Theater of the Mind

April 15, 2013

Greater Media Detroit’s Tim Siegrist gives us a glimpse into the creative process of the Production Department and helps us better understand the magic of the Theater of the Mind.

“Theater of the Mind,” it’s the Audio Artists most valuable tool.  Learning how to master Theater of the Mind, to create audio cues that trigger visual images and engage the listener, lies at the very core of fantastic Audio Production.

The “Theater of the Mind” is always open twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year, every year of your life.  You’re always there, nestled in the soft cushions of that comfortable recliner, the dimly lit space seductively caressing you with its soft shadows of anticipation.  The huge white screen looming before you like an giant easel begging to be filled with action, adventure, beauty and amazing tales of every shape and size. In fact you’re ready and willing to be dazzled, entertained and emotionally connected to the story that’s about to unfold.

Yet, you’re not alone.  Just a few rows down front sits a tall imposing thought wearing a bright red shirt reminding you of that proposal you need to have ready by 10am tomorrow morning.  If you get it right you can put $50K on the books this month. Then, just to your right, two seats over sits a young thought wearing a sports jersey and sweats… texting away on the glowing smart phone in her lap urging you to get your daughter and her friends Clair and Jessica to their seven o’clock soccer match on time.  Theater of the Mind, where way in the back, just under the dimly lit square of the projection booth, hidden in the shadows, sits a constantly mumbling thought impressing you with how hungry you are.  You could really go for some of those deliciously tender red skin potatoes drizzled in butter, a side of that creamy coleslaw with that really good, slightly sweet, vinegary taste you love so much… and that hot, moist, delicate boasted chicken with the crispy skin you just can’t resist from Chicken Shack.  Yea, you’ll have to have that again soon.  Maybe even after the soccer game tonight.  If not then, definitely after you nail that account tomorrow.  That would make the perfect celebratory lunch!

Creating engaging “Theater of the Mind” is as simple as closing your eyes and hearing your thoughts.  Radio Production, indeed any audio production isn’t limited so much by size, scale, budgets, physical restrictions or confining logistics.  If you want to be in the middle of some vast dessert you simply employ the sound of a whistling wind stirring up sand devils, the high pitched audio screech of the blazing sun and perhaps the distinctive sound of a Camel’s cry layered over some Middle Eastern music to capture the mood.  The magic of Theater of the Mind is that it’s different for each person who perceives it.  The movie they create is dependent on their life experiences, the snap shots they’ve filed away over time and the emotions they associate with those images.  That emotional attachment or engagement, if you will, is the key to the whole process.

“Theater of the Mind” is the rich, colorful and compelling platform that permits you to engage your listener and capture their imagination, despite all the other intrusive thoughts and impressions competing for their attention. You can then use that moment to channel that connection, make your impression, to manipulate an emotional attachment resulting in a directed and purposeful action on the part of your listener.  (Those roasted red skin potatoes really sound good right about now.  I love the way they crunch when I bite them and then ooze that buttery goodness all over my taste buds making them jump for joy.)

“Theater of the Mind” is the motion picture of life.  You’re always there, even as you’ve read these words you’ve formed visions in your head based on your environment, your experiences and the emotions you’re collected over time.  When it comes to Marketing, Entertaining, Engaging our listeners, providing quality content and compelling reasons to listen and act, “Theater of the Mind” is the nectar of life.  Use it wisely and direct it properly picking the right time, the right place, the right demographic, the right psychographics and the right platform.

That sounds like material to be covered in the next article.  Thanks for reading this one. Right now I’m off to Chicken Shack to celebrate getting this done.  Man, I’m hungry!
Tim Siegrist is making Greater Media great in his role of Director of Production for Greater Media Detroit.