AD's 2

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PPM – Pre Production Meeting

“Elementary, my dear Watson”, Sherlock Holmes”  - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes , (1939) 

PPM

A PPM – Pre Production Meeting which exits in advertising is a meeting of the Client, (which includes the brand team), the agency (which includes creative and client servicing) and the production house (which is represented by the director and producer and rarely the DA as well) So what happens at a PPM? And when does a PPM happen? This meeting is organised so that all parties involved are happy with the direction the AD film or Campaign is headed. This meeting happens ideally a few days before the commercial is shot so that there is enough time in case changes are required to be made and checked before the film gets shot. Sometimes because of lack of time, (because of deadline or non availability of important people’s times) these meetings also happen the night before the shoot but those times it’s very difficult to make large changes.  There are also sometimes a Pre PPM which has the agency creative and the director meeting to see if the progress is being liked creatively. There are at time also 2 or more than 2 PPM held if the client wants to see the changes before the ad film goes on floor.      




So what gets discussed at the PPM, almost always it’s everything that you can think of. Only rarely the client is happy going over only a few things as he trusts the agency and the director to make the right decisions for the brand. The contents of a PPM are agency script and storyboard (if any), director’s treatment note, director’s storyboard, location options, references of costume, hair and makeup, art (set and props), style, look n feel, colour palette etc. computer graphics references (if there is any style or technique that needs clarification on) The cast, (along with options) the crew, and the schedule. Not all these are present always but depending on the ad they are included or not.

The PPM is presented with different materials depending mostly on what the director is used to and what is available. Most of the material are put together either on a word docket or power point slide presentation and sometimes it’s even prepared on photoshop. These are printed into dockets which are distributed at the PPM. These dockets also help the director in showing the rest of the crew what direction he is taking the film. For rest of the PPM different material is used if possible and as and where it is possible, some of which is explained below.

The agency script and storyboard are kept intact the way it was sent to the production house. As most of the times these have already been shared with the client.

The Directors Storyboard and treatment note includes his vision for the ad, while talking of the finer details that would be looked into and the style, look and feel or various parts of the ad are mentioned here. The treatment note mostly concentrates on what the director is bringing to the table, and what the main focus would be, casting, or style or look would be talked of more than the rest.

Location options are shown (if there are options) via pictures which were taken at a recce of the place, sometimes video is also shown to understand geography of a place especially if it’s complicated. If it’s a set then those references fall under art.

References play a big role here in the PPM as the director presents these to show what things would look and feel like. Most of the times images are used to show the references for each section. 
For ART there are miniature models of set that are carried to the meeting sometimes and also some key props are also presented as lots of times the physical prop is better to judge than images. There are also 3D images of the set showing what the set would look like in scale. Different level  drawings and as much as detail required is shown. There are also separate images shown sometimes for what the finish would look like. Sample of floor colour or texture or a colour chart for colour of walls is also show if these are critical. 
For COSTUMES besides the design drawn there are material pieces and colour choices shown if possible, sometimes the entire outfit is also presented if it’s ready by the PPM. This happens when the costume plays a very important part of the story. There are times when pictures of costume fittings / trials are also presented. HAIR n MAKE UP gets a mention and style is stressed upon if it plays a key role. If it is a character look then sometimes pictures of the style or a test is done and presented to the client as to what the final look would be like. This mostly happens in skin or hair products.
LOOK n FEEL,  COLOUR PALETTE and STYLE are mostly included in the directors treatment note, but sometimes there are images which are presented which helps the director explain what he is looking at to take the film towards. Sometimes it’s just part of the image that might be of interest and therefore an explanation along with it is a must.
CG references are shown if a explanation of how the film is to be shot is shown, this is done as most of the time during a VFX heavy film only the director and the VFX specialist along with a few of the crew understand what’s going on. CG also gets shown for product window sections where it at the most used to display the clients main product. It’s good to have this plan cleared at this stage as that helps in saving precious time and heading in the right direction.

The Cast is presented by DVD’s, CD’s and even though a DV camera connected to a TV. These are mostly auditions of the cast done by a casting director or rarely work done by the actor if they are not available for the audition (in case the director really feels that this actor would work for the film). Images of the cast are also show sometimes to show what they look like in makeup. Sometimes only the main cast is presented and rest are left to the agency and production house to choose. (mostly done when there are a lot of characters to the film)

Lastly as a formality the key crew is listed out, this mostly happens when a specialised person has been hired to do a specific purpose. Like a hair stylist from abroad or a recognised DP etc. The schedule gets a mention so that deadlines can be clear and people can keep themselves free on dates for presentations. 

