Good, Fast & Cheap Video Production?

Cheap, affordable low-cost video production. What does that actually mean? What is an affordable video? Affordable to one business may not be affordable to another business. Cheap? We all like a deal and to get our money’s worth. Do we actually want a cheap video though? Is cheap what we’re really looking for or is it just a marketing term to entice a potential customer? Is a cheap video going to do justice to the business, product, or service? Will it sell the culture or offerings in the best possible light? Will a cheap video production give a return on investment or will it look cheap and in turn tarnish the brand it is representing? What about how it makes you feel. Will it feel cheap? Will it cut the mustard in the highly competitive world of business? Maybe in some cases it will, but I highly doubt it would last the test of time.

Low Budget Brand Videos

When you consider some of the rare videos created with seemingly very low budgets for major brands – shot on an iPhone for example- these are generally one-off pieces and the actual budget has been spent on the development, idea shaping and recruitment of the right people rather than the actual filming of the video itself. So, it has likely been a long and well thought out process that has been funded properly. Even though the actual filming of the video hasn’t cost much, the overall project has been well looked after in a financial sense. Video production is like anything else creative. You can make the same video for many different price ranges and tell the exact same story. However, often the difference is how it makes you feel when you first view it (do you continue watching?) and how do you feel at the end of the video. More often than not, the more time and resources spent on a production the more it will resonate with the end user. This isn’t always the case of course as you could video a cute cat chasing an even cuter dog and that could get a load of traction, but in the business world of corporate video and TV commercial production, whether it be live action or animation, usually the more you put in the more you get out. In my opinion quality video production always shines through and that’s at the core of our beliefs and values here at our Manchester HQ.

Quality Video Production

I know there’s an argument for not being too flashy. I totally understand that. Sometimes it is unnecessary to over complicate things with world famous talent and super-duper special effects. Maybe you wouldn’t want to look like you have money to burn. However, there must be a balance. Surely quality video production is important? Working with passionate filmmakers who truly care about each production and understand the science behind the process and psychology behind viewer engagement. People who know what makes end-users take action (a purchase, a positive life change or maybe a business enquiry). Our team in Manchester care about each and every video production we have the pleasure of creating. It’s a pride thing. Our reputation depends on it. We want our clients to be wowed when they receive their corporate video or TV commercial, it means something to us. It’s what puts a smile on our faces and the reason we work in the industry. If we aren’t striving to be the best video production company in Manchester and beyond then what is the point? If we aren’t aiming for excellence and originality, then why do we even bother? Anyone can pick up a camera and learn how to shoot but it takes many, many years of dedication and experience to fully understand the craft behind video production. We feel strongly that video creation is an art form and a way to express ourselves and let our creativity run free. Due to this we always strive to push the boundaries in the productions we produce for our clients because the content we create is always a passion project. There’s an indefatigable urge burning deep within all of us at Groundbreak to always create a better video than the last. To hold the viewers’ attention for longer. To resonate in the mind of the end user long after they have watched the video. This isn’t always possible of course due to the subject matter. But there is absolutely no excuse to not always try and make something powerful and add something special to each and every production rather than just churning something out. What’s wrong with wanting to be the best and want the very best for all of your video productions?

There will always be a place for cheap video production or affordable video production. Just the same way as there are cheap versions of everything in life. However, it’s important to remember that some things can’t be done on the cheap and expect to have the same return as something that is strategically planned, resourced and implemented with love and passion.

At Groundbreak we love what we do and we care about how we do it. That’s just the way it is for us and the way it will always be.

If you’d like to discuss your next video production with a team who want to push your video content to the next level, then please do get in touch.

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TV Commercial Production

“TV Commercial Production will become a thing of the past” I am told every single year by all kinds of folk in the world of video production here in Manchester. I’m told TV is dying. Streaming is taking over the world so there is no point in having a standard TV subscription anymore and even less point creating a TV commercial because nobody will see it. This is what I’ve been warned now for many years. Yes, streaming is massive nowadays and especially for the youngsters but that doesn’t mean that TV is defunct, old hat and pointless. It’s all about evolution in my opinion. The way in which we consume our content is evolving. Including our TV advertisements. This doesn’t mean TV commercial production is a thing of the past though. It’s still one of the numerous outputs that can deliver a powerful message, capture the attention of the viewer and help them take action. In our Manchester studio we are still creating a diverse selection of video productions as part of our client’s video content marketing mix and TV commercial production is still often at the core of that.

