Inside Look at Writing TV Commercials (Ongoing Professional Series)

The Sexy Abs Playbook© ”movie trailer” above for Aprilanne Hurley’s Sexy Abs Workout© - which will world premiere on California Living© Fall 2013, offers a useful example of how to edit video footage to the beat of the music, which is the primary focus of this installment of Hurley’s ongoing Inside Look TV© Professional TV Commercial Writing Series.

California Living© with TV series creator Aprilanne Hurley 2013 show icon

Writing, producing, and editing dynamic, effective TV commercials is in my blood.  In fact, I love the TV commercial creative and production process so much, there are few things I’d rather spend my professional time doing outside of producing 8 broadcast seasons of the Inside Look TV© California lifestyle magazine format television series California Living©.

While attending Stanford University for my Certification in Broadcast Television Production, one of the first editing exercises we were given was to match up (edit) random footage we took to the beat of a piece of music.  The mission was to create a compelling audio visual masterpiece that “tells a story.”

If you’re just discovering Inside Look TV’s ongoing Professional TV Commercial Writing & Production Series, check out how to write a dynamic TV commercial script, which also includes important info on how to write TV content that will appeal to your target audience.  This article will now get into some of the foundational basics of editing a TV commercial.

We’ve all heard the adage “pictures speak louder than words,” and when it comes to TV commercials there are scores of examples that prove TV commercial images can be very powerful, both on a conscious and sub-concious level.  Below is a quick high level guide on how to best select the footage and images to include in your TV commercial:

  • Use  a variety of shots to keep the TV commerical interesting, varing between the use of close-ups and extreme close ups (CU and EXU), wide-shots(WS), and medium shots (MS).  Naturally, you will want to plan ahead to capture a variety of shots in the pre-production phase to establish what video shots and footage to capture the production shoot.
  • Cut the action in your footage to work in unison and time with the music.  A great editing technique is to let the action finish (leave the screen) before cutting to the next shot.
  • When editing talent speaking on camera (SOT = sound on tape) be sure to pad the footage clip with at least a few frames before the begin and end of the talent speaking.  In longer pieces allowing a second or so will do the trick yet with a 30 second commercial every second counts (literally).
  • Before selecting your music piece or score, consider what is the overall feeling, mood, and overall intensity of the TV commercial message in order to choose a music bed that will work to underscore the same level of intensity.  For example, if you are promoting a hot new clothing line, you will want a fast paced music score that will attract the up and coming trendsetting audience – Bach won’t cut the mustard here.  Next time you watch TV check pay attention to the music beds in the TV spots and make a note of how well the pace and tone of the piece works with the product being promoted and the audience the TV commercial is trying to attract.  The bottom line is, your music selection for your TV commercial is an important element in the overall success of your TV commercial and editing process.
  • Another editing technique is to tease the viewing by cutting the shot in an action mode, which if done correctly can compel the viewer to keep watching to see more (See Sexy Abs Playbook© Movie Trailer example above).

About the Author:

Aprilanne Hurley , California Living© Series Creator, Producer, Inside Look TV©


Aprilanne Hurley is the Managing Partner of Inside Look TV, LLC, author, and series creator of California Living© – California’s original lifestyle magazine show now in its 8th season airing on broadcast television, featuring California’s trends in food, travel and healthy living.  Hurley’s live appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX for her book The Party Girl Diet, focus on helping viewers make healthy lifestyle choices, with demonstrations on easy ways to make nutrition and exercise fun, and an important part of viewers everyday lives.  For more information and to “talk shop” with Aprilanne Hurley directly give her a call @ 415.209.0722.