Explain Yourself

One of the things you’ll do as a creative is attempt to convey your vision to directors, sound engineers and music houses.

If you’ve got a TV spot and you want the track to sound like a Danny Elfman version of a gospel hymn, or a fully orchestral Buckwheat Zydeco, what words do you use to make sure the music house gets it?

If you’re a copywriter on a radio commercial, quite often you’ll also be the director. How do you tell your voice talent, “Can you make it a little brighter?” or “Let’s really hit the word ‘and’ in this next take,” so they give you exactly what you want?

And when your actors aren’t delivering their lines or facial expressions exactly the way you imagined, how do you explain to the director what you’re hoping to hear and see?

It’s a lot trickier than it sounds. And it takes practice.

Below are two files. The first is an agency creative trying to explain what he wants from the music house. The second clip is not what the music house gave him. It’s just what they did with his direction.

I had to upload them as movie files, but you’re going to want to listen to and learn from both of these. Trust me.



One thought on “Explain Yourself

  1. So many expletives come to my lips when I listen to this. This is a great point, though. It’s so hard to walk the line between articulating and prescribing. You want to make sure you’re being clear but also allowing people to bring their creative ideas to the process. Just on the voice-over front, as an example, I find there’s a big difference between hiring an actor as the announcer and hiring an announcer as the announcer. Both can be professional and very good at what they do, but actors tend to like to get general motivation (“…be a little more philosophical, depressed, despondent”) whereas voice guys sometimes like specific direction (“…can you go up on ‘rodeo’ and hit ‘place to be’ a little harder?”). You have to figure out what works the best for each of the talented people you’ve hired. And keep in mind…you hired them for a reason. They might have an interesting take on it too, so give them freedom to play.


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