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Karan Johar's birthday celebration and the art of shooting advertisements during a pandemic

From writing to direction, all aspects of producing an advertisement are being worked on from home.

May 31, 2020 / 01:39 PM IST
India ad spends are expectred to see a growth of 23.2 percent to reach an estimated Rs 80,123 crore this year.

India ad spends are expectred to see a growth of 23.2 percent to reach an estimated Rs 80,123 crore this year.

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What did actor-director Karan Johar do on his 48th birthday at a time when leaving the house is not an option due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown? Johar posted a picture of him on Instagram sporting grey hair and told people he is available for fatherly roles.

This one post was enough for Godrej Consumer to approach Johar to advertise their hair colour Godrej Expert Rich Crème. That's exactly what Johar did.

Johar made a video of him using the hair colour at home and shared it on the social media platform with the hashtag ‘#ColourLikeKaran’. He also shared a tutorial on colouring hair at home. 

This is how advertisements are being made in times of the novel coronavirus pandemic. From writing to direction, all aspects of shooting advertisements are happening at home.

"First your writing has to be done keeping in mind place constraints. We even ask actors to give us a virtual tour of the house to help us know what all props can be used while shooting the ad. It's not easy to include new elements. So, we have to make use of whatever is available," Rajesh Ramaswamy, Founder, The Script Room told Moneycontrol.


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The Script Room, a writers’ hub, has created over 40 ad films across brands including Netflix, Oyo, Chumbak, Beck’s Ice and Groww, a financial services app.

The director of photography, commonly known as DOP, now has to check online the lighting, angle and other aspects at the actor or model's place before shooting. 

"You also have to write scripts that are not dialogue heavy. I think montage films are becoming one way of doing it (ads) but advertisers are looking at other ways of exploring," he said.

While some brands are using existing footages to make montages, others are asking models and actors to shoot short video clips at home and then turning the montage into a full ad film.

Another common and important aspect in an ad is the voice over. The process to include the voice over an advertisement has also changed. 

Before the lockdown, a voice artist would go to a soundproof studio and record lines using a good quality microphone. After this, the sound would be edited and processed by sound engineers.

"Currently, it is mostly done at the artist’s place, recorded on their phones, and worked on further by the sound engineer. And for actors, we sort of avoid dubbing and try and capture live audio (by keeping the air conditioner/fan off and so on)," said The Script Room’s Ayyappan Raj.

He also highlighted the smaller crew size. "While currently the crew size has come down due to space constraints, this will continue even when shooting of ads resume." He added that advertising agencies had appealed to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to let them resume shooting with a crew of around 20 people.

"A usual crew size consists of 100 people, crew from different departments from lighting to catering to costumes, etc." Raj said.

"Before a shoot, we do a recce of the venue even this will change and a lot of things will happen over zoom meetings," he added. 
Maryam Farooqui
first published: May 31, 2020 01:39 pm
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