Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Ben Callner Made His Super Bowl Commercial

Tunewelders Ben Holst and Jeremy Gilbertson.

Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" winner Ben Callner's "Goat 4 Sale" commercial began with an idea about a ravenous Doritos-eating goat. Culminating the narrative he envisioned relied heavily on sound to sell the authenticity, dramatic tension and humor at play in his 30-second spot. He tapped longtime collaborators Tunewelder Music Group of Atlanta to make it work. Led by Music & Audio Post Supervisor Ben Holst, Tunewelders worked closely with Callner to hone the spot through sound design & editing, foley, voice-over, mixing and mastering.

To view "Goat 4 Sale," please visit:

"Ben Holst and Tunewelders put the project first," Callner said. "Other than being just really down-to-earth, excellent people, they go above and beyond to make sure that you're not only happy, but that everyone – including them – is proud of the final product. In something like the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest, I wouldn't think of going anywhere else. I know they're going to make whatever I give them, in whatever condition, sound absolutely fantastic."

"Ben has a way of theatrically pushing the envelope and making the absurd believable and not too cartoony," added Holst, who has collaborated with Callner on numerous film, commercial and interactive projects since the two first met on set during a film production in Atlanta in 2007. "A big part of that comes from his care for detail across the production, and with his deep musical background, that certainly extends to sound and creative where he's very hands-on. Even inside all the tedious work of syncing goat crunches, which fly by you in a matter of milliseconds, there's always an element of fun and general silliness working with him."

Capturing sounds unique to Callner's story required more than the SFX package and pre-cleared music that Doritos made available to all of its contestants. Greg Linton, location sound, provided a library of real goat crunches recorded on site. The tedious process of syncing the crunch sounds with the goat's chewing gestures needed to demonstrate both believability and comedic timing.

For the comedic payoff when the goat screams from apparent Doritos withdrawal, the challenge was finding the best voiceover performance for the scream, and then realistically syncing it. The solution involved Callner's childhood friend Keith Bahun and an iPhone.

"Goats actually have a distinct scream, so mimicking it with the human mouth was tough to cheat," Holst recalls. "We explored it all the way to the final delivery because it was so crucial to the punchline. A bunch of us had recorded some takes, but Ben still wasn't sold. Keith was known for this great scream, but he was all the way in Savannah, Ga. I said, 'iPhones make great recordings, just have him do a lot of takes and make sure he stands far enough away from the phone so it's similar in distance to the goat in the shot.' We managed to pull it off last-minute and it came out perfect."

Holst and Callner went beyond the obvious visual cues using Doritos' trademark mixed bag of crunch samples. For example, to intensify the goat owner's growing insanity as his pet incessantly snacks into the wee-hours, their sound design incorporated building several layers of different crunch sounds to embellish the moment.

For the final scene depicting the goat ominously hoofing it towards the owner in hiding, the team also enlisted foley work using the same prop hooves shot in the scene.

For Tunewelders, the project offered the opportunity to showcase what they have quietly been doing since launching four years ago: developing long-term relationships with national brands, production companies and agencies, and translating their ideas through sound and music.

"We love working with Ben," concludes Tunewelders Partner Jeremy Gilbertson. "When he has an idea, we generally don't say no because we believe in his talent and the longevity of his career. I'm sure everyone in our community who contributed their support and resources share the same belief, and we're honored to be among all the exceptional local talent who rallied behind him to help make the spot such a huge success. Great things are happening here in the music, film and entertainment sectors, so we're proud to represent Georgia and the City of Atlanta on the national stage."

Friday, February 1, 2013

What's In Your Camera Bag?

Guest blogger: Craig Kelly

"One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." – Benjamin Disraeli

Those of you who have read my rantings over the past year have no doubt seen that I mine the subject material from the LinkedIn group I started a few years ago called TV Camera Operators. With more than 3,000 members from so many countries, I lost count of where they all live. What is great about this resource is the sheer amount of eclectic answers received to questions posed there – intended for new or volunteer camera operators as they forge their way in the their new vocation – even if it is in a volunteer situation. Maybe even more if it is in a volunteer situation. It seems that many people like to share their personal experiences, stories and trade tips.