TV Standard Commercials

I’m certain that everyone I know (apart from my great uncle Humphrey who is a hermit living on the Galapagos islands) has a TV subscription in their house and more often than not still gets a significant part of their viewing fix on a television screen. This doesn’t mean they don’t have laptops, tablets and phones that they also view content on, but they still watch TV on a television screen (for anyone who literally doesn’t watch TV on a television screen I apologise for generalising). Of course, the younger the person the more likely they are to be streaming through their smart TV rather than watching traditional TV on the traditional channels, but these streaming channels also have “TV standard commercials” which I will discuss later in this blog.

Why Do Teenagers Watch Content In Their Bedroom?

There’s a household pecking order to consider. You could call it a viewing hierarchy. In homes following the back-to-front age rule (the older the person the more rights they have to the TV remote control) I can easily see why the narky teenager ends up streaming shows on their tablet in their bedroom. They’ve essentially been outranked. My home is very much 21st century equal opportunities (although I often feel I have the least amount of remote-control clout). We only have one television in our house which is proudly sat in our living room. My daughter gets first dibs without question. Next in line is my wife with little challenge. And when they’re both out at nursery and/or hot yoga I get full control of the remote. The problem is the only time they’re out of the house I’m also out creating our latest video production.

Quality Video Production, on TV or Online

It seems to me that since the launch of social media and streaming platforms like Netflix, slowly but surely “TV commercial production standard” or some similar iteration is a term for high quality video production. Whatever the platform, an advertisement is expected to be of a certain standard. The team at Groundbreak often get asked to create a TV standard commercial for social media. Which essentially means the client wants quality video production, but instead of TV broadcast it’s online output. This brings me to a confusing statement that a TV commercial doesn’t have to be viewed on a TV. Obviously, given the name it would be fair to assume the commercial in question would be broadcast on a TV screen. However, if you just ignore the TV bit and look at it as a commercial it’s the same production, content, crew, talent, campaign, duration and messaging. For us creating these “television” advertisements the only real difference are the settings on the camera to ensure that if it is going to be broadcast on traditional TV then it will playback correctly. I won’t get technical now but suffice to say that it is important to have the right camera settings when shooting for TV broadcast otherwise you’ll run into lots of trouble during post-production. This is the other stage of TV commercial production that is relevant. It’s crucial to have legal video and audio when mastering the final commercial. This isn’t anything that can get you into bother with the police. It’s simply to do with levels to ensure your commercial is broadcast safe. TV commercials need to be approved for broadcast by various bodies who check the legitimacy of any claims within the advert and that the content is not offensive etc. Online ads can be as false and offensive as you like.  

Smart TV Advertising

A major development in the world of TV commercial production is the revolutionary approach to advertising where different ads can be shown to different households watching the same TV show. Examples of this would be SKY Adsmart or ITV’S VOD to name a few of the big players. This form of TV commercial advertising helps businesses of all different levels of financial clout because it’s generally a more cost-effective way of utilising the power of TV advertising. Businesses can hone in on precise target audiences in specific areas to get a more targeted advertisement like this TV commercial we produced for Vodafone as part of a recruitment strategy for their contact centre in Manchester. It showcases the way in which TV commercials are being aired is evolving and their reach is more calculated and smarter.

As much as the internet is taking over the world there is still room for television and television commercials. Maybe one day this will change but as far as I can see it hasn’t yet and isn’t about to. It’s simply evolving rather than vanishing.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your next TV commercial campaign.

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What Makes a Good Employer Brand Video?

Making the Best Recruitment Videos

There are a number of reasons to have a recruitment video. Perhaps you’re sick of your team. The unexplained absences, surly attitudes and outbreaks of dissidence. You’d better get some new blood in before they unionise and you have a mutiny on your hands. Alternatively, your team are so delightful and performing so well that they’re creating growth for your business and you need to expand your team of gold-bearing geese. Either way you need to start recruiting. What better way than with a recruitment video? Recruitment marketing is a chance to showcase your employer brand. Who you are and what are your values. What are the great things about working at your company? What goes in to making the best possible employer brand video production?

The Video Starts Before the Production

We’re lucky enough to work with some of the best employer brand and recruitment marketing agencies in Manchester and beyond. And despite being dogged by persistent and slanderous rumours/reports of me being a “disruptive” student during my formative years, I have learned a few things from collaborating with teams so talented in the art of recruitment marketing. What strikes me with every video production is the depth of research that has been done before we receive a brief and get pre-production started. This is the real key to getting the best possible value from your production. Employer Branding can sometimes sit in a space between Marketing and Internal Communications but is not actually quite either. It is about researching, designing and implementing a strategy that defines who your company is as an employer. And the research is the most important phase. This allows you to discover first-hand from your team and colleagues exactly how you’re perceived as an employer as of right now. What do people love about working at your company? What are the things your current team think new recruits should hear about? How do your team perceive the company’s character and personality? In briefing meetings I’ve been presented with, and impressed by, research that is incredibly detailed and can pinpoint exactly how the team perceives the company as an employer. This research allows you, and us, to start thinking about the best creative direction to take your production and start to think about what messages you need to convey in your employer branding that we need to convey in your recruitment video. This research is also absolutely imperative to implementing the next lesson I have learned about recruitment marketing.

