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Jay Silverman, Founder, Silverman Productions

Jay Silverman is celebrating 30 years in the advertising/marketing business and ten years in Jay Silverman Productions‘ 40,000 sq. ft. lot in Hollywood, where he offers still and video production and post for TV, Web and print. Silverman started out shooting stills with film cameras and moved on to become a shooter/director of film-acquired TV spots. He has always made a point of staying abreast of the latest technological improvements. He’s been using RED ONE cameras increasingly and is awaiting delivery of the new 5K-sensor RED Epic. He’s not married to any particular technology or approach to production, and he attributes much of his longevity in the business to that acceptance of constant change.

Go Daddy “Daddy Knows Best”
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What made you want to expand beyond the still photography you were having so much success with?
Silverman: It was almost 20 years ago that I recognized that if I wanted to stay vital, I’d have to wear many hats. I’m surprised that even today I see clients shooting expensive TV commercials and bringing in a still photographer. I usually do both. Clients will hire different people to do different things, but if you diversify, you have more opportunities to take on more work. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I call myself a hybrid.

What areas does that cover?
I’ll be asked to shoot a traditional television commercial. Also on the same request the client might want video content. That could include Webisodes or pop-ups with short QuickTime pieces—and there could be some complex synergistic approach that uses elements we shoot during production of the commercial with portions of the Webisodes. We can do it all. Ironically, the work is not necessarily all from same client. A company might have one agency for Web content, another for television and another for point-of-sale promotion.

Egg Innovations “Cage Free”
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How does this break down in a real-world situation?
I have a beer client—I’d rather not say who—but he came to me and said, “We want you to shoot a beer poster.” I still do a lot of print work. So I said, “You know, I can also do live action.”

“Really?”

“And we can also do a viral video for you if you want.”

He told me, “We’ve been thinking about doing that!”

“Terrific!” I said.

“And while we’re doing that, we should think about putting up a behind-the-scenes piece on your Web site.” I’ve taken what was a traditional piece of business and turned it into a gigantic piece of business.

Wonderful Pistachios
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You’ve said that it’s important to be aware of new technologies. How does the technology play into your hybrid approach to the work?
I just got a call from a client we work with on a lot of public service projects. This is primarily shooting a lot of people talking directly to camera. Usually we’ll take two Panasonic AG-HVX200 cameras, put them side by side with different focal lengths and cut them together, but in this case the budget was very tight, so I suggested we just use my RED camera.

By the time you lose the second camera and second camera assistant, it works out to be cheaper, and I can extract my wide, close and medium shots from my 4K “negative.” I use RED Rocket in-house to convert the .r3d files to ProRes, and we have an editor who works in [Apple] Final Cut Pro. We can shoot the piece, edit, pull stills, whatever the client needs, all in-house.

If that client had walked in in the olden days—meaning a year ago—I wouldn’t have been able to offer him that option.

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