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Cinematic CGI Commercials?

You’ve got your product launch coming up, and you need a commercial to launch it; An epic commercial that will wet the socks of your audience so hard, that they don’t just want your new product, they NEED it.

Okay maybe.. not the ‘wetting of the socks’ part, but you’re NOT looking for something generic, forgettable, and boring.

By design, cinematic commercials are unique, memorable and exciting.

You might probably have read somewhere that humans are drawn to stories because they increase information retention, a.k.a more memorable. That is why cinematic commercials (story-based) work so well – By design, they are unique, memorable, and exciting.

What to do if you’re short on time and money?

There are three things; what you need, what you want, and who you’re working for. These three things constitute the amount of work involved, and the budget for your commercial.

If ever we needed to compromise on anything, only one of these three things should ever be compromised if you’re short on time or money. After all, you can’t change what you need, or the company you’re working for. So the only viable option is steering what you want, into something that can be done.

Take this, for example, a water-resistant feature for the Razer Cynosa V2.
This could be done with a water simulation (whilst cool), would be costly in terms of time and money.

In this example, the product is revealed in a cool ‘stage-like’ water-inspired montage that still conveys the message effectively.

So how do we steer what we want into something that can be done?

Share your ideas, and collaborate.

You’d be surprised how just a small tweak to your existing idea could save you a lot of time and money!

It’s wonderful if you already have an existing creative proposal that you have to follow or an idea that you just really love. The reality is that sometimes these ideas might be too big or expensive to produce under your current timeline and/or budget. — But it’s not the end yet!

Assuming you don’t have the budget for exorbitant rush fees, and that you can’t risk failure, you can try sharing your ideas and collaborating with a ‘Creative Studio‘.

Let them take a shot at ‘counter-proposing’ something they are confident in producing that could work within your budget and timeline, and still hit your needs. — You’d be surprised how just a small tweak to your existing idea could save you a lot of time and money!

(Read about a creative partnership approach to developing creative work this article here.)

Creative Studios specialize in the ideation and execution of creative work; This means proposing creative solutions they are capable of producing and the ability to pivot with your needs in mind. A time and cost-effective way to achieve high-value creative content.

So can a bespoke 30-second CGI commercial really be done in 7 weeks? Let’s find out.

The 7-week timeline

We’ve worked on a decent number of CGI commercials, and these include everything from Creative Development, Production, and Post, where we guide our clients from start to end, and deliver some pretty stunning work in 7 weeks.

Don’t take my word for it, check out all these 7-week CGI commercials we’ve done for Razer.

7-week production timeline breakdown

Everyone will approach a 7-week timeline for a 30s cinematic CGI commercial differently, so I’m just going to share what we do, and what we know works well for most clients and us as a creative partner.

  • 10 Days: A Working Concept
  • 2 Weeks: First Pass
  • 2 Weeks: Second and Final Passes
  • 1 Week: Total, client feedback

First 10 Days: A Working Concept

5 days to deliver the first pitch, and another 5 to work on feedback.

Assume the job has been awarded and the brief has taken place, what has worked well for us and our partners is delivering a set of self-pitching materials. These consist of three things:

  • Concept Deck
  • Storyboard
  • Moodreel.
Concept Deck

This conveys all the overarching concepts of the film.

This includes the rationale for certain elements and ideas for each key section of the film. In general, this deck conveys the creative’s headspace, and you should be super diligent in assessing whether they are on-brand or not here.

Below is an excerpt of the concept deck for our Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro commercial.

Storyboard

This one is relatively straightforward, and most people are already familiar with this; it’s a storyboard.

In general, though, it’s helpful as a client, to keep a keen eye out for story points that don’t look like they would communicate your message as well as you need them to. (Here’s a secret: creatives actually appreciate your critical feedback so they can make the work they’re doing for you more meaningful.)

Below you can see an example of a storyboard, and the final production result.

Moodreel

This may also be called a ‘tone film’ or something similar that communicates mood and pacing.

Here, with the moodreel, you want to get a sense of whether the pacing and proposed flow of motion and emotion is on-point, on-brand and in-line with everything from the deck to the storyboard.

See below for an example of a moodreel and the final production for the Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro commercial we did. You’ll notice a very strong similarity in tone and motion. This is how the moodreel can help you ‘see’ the end result before it’s made.

Moodreel for our Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro Commercial

Final production of the Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro Commercial

Phew! All that in 10 days. Awesome.

The board, reel, and deck, viewed together, tend to deliver a good sense of the entire creative vision and final production.

The idea is that the first pitch arrives in 5 days so you have enough time to give feedback and align the concept and direction. In 10 days, you should have a creative proposal that pitches itself to your bosses and colleagues. Plus it’s ready for production. Noice.

Now we move on to the juicy stuff; production.

Next 2 weeks: Fully-rendered first pass

Moving into production, your creative studio should be hard at work. And there are many ways to deliver a first pass during production. Personally, I believe accurate feedback is critical, and the best way we’ve found to get that kind of feedback is to deliver something as-close-as-possible to the final result.

Granted there will always be some production limitations to delivering this kind of work in 2 weeks, but at the very least, something fully-rendered is easier to give critical feedback on, than grey 3D playblasts.

See what I mean below.

Grey 3D Playblasts
Fully Rendered First Pass

frame.io’ easy feedback on video work: Sometimes it’s tough to give feedback where you have to write timecodes and stuff completely in text. If that’s you, try using frame.io for easier commenting since you’ll be able to simply leave feedback on the video timeline itself. If you think this kind of process will help you, request a frame.io link from your creative studio!

Last 2 weeks: Final delivery

This is where the Creative Studio makes the changes and tweaks based on your feedback. Phew! Now you have a final commercial delivered at the end of the 7th working week. Done-zo.

1 week for ‘feedback time’

Depending on the type of organization you’re in, and the time required to consolidate your comments and feedback, the allocation for total feedback time can be longer or shorter. In our experience, this averages to about 1 week in total.

Bonus: If the studio you’re working with also does audio work and sound design, you can get a solid final 30-second cinematic commercial that rocks within the same 7-week timeline. Check out the sound design we did for this other Razer commercial. — Yes we’ve done a lot of Razer stuff!

Razer’s DeathAdder V2 Commercial (Sound design ONLY)
Razer’s DeathAdder V2 Commercial (Music ONLY, no sound design)
Razer’s DeathAdder V2 Commercial (Music and Sound Design)

In short, it’s short but doable.

Getting a bespoke 30-second cinematic CGI commercial from concept development, production, and final delivery in under 7 weeks is tough because it is a really short amount of time. But.. it’s definitely doable.

Here is a summary of what you would require:

  • A clear grasp of what you need
  • The ability to relax on what you want
  • A good CGI Creative Studio
  • 6 weeks for creative production
  • 1 week for total feedback time

It’s worth noting that this 7-week commercial delivery system is not for everyone and doesn’t work for every job, client, or studio. But for those who are looking for cost and time-efficient creative solutions to their CGI commercial needs, finding alignment with a good CGI creative studio is a great option to consider.

Our demo reel as a CGI Creative Studio — Masonry Studios

Nicholas Chia

Author Nicholas Chia

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Masonry Studios Pte. Ltd. | 81 Ubi Avenue 4 UB. One #03-21 Singapore 408830 | Company Registration No. 201618786D