2019-video-production-compnay-round-up

2019 Groundbreak Round-Up

Our Year of Video Production

It’s certainly been a chaotic, rewarding, funny, crazy, exhilarating, challenging and memorable year in the world of video production at one of Manchester’s best production agencies. There have been ups and downs highs and lows, but above all we’ve had the opportunity to create some outstanding video content for our wonderful clients. The great thing about our clients is they give us creative freedom more often than not. This means we get to express ourselves in our video productions. Whether it’s a TV Commercial production, corporate video content, animation or visual effects. There’s always an engaging way to create content if you have the freedom to come up with an interesting concept. As a video production company that thrives off a challenging brief, we just want to create bigger and bolder content that inspires and pushes boundaries. We’ve certainly done that in 2019 and it will be more of the same in 2020!

Best Video Production Awards and Nominations

2019 has been a real success for awards. A handful of videos we’ve created this year helped large agency campaigns win prestigious awards. We’ve also had a lot of joy with best video awards directly ourselves. This is always our favourite type of recognition because it’s simply about video production which is what we’re all about. We won ‘Best Video’ award at the esteemed European Office Product Awards for this printer commercial earlier this year which was a great kick start to the calendar. We’ve also attended the Prolific North awards and the MPA inspiration awards as finalists for ‘Best Video’ awards for some of the commercials we produced this year. It’s always a good night out at the ceremonies whether we win or not. We always feel privileged to be there amongst the best video production companies in the UK. Hopefully with a bit of luck, a huge amount of hard work and a touch of creativity we’ll find ourselves at more award ceremonies next year!

Clients old and new

It’s been a great year for partnering with new and exciting clients and agencies from many different sectors, which in turn has helped our video portfolio become even more diverse than last year. That’s saying something as we’re most certainly not a one trick pony here at Groundbreak. Client retention’s been as strong as ever with collaborations with all our key clients at some point in 2019. We’ve even had a few of our older clients who we created video content for many years ago contact us again to work together this year. And as ever, expecting excellence in their new productions. Of course, we happily obliged.

Video Production Needs

Some clients need regular content every month, others need a couple of TV commercials a year. And then there are a few who only want corporate videos every few years because they have a new product or service, they want to show the world. I’ve learned to not take it personally if we don’t hear from a client in a while. They have their own journey to travel just like us. One thing though that always reassures me is that all of our clients come back to us for their video production needs at some point. That’s the great thing about repeat business and it works both ways of course. If we consistently raise the bar in both the video content, we create and the way in which we collaborate with our clients. Ensuring it’s an enjoyable and successful partnership for all then I suppose why wouldn’t they come back? One thing is for sure. We understand that we wouldn’t be here without our clients. They’re the oxygen to our flame. We couldn’t be groundbreaking without them. They give us the briefs and the trust to go out and create something special. So, thanks very much to all of you!

Groundbreak Productions Team and Crew

None of the awards or outstanding video productions and animations would be possible without our fantastic in-house team of original thinkers. I’m incredibly proud of everyone in the Groundbreak team. The hard graft they all put in without even considering what day of the week it is or how long they’ve been creating for. The beautiful end products they create which gives us the strong reputation we have built. Not only are they colleagues but also good friends who are all decent human beings that care passionately about video production, but more importantly the truly important things in life. I couldn’t do it without them, so thank you very much.

Last but not least the freelance crew we collaborate with all year round who devote their time, energy and enthusiasm to help us deliver astounding videos. We create content with many specialists from storyboard artists and sound recordists to 3d animators and sound designers. We always work with the best people and I think it shows in our video content.

It’s been a magical year and I’m excited for what’s around the corner in 2020. We already have some phenomenal video productions in the pipeline that I simply can’t wait to get stuck into. Many concepts signed off and shoot dates booked in and numerous Animations in development. It’s going to get hectic all over again before you know it so enjoy your Christmas holiday while you still can…

If you have any video production needs in the New Year and would like to collaborate with a team of creatives who not only love what they do but are also great fun to work alongside then please get in touch.

