Learn to make a 30 sec. commercial spot
From concept to production

These are some of the steps I take when I produce a 30 sec. commercial spot. These are only my methods and they may be changed or modified in any way which may better suit your needs. Every method has many variables, but this will give you a good place to start. I will explain the method and then use my example so you will have a better understanding for the process of making a 30 sec. commercial spot.

The ConceptConcept idea of the commercial
The first place to start, which may not always be the easiest for most people, is the concept.  You have to have an idea about what type of commercial you want to make.  This may sound like common sense but without a concept, your commercial will have little meaning to the people watching, and may not it keep the viewer's attention.  My concept is a car commercial.

The ProductTwo Products for the Car Commercial
Once you have a concept, such as a car commercial, you will need to think about the product. Which product will you feature? Will it be one brand verses another brand?   Where will these products be shown?  Inside a factory, on a country side, in a bathroom? My product is shown on a bridge leaving a city and then it enters a country type setting where it interacts with the main product.

The Script

Once you know the concept and the product, you can start to write the script.  If you do not have a voice script then you can skip this part.  The basics for a normal speaking voice script is about 10 sentences for a 30 sec. commercial spot. You may also want to think about the speed of the speaker, the style of their voice, (such as an accent) and the gender of the voice talent speaking. This will make a difference in the amount of sentences that you will be able to fit into the commercial.  You can also write out descriptive paragraphs which explain what is happening from shot to shot. My script is a voice script, 8 lines of voiceover: male, with an Australian accent.
Below is my script:
In an ultra modern world...
things seem to be radically evolving.
It's all about how you get there...
the paths you take...
everything is changing.
But some things are still the same, even when they change.
Be side by side with change, the new Volkswagen Bug
Drivers wanted.

The "Hook" or "Tag" Line
I think that a good "hook" or "tag" line is needed for the ending in order to tie the commercial together.  It is the part that connects with the viewer. This is where they laugh or it may make them think about the product and your message.  A good "hook" or "tag" line also enforces the rest of the sentences in the commercial. The script is the area where you can be very clever. Creative writing for commercial spots can be rewarding and also very frustrating. Take your time until you think it works well together. I also like to read the script to people as I am developing it.  I ask them if they understand the message or does it confuse them.  If it does confuse them, I try to find what parts are confusing. My "tag" line is:  Be side my side with change.

Car Commercial Story Board Top 3 cells of the story board Middle 3 cells of the story board Bottom 3 cells of the story board The Story board
When you are writing your script you will start to see images in your head that tie-in with your script. The best method of creating your story board is by using story board paper. The top "tv screen" cell is the place where you draw your pictures and the bottom "square" cell is where you write the sentence or part of the sentence that corresponds with your image.  The story board is where you connect your script with a still image. You can even record the voice, scan in the images and place these still images over the voice track. This is called a moving story board or an animatic.  You can use color and make the cells as creative as you like.  This story board is very rough, since I am creating the entire production,  this is all I need in order to get me started. Click on the cells to see a bigger image of my story board.

The Three Questions
Now that you have the concept, the product, the script and the story board completed, it is time to ask yourself three main questions that the commercial must answer in order to connect with your viewer.
1. Does it catch your attention?
2. Does it hold your attention?
3. Does it relay the message?
If you think that the images do not define the script or if you think of a new idea that will better define the shot, make these changes now.  It will be very expensive and time consuming to change them while you are in production. Please keep in mind that once you start to shoot the commercial, whether it is live or in a 3d environment, you can change shots up a little.  You will find that some things will look different once you get behind the camera. It is fine to change these things as you go. The story board shots can be modified. It is not written in stone.  I feel that my car commercial answers "yes" to these three questions.

The Media
As you are developing this commercial, you should be thinking of how you will create it. Will it be all live action? Will it be all created in 3d?  Will it be a combination of live, 3d, and 2d composites?  All of these decisions will affect the budget and time, not to mention the software and talent resources to create and edit the commercial.  My car commercial was created by using a combination of 3d and 2d composites.

The Production

The Sound
Once the script has been finalized, you can cut your voice tracks for the commercial.  You will also want to write the music bed which will define and enhance the mood and tempo of the commercial spot.  Do not forget about sound effects which will further add life to the products and create more realism. My car commercial uses a voiceover track, a music bed, and sound effects for the cars.
Click here to download a mp3 of the Voiceover track.
Click here to download a mp3 of the Music bed track.

The Graphics
The media that you have chosen to create your commercial in will take part at this stage of production.  If you are shooting the video you must do all of the things in order to schedule and shoot the raw video. If you are creating your commercial in 3d, then you need to model, surface and texture your objects, set up your scene (including lights and cameras) and animate your products or performers.  Once you start to move the camera around you will see angles and perspectives that you didn't visualize before. Go ahead and make these changes, it will only make things look better. If you have any 2d graphics such as text or effects, you may create them in your favorite paint program.  Once all of the animations are finished and approved, set the machines to render and wait.
Once the animations are complete, you may start to combine your video, 3d and 2d in your favorite compositing program. After your composites and effects are completed you can take those movie files and edit them together with the voice track, music bed, and sound effects. Output your final compiled commercial to tape or digital file and your production process is complete. The commercial is now complete.  Click here to view my quicktime 30 sec.car commercial spot.

Final Thoughts
Creating a commercial is very exciting and rewarding because you are creating a very short movie.  Whether you are creating a commercial for production or just for fun, use these methods in order to establish the basic structure, the rest of the creativity is up to you.  If you have any information that you find helpful, please let me know and I will include it here in this article. If you use these methods in your commrecial and would like to post your commercial here, please let me know and I will create a commercials section for them to be displayed.


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