Video vanguard Squire Road studio played host to most popular campaign ad of the year; bigger things on the horizon

October 27, 2010
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One of the hottest new political commercials in the nation had its roots right on Squire Road at the Sound & Media Vision studios.

Republican 4th Congressional District challenger Sean Bielat released one of the most talked about campaign ads of the season last week that portrayed sitting Congressman Barney Frank (D-Newton) disco dancing. The heavily produced commercial includes older audio snippets of Frank predicting there would be no housing crisis while the video shows his head superimposed on a disco-dancing figure.

It ended with Bielat saying that Frank should stop “dancing around the issues,” and it’s created quite a splash.

It’s been featured prominently in the New York Times.

It was noted on Fox News.

It’s literally an Internet YouTube sensation.

Over the last week, it’s been laughed about in almost every American workplace and talked about in almost every media outlet.

And it all came to be right here in Revere.

Longtime studio owner and Revere native Howard Cook confirmed this week that eccentric, national political ad maker Ladd Ehlinger Jr. (who has become somewhat famous this election cycle for making “viral” videos for candidates to post on the Internet) had rented out the Revere studio and filmed the ad right on Squire Road.

“We have this great production facility with a large green screen and very modern lighting,” said Cook, who owns the studio with Mark Helms. “People come up and rent the studio a lot. This was a national company that specialized in political ads. They wanted to have a studio in the Boston area to shoot the ad and they choose us. So, yes, they did come in and they did shoot a whole production here last week.”

Cook and Charles Vitale, studio manager, said that the crew used a dance instructor to do several minutes of disco and hip-hop dance moves in front of the studio’s green screen. A green screen is similar to what weathermen use on television. While the audience sees a weather map, in reality there is only a bright, green screen behind the weatherman. The maps are actually added by computer and the viewer sees no trace of the green screen.

The same technology was used in the Bielat advertisement, where unusual backgrounds were inserted behind the dancer, and Congressman Frank’s head was also superimposed on the dancer.

Cook said the green screen studio is one facet of their business that has grown quite, mostly because they feature one of the best green screen studios in Greater Boston.

The Bielat commercial was a bit of excitement last week for the local studio, but far from the most excitement they’ve had.

Sound & Media Vision cut their teeth years ago on Centennial Avenue and Shirley Avenue as a recording studio.

They recorded for numerous famous bands, most recently doing work for Phish and also recording the first demos for Tracy Chapman.

And that’s only a very partial list.

That, of course, is ancient history for the company, which is now less of a recording studio and more of an advertising agency.

“Our business kind of metamorphosized until we bought this building on Squire Road a few years ago,” said Cook, noting that they are located in the old Dean’s Furniture building. “Basically, now we are an advertising agency and we have this great production studio.”

The agency now handles advertising for IParty, Herb Chamber’s car dealerships, Yale Appliance and Bernie & Phyll’s Furniture stores – among a long list of others.

Their production space is like a diamond in the rough on Squire Road, using more than 7,000 sq. ft. of the second floor to produce, film and edit many of the advertisements that are seen on television and the Internet.

Speaking of the Internet, Cook said that the company just recently started an Internet marketing branch, called C4 Analytics. That has sent them into the world of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google and the entire new world of Internet marketing.

“That’s the new Wild West for us,” he said. “If you want to be featured on the web we’re the guys and we can do it. We work with a lot of companies and individuals that want a high profile on the Internet.”

Cook said they’ve also produced some television content, including documentaries on motorcycle rallies, pinball machines and, most recently, on obscure, old rock songs.

Cook and Vitale said that last week’s shoot was pretty interesting and unusual, and they were glad they could bring positive acclaim to Revere.

“We really care about the city and are proud to say we are in Revere,” said Cook.

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