How We Did It: Long John Silver’s

I have a confession to make.  This admission does not come easy for me. I just can’t keep this inside any longer.  Okay, here it goes:  I love editing food commercials, in particularly montage food spots. There, I said it.  Happy now? 


Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing quite like the magic of cutting talented actors reciting kitschy dialogue or the challenge of getting a 35-second rough cut down to a :30.  But the abstractness of the food montage is one sexy siren.  Food spots are sometimes about telling a story, but montage food spots are all about desire; they’re about evoking a basic carnal need: sustenance!

i.e., food porn.

Now, we all love looking at food.  Food selfies are taking over the internets as we speak.  That’s why broadcast food production clients are so coveted.   Montage food spots aren’t rocket science, although there is a formula of sorts.  The success of a food commercial can be broken down as such: time manipulation + framing = finding the moment.  Traditionally, food is shot over-cranked – that is, high speed.  Meaning?  Slo-motion!  That enables the editor to manipulate the frame rate to compress time.   Think “300″ fight scenes without all of the subtle homoerotic flare.  This technique has various names, but the most common is motion ramping.

On Set - Guthrie, OK


So, what purpose does this serve?  Why does one employ motion ramping?  Well, if you’re Zack Snyder you use it as a creative crutch due to its coolness factor.  I utilize this modus operandi for the soul purpose of finding the moment:  You have 47 takes of 3 shrimp bouncing off a counter.  Which one is the best take?  Is there a best take?  If there is, how does one decipher such things?  I was taught by ML Nelson of Noonday Pictures that in order to recognized the moment, one needs just but a single trait:  instinct.  How does one acquire that instinct?  Experience. It takes time to develop this creative muscle.  Honestly, it took me a couple of years to truly get it down.  But, once I did, I got pretty good at developing those instincts.


In the case of this Long John Silver’s spot, I had the privilege of utilizing this technique often.  I was lucky enough be partnered with the most collaborative and well prepared teams.  In fact, comparing the first rough cut to the final version, the differences are minimal.  We were dealing with a very savvy client who could actually talk shop!




At See Spot Run we love joining forces with clients who’s only goal is to make the best spot possible.  LJS wasn’t afraid to take risks and were open to everyone’s input, no matter how kooky. That’s how we ended up with this awesome national piece!


>>  By JEFF AYALASenior Editor



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