Happy New Year!

nativity scene

A Parent’s Guide to Video Production this Christmas

Christmas Videos

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s cold. You’re sick. There is palpable anxiety in the crisp air. Cortisol courses through your veins like the biting wind that knives your cheeks. Weary, worn, weather-beaten you march on. The faceless frenetic crowd, apathetic, brush and bump you. Broken, you look but do not see. Dazzled, dazed, dizzy. Names, numbers, numbness. This is the Boots 3 for 2 Christmas sale. Will my nan actually use a No7 Electric Nights eye palette? Is my niece 4 or 12? Is my brother still with that girl? These are not the only urgent questions that require an answer. Is it possible to shoot a good video of my daughter’s Nativity play without using the best video production company in Manchester?

Capturing a Nativity Video

Social media video has fast become the only widely accepted documentation of verifiably accurate events, so there is growing pressure on parents to capture the hallmark moments of their child’s lives. A school’s annual nativity play, far from being anything that could be misconstrued as enjoyable, is instead a tense test of your video production skills.

Below is a reasonably comprehensive guide to creating the best possible video production to show that you love your child more than other people love theirs.

What Equipment Do I Need For Filming?

Most schools don’t allow cinema grade camera equipment or full-scale video production crews on their premises. I’ve tried but I’ve been turned away and things have gotten physical. Take it from me it’s not going to happen and you’re going to miss two days of your advent calendar locked in a cell. You’re going to have to shoot this thing on your phone.

If you are somebody who shoots video on your phone portrait rather than landscape, then it’s a statistical certainty that you are irreparably mentally ill and you should stop reading this and seek help.

Those of you who are left I recommend setting your camera app to Pro mode so you can familiarise yourself with manually adjusting white balance, ISO and focus. If this sounds dull or alienating fear not. You’ll get good bang for your buck by setting your camera to auto and tapping on the thing you want to be in focus on the screen. Shot composition is more important than your equipment on this production.

Shot List for the Best Christmas Video Production

Framing is key. Instinctively you’re going to crane and contort yourself in an effort to have your child front and centre of your frame while doing as much as you can to not compromise the shots of rest of the crew (other parents). In all likelihood you won’t have arrived early enough to secure spots on the front row. The pushy stage parents camp out the night before, anyway. Your child is already quietly baffled that everyone is now calling the dinner hall Bethlehem and, while children are merrily compliant enough to go along with this conceit so long as they get to put a tea towel on their head, the whole construct may fall down when they see their entire family sat in a row forcibly grinning, menacingly nodding and grotesquely mouthing a song that everyone else is actually singing. So, the front row is not advised. File in somewhere within rows 3-5 and aim for something central. The aisle is good but be mindful that there may be processions down the aisle during the performance. This would leave you with a very sharp pan* to follow the action from behind you, all along the aisle and on to the stage as I found out one disastrous harvest festival.

Being a little set back from the stage and relatively central is going to allow you to concentrate on capturing two key shots. One is the mid-shot. Frame your child up from the waist with a little head room at the top of shot. This squarely places your child as the focus of the shot but leaves plenty of clearance to ensure that you capture any erratic movements or over-zealous gesticulating. If your child is in one of the minor roles which I’ve seen range from the traditional donkey, through to the post-modern badger, you can crop in for a close up. In my experience the children who make up the wider cast of non-human mammals tend to be largely stationary except for the big musical numbers during which they may walk ill-rhythmically in a circle around the presumably terrified baby Jesus.

The second shot for the perfect nativity video production this Christmas is the wide. You should aim to capture the whole stage during the big set pieces that include all of the children. Used sparingly this shot gives a sense of the mise-en-scène as well the scale of the production which when watched back in the following years will be awe-inspiring or humbling for your child depending on the budget of the production.

