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10 min. welcome channel for HDTV Remote control set up

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Burt Sardoma
10 min. welcome channel for HDTV Remote control set up
on Aug 11, 2008 at 7:41:59 am


I'm new here so forgive me if my question is to stupid to reply to.

I'm need to turn in a quote for a 10 minute welcome channel for a new local HDTV service provider.
The problem is not the production work but having to describe my concept in writing. I've only done quote for production services but not detailed ones like this. The project is most likely in the bag but need to tie up this loose first urgently.

Burt, Guam

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Mark Suszko
Re: 10 min. welcome channel for HDTV Remote control set up
on Aug 11, 2008 at 2:43:04 pm

You are talking about writing a Creative Treatment. That's not a script, but a blueprint for all that is to be seen and heard, with a section on why you make the dramatic and creative choices you do.

If you have the time, get a copy of John Morley's book on corporate scriptwriting, it is an exceptional guide to this process.

Assuming you need this by tomorrow, here's a too-short description of the process;

Research what the needs of the client are. Define in a few declarative sentences what the problem is and who the audience is, by age, gender, educational and socio-economic levels, etc. This helps you choose things like the vernacular and vocabulary that works best for the target market.

Pick a format for the program that speaks best to this target audience, and uses a vernacular they understand.

Describe, shot-for-shot, but without specific dialog, what viewers see. This is not yet a script, but a framework for the script. So dialog is described as: "Bill is showing frustration and confusion looking at all the HDMI, RGB and other cable imputs on his set. He says he can't decide which connection method will give him the best HD picture quality, yet still allow him to also connect to his game system. Janice tells him that the best choice for the HD content is to run an HDMI cable from his converter box to the HDMI input of the TV. Then she describes routing the game to a secondary input, or the choice of getting a router box".

(See, it's not the actual dialog yet, but a writer can create appropriate words from this example at each stage)

Your Creative Treatment describes the style of your presentation.

In this case, you probably aren't going to pick some genre, like making it look like a western or a detective show as the overall theme. You want a pretty straight-ahead, no-nonsense tutorial flavor for what you're doing.

But even within that restricted envelope, you have choices to make and describe:

Is everything dead-serious, or will there be some humor injected in there, what kind, and how much? Do the jokes make fun of the viewer's inability to work the new remote, or mock the content choices?

What about the supporting graphics? Are you going to be heavily invested in 3-d computer graphics, and if so, what is the look? Is everything shot live-action on a location like a "typical" viewer's TV room (and what does a "typical" viewer's Tv room look like, based on your research?) Is it shot in a tech lab setting, or a TV station control room setting? Or is it in a Matrix-like limbo set, or some other location? For an HDTV remote tutorial, is it all going to be extreme macro photography of a real remote, or a 3-d animated model, and is it relatively static, showing the whole remote the whole time, or will you do camera moves to full-screen pics of just a single button? Will you do side-by-side screens, showing the entire remote in one side and the detail closeup on the other? Will shots of the TV show a real TV screen, or full-screen of what the on-screen dispalys look like? What programming will be shown on the screens during the tutorial?

"As the closeup PIP box shows a finger pressing 'Pay Per View', the larger box shows the splash screen you get on the TV when selecting On Command Services. Janice's voice says to expect to see this screen first, each time you want to order a movie" for example.

What about the presenter(s)? A disembodied voice of God off-camera? Man or Woman? Why? One on-camera speaker, or a duo of hosts that volley a conversation to each other? Or do they both talk just to the viewer, directly? Or a combination? Meaning, are we watching someone being coached thru the setup process, or are we ourselves being lectured? Those choices are based on your research and your idea of the most typical target viewer, and what they respond to best. Are you serving audiophiles or quasi-Amish technophobes whose VCR's are always blinking "12"? What's the right "in-between"? Are you assuming they all have had cable before, or do you really need to start at the most basic level?

After the show airs, do you have some way to measure the effectiveness of the presentation? Are you going to count trouble calls regarding remotes both before and after it airs, for example? For how long? Or hits to a special web address? Typically you want some kind of gross measure at least, so the client knows he's getting results.

When you have all these decisions mapped out in a document, you have yourself a Creative Treatment. With that document, you can figure out the script, the time the project needs, the costs, and the schedule for producing it. It's a collaborative touchstone: The client can see in advance pretty much exactly what he's going to get, before a dime is spent, and this is the best place to make changes before they cost money and time. It explains the reasons things need to be the way you decided. You protect yourself from making a huge investment of work, only to be shot down later by some exec saying "that's not how we pictured it in our mind/ not what we wanted". If the budget gets cut, the Treatment shows where the cuts take effect.

That's why every project, no matter how small, can benefit from this kind of document creation process. Even if you only do an informal Treatment, just for yourself, you'll find it helps you to be able to give smart answers to every unanticipated question, and to justify your choices.

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