It’s been awhile…

Wow. I didn’t realize until recently that it’s been over 6 months since I’ve updated this thing! Life has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I moved into the city back in December and the work just keeps coming.

One thing of note that’s happened to me, besides the previously mentioned move, is that I won a Silver Addy Award for this Family Guy/American Dad combo spot that I wrote, edited, and produced:

Family Guy/American Dad “Late Shift” from John Clements on Vimeo.

There was no grand, creative scheme behind it. Basically, I made something that made me laugh, and I think that shines through.

Also, I decided to give the site a face lift of sorts. It’s a little more sleek and streamlined. I especially like the top of the page that allows me to put videos for people to watch instantly, rather than have them navigate the depths of my Vimeo page.

Honestly, that’s about it. If you want to see some of my most recent work, check out my Vimeo page. There’s been plenty posted over there but I won’t bore you with 6 or so months of details about every little thing.

Simply Epic

With baseball season winding down (though post-season is creeping up fast), I wanted to do a promo the perfectly captured the pennant race. I wanted something epic. Something that screamed “this is the road to victory!”. After thinking about it for a while, “Oh Fortuna” popped into my head. It’s epic, over-the-top, and perfect for what I wanted to go for. It’s also kind of a cliché. However, in some cases, clichés work, and I feel that this was the case with this spot. After cutting the audio into a 30 second spot and cutting clips into time with the music, and putting in placeholder graphics, we sent the spot for graphical treatment up to Tribune Creative East in New York (our creative hub for the Tribune on the east coast). They also provided some sound design to beef up the audio of the spot. The end result is possibly one of the best spots I’ve ever produced.

Here is the final cut of the spot:

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

So I’ve been trying to expand my repertoire by learning and starting to use After Effects. A few weeks ago, I decided to take a crack at 3D animation within the program and came up with this test animation:

About a week after this, we began production on spots for a marathon for a show that PHL17 ran during the 1980’s called Dancin’ On Air. After considering the content and the potential audience for this marathon, I decided to have fun. Looking through clips on PHL17’s website, I came across this vintage Dancin’ On Air promo which ran during the mid-80’s.

So I thought it would be fun to tweak the copy from the spot to fit the marathon we’re doing. After Jim Cutler did a spectacular job doing V/O for the spot, I had the idea of trying to re-create the spot you see above. I must have sounded like mad scientist at work because I was laughing to myself as I was putting the spot together. The end result ended up being this:

It’s an interesting shift from 3D animations to making something look like it was made 30 years ago. It was a meticulous, full bore attempt at re-creating the spot and it paid off. The aesthetic look of it all goes against every modern notion that I would normally abide by. My general rule of thumb was, “No matter how awful I think it looks, if it looks retro, go with it.” When it was done, my boss put it best: “You really put on your 1986 cap for this one.” [I was born in 1987, in case you were wondering.]

But the retro fun, didn’t stop there. I was then asked to make a “Text to win” contest spot. Well, instead of doing something modern looking, once again, I decided to go retro. This time, I imagined what a text to win contest would look like if it was made in the 80’s. Here’s that result:

That spot has more wipes in the 20 seconds it runs for than I’ve probably used ever. I put the thick borders on them for an extra vintage touch. Once again, the idea was “think retro, no matter what.”

Overall, it was a fun project to work on. My brain still isn’t quite used to the retro aesthetic but it’s nice to know that I could do it if I had to/wanted to.

Start spreadin’ the news…

Recently, I was given the charge of creating a promo to promote our nightly news broadcast. Our sources were limited. Then, also recently, I created my first spot in After Effects using influences of kinetic typography. It was a spot for a client (which I will upload to my Vimeo account in a couple of weeks when the spot is no longer running.) Using the same basic idea, I pitched the idea of doing something similar for news spot. Ideally, we give the spot a more casual tone than most news spots, have fun with animating it, and create something that’s somewhat unique when it comes to promoting news. After writing a script and putting the spot together, the result was this:

My boss liked the spot enough to justify a “mini-campaign” of sorts, using similar situations to “…in the time it takes to deliver a pizza.” The result was these two spots:

These spots are a nice change of pace for me. I’ve been feeling that my work has become stagnant lately and this was a breath of fresh air. Plus, it gave me the chance to utilize a new skill in a practical way. It’s always nice when a project can be refreshing.

Who Knew Synthpop and Baseball Worked So Well Together?

Recently I was asked to come up with a new Phillies promo. I wanted to do something different from my last Phillies spot.

First, I wanted to do something short. Seeing as there’s only so much inventory for promotion, I wanted something short enough to be coupled with something else so we could fit more promos in the time available.

Second, I wanted to do something less conventional from what we’ve done. Something less… epic… I LOVE the epic promos we’ve done. They’re everything a great, intense sports spot should be. The heart-warming, feel good spots we’ve done are great too. I wanted to try my hand at something slightly different. So I went to my other love for inspiration: MUSIC.

