July 21, 2020

The Future of Creative Part 2: Shifts in the Creative Process

While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in the advertising production industry, many of these shifts were already in motion. Shorter timelines, limited budgets and the use of Found content (any existing content you find and license from the internet) as a creative medium were all things we were aware of -- the pandemic just accelerated these trends to an unprecedented level. And while coming up with creative solutions isn’t anything new for the production industry, we’re seeing creatives have to quickly think on their feet and adapt to meet new demands -- primarily by shifting their creative processes and strengthening the skill of searching the internet for relevant, compelling content that not only meets, but exceeds their visions. 

One of biggest obstacles advertisers faced when shelter-in-place regulations were first put in place was having to pause all live-action production. This restriction led them to really explore Found footage, and adapt their creative production process to be more flexible and fluid. The internet has an endless supply of content, which makes it a unique creative resource you can keep dipping into as briefs change and scripts evolve, or when you need to replace content with a shot that works even better than what you originally had in mind. This means that more of the team (i.e.: producers, editors, colorists) has to be involved earlier on: “Creatives are still concepting and want to create the best idea. So they want our input earlier with the right resources, so we can help guide them,” shared Mike Stark, Broadcast Producer at Doner. This allows edits to be done on a rolling basis, as content is found in real-time -- which also means the process moves quicker to meet shortened turnaround times. 

Another major change to the production process is that we’re seeing more creatives search the internet before exploring other remote shooting options, such as remote direction or remote casting calls. This, again, gives them more flexibility to mold their idea and message based on the content they find -- and vice versa. However, searching and licensing the internet is a new way of working full of nuances that can appear challenging. As Sue Guise, EVP Director of Operations at Doner, put it: “We can have a whole team of experts looking for content, but then the question is: can we actually license it?” But with the right knowledge and tools, tapping the internet can save your agency time and money -- without sacrificing the integrity of the creative. Just take this Red Lobster spot for example: can you tell which shots were found vs produced in a studio? (Hint: they were all found!)

To curate the internet, you must first translate your brief into searchable terms and ideas. Liz Mandeville, Director of Curation at Catch&Release, shares, “First step of curation: really understand the brief. Understand what is being looked for, and then figure out what the role of Found content will be in it.” This enables your team to both set a “true north” they can continue referencing as they search, and also have room to adapt parts of the concept as needed. Expert curators at Catch&Release share three core best practices to successfully search the web for on-brief, on-brand content: 

1. What is the intent of the shot? 

What is the North Star? Consider where and how these moments authentically play out in life. What would you title the video if you were posting to social? What would a filmmaker title the video? How would you/they describe it?

2. Is the shot aesthetically strong? 

Gravitate towards content with strong compositions, are natural or well lit, have an acceptable amount of camera shake and have clean, uncluttered backgrounds.

3. Is the shot “on brief”? 

Think about the content from the brand’s perspective: would the brand use this shot in their marketing and advertising? Does the shot quickly communicate the intention? Is the look and feel in line with the creative direction and brand, while also meeting all the necessary specs?

When you combine these search tips with licensing best practices and the right tools, leveraging Found content will not only become second nature, but will also become an invaluable skill for the future of creative production and visual storytelling. As Analisa Goodin, CEO and Founder of Catch&Release, says, “With Found content, the amount of control you have feels different than that of a live-action production, but you have more chances to mold what you find into what you want. It’s a different type of art form.” So what’s next for advertising? Content curation is a big one, but what else? In the last installation of this series, we’ll explore experts’ predictions on the future of our industry.