For the Best Video Only Shoot the Best Bits

With either of the above two key shots there is something, or rather someone, to be aware of. He – it is usually though not always a boy – is pale faced with manic eyes, the teeth of his grin are as spaced out as his demeanour and his hair is brushed forward. You’re going to want to identify this child within the first few seconds of the play. Spot him before you spot your own child. It will pay dividends.

This child is what makes a nativity play. He is a key stage 2 psychopath. He is the wild maverick who, unfettered by the script or innate rationality, will lash out and create the moment that everyone will remember about the production. It is your job to keep him in shot where you can or have one eye on where he is at all times ready to frame him up in a split second. When he becomes restless and irritable is usually a good indicator that he’s about to go nuclear. It’ll start small. He’ll shout to the other children using their real name instead of their character name, he’ll tell the wisemen to “hurry up” when they’re following the star or he’ll loudly repeat that there is “no room at the inn” even though we’re well in to the third act and he’s playing a cow. But it will build.

He’ll start to wander around the stage aimlessly. Seemingly innocently. This is the moment. As he stalks through Bethlehem he will come to a natural pause. His gaze will fix and an eerie calm will swim across his smile. This is the moment. Train your camera on him, check your battery levels and steel yourself because this is it. At a minimum he will bounce a tambourine off a teaching assistant’s head. I’ve seen this shot made at 30 yards. Thrilling.

If you’re lucky he’ll take the baby Jesus and use him as a space hopper, singing his own re-written versions of Christmas songs that tell the story of his stepfather’s infidelity rather than that of the “Virgin” Mary. This is gold you cannot afford to miss. Ideally you will have a second roaming cameraman to focus solely on this boy. If your production crew is skeletal or you don’t have a second camera seriously consider buying the school’s DVD version of the Nativity and using your own resources to exclusively shoot this child. You’ll have the same wide, shakily shot version of the Nativity as all the other parents who didn’t read this, but you’ll have a viral video on your hands. Guaranteed.

Editing a Christmas Nativity

Any video production is made the best it can be in post-production. This is a video for social media. You want the edit to be snappy and eye catching. We may have to consider trimming some of the fat of the narrative.

No room at the inn, gold, frankincense and myrrh and the birth of a deity are the bankers. Those scenes have to be in there. The debt-slavery, the 18-year age gap between the 14-year-old Mary and her betrothed Joseph and the infanticidal scenes can be left out. They’re not Gram-able.

If you’re in town you can head into our Manchester office or contact our team and I’ll personally take a look at your rushes and explain how we can help with your Nativity edit. Unless yours is the pale-faced maniacal child. Then there’s nothing we can do to help.

I’m not actually aloud to share the recent nativity play video I created due to copyright and legal reasons. However, you can check out some of my other creations here.

Merry Christmas.

*A pan is a lateral rotation of the camera from a fixed point but can also be used as a substitute for ANY movement of the camera or re-framing of the shot such as a tilt, roll, zoom, dolly, jib or truck depending on how cool you are.

happy man

How Did I Get Into Video Production?

Do You Want a Career in Video Production?

I most certainly didn’t plan a career in video production. The thought never crossed my mind. The truth is I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. Not a clue. All I was interested in as a teenager was sport and most importantly, creative writing. Whether that was poetry or prose, it didn’t matter. I just enjoyed the process and the escapism. Absolute freedom. Putting a pen to paper and writing whatever the hell I wanted was liberating. My handwriting was and still is the laughing stock it deserves to be. To say it was difficult to read would be an understatement. It needed an interpreter. Who cares though? It was the words that mattered as far as I was concerned. I never professed to be a calligrapher like Maeve, our creative director who annoyingly has incredibly elegant handwriting. Thank goodness for computers and fonts for folk like me. More importantly, thank goodness that bad handwriting didn’t hold me back in my video production quest.

