February 28
Production on the Run
Macs help M.A.D. race the clock for ski spots

by David Nagel
Senior producer

PROFILE: She's on the slopes Sunday by 8:30 a.m., shooting footage of skiers and collecting sound bites for the next 30-second spot promoting skiing in Vermont. Out of there by 1 p.m., she heads back to the shop and starts digitizing the betacam SP footage while she makes the coffee. It's the start of another weekly cycle for Marion Dane of M.A.D. Productions, a Vermont-based production house that's started a series of weekly spots for the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing.

The idea is this: Vermont wants to showcase the fresh powder that's on their ski slopes. But they don't want to use archived footage from years ago; they want to show people the conditions this season, so each week they launch a new 30-second spot showcasing mountain conditions from the current week. The footage shot Sunday begins airing Tuesday. The spots run in New York, Albany, Boston and Philadelphia, inviting tourists to take advantage of Vermont's ski conditions.

It's a daunting task for any small shop (in this case a one-woman shop): Produce compelling spots with professional graphics and sound virtually on the spot; handle editing and fulfillment; get it done in a week; and start the whole thing over again. But in this case, the shopkeeper, Marion Dane, founder of M.A.D. Productions, has some little beige and graphite elves to help her while she sleeps.

Campaign at a Glance
Vermont Tourism Weekly Promos

Production: M.A.D. Productions and DH Productions
Agency: Kaza Associates
Clients: Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing, Vermont Ski Areas Association, Cabot Creamery, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Platform: Mac with Media 100

Software: Adobe After Effects, Boris FX, DigiEffects CineLook, Media Cleaner Pro

It's a Mac thing
"I went into business for myself when the prices for broadcast edit systems became low enough for my needs," says Dane. "At that time, 1996, the only real editing systems were Mac-based. In my price range were Avid MCXpress and Media 100. At that time M100 boasted the best image quality, so I could use it as both an online and offline system. As I learned to use the Mac, I came to really enjoy it."

Good thing, too. With this latest project, she's practically married to her Macs—a Media 100 running on a 9500/200 upgraded with a Newer G3/300 card and an iMac DV SE. (Other hardware includes three Fast UW 18 GB Cobra disk arrays, Umax scanner, UVW-1800 Betacam edit deck, Sony A6 DAT for audio, Zip drives and Jaz drives. Her camera is a Sony BVW 400 (betacam SP) with wide-angle lens.)

"New tools were becoming available that had up until then been prohibitive in cost," Dane continues. "I could provide sophisticated graphics with After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop. Until recently that stuff was not even available on PC."

She adds: "I love the Mac. I became computer literate on a Mac, so using it is very natural to me—an extension of the way I think creatively."

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