The Making of our First Commercial

No tripods.  No stabilizers.  No slides, special lenses, lights, or top-quality equipment. Just a Canon 7D DSLR camera and an 18-55mm (stock) lens.  “I’m going to challenge you.  Make me a commercial.  But, I’m not going to give you any budget or help besides allowing you to use your fellow employees.  Let’s see what you can do.”

Those were the words spoken by Kareem Issa, the CEO of the company, to me last week.  My name is Dom, and I am the newly-hired Director of Online Marketing and Sales.  This test made me as giddy as a small child at their own birthday party.

I set out to make an intimate, happy commercial using San Diego as my backdrop and my fellow coworkers, Michelle and Steven, and I as the actors.  With only 3 days given to make the video, we had to move, fast.


The Music

Choosing a song for this video was exciting, yet I had to be sure that I was allowed to use the song.  The use of music in videos has changed since the introduction of online video sites, like YouTube and Vimeo.  Giving the average consumer the ability to produce and upload videos has increased the sheer amount of videos on the web.  This makes it tough for artists to track their music and see where it is being used.  Many artists will allow personal videos to keep using the track without obtaining the rights; however, sometimes when a video gets enough attention, the artist might force the creator to take down their video on infringement of ownership and copyright laws.

In order to avoid this confusion, I took a different route searched online libraries of royalty-free music.  Royalty-free music is a song or collection of songs that an artist signs away all the rights of the music up front and makes it completely free for the public.  This means I can do whatever I want to it (cut it, edit it, make it sound slightly different, etc.) and not into any copyright or ownership issues that would force me to take my video down.  I chose the song “Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, who has a wide range of royalty-free music ready for dramatic videos, and cut it up to get it to exactly 30 seconds.  Then I changed the EQ and remastered the song to have a heavier-hitting beat and bass.

The song “Upbeat” has such an elevating and what I like to call “rising” tone to it, in which the song builds from a low, quiet beginning up to a “pinnacle of energy” or climax.  In other words, someone gets more excited and filled with positive energy as the song progresses, and then that excitement is “satisfied” once the song drops into its final stage.  Listening to it immediately developed a picture in my mind of what the video was going to become.


The Video

When I make videos, I like to choose the song first before I start capturing the footage and coming up with the story.  It sets the framework, structure, and mood of the video right off the back, and I use the changes in the song to help build the story line.  “Upbeat” was perfect, in which it was a generalized beat that was unique enough to stand out, and its “rising tone” gave me the idea of the logo animation at the end.

From there, I studied commercials produced by Samsung, Apple, and other technological companies to get an idea of what has worked well in the past.  I saw that in the early days of the smartphone advertising, the commercials were solely focused on the product itself, explaining its features and abilities to the consumer.  But over time, companies started to shift their focus away from the product to the experience that was provided by the product.  I decided to continue the trend and make the commercial about the happiness and satisfaction the phone provides.

After traversing around San Diego and filming in a few of my favorite spots, I used Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the footage.  I prefer this program over Final Cut Pro, as it has more options and its compatibility with the other Adobe products is unbeatable.  Back when I was self-contracting, I would use Photoshop and Illustrator to create the graphics, Audition to edit and mix the music, upload these into Premiere Pro, then use Dreamweaver to code the video into a website. Now, I just use it because of its huge list of exporting options and it’s functionality with Photoshop/Illustrator.


The Result

After taking all of this footage and music and playing with it, the commercial was born.  With some minor edits and the addition of simple animation, the idea was formed into something concrete.

Now, we need your help with getting the video seen by the public!  Share this video on your favorite social media page if you enjoy it, every little bit helps 🙂



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