On a average PPM’s last for 2 – 3 hours there are times when they do get over much faster if all are happy with the approach and can get longer if debates break out on any topic. So sometimes these discussions are solved by having another PPM at a later date with the changes made. Depending on situation to client the more different kind of materials used could impress and in certain cases the least amount used can also be impressive. There are sometime details are held back like CG in PPM’s as its better to have finished the job and shown what it would look like than trying to explain and losing out a good idea at a discussion stage. The presentation material should definitely have clients name, product name, project, agency, production house names mentioned somewhere on the presentation (mostly at the beginning).

There is also another pre meeting which in cases is also called a PPM. This involves all the crew who meet up for before shoot. This PPM involves all departments (ideally) at the same time so that the director can brief all in one go and discussions between all happens in one go. Details of this kind of meeting I shall elaborate on later. 

Auggieism:- What do you call a lazy  Auggie who delays his work... . 
Ans:- Slaggie..





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Monday, July 12, 2010

Digital v/s Film

Came across a interesting site so thought I would share it with people who are interested in the camera field.
The test results make good learning not just for DP's but for others as well as it might help them chooses the course that want to take their projects in. There are tests done and results compared between film and the current digital cameras.
Following is the link to the site where there are 3 episodes of the tests done in 2010 -

http://www.zacuto.com/shootout

Enjoy.





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Friday, July 2, 2010

Wanna be a..... Director

“This isn’t personal, Kay. This is business”, Michael Corleone - The Godfather , (1972)

Wanna be a..... Director

Want be part of the glamour but don’t know what to do.? Can’t make up your mind if you want to be a Director or a Cinematographer or a Music Director... read on as I give you an insight which no film school will ever tell you. This blog is on if you Wanna be Director.  Most of this is based on my experience in India and figures would vary as time passes.





POST: Director

JOB PROFILE:

A Director is the leader of the project mainly in terms of vision and direction. He is responsible for decision making and it’s his style and effort that shows in the end. He is responsible for the acting, style of shoot, the technical direction etc. The director is the one who takes it from the story to the screen, he also participates in choosing the team, at least that of the key crew,(mainly the head of the departments) also the cast gets finalised only after the director’s approval. He has meetings with head of almost all departments before the film goes into production and also has rehearsals with the actors sometimes (if time is available) He uses scripts, storyboards, references when meeting with these departments to show and explain to the team what he feels the film should look and feel like.
Lots of time the director becomes or feels like an answering machine. A yes or no, eg, when costumes come back after the briefing with references then it’s the director who says yes or no to colours, material and so on and so forth. Same goes with all other departments. The director has also to work with the post team, influencing the grade of the film, with the editor to check for cuts and the flow of the story etc.

EXPERIENCE REQUIRED:

Anyone with a vision can become a director, there are people who become directors based on experience, some on qualification, and some just by the influence they bring. 
Experience can be gained by working closely with good and bad directors, working with different people show you different styles of working, also different production houses also function differently, so it helps in choosing a way that suits your style and also one that is right for production. 
For people who are new to the industry and wants to be part of it, there are various courses that one could take up  to learn the art. These days one can graduate with a BMM degree – Bachelors in Mass Media, this is a 3 year course and teaches you the basics of all media related industries including journalism, market research. Although this course does not prepare you for direction, it gives you a overall about media. There are also government run institutes like the F.T.I.I. - http://www.ftiindia.com/ and private ones that offer specialised and general courses for those who have already done their graduation. One could also choose from courses abroad like 



You could also check these site’s out which has a list of schools from across the world



The way to choose the best schools to learn is check the course duration, the syllabus, topics covered, the teachers, their real life experience with film making, what are the practical’s the course offers, the library, and of course the fees, if one is leaving their country then place to stay and those expenses of upkeep also have to be kept in mind while choosing what’s best for you.  
If you trying to get through this industry then you better hope that you come from  a family with a lot of influence in the industry or are just plain rich to finance your ventures.

TIMINGS:

Depending on experience and how quickly he can make decisions the time spent by directors at work may vary. During the shooting phase the director almost always is there from the start to end. (except during pre light) the time and effort of Pre and post varies. 

Documentary directors = since a lot of research goes into documentary’s lots of time the research time is the same as shoot as usually the documentaries is made up of findings and interviews which are usually shot at the first attempt. In other words the amount of time spent would be equal to the passion towards the subject.  