I listened to some music from our music library and came across this interesting synthpop track. It had a driving beat and a drum roll at the end which gave me an idea for an effect in the spot, which unfortunately did not translate to Vimeo. The spot that was created is this:

At the time I had created this, the Phillies weren’t doing so hot when it came to hitting, so we decided to come up with an alternate spot, which highlighted the team’s pitching rotation. The spot that was created in this instance was this:

A week after this new spot was created, Chase Utley was due to return to the lineup. To celebrate his return, we decided to re-purpose the spot once again into this:

This particular spot ran only for the week of Utley’s return and then we’ve resorted to rotating between the previous two spots.

One idea was transformed into a series of spots. I enjoy these spots because they’re different. They’re simple but stand out because they’re different from other spots I’ve done. Sometimes, it’s worth stepping outside of the box you’ve set for yourself.

Expanding the Palette

I’ve been looking to expand my repertoire when it comes to what I can do in production. As a college professor once said to me, “Learn everything. The more you know, the better off you are.” Maybe not an exact quote, but a relatively close approximation. The one thing that has always been intimidating to me is After Effects. To someone that has absolutely no idea about the program, you start a project and just sit there and stare with your mouth agape wondering to yourself, “Where the hell do I start?” After watching some tutorials online to get acquainted with the interface and figuring out a few basic concepts, I wanted to take a stab a project of some sort. One day, while exploring YouTube I came across kinetic typography, or, in laymen’s terms, animating text that coincides with audio of some sort, be it music lyrics or an audio quote of some sort. While there are some EXCELLENT examples on YouTube, it was the more simple ones that drew me in such as, the ones that were a first or second try. I would look at these and figure out what I did and didn’t like about them and figured out what made them work. So, I decided to try my hand at it. My first, successful attempt at it is below, using a quote from Family Guy.

While, there are much better examples of this out on the web, this is my first step into incorporating something else into my repertoire. Is it great? No, but I think it’s not bad for a first attempt. I’m looking to get the chance to do more with After Effects. I don’t want to be a graphic designer, but I feel that this can make me more flexible with what I can do.

A Series of Fart Jokes

Recently I was asked to put together a contest promo for Family Guy in which we would be giving away the “Laugh It Up Fuzzball” Trilogy on DVD and a $50 gas card. Of course, if there’s one thing that Family Guy does well, it’s gas…

So I set out to make a contest spot that used the obvious play on words. If I had a nickel for every time someone farted or burped on that show, I would be a very rich man, which means I had a lot to work with. After finding bits that I thought were particularly funny, I wrote a script and put a 30 second promo together. The spot that was created was deemed “a little too much” for air. Here’s what the spot originally looked like:

We re-purposed this version for PHL17’s Facebook page and pushed the “too hot for TV” aspect of it to generate some videos plays for the website as well as interest for the contest.

So, after making some cuts and shuffling a few clips around, I was able to make a shorter (20 seconds compared to the original’s 30 seconds), cleaner, but still funny version of the spot which will start airing on May 16th. Here’s what will be shown on air:

While I have a preference for the original, the new cut works well, and I think the clip of Stewie saying, “Did you just make a fart joke?” works a lot better in this context.

Overall, it was something I really enjoyed putting it together. Who says you’re too old to enjoy a good fart joke?

P.S. The music is from the Family Guy episode “The Man with Two Brians” when New Brian is singing “The Fart Song” with Peter in the kitchen. I took the bit where they’re making fart sounds in the song and just looped it. Can you tell I had a lot of fun with this spot?

How are those TPS reports coming along?

Here is a spot for Family Guy and Two and a Half Men that I produced for WPHL-TV. I found the clip of Peter talking on the phone and thought it was the perfect basis for a spot. After kicking around a few ideas, I had the idea of Peter’s “boss” (played by Jim Cutler) calling Peter into “work”. I thought the bit with the vase flying and hitting Peter worked well with the random humor that Family Guy is known for. Overall, a very fun spot to put together and one of my favorites.

So much fun, it should be illegal…

This was a project that I especially enjoyed. As a fan of Family Guy (and to a lesser extent American Dad), when I was asked to put this spot together I was already mapping out quotes in my head and how I wanted it to go. For shows like this, I wanted to be kind of edgy without going over the top with it. I felt that the “F-U… N…” quote worked well as a basis for the rest of the spot. I came across Peter’s exclamation of “Holy crap!” by accident and I thought it was hilarious so I worked it into the spot.

There was a line of Roger from American Dad saying, “Oh, what fresh Hell is this?” that I wanted to use but it ended up hitting the cutting room floor. Maybe another time.

Enter the Hall of the Mountain King…

Here is a Phillies spot I produced and edited for PHL17 (WPHL-TV in Philadelphia) The graphics were done by William Lehan. This one was a bit of a slow burn. I pitched the idea back in January the week after the Mummers Parade (which PHL17 airs coverage of every New Year’s Day) and began working on it from there. The final touches for it were done about late February/early March and we updated it with this latest endpanel design earlier this week.

I had the idea for this spot one morning on my way to the work when I was listening to this same piece of music from The Social Network soundtrack. I knew some of the shots we had in our system and thought that this piece would be perfect to edit to.

After a conversation with a co-worker, I have an idea for another Phillies spot another classical piece. Can using well known pieces like this be cliché? Yes, but I think if used right, they can be very effective.