Photo courtesy of Petrol Bags.
With this article, I am taking a new look at a question that I posed months ago asking, what is in your camera bag? I know as a DP, there are a few items that you feel like you have to have with you on every shoot. Greg N. From Phoenix, Ariz., posed this question for the group a while back reprised as What is the single piece of backup gear that has 'Saved the Day' for you? We have had so many great answers from many group members; I thought I’d share some of them here:

Peter K • The spare tripod plate I keep in my emergencies kit in the glove box. I think hands down the most useful piece would be the roll of gaffa tape, got a small roll in my kit and again one in the car. 

Glenn N • A spare card for whatever camera you use. I've done it twice, ran out during a big shoot, once in a plane, I'm sure I'm not the only one. 

Stephen C • Clothes pegs. Out in the sticks where crocodile clips were as rare as hen's teeth, and the hired in lighting kit came without the means of attaching diffuser. Since then, I've always carried some and have used them for hanging scrim on para-cord when making makeshift hides for wildlife shoots. Also useful on still life and fashion shoots for pegging backdrops and cloths. Blue-tac is my other indispensable friend. Sun block and Avon Skin So Soft. I once got separated from my sun block on a doco shoot in a remote area and boy, did I burn........and Skin So Soft has so far proved to be a better midge repellent than Deet or any other proprietary insect repellent I have tried so far.

Olivia P • My leatherman pen knife. And a 20p coin for tightening tripod plates etc. Although gaffer tape is definitely a good one.

Greg N • Hi, I keep a few U.S. quarters in my bag for my camera plates!!

Jim N • The biggest and best inverter you can afford. No power, no pictures. In cold climates especially, batteries crap in half the time.

Charlie W • Duct tape. Good for everything....

Stephen C • Velcro ties for (audio) cables prevents them getting covered in sticky grunge. Freezer bag ties for keeping lapel mikes tidy. Insulation tape usually better than Gaffa tape as it's easier to remove and less damaging. Tie wraps (or zip-ties) provided I have some side cutters or knife to remove them. Yellow Gaffa usually reserved for taping cables down on floors. 

Matthew A • Gaffers' Tape and my multi-tool are super important but I use my tiny AAA, LED flashlight more than anything. When you need it though, bug repellent is the MOST useful!

Jillian B • led key ring torch for when you can’t see the tripod bubble.

Matt Q • I carry what I call my 'Gaffer Box' - It contains spare Gaffer tape (of course) a few basic tools including a gas soldering iron, some cleaning materials (bottle of IPA, swabs etc) a tin of small croc clips, fuses, some tripod screws, some VERY long nylon cable ties and a few spare phono, XLR and BNC connectors... A few odd lengths of wire stripped out a 3-core flex Oh; and a 'tub' of random-sized plastic clamp/clips from the DIY store... 'Saved the day' many times - usually when someone else's kit has let us down due to lack of prep/maintenance!

Conor L • Shower Caps - perfect for protecting lenses in downpours, fits snugly over a matte box too.

Jim T • HANDY is an ALTOIDS box, and coins, they make a great 'nose lift' when shooting off the ground.... Other favorites, MINI- leatherman with scissors, LARGEST Black trash bag you can buy for A) Raincoat, B) Camera rain cover, C) 'tarp' for other gear and kit bag.. I also routinely carry: 

Chris K • A backup camera: when traveling always have some kind of 2nd camera recording device. In case your #1 camera goes down for any reason.

DAVID D • My leatherman Wave, saved me on a shoot for Bob Dole once, had to tear apart a tape deck and clean it 10 minutes before show time. Had 2 minutes to spare!

Craig Kelly is a veteran free-lance, TV camera operator/DP with more than 25 years of experience. He writes these articles to be included in his blog found here at Often the subject matter comes from the 3,000 + global membership in the LinkedIn group he started for new camera operators and volunteer operators called TV Camera Operators. Kelly is also the International/North America Representative to the Guild of Television Cameraman as well as advisory board member for two colleges and two high schools in the greater Seattle area. In addition, he writes for Worship Musician Magazine and conducts workshops for new and volunteer camera operators. Kelly welcomes comments here or via email at