Daily soap / Serials = minimum time few hours a day ranging from 2-6 hours during the planning days, and during shoot depending of the availability of actors and locations the time on shoot days are the normal one and half shift, to even 2 shifts sometimes.  

News (non news episodes) / Mtv kind of serials (where the director and producer are the same person) = usually full days ranging from 8 – 12 hours or even more, most f the times these are hired employees so office timings would apply,  the shoot timings are generally ranging from one shift to 2 shifts.

Promos and Advertising = depending on the team provided and the quickness at which the director takes decisions’ time spent could be ranging from 8 – 12 hours to sometimes even 20 hours if things don’t fall in place in pre (especially just before PPM’s and shoot days). During shoot which usually lasts 2- 4 days generally, it’s a similar one and half to 2 shifts.

Features = depending on the time spent in Pre production the director would give that much of time per day. Since pre in feature films usually take months the director usually doesn’t need to kill himself at office every day, time spent could be ranging from 2-4 hours on a average to 6-8 hours on some days. Most of these are time spent in meetings. Shoot lasts sometimes for months, and mostly its the standard one and half shift per day.

PROFITIBILITY:

Documentary Directors – depending on if it is commissioned or if it is being done out of passion one could make nothing to a few thousands. Documentary’s are rarely very profitable monetarily at least. The commissioned ones, at least some of them do make a decent amount.

Daily soap / Serials – directors here get paid per episode usually, though some do get monthly salaries. Money ranges from 10,000 Rs per episode to 25,000 Rs per episode could go up to 80k approximately which is mostly for weeklies. So on a average it could range between 40k – 80K for beginners to 80K – 4lacks per month as experience increases.

News / Mtv kind of serials – here the amount of money the director makes is in the hands of the director himself, especially if he is a freelancer and not on pay roll. What generally happens is a budget is given to the director and the amount he saves is up to the way he plans and makes deals with the crew they are hiring.

Promos and Advertising – the money made here depends on the deal made with the producer, the two ways are the director chargers a fee for the project (usually when the director is a freelancer or a beginner) or a percentage of the profit. In the first case a director could make 1 to 2 lacks per day of shoot or a higher deal as agreed between him and the producers. Sometimes the deal also works in percentages of total budget, 2% - 15% of the figure usually.  As far as percentages go a beginner could make anywhere between 10% - 15% and this could go up to 60% - 80% as experience and demand goes up.  

Features – experience plays a huge role in the figure that a director makes. A first time director could make 5- 9 lacks for the film and as experience and hits come his way the figures could go up and there is no end figure that one could say he could make.

THE TEAM:

The director is the captain of the ship and all are the crew that get hired to work for him. The immediate people who report to him is the direction team which is made up of DA’s and AD’s. The DA – Director’s Assistant sometimes also doubles up as a assistant director, and the number of assistants hired depends on the budget so ranging from 2 – even 7 and 8. The rest of the crew are Production and their team, line prouder and his local team, DOP and his team, camera, lights, grips, gaffer, special equipment like crane or a Milo, costume’s, hair and make, stunts team, VFX team, transport, caterers, food stylists, and the list goes on and on. The hiring of these are obviously based on requirement.

So now that you know what it is about being a director you can decide if you want to be one or specialise in some other department. Remember a director like any sportsperson is only as good as his last film, so if you have the talent for it I would say go for it and all the best.

Auggieism:- What do you call a loyal Auggie... . 
Ans:- Doggie..





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Friday, June 25, 2010

Cannes and Goafest Silver Winner

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) - The Godfather , (1972)


TIDE 

A Visual presentation made for awards to represent print, 
done for Leo Burnett through Pumpkin Pictures and directed by me.


Tide won the SILVER under the category - 'Household products and maintenance' at the Goafest 2010
Check page 3 - 


Goafest 2010 Results

This has now also won a SILVER at the CANNES 2010 for Design for the year 2009Check page 2

Cannes lions 2009 winners_Design_Lions_Winners


In order to help the design this video was made to send for the nominations..




Mc Donalds

Also directed by me for awards was a film for Mc Donalds
again done for Leo Burnett through Pumpkin Pictures. 





Auggieism:- What would you call Auggie's winning a silver in short. 
Ans:-  Ag winner.
Ag - "Atomic Name for Silver"








atomic number 47. now get the rest....





