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August 2014
Issue: July 1, 2007

AN AVENUE IN CHICAGO GOES HD

By: Randi Altman
A year ago next month, Jonathan Turk purchased Chicago-based post house Ave-nue. Since then the company, which also has an edit division called Rival in Santa Monica, moved into new space — 33,000 square feet — and outfitted it with all-new HD gear.

When you consider that 90 percent of Avenue’s business is commercials this says a lot about how quickly Turk thinks HD spots will become commonplace “even though probably less than a quarter of our clients are currently asking for it. But we expect that to increase dramatically,” he says. “We have clients who don’t want their SD spots sandwiched between two HD spots. It might be great but if you are watching on an HD television, and it gets shrunken down, it gives you a bad feeling.”

With the new space, Avenue now offers 14 HD editing suites housing Avid Media Composers and three Apple Final Cut Pro rooms. Their in-house graphics division, called Somersault, features two Smokes and one Flame running on Linux. Their new routing system is all HD. “This is important because if audio is working on something, they can just transfer it up to the editor,” says Turk. “It makes the experience much more efficient.”

In addition to HD work being on the rise, Ave-nue sees more clients asking for other services in addition to traditional advertising packages, such as Webisodes and content for PDAs. But this doesn’t mean that the :30 commercial is going away any time soon, says Turk. “I just saw a piece in Ad Age, where Geico has grown its business with their successful TV advertising, so it’s still a very powerful medium with the right products or services.”

Some of those traditional spot packages include in-cinema projects, like a recent Hallmark commercial called Chew Do It via Leo Burnett Chicago. It revolves around Chewbacca, of Star Wars fame, helping an woman wish her boyfriend a happy birthday.

According to editor Eric Fey, the spot was finished in HD for cinema release and later SD for broadcast. “After the film print was made we had a screening at a local theater, and in addition to the cinematic look of the big screen, the surround sound mix of Chewbacca’s voice reverberating around the room really added to the experience,” he says. “Creating spots for cinema release is always an exciting process, and there’s definitely a satisfaction in seeing one’s work on the big screen.”
While a lot of Avenue’s work comes from the area, they work all over the world. “We are exploring some geographic options,” says Turk, “but we’re happy where we are. People ask us to expand to other markets, but it has to be driven by the amount of business we can get out of it.”