Poetry and Mental Health

Some of my poems, especially when I was younger had a dark and abstract theme. Maybe a little too dark at times. I had quite the fight with mental health when I was a teenager and didn’t understand what was going on in my own head. I now look at it as a beautiful, melancholic moment in life that I overcame. In fact, I’m certain it made me a stronger person. Throughout the tough times my pen and paper were always in my pocket and they rescued me from myself. I’m sure many teenagers have issues as they progress through those heady and often cruel years and I was no different, although at the time I was convinced it was only me. I felt alienated and didn’t realise it was all part of the journey of growing up that would eventually lead to happiness. At that point of my life I certainly didn’t entertain the thought I would spend a sizeable chunk of my working life at a fun loving, award winning video production company here in Manchester. Not in my wildest dreams. Poor mental health has a cruel way of sucking all of the ambition and excitement out of you. It stops you dreaming big. It lowers your expectations. It dampens your soul. You can overcome it though!

Why We’re Passionate About Quality Video Production

By my late teens I had done every type of low paid, run-of-the-mill job imaginable. You name it (within reason, of course) and I’d done it. Some were better than others, but when I look back none of them rewarding or particularly enjoyable. They just put a bit of change in my back pocket and paid the rent. I do remember great anxiety in my teens regarding the age-old question of what am I going to do with my life? What is my ambition, my plan? I always responded in the same way. ‘I want to be happy’ and I meant it. That always raised a slightly irritating eyebrow. As if I was supposed to want more. Teachers often asked this question, never my parents. They let me be, and were calm about the big picture. Or at least that was the persona they exuded, but I don’t remember feeling any kind of pressure from them. I think the true relentless pressure always came from myself. I wasn’t particularly bothered about my teachers. I’m incredibly good at giving myself a hard time and expecting the world. I’ve always strived for perfection in whatever I do. Whatever the job, I’m the kind of person that thinks if you’re going to do something then you might as well do it properly and be proud of it. I think that’s why I’m part of one of the best video production companies in Manchester. Our drive at Groundbreak for quality video production stems from my own passion for excellence. Things just mean a lot to me. If I’m involved in something, then it just needs to be great otherwise I’m not interested. Here’s one of our award-winning TV commercial productions ‘crystals’ commercial. I hope you can see the love and passion we put into this for our client. This is what the Groundbreak team are all about. Putting our heart and soul into our productions.

https://vimeo.com/319013539

I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the long term career sense, so I decided the most sensible course of action would be to study English and Creative writing in university. This was a bit of a cop out because I didn’t think it would lead to much, but at least it would give me some direction. I didn’t even know what type of writing I would like to specialise in. When I was forced to choose, poetry was the front runner. Once I’d declared this, I was warned that I’d likely have to move to the Russian federation if I wanted to make a proper career in poetry. Apparently, they take it much more seriously out there. I still don’t have a clue to this day if that is true or not. Maybe they wanted to get rid of me…

Scriptwriting at University

At Uni I was introduced to film and theatre script writing which changed everything. I found to my surprise that I loved them equally as much as poetry. I decided at that moment I’d be a feature film screen writer or staff writer on an awesome prime time TV production as soon as I left uni. I was wrong of course. I did however manage to get my foot in the door of a major broadcaster soon after I graduated. For the first few months I was a glorified brew maker, which wasn’t ideal for a future Hollywood screen writer. I was super enthusiastic though and just got stuck in and because of this my tea making skills were noticed and I started making my way up the ladder. Along with mastering the art of the perfect brew I learned every aspect of video production and television programming during my time as a runner. Finally, I felt like I had a purpose. I was certain this was the industry for me. I flittered around for many years between different broadcasters and video production companies writing, producing and directing. Most importantly, I was learning off some incredibly talented people along the way, many of whom remain great friends to this day. Around this time I had a lot of success with my first indie documentary and that gave me the confidence to take the plunge and form my own Manchester based video production agency. And as they say, the rest is history.

