Creativity Exercises #1: The Best Day Ever

Personal Note: Creative training with Raffy is like going through an eye of a needle. I would consider the dude my sparring partner in brainstorming for most of the concepts, cosplay or what not.

Before I forget most of them, I’m thinking of writing them down here in DA. Some of you who might be curious enough, could try it and see if it does produce results in flexing your creative juices. This particular one, I learned from a former boss of mine in an ad agency where I used to work.

  1. Create a 30-minute interval timeline of your typical day in the life, any day of the week. This is from the time you wake-up, until you get to bed.
  2. In each interval, write a short description of what you were supposed to be doing. Be concise. It doesn’t have to describe much detail, as long as there is a particular action being described. You don’t have to fill up all the timeslots if there is nothing really happening.
  3. Now, there are two ways of going about this: Old-school (3A) or Digital (3B)
  • 3A) Get a stockpile of magazines, newspapers, old photos, etc… Find an image that best suits the description and situation you made on each timeslot. Cut it up (if you can) and place it right beside the description and timeslot.
  • 3B) Use the net and find images through Google, Getty, etc… Using MS Word, InDesign, etc… layout the images alongside the timeslot and description you made.

Ignore the descriptions you made, and juxtapose the images and the timeslots. 

What you have in front of you is a basic structure for a storyboard: images laid out against a particular timeline.

What’s crucial here now is analyzing the images you chose. Is it a far shot? Is it a close up? Is there anybody else in the shot? Subliminally, how you crop your images and composed them is a sneak peak at your creative muscle flexing itself. It can appear simple, but it is there.

The heart and soul of a TVC (TV Commercial) comes from a storyboard produced by an art director. The point of the exercise is that it teaches us to structure our way of imagining things against time, and considerations against time which are, position of the sun, what clothes are worn throughout the day, people’s expression, etc… which could also translate in how we pick the shots. Why a close-up in the morning? Do you look at yourself in the mirror first thing you wake up? Why a picture of a cereal? Etc…

It makes us conscious of our subliminal creative choices. By doing so, we start to control the visuals we present in our heads and organize them in a more formalized manner. It is bound to a particular element; in this case it’s time. Creativity is something spontaneous, but by presenting handicaps and scenarios makes us learn things out of the box. Imagination is tied on to a leash of reality. This is especially crucial if you’re interested in Advertising, since you’re paid to think creatively.

Of course, this exercise isn’t a magical pill that once you do, you’re automatically more creative than before. This is something you’d have to faithfully practice at least on a regular basis, until you brain starts to take it on as second nature.

In photography, this works best for fashion editorials and situationals since both have the element of time or at least a sequence of events presented. Eventually, you’d learn to drop the timeline and just rely on the images on a sequential basis as your pegs for the shoot. With even more practice, you could forego the entire paper altogether and mentally picture the sequences.

There is also a version suited for people in the advertising industry.

This above-said version of the exercise looks into just one (1) particular day, so we could say it’s a vertical linear timeline from morning until evening. Let’s go horizontal for a change and take that snapshot of yourself let’s say every 7:00am, but 7:00am from Monday to Friday. Time is now locked at 7:00am, so what are we looking for here? Spatial (not special mind you) elements. Answer the following questions as precise as you can:

  1. What are the items you see around you within that timeslot?
  2. Of those items you listed, which ones have a brand?
  3. Of the ones with a brand, select one and describe your emotional / mental state when using that product.

The last question is the clincher. Since it’s the one that attaches an experience with a brand, and not just some random item. This is another basis for creating a storyboard: a TVC that appeals to you emotion. Hence you see emotions as one of the primary come-on tools in advertising. It’s not so much about the products’ features and competence, but the supposed “good” experience you get out of using them.

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