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Webster County bean field going commercial

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

With a crane and crew, drivers passing the Donald Beck farm on Webster County's C49 couldn't help but stop and stare. To accomadate the crew, Scott Becker, Don's son, cultivated an area of the filed for the film crew to work with. "We wanted a strip to look like a gravel road," Rod Randal with McCormick Adverstising Agency said.

CLARE – Across the road from Donald Becker’s farm, the soybean field never looked so good.

The 12-inch plants swayed in the wind. There was no sign of pests or disease. From a distance, no weeds were visible.

A sea of green rows drew one’s view to the horizon – in short, Iowa at its best on June 29.

This is the exact field that Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., envisioned for its national YSeries soybean commercial.

“I just keep looking at the field and thinking this is just beautiful,” Rod Randal, of McCormick Advertising Agency said before the late-June commercial shoot began. “We can’t ask for a better scene.”

This massive 90-foot crane will ease the film production of Pioneer Hi-Bred's YSeries soybean commerical. The large piece of technolgoy is able to zoom in on objects and then seamlessly pan out to show the beautiful field. Despite the wind, the camera's stabalized head was able to isolate the vibrations creating a smooth, steady 30-second commercial.

A large part of this field’s beauty is due to the cooperative Iowa weather, especially the recent two-week heat wave. And also, the Beckers’ decision in which when to plant and which seed to plant was key.

“We started planting beans April 24 and ended the 25th or 26th,” said Scott Becker, Don Becker’s son. “We debated about it for awhile after we finished planting the corn and decided to go ahead with it.”

The gamble not only won the Beckers a fruitful field, it also awarded them the top field out of eight being monitored by Pioneer.

“This field is perfect because it’s so big and flat,” Sarah Sheldon, producer with Screenscape Studios of West Des Moines, said. “We were worried about an obscured horizon, but as you can see there are only a few small farms in the background.”

Thus, viewers will be zoning in on the field of YSeries soybeans, which were released in 2008. This is the first year Becker planted the legume.

“This is the best looking field I’ve had in a long time,” Becker said. “This is the first year [with YSeries] and so far it’s looking real nice.”

The soybean is the latest in accelerated yield technology. YSeries soybeans were created with high-powered genetics to produce good yields. It is also resistant to aggressive soybean pests and diseases.

“And what are farmers all about?” Randal asked. “High yields.”

To show off the soybean in its prime, Screenscape Studios enlisted the help of a Hollywood pro – a 90-foot crane. The large technological mass of metal was brought in from Chicago by a crew of four trained to work with it specifically.

“Pioneer had used similar cranes in other [commercial] spots,” Randal said. “When the creative team developed ideas with Dan (Buck, soybean marketing/communications manager), they chose the idea that best serves the brand.”

Despite the whipping wind speeds, the crew was able to shoot the 30-second commercial in three hours without violent shudders from the camera. It was able to keep picture steady because of its high-tech stabilized head.

“It’s a vibration isolator,” said Mark Woods, a crane operator. “With all the wind blowing across the cables, the stabilized head counters the vibration from the arm.

“It’s literally rocket science. Accelerators and gyros are used to dampen-out the vibration.”

While the technology was complicated, it didn’t take much for Pioneer to choose an Iowa farm as the set for the commercial.

“Our production firm is out of West Des Moines, and the most soybeans sold of any state is Iowa,” Dan Buck, soybean marketing/communications manager with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., said. “It’s an easy two-hour drive, which also cut down the [production] cost by not having to fly everyone” into the location.

Buck said the commercial should air during news hours in late August .

“It will be shown in 12 Midwestern states,” Buck said, “in late August. Watch a lot of the local news channels during those weeks, especially the 10 p.m. slots.”

There’s no doubt the Becker family will be watching the television to see their farm’s debut. In the meantime, Scott Becker will watch his fields enjoying his good fortune.

“I’ll find out this fall what the YSeries can really do,” Becker said.

Contact Lindsey Ory by e-mail at lindsey.ory@hotmail.com.

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