Week 13: Writing Commercials
TV commercials are not like other media, such as print or websites. A reader browsing a website has plenty of time to absorb information and can even reread copy that is interesting or informative.
However, TV commercials happen in real time. Most commercial spots run 30 seconds. That’s all the time you have to tell the viewer about whatever you’re selling.
Although advertiser will run commercials more than once, you shouldn’t rely on repetition to get your message across. It should be clear and complete even if seen just once.
The commercial must introduce the brand quickly and give viewers a reason to go to the store or use the service.
So how do copywriters create commercials? They use three distinct steps.
- Develop a concept.
- Write the script.
- Create a storyboard.
After the three steps above, the commercial is passed on to the film crews.
At the top of the page is a Coke commercial that aired on television when I was a kid. Below is the script that created that commercial.
- The left column represents camera shots and action. (A list of camera shots are listed following the script).
- The column on the right represents the audio and actors’ lines. Words are written as spoken in natural speech (i.e. yeah instead of yes, un-uh instead of no, etc.)
- The columns are hierarchical, meaning you should read the columns from top to bottom, alternating columns in a descending fashion.
The audio and video actions are noted in the script above. For the music, it is rather simple: fade in (or swells) and fade out. For the video, a list of the camera shots are listed below.
Kinds of camera shots
Your Assignment – Tuesday:
What I would like you to learn is how scripts are created to build the words and images so they deliver a clear, complete message in just 30 seconds to get a sense for how local TV commercials are put together.
- Begin by creating a new page called “Commercial Script” and give it its own menu item.
- Create a two-column table in Microsoft Word.
- Prepare an original two-column script for a fictitious commercial for a non-fictitious company. Your script
- should be realistic. However, it may be humorous, serious, or whatever tone you choose.
- should last exactly 30 seconds. This means that if it takes longer than 30 seconds to read the dialogue, you will need to trim some of the actors’ lines.
- use camera shots listed in the table above.
- When you are finished with your script, please
- take a screenshot of your script.
- add both the script and the screenshot to your media library.
- on your “Commercial Script” page, insert a link to the original script at the top of the page.
- insert a picture of your script beneath the link to the original script.
(Please stop here. Everything below this line is for Thursday’s class.)
Your Assignment – Thursday:
Now that you have created a script, creating a storyboard is the next step in developing a commercial. Think of a storyboard as a drawing depicting what will occur in the commercial.
Until recently, storyboards were hand drawn. Lately, there has been a shift to digital storyboards. We will use the latter.
The storyboard must match the script. It should use a variety of camera shots that will make the scene visually compelling. While creating the storyboard, you may realize that your script needs adjustment, so adjust as necessary.
Create a storyboard for a short scene that utilizes a variety of different camera shots, background audio, and narration or voice over. Be creative with your plot and shot selection. What will be a CU? What will be a LS? Don’t use just one shot for the entire scene, as it will bore the audience.
- Go to storyboardthat.com and create a 6 – 12 shot storyboard.
- Screen shot your final storyboard and paste it on the same page, but below your work from last class.