When did commercial video production start looking like blockbuster films

Jan 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Ambient Skies Productions Blog

Posted by John Schaus

Remember when commercials were straightforward presentations of the product being used/enjoyed as the "star" of the spot? Celebrities or spokespersons were basically window dressing. Well, that hasn't been the case since the 1980s when some major game-changers began appearing; for example, the advent of CGI opened countless doors to directors' imaginations and creative license. CGI is a huge contributing factor as commercials directors' bodies of work now look/feel more like time-condensed sweeping scenes from a box office hit. Evolution of more affordable and accessible technology has raised the bar when it comes to captivating the audience's attention, thereby creating a higher standard for directors.

commercial_video_production_by_tony_scott_for_dodgeTony Scott, (Ridley's younger brother) was one of the most prolific award-winning commercials and film directors ever. Producing hundreds of commercials as well as action-packed films, music videos, and television shows, he definitely made his mark. Directing films such as Top Gun and True Romance, his commercials also always had a certain energetic flare and panache. Ridley, who first mentored and later worked side by side with Tony, has stated that his brother had a passion for cars; and he certainly produced many auto spots, including commercials for BMW, Saab, Dodge Ram and Buick. Whatever the product, Scott's inimitable style had its own hallmark; his commercials always came across like a big screen event. His final commercial prior to his suicide in 2012 was for Diet Mountain Dew and featured Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban offering a diehard fan of the soda wealth beyond his wildest dreams if he'd just let Mark have the final Dew in the convenience store cooler. It also had a shot of a speedboat blasting through the water—classic Scott. His Italia Telecom work featured Marlon Brando and Woody Allen.

You can check out some of his best at http://www.rsafilms.com/usa/directors/film-tv/tony-scott/featured.

By age 26, Michael Bay won a gold Clio for his very first commercial for The American Red Cross. His story-telling and presentation made him one of the most desirable commercials directors. Propaganda Films produced a number of his high-energy, witty commercials for clients including Budweiser, Nike, Bugle Boy, Miller, and the Got Milk? campaign. Destined to be successful in his crossover to film, Bad Boys, Armageddon and most recently the Transformers franchise are proof of his extraordinary talents. And it all started with commercials!

Jonathan Glazer is another phenom in the world of commercial video production. His Stella Artois "Devil's Island" commercial, as well as two others for the Belgian beer, made expert use of a period setting, a large cast and a well-told story. Many of his spots run 100 seconds or more, opening the pathway for other directors to follow suit as best they can, using a longer running time to capture the audience with more dramatic scenes and plots, not to mention incredible backdrops.

Check out http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/director-jonathan-glazer-his-10-best-commercials-20140331 to witness some of his best work.So step it up, you developing commercials directors—it's a whole new competitive ballgame, but there's always room for fresh, innovative ideas and new talent!

Additional Resources:

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