Why We Love Video Production

Everyone has their own path. We all find our own route one way or another. Fortunately, I stumbled across the world of video production and it gave me the opportunity to express myself. I wake up every morning knowing that creativity is going to be an overriding theme of the day. It means everything to me that I’m plying my trade in a creative industry. Having that freedom to think and create on a daily basis. Surrounded by other creatives who all have their own aspirations and personalities but ultimately love creating video content in a fun environment. There can of course be restrictions on the videos we’re creating. But in order to be the best video production company it’s important to find creative ways of getting around the restrictions and challenges. At Groundbreak we all love what we do and treat our work as a vocation. If you can find that vocational mindset then I think it can help you on your way to finding what it is you’re supposed to do. We love all aspects of the production process. From idea shaping an incredibly exciting concept, scripting our latest corporate video production, storyboarding an immersive 3d animation that we have the pleasure of bringing to life, or online grading using the world renowned ‘Da Vinci Resolve’

We will do everything to get the perfect TV commercial look or simply editing a brand film or social video after a long but rewarding shoot. There are certainly more serious and important jobs out there, that’s for sure. However, as a creative, finding something that you enjoy and has endless opportunities in originality and imagination is utopia as far as I’m concerned.

In a way, video production kind of saved me in my adult life just like script writing saved me in my teens. Fate has a funny way of opening doors at just the right time. That’s why I love video production. If you’d like a creative team of decent human beings to work on your next video content project, please bear us in mind or give us a call.

pop art film camera

Video For Social Media

Social Media – Content Is King

What can social media video do for you? As of this year, the average person spends more time browsing social media than catching up on TV and honestly, I was surprised to find that statistic wasn’t true years ago. It’s now more important than ever to be advertising your brand on social media and here at Groundbreak we’re experts at producing social video content that’s optimised for just that!

What Makes Great Social Media Content?

That’s too much of a broad question to answer easily but there are some basics that all film makers will follow to create the best social media videos.

Social media is a fast moving and exciting place, which means the video content we put out has to reflect that. Shorter, visually stunning video content grabs people’s attention. Nowhere is it more important to keep viewers engaged with interesting and exciting videos than on the many social media platforms. By showcasing your brand or product with the best social videos, you create a credible and trustworthy presence in your market.

A Social Media Video Campaign

We recently teamed up with Colab to create a product video for their social media campaign #MoreThanJustPretty. They came to us looking for a fun advert that would not only reflect the attitudes and values of the brand, but also grab the attention of their followers on social media. Take a look at the commercial below. We received amazing feedback from a very happy client and it was a great project to be part of.

Social Video Production Values

Nowadays it’s not unusual for our clients to want us to create a social media video with the same production values as a prime time TV commercial or high-end corporate video content. Just because the output is on social media rather than television it doesn’t mean the end user doesn’t expect quality. A well crafted, slick social video gives off the feeling that the business in question is taking their content seriously. Highlighting that they care. Of course there can be certain occasions were production values don’t matter for social content. Although this is more for friends sharing funny videos of cats and dogs wearing sun glasses or juggling. Rather than businesses sharing their product videos. I’m certain the level of quality video created for brands on social is increasing all the time. It certainly is in my experience anyway. In the future, end users will likely be put off by social videos shared by businesses if they don’t look the part and have a bit of wow factor. The reason for this is that viewers are already inundated with video content and if it doesn’t float their boat immediately then it’s swiped away. In addition, if we’re already overrun with video content then I can only imagine it’s going to increase. This is why so much thought goes into the first 5 seconds of a social video in order to grab the attention of the viewer and hold it. It’s stiff competition.

How Does Engagement Work on Social Media?

Regardless of how many followers you have, quality content can reach thousands, even millions of potential customers if it gets good enagement. How? Well every like, comment, share, Retweet etc. allows your video content to be seen by not just your usual network, but the extended network of the person who has engaged with your content. Each click is opening the door for a whole new audience. So never underestimate the power of social media. We’ve all heard that at least once before, right? Whether we’re talking about someone being reunited with a long lost relative, or a rescue dog finding his forever home, we’ve all seen examples of how these platforms allow us to reach a much greater audience and social video content for your business is no different! You’re only a like away from your next sale!

If you want social media video content for your brand, contact our team today!

Video Production Manchester 0161 962 5455