Be Honest

More and more of our clients are starting to invest similar time and resources into their employer branding videos as they would for a general commercial for their product or service. Working with bespoke employer brand agencies has certainly taught me the value of investing time, money and creativity into your recruitment video. Your recruitment video is selling a product just as much as your general marketing material is. You are advertising the opportunity to join your company and everything that comes along with that. With most people spending half of their waking hours at work you are quite literally selling a life changing opportunity.  You are selling this opportunity in a crowded market of job ads. You must cut through that noisy crowd and win the attention of the right candidates for you. A great start to reaching those ideal candidates is to be honest. Recruitment takes time and resources. To optimise the efficacy of this investment the ideal outcome would be to process the fewest number of applications but with the highest quality of relevant attributes and retention potential. Being honest about what it’s like to work at your company in your video means that you communicate a clear message to the candidates that you want to apply for your roles and who would be a perfect match for you. Not only that, but you also communicate to those who would not be a great match for you and therefore you increase the likelihood of receiving applications that are absolutely worth your time and resources to take further. After all, a happy and motivated team is a successful and fruitful team.

Does a typical workday in your company start with a cuddle from a chimpanzee and a somersault on a trampoline landing in a giant hot tub filled with champagne and Andrex puppies? Does the work mainly consist of kayaking along flowing rivers of liquid chocolate and hourly 45-minute massages? Is each week rounded off with every employee being handed a small velvet sack of glowing moondust and a private concert from the holographic 2pac (B-sides only) as a pat on the back before a hard earned 5-day weekend? No? Me neither. And I love my job. Be honest and tell potential candidates about the real benefits of working at your company and those benefits will resonate with the right candidates who will be attracted to your business and prove to be a wise long-term investment for you.

Show, Don’t Tell

Have you ever met someone who tells you how great of a sense of humour they have but without ever actually demonstrating it? Or been to a bakery that keeps its cakes in the back? Did NASA just tell us that they landed on the moon? When you’re making an employer brand video consider how you can show the audience the messages rather than simply telling them. Talking head interview videos definitely do have a place in recruitment marketing (you can read how to make your interview videos better here) but I’ve yet to see an advert where an engineer from Jaguar calmly tells me about the fantastic innovative features in their new car. They show us. If your company is funny show us that you’re funny and make a funny video. If your company is innovative don’t just tell us, make an innovative video.

To make the best possible employer brand recruitment video, find out the great things about who you are as an employer then be exactly that, starting with your video. For help with your Employer Brand video or to hear more about my fantasy workplace contact me or Groundbreak HQ.

You can see examples of our employer brand recruitment videos in our portfolio.

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Interview Videos – a Love/Hate thing

Interview Videos Are Not Always Good

There, I said it. Interview videos are not always good. That is a carefully worded understatement. Allow me to address the elephant in the room immediately. Up to this point, the elephant in the room has been simply alluded to. Its trunk is edging from behind the curtain. Sometimes interview videos can seem cheap. Interview videos can be boring. I’m shoving the elephant now. The curtain is reeling back. Interview videos are not modern. I kick the elephant. They’re dull. Too long. Whip! I hate them. A crash of a curtain pole, a gasp of a crowd and the elephant is among us. Addressed and unharmed*.

These things CAN be true of interview videos but don’t have to be. So how can we make sure that your interview video is the best it can possibly be? You’re already on our website so you’ve taken step one. Give yourself a pat on the back, that’s the hard part done.

To get the best out of interview videos we like to offer our clients an alternative route. We still interview their team, but it’s in a more informal way with an unseen interview style. This gets the best out of camera shy folk as the interview is audio only. There are numerous examples of this in our corporate video production portfolio.

Making Good Choices to Create the Best Interview Video

As a full-service video production company, we collaborate with you from the earliest inception of an idea (or even before – oftentimes we know the right video concept for you before you do) there are many things we can do to give you a great interview video.

Firstly, you need to be sure if an interview style video is the right way to go for your message. Is the video promoting a product? Or a service? Or a recruitment drive? Interview videos are best when what you are promoting is about personality or culture. It’s a great way to promote a recruitment drive as you can showcase the working culture and ethos of your brand as well as introduce your team. Similarly promoting a service suits an interview style well as you can get a sense of customer engagement from your brand or even have client’s testifying as to how ruddy smashing you are. The audience can see and hear that they mean it.

