hear it done right, try some movies from the 90s and previous.

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Failure to Launch (Correctly)

Posted on April 4, 2007. Filed under: ABC, advertising, American Express, blog, Boston, broadcast, Chia Pet, consumer marketing, Kate Beckinsale, Lost, Michael Durwin, movie promotion, movie trailer, new media, OnDemand, Sony Pictures, tv ad, Vacancy, viral marketing, YouTube |

Vacancy Poster

I just saw a preview for the new movie Vacancy. Kate Beckinsale is in it so of course I’ll see it, when it comes to OnDemand. The trailer was interesting enough, mostly because Kate Beckinsale was in it, but I was most intrigued by a bit of text at the end of the trailer under the In Theaters…
The text gave a number: 1-888-VACANCY. So of course, being the marketing/tech geek that I am, I ran to my phone to give the number a call. 1-888-982-2262(9) for those who can’t stand dialing by letter. The extra 9 is moot, but necessary to spell the title. First, the number flashed so fast that I thought it said 1-800.. I got the Alliance Data Help Desk. Obviously the wrong place. I rewound my DVR and saw that it was 1-888. I called. Nothing. I just got a ring then a disconnect. I tried several times with the same result.
I did try again the next night (just a few minutes ago) and finally got through. There is a very creepy message with a few options; 0 for operator, 1 to hear specials and 2 to make reservations. The operator was a bad voice mail, 1 talked about slashing prices and 2 asked me to leave a number and hit pound for them to get back to me.
So first things first. When you run a commercial with a phone number attached for more information, make sure the number works and the system can handle the estimated amount of calls you expect. Even the people who sell Chia Pet know that. Next, make it worth my while! If I, as a consumer, are willing to make the effort and take on the expense of chewing up my minutes to interact with your marketing, make sure I’m going to get something out of it. A chance to have dinner with Kate Beckinsale would be a nice start, but even a chance to sign up for advanced screenings or unlock special features on the web site.
This promotion reminds me of the one American Express ran with Lost. They gave a special URL to a landing page with esupposedly exclusive content. Wrong! To begin with, once you hit the site it said nothing would be available until the next day. Great way to lose 75% of your audience. Then, when the content was available, it wasn’t exclusive, at least not to the show. It was merely clips from that episode. You could get that on ABC.com any time you wanted, or YouTube for that matter.
In all I think it’s great that companies are trying to take advantage of new media and new strategies online. But, when they do run a promotion like this, the only way it is going to be effective is if something engaging is going to be offered and for promotions like this that have the potential to reach millions, make sure it works!
Oh yeah, make sure it includes Kate Beckinsale!

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