Technical director, Widescreen Conversion Company
C Day (Conversion Day) will affect every TV ad on air in the UK spanning
the 1 July dateline. This means everything, from corporate campaigns to
the ad for the local takeaway.
The understanding of the issues raised is patchy. Like most things in
life ignorance is bliss, but if you work in TV advertising you cannot
ignore how C Day will affect you.
Broadcasters have held public seminars and worked with professional
bodies such as the IPA. They feel they have done their bit. My company
has conducted seminars for the more proactive of the London agencies,
facility companies and the advertising trade body ISBA. However, the
knowledge still only fits where it has touched.
From 1 April you can deliver new and redeliver existing ads in 16:9FH
compatible form. If you know the lifespan of a campaign runs beyond 1
July, act now. Extra playout time will be made available, but soon
demand will exceed supply.
Even then, the factor of international campaigns remains. The UK will be
the only widescreen territory for at least two years.
Available soon, in collaboration with the IPA/AFVPA, a CD-Rom entitled:
A Comprehensive Guide to Widescreen Television Advertising.
Head of TV, Roose & Partners
I started working on widescreen projects a year ago. I thought it was
going to be straightforward. It wasn’t. I thought everyone would know
what they were doing. Wrong again.
Since then the whole process has become easier. Everyone is more
comfortable but we are still on a learning curve. There are no short
cuts and the whole process can be rather confusing.
Learn as much as you can about the process - don’t rely on anyone
Make sure the production and post-production companies have talked to
each other before the shoot and agreed exactly what’s required. Mask off
the 16x9 area at the side of the agency/client monitor so everyone can
be sure that the important action is within the 4x3 area. Allow more
time in post to check and double-check the formats. Check whether
artwork or logos need to be supplied anamorphically. Educate your
clients so they understand the process (and why it takes longer).
Commercials being made now will have to be played out twice to comply
with the regulations, so make sure you know your media plans so you can
co-ordinate the changeover of masters smoothly. It’ll be a lot simpler
after C Day, when only one master is required. But even then, check,
check, check again. Or it’ll come back to haunt you.
Sales administration director, Carlton
The move to get commercials on to a widescreen format is a natural step
for most broadcasters. There are an increasing number of programmes
being made in widescreen both domestically and abroad and it is logical
for us to want to make our on-air presentation look as good as
From 1 July not only will commercials be in widescreen but promotions
and station idents will also be changing so that all programme junctions
will have the same appearance.
There was a long debate whether to go for a phased changeover or a big
bang and there are a number of technical reasons for choosing the
The main one is that to switch aspect ratios in between commercials is a
high-risk option and there is danger of clipping the start of the
following ad. Certainly not something that I would be prepared to
We have worked closely with the IPA and Jonathan Davies from Leo Burnett
who chairs the IPA digital working party and they were instrumental in
agreeing the way forward. The broadcasters would not have gone ahead
with the plan unless they had had their co-operation. The timing was
never going to be an easy or popular decision either. Whenever the
change happens there will always be a reason for doing it another
Managing director, Stark Films
The penetration of widescreen television ownership in the UK is more
than 60 per cent. This percentage is far higher among owners of larger
sets and 100 per cent for those who have bought into digital television
Some retailers no longer sell 4x3 screens. These figures would indicate
that the market is certainly ready to switch over to widescreen
Given the amount of access production companies have been offering to
the technology behind widescreen (be it through facility companies,
consultants, etc) there has been ample opportunity to understand any
impact the switch will have.
A number of clients have insisted on widescreen format on all
commercials produced for the past two years. So, although C Day might
seem to have crept up from nowhere, there has been a general shift in
The rest of Europe is lagging behind. However, manufacturers are
aggressively promoting DVD this year, with film distributors benefiting
from the simplicity of transferring releases on to widescreen video and
a dramatic increase in consumer demand. Europe may have to take on
widescreen much faster than we have had to. And I’m not sure they’re
very ready at all.