Talking Head Interviews Vs Unseen Interview videos

Secondly, and at the risk of making myself vomit, we can think outside of the box. If you haven’t passed out from rolling your eyes too far back in to your head then please read on to understand that I mean. A talking head shot generally sits in an interview video. We always recommend avoiding talking head shots in interview videos. Instead we use a style that we call unseen interview like in this video we created for Jaguar Landrover. With this style, the interviewee’s audio is heard only and the visuals are made up of far more engaging shots of whatever it is that we are promoting be it a workplace, a product or a story (You will see the interviewee at the beginning, in a hero shot). This style is infinitely more contemporary than a talking head, it allows more screen time to showcase what we are promoting, it holds the audience’s attention on the messaging and it means your interviewee can relax and speak well, without a camera pointed in their face.

Good People = Good Interview

Thirdly and most importantly choose the right people. Choose people or a person (less is more when considering how many interviewees to have) who is incredibly knowledgeable about the subject of the video, who is genuinely passionate and has belief in the subject and who is known to speak well. This seems simple but it is quite difficult. If you are the marketing team looking to make this interview video you should first consider yourself as the interviewee. You have the communication skills, knowledge and promotional knack to deliver a great interview about your product or service. If you don’t have an incredible orator on your team who’s ready to deliver a condensed TED talk on your product don’t panic. We have a team of experienced Producer Directors who have many years of experience making corporate videos so we can make the shyest and stuttering, ill-informed malcontent sound like a poet-laureate. So, choosing the right people means selecting the right interviewee and choosing the right people to make your interview video – Contact us or me directly (link in the author section) now to discuss anything else you need to know about making a great interview video.

*This elephant is entirely metaphorical. Neither I nor Groundbreak condone cruelty to elephants, figurative or otherwise. For more information on our Elephant cruelty policy please see An Elephant Never Forgets – Groundbreak’s Feature Length documentary on the subject.

An Elephant Never Forgets: Trailer
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Becoming one of the best animation companies in Manchester

Animation – Limited By Imagination

Animation, as with most things in the video production world, is an incredibly expansive topic. 2D animation, 3D animation, Stop Motion animation and Visual Effects are four of the main categories. However, within each category there are so many different styles of animation achievable that it would be impossible to count.

The simple reason for this is that animation in this day and age is limited only by one thing, imagination. As Pixar mastermind John Lasseter has stated in their philosophy, “Art challenges technology, and technology inspires Art.” What John is referring to here is that in order to create the next level of animation, whatever that may be, there needs to be the tools available to realise whatever vision the animation team have in mind, therefore pushing the technical side of animation forward to enable these visions. In turn, as new animation techniques are made possible by this technology, it opens doors to the previously impossible, inspiring artists to push the boundaries even further, thus creating a looping cycle of progression and ever-increasingly incredible animation.

My First Animated film

The animation techniques and possibilities we have today are simply beyond anything I would have imagined possible as a youngster, as I took frame after frame of plastic toys and figurines in my bedroom with my ~1megapixel webcam, creating what can only be described as some of the worst stop motion animation created by anyone (we all start somewhere). Now, we can create completely photorealistic animation that is near indistinguishable from real life. Literally creating anything our imaginations can concoct. This freedom to explore and create without boundaries is a sense of escapism in a way, even illuminating a footpath into the inconceivable for many a viewer.

Given the right idea, the right footpath, an animator can choose to completely ignore the laws of physics and the natural world, dazzle with interesting sequences of satisfying nonsense, embrace the weird, even draw tears. We’ve all welled up at the latest Disney feature, and self-admittedly, at the innocent eyes of a particular animated excitable dragon.

Animated Explainer Videos

With all that being said, animation isn’t always completely about being as creative as possible, it’s also an excellent functional medium for explainer videos. Providing an ability to break down complex information in an easy-to-understand, visual format that can often trump live action filming.

Quite often, we also combine the two! Compositing animated sequences with live action footage can bring these scenes to life by giving an additional element of style, or enhancing them completely. This spans from the simplest addition of animated motion graphics to a corporate video, through to creating out-of-this-world CG fuelled Hollywood blockbusters.

We created the animated explainer video below for our wonderful client OurPeople. It showcases how creative, informative and engaging this type of explainer video can be. It’s functional, yet absorbing.

Groundbreak Productions has became one of the top animation companies in Manchester through constantly exercising our imaginations, immersing ourselves in the technologies available, spending hours and hours on a shot or scene only to step back, look at it, and delete everything to start again fresh. Not to mention, perhaps most importantly, collaborating with the best talent available in the country.

Animation in all its forms is a deep, deep passion of ours. We will continue to expand our own limits, push our imaginations, and find clients who share our vision of creating unique and standout video and animation content. This passion and constant immersion is how I believe we have become one of the best video production companies in Manchester. 

You can see some of our animated creations here.