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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Post Production Tips Part – 1


"I was Sheriff of this county when I was 25 years old. Hard to believe." – No Country For Old Men

Post Production Tips Part – 1
Following are some of the most basics tips that people who want to do well as Post Production Managers should keep in mind, this applies for all media, be it Advertising, TV, or even feature films be it Bollywood or Hollywood. These tips will help you no matter if you are in India or any other country.





1. Attitude & Relationship
Having the right attitude is strangely the most important factor in being a good post production manager, experienced or otherwise a bad attitude could make your working with all post houses, directors and production houses the most horrific experience that you or they could have. The right balance of pleasantness’ and professionalism are a must. One should be friendly enough to win peoples favours and stern enough to get work done. Technology is at a rapid change and a learning attitude is a must from all, those who have been around for generations to the fresher. Watch learn and if possible invent new ways of doing the same process faster and more efficiently.
2. Technical knowledge
If you want things to work for you smoothly technical knowledge is a must. Any post whether AD films, Features, Bollywood or otherwise, Tv Serials or Documentaries involve more than one machine, and knowing the machine’s capabilities only help in speeding up the process and avoiding situations where work may have to repeated. Example knowing while digitising to run the project at 24 or 25 frames so that later you don’t have to do it again, or the required video output to take for sound, how many tapes would be required to dump your rushes onto etc. Basically it saves time energy and a prepared post production manager saves a lot of money for the production house and keeps everyone happy. I don’t say that the person handling post should know how to operate the machine, but know what the machine is capable of, for compatible issues, and for man & time management. What I mean is knowing what a machine can do gains respect of the operator and he in turn does not take you for a ride. How does one gain such knowledge if one is a fresher, train under a professional, read books, manuals, most importantly ask questions when you start. It’s the right time to gain as much knowledge when you ask questions, especially since all knowledge does not come from manuals, know that different people operate differently and most of the times there are different ways of achieving the same end result.
One major problem of fresher’s especially freelance is that they tend to say that they know how to do the particular job when actually they don’t, so while lying might get you your first few jobs it will spread a bad name for you across people. Its better to admit that you don’t know but you will definitely figure it out.
Whatever said and done while equipment and software’s go though changes the aesthetics of the operations usually stay the same. So learn the basics well and the rest will follow easily.
3. Planning & Buffer
Almost all your technical knowledge comes in handy in this process. This step of planning happens when the job get commissioned and usually there is more time to plan the job than there is to actually do the job, so a schedule is made from the time of shoot to the delivery date or deadline. Depending on the time available for post, a good plan is what lets everyone do their jobs on time and peacefully with the required breaks. I will get into details and tricks of planning in a later blog. For fresher’s the best thing to do is ask someone senior what bookings to take, speak to the director and or the editors and sound engineers for how long to take bookings, keep in mind overlaps of bookings, like sound and online where the director would have to be present in 2 places at the same time. For those who are experienced would know by reading the script how long it would approximately take to for the jobs, also knowing the directors style also makes a difference in knowing how to book. All said and done don’t forget to schedule in buffers, these help in keeping time for changes after completion of work or machine faults like hanging etc, don’t forget to cancel buffer bookings so that cancellation charges don’t get applied or people have to waste their time for last minute cancellations.
4. Food
Don’t forget food during your bookings, order on time so that people working for you don’t have to work on empty stomachs. If you are not going to be present at that time when the booking is going on make sure that you either order from wherever you are located and also have left money back with someone (pantry / peon / asst) so that people working for you don’t have to worry for these things and concentrate on the main job. A empty stomach is a grumpy worker, keep in mind to ask what they would prefer to eat and if they would prefer Veg over Non Veg also if they are allergic to any kind of food. If necessary set a alarm so that you order early enough so that you are not starving when it’s time to eat. Another thing to remember is if other people are expected at that time like agency’s or clients and order sufficient for all to eat. Don’t forget to keep a tab on the monies as you don’t want to be embarrassed with food arriving and not sufficient money in your pocket or have the producer yelling at you for spending too much money food through the project.
5. Market knowledge & Contacts
