Reverse Engineering

During week 5 in Digital Storytelling, we examined the process of actually scripting a commercial. During a 2-minute period, it is really hard for brands to connect with a viewer through a non-scripted commercial. Brands use a carefully worded script to engage the viewer immediately and get the information across quickly.

Today we’re going to examine two commercial by reverse engineering them and developing the script. We’re going to go back several steps. Rewind the “lights, camera, action” and just get down to the nitty-gritty pencil and paper.

He loves me, He loves me not.
McDonalds

For a new spot that broke on the Oscars in 2012, DDB Chicago produced a script that tells a timeless tale of young love, with a twist, and seamlessly merges product and narrative. “It’s about capturing those moments.” The new spot does this in a deceptively simple way and with a magical visual feel that, with the story, feels almost timeless.

  1. Video: (WS) of inside a McDonalds restaurant, we see two young girls (12-14) sitting at a table together, eating, talking, and laughing.
    Audio: Happy music
  2. Video: (MS) Reveals one of the young girls taking a bite out of her fries with a locked gaze straight ahead.
    Audio: Happy music
  3. Video: (WS) of young man sitting by himself at a table with his food doing homework shoots the young girl a quick glance.
    Audio: Happy music
  4. Video: Back to 2. The young girl quickly looks down, and picks up another fry (the box is almost empty of french fries), then sheepishly talks
    Audio: “He loves me”
  5. Video: (MS) of young man looking towards the young girl now
    Audio: Happy music
  6. Video: Back to 2. Again young girl looking down at the dwindling fries and continues to eat them.
    Audio: “He loves me not”
  7. Video: (CU) young girls hand reaches out and picks up a french fry and smiles
    Audio: “He loves me”
  8. Video: (WS) of empty table where the boy was sitting. He is gone. His things are gone. He is no where to be seen.
    Audio: Happy music slows
  9. Video: Back to 7. Young girl picks up her last fry and looks sad, realizing what comes next.
    Audio: “He loves me not”
  10. Video: (WS) young man enters the scene and approaches the two young girls sitting at the table.
    Audio: music intensifies
  11. Video: (MS) the young girls stare in a gazed state at the young man approaching almost looking shocked.
    Audio: music intensifies
  12. Video: (MS) the young man holds out his french fry container to reveal one last french fry.
    Audio: Happy music increases
  13. Video: (MS) the young man gestures for the young girl who has been dreamily starring at him to take the last fry.
    Audio: Happy music
  14. Video: (MS) of young girl, who looks up and smiles taking the young boys last french fry.
    Audio: Happy music
  15. Video: (MS) of young man smiling back at the girl
    Audio: Happy music
  16. Video: (MS) young man walks away as two girls giggly, look at each other in an “OMG! Did that just happen” manner.
    Audio: Happy music
  17. Video: (WS) girls hugging and laughing
    Audio: The simple joy of McDonalds

The next commercial we’re going to reverse engineer is from State Farm called “Teenagers”.

  1. Video: (WS) Young girl, 8-9 years old, hair pulled up, dressed in a nice shirt and skirt, enters room from the left side.
    Audio: “So dad, can I borrow the car?”
  2. Video: (Side Shot) Middle-aged sitting in chair, in lounge clothes, looking at vinyl record albums.
    Audio: Sighs. “Where are you going?”
  3. Video: (WS) Looking at father and 8-year old daughter in a living room
    Audio: Daughter – “Just to the movies”; Father “Who’s goin'”
  4. Video: (MS) Young daughter fidgeting
    Audio: “Kathy and Dylan and…”
  5. Video: (MS) Father looks sternly at daughter
    Audio: “Dylan?”
  6. Video: (MS) Reassuring daughter
    Audio: “Yes Dad. And Dylan”
  7. Video: (MS) Father nods head
    Audio: “Hmmm”
  8. Video: (MS) Daughter clasps hands in a prayer
    Audio: (Softly) “Pllllleeeeeaaaasssseeee.”
  9. Video: (MS) Reluctant father looks at father and looks down
    Audio: Happy music
  10. Video: (CU) Keys laying on a cushion
    Audio: Happy music
  11. Video: (CU) Daughter reaches down and grabs keys
    Audio: Happy music
  12. Video: (MS) Young girl pops back up and she is wearing the exact some thing but is a teenage girl now.
    Audio: “Thanks dad.”
  13. Video: (Angle Shot) Father looking at happy daughter
    Audio: (VO through shot 14) She’s growing up whether you like it or not. That’s why State Farm created the ‘Steer Clear’ program. Teens learn safe driving. You get lower rates. Where you are, State Farm is there.
  14. Video: (WS) Outside house looking inside, night time, daughter runs out, father gets up and looks out the window at her
  15. Video: (WS) Dad standing in living room and young boy walks in (8-9 years old)
    Audio: Dad – “Where are you going”
  16. Video: (WS) Kid grabs coat, looks at dad, slings coat over should
    Audio: “Work”

I hope by reading this post you were able to get an idea about how a script would work. By showing video and audio cues, the director is able to clearly see what you would like to happen. The actors get an idea of the mood and what they are suppose to do during each moment in the commercial.

Thanks for reading!

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