Research is now the modus operandi of the big corporates. It’s not a perfect system as it is too expensive to shoot a final commercial. The alternate is usually an animatic - often loose renderings put together as a series of dissolves to music and voice and usually requiring a narrator. It is then taken mostly into unsophisticated markets who often taken it at face value ie a cartoon.

The problem with animatics featuring people is that they lack emotion. If there is a food product involved then it lacks appetite appeal. The danger is that money can be wasted on research as most ideas do not translate well into animatics. It also leads to some good ideas landing up in the bin. This also impacts financially on the agency who find themselves back at the drawing board.

Agencies and clients are gradually moving away from the flawed animatic to the photomatic, a series of stills shot specifically to a storyboard with cast, art director, wardrobe, make-up, location, food stylist and lighting put to a sountrack and voice overs. It runs the same length as the proposed commercial and does not need any narration relying on the story telling ability of the photographer/director. It can accurately capture the emotional intent of the commercial and communicate all the various status cues (wardrobe, location etc) that help drive the message home.

Of the 19 photomatics I have done to date, 18 have made it through research to be shot and aired on television throughout various African markets.