Knowing the market, which is where are the studios, distance between them, how much do they cost, what are the equipments available with them are great to know. This helps in speeding up the process for your planning as you can then quickly decide where and whom to work with, also to offer suggestions to directors what are the available options especially when his favourites or regulars are not available. This knowledge comes most handy when there is crisis and a job has to be delivered urgently. Maintaining your contacts and relationships with studio managers and operating personal makes it easier for you to win bookings in your favour especially if there is a clash with another party. It’s also important to know what’s happening in the industry and who has done it, like a new VFX heavy film, or a animation film, or even a simple but good looking pack shot. This again helps in your planning for the post who to go with, it’s usually is better to go with the ones who have done similar stuff to what your looking for as they come with experience behind them and generally have already figured out the kinks in the armour. Knowing who has done what also comes most handy while doing voice overs so that the right kind of voice could be suggested to save time and a lot of back and forth. If your a beginner don’t worry as you move from studio to studio you will increase your contacts especially if your a friendly person.
6. Systematic
This is one quality that most of the post production guys lack, and because of which they cause a lot of stress to most people working with them. Being systematic come with habit and practice, like as simple as just labelling tapes and Cd’s when they just receive them. As a beginner or even if you are experienced just remember to put some system in place, it helps as if a new person takes over its easy to understand and hand over jobs. Just follow things like
a) Label all material when you receive it, (carry your own makers around if need be)
b) Keep cue sheets along with all material to tell you what’s in it. This saves time when looking for old material.
c) Make sure there is a library sort of system which tells anyone where and how to source the material they would be looking for.
d) Keep backups of all important materials that could get lost or damaged.
e) Always carry your schedule of bookings on you so that you could refer to it at any given time.
f) Communicate with directors, producers, editors etc so that all people are aware of what they are doing and everyone is on the same page.
g) Form a method for yourself to keep your bills and accounts in order.
h) Always keep a note of no of hours used on a project so that you could figure how much you have spent vs. how much was budgeted for.
All in all being systematic helps you to on top of all things, especially if you are working on multiple projects at the same time. Also if one has to step out of a project for whatever reason it is easier to hand over and explain if you are systematic.
7. Backup’s
The biggest confusions on jobs and the reason for waste of a lot of peoples time and energy is lack of backup’s. What does one back up? Usually the stuff that could get lost easily and stuff that would be required in the future is necessary to be backed up. Music sessions, CD’s and DVD’s that contain Logos, or graphics, are usually the most important to have backed up. Master films on tape, archive tapes are another form of backup so that one doesn’t have to keep going to the online machine to get copies. If you are sending rushes across by courier or some route that could lose it keeping a backup sometime help save a lot of time, this usually gets done when one is going abroad to finish the film. (this though is not a standard practice and would depend on the situation). You could keep your backups on one computer on a single drive marked backups or in external storage devices like hard disk’s or CD’s, DVD’s etc
8. Accounts
Keep track of all your accounts, monies spent on travel and on food and beverages, this is the second most painful thing for someone working on post as it takes away too much time and is usually quite boring and a mess. The simplest and the most difficult thing to do is to keep track of your expenses especially if you are working on multiple projects. The trick to not getting hassled is to do it everyday, carry a pocket note book and keep entering the expenses that you spend as you do it marking which project and details of name of hotel, how many people ate (asked by some producers or accountants later) the travel from where to where and having a reason for going from place to place helps to answer questions later as to why there was so much travel expenses on the project, its easier if one has written it down. If your finding it difficult to carry a notebook you can use your cell phone, most of them come with notes and you could use this application to full use, or just use. Try and enter your accounts daily into the various sheets (ideally do it on a computer as that gives you a backup straight away, also takes away the human error for calculation or bad handwriting) Keep a note of the advances on each project and settle them before taking more on the same project. Keep the money and bills in separate envelopes if you are working on multiple projects, helps not to spend more than budgeted also avoids the mixing of your personal money from the advances.
9. Bills
These are not your food bills but the ones generated by the various studios, always keep a track of the number hours taken on a project as a producer may ask you at any given time, this determines if one is within the budget or should one keep in mind while doing changes. The way to keep a tab is to make a note of it at the end of every booking on the schedule that was made at the beginning of the project. Also don’t forget to make a note of the people that you worked with especially if they would be sending you separate bills for their work. Even though you may have put in lots of hours at the job make sure that the job receipt (challan) is made and signed by you, if not done usually you would notice how the number of hours have been increased even if its by a hour or so. Knowing how much each studio or a job costs also helps so that one is not singing on a higher than necessary amount.
Keep these pointers in mind and you will suddenly notice how smooth projects go for you, there will be an increase in your demand and in turn also have made a lot of friends and money for the work.
Auggieism:- What would you say if Auggie put on a lot of weight
Ans:- Poggie..




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