Sometimes, your client needs a quick turnaround on a commercial shoot.  How can you plan and prepare for a tight deadline?  In today’s blog, we go through some tips, tricks and techniques to successfully deliver a national spot in a week or less.  And how do you deliver on such a tight turnaround while maintaining quality and effectiveness?  The number one key to turning around a video production in a short time is Decisiveness.  You won’t have the luxury of time to go back and forth.  And even though we are a Dallas based production company, our commercial shoots take us all around the company.

The Normal National Spot

For a normal national spot, it can take months.  Usually, the creatives (at our production house, the agency, the client) get together and come up with concepts.  Then maybe storyboards (whether handdrawn or mocked up from stock pictures) are created.  A script is created.  Then the production company lines up the location or studio.  Casting is done– first auditions, then maybe callbacks if necessary, and final choosing the actors.  Then comes the day of the shoot.  After the shoot day, the editing begins.  Once the rough picture is locked, then graphics, coloring and sound design can begin.  Maybe original music is composed.  Then it goes through revisions with the agency and the client.  And finally, the commercial is approved and uploaded to the broadcast platforms.  Months.

The One Week Commercial Turnaround

The Commercial’s Concept

The creative concept is a key for the quick commercial turnaround.  Some ideas lend themselves better for a quick turnaround.  If your script calls for elaborate construction, multiple days of shooting with many locations, it will be difficult to complete.  But in our scenario here, we’re assuming the client has come to us with the stated goal that they need a finished commercial to air in a very short timeframe.  When the creatives get together, the concept has to be one that can be pulled off in such a short time.  The concept has to be decided on in the first day.  Then boards and script can be worked on.

Storyboards and scriptwriting begin immediately.  And once these are approved, on the backend of production, your graphics people can start building the tags and overlays that will go over the footage.  If these can be quickly approved, you won’t be going back and forth at the end of post.

The key here is that instead of waiting for dominoes to fall– you have to be knocking some of the dominoes down the line before they would have fallen.  For instance, you start casting before the script is approved.

Casting the Commercial

You have to move fast– maybe use actors you’ve used in the past and know that they’d be perfect.  If you have to audition, start auditioning right away.  Fortunately, actors in this day and age are used to iPhone auditions and you can get a lot of looks in a very short time to pull from.  So decisively pick the actors and you’re moving on.

The Commercial Shoot

Commercial Shoot in San DiegoThe production coordination began on day one.  The location or the studio was reserved right away.  The crew needs were determined by the concept.  Any sets or props are built right away so that they could be ready in three days or less.

Usually, a national spot like this is a one day shoot.  Possibly two– all depends on concept.  To get ready for the fast turnaround, what you might do differently is have the editor come onto the set.  Probably after lunch– that way she can start cutting right away.  In the meantime, the commercial shoot goes like a normal shoot would.

Post Production of a Quick Turnaround National Commercial Spot

With the editor working away into the evening of the shoot day, a rough draft is ready for the client late that night. (That’s the same night as the shoot).  In the morning, the client’s team sends their notes, and a second draft is worked on throughout the afternoon.  By that evening, it’s sent on to the client.  By this time, tags and graphics should be ready to go.  The next morning, a polish is made from last minute nites and the commercial is then colored and the sound is designed.  By the next day, final polished draft is ready for client approval and upload to the broadcast platforms.

In our business, our response to difficult commercial shoot “asks” is always “yes, we can.”  Too many times, production companies grumble and complain about the big ask and it shows.  Sure, it’s going to be a crazy couple of days– but we love this business and also love a good challenge.


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