Villing & Company

Concept to Completion - Behind the Scenes on a Motion Graphics TV Commercial: Part 1

At Villing & Company, we get pretty pumped about two things: great design and effective storytelling. Each of our clients has a product or service that carries with it an important message. Or maybe a better way to put it is that every one of our clients has an essential story—a tale that is just begging to be told. That’s where we come in.

Here at Villing, it’s our job to convey our clients’ stories in the most compelling, artistic and memorable way possible. Because it is such a visually compelling storytelling tool, motion graphics has a lot of potential for marketers. When executed correctly, motion graphics marries great design and effective storytelling in a way that few other media can match.

In this article and the next I’ll be taking you behind the scenes on a motion graphics-driven commercial that we recently created for McDonald’s. Our objective with this project was to show the advantages of working at McDonald’s citing things like employee benefits, upward mobility and career opportunities. But we wanted to do this in an honest, creative way that would ring true to potential McDonald’s employees. Take a look at the finished commercial here.

It all starts with an idea.

PREPRODUCTION

The Idea
We started to think about what matters to us. All of us have dreams, hobbies, busy lives—and potential McDonald’s employees are no different. Just like us, they have their own lives outside of their occupation. And we knew how strongly McDonald’s cared for its employees. So our message became clear: “We at McDonald’s respect your world and warmly invite you to join ours.”

Our message was true and exciting, but we needed a game plan—a clear outline to describe how our story would be told.

Scripting and the Importance of Storyboarding
Scripting is perhaps the most critical stage of this entire process because it is here that the raw idea is crafted into a clear-cut outline of how the final product will look, feel and sound. When dealing with motion graphics, storyboarding becomes integral to the scripting process. A few simple drawings can go a long way in describing the visual feel of a project.

mcdonald's commercial storyboards

It was at this stage that we decided to take the “world” concept very literally and create 3D computer environments to represent the lives of five McDonald’s employees.

PRODUCTION

Shooting
Our plan was to integrate live action actors into the video by using greenscreen technology. I know many of you movie buffs out there are familiar with this concept already, but for those of you who aren’t, greenscreen refers to the process of shooting an actor in front of a solid, bright green wall (blue and red are also popular in Hollywood) and then replacing the solid color with another background in postproduction. Think Star Wars.

mcdonald's commercial greenscreen

Overall, the shoot went by without a hitch and after making sure that the footage looked great, we were ready to get in front of the computer and make the project really come alive!

In the follow-up article, I’ll talk about the most fun part of the whole process: postproduction. This is where we take the raw footage and images and pull them all together to make a seamless final product.

Filed Under: creative

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