video shoot studio

Commercial Video Production

I can seldom walk through Manchester without being physically accosted and asked, “What is the world of commercial video production really like?” If I step on the Metrolink at rush hour, within one minute I have been mobbed – “Sean! Over here, tell us about commercial video production! The late nights, the green tea, the beta-blockers we want to hear it all!” Strolling late nights through Manchester is out of the question for me ever since I was approached by a hooded figure with a vacant stare. He fixed my gaze as he shuffled intimately close to me, zombified. I steeled myself and adopted a Capoeira stance. Perched on his slow and pained exhalation I thought I heard my name. He feebly lifted an arm and slid up a sleeve. I glanced at his arm in the last second before I’d prepared to deliver a confounding open palmed strike. I was taken aback. There on his forearm, in blue ink, his tattoo – “why do you love commercial video production in Manchester?”

This has to stop. So once and for all here it is.

Idea Shaping Sessions

A great commercial video production starts with a brilliant brief. There’s nothing better than when we receive a brief that gives us all of the facts but with a big scope for our own creativity. The stipulations of the brief become the rules we must follow while we play a game of imagination in our idea shaping sessions. The brief is like the card you pick up in Pictionary and we must devise the perfect way to draw our picture to convey the message on the card. In commercial video production you only have 30 seconds to convey that message and you have to convey it to a much wider audience than your Pictionary partner who you’ve known since uni. It’s not a perfect analogy but you get the idea. I wouldn’t want to shrug off the hordes of Manchester people who claw at me for an answer as to what commercial video production is like with “like Pictionary”. That would be inaccurate.

Turning a Video Brief into a Concept

Nevertheless, a good brief gives us the facts that only the client can give. Target market, budget and deadline are decisions we’d love to make but in reality, a good brief includes these facts and leaves us room to deliver upon these stipulations in the most effective and impressive way conceivable. Commercial video production is an art form with a world of possibilities but the end goal basically always remains the same. A great brief gives us the parameters that we must work around to ensure that the film does its job, but a brilliant brief also gives us room to flex our creative muscles in devising exactly how we achieve that end. 

Storm in a Teacup?

Brainstorming is a word that I find troublesome. It’s a word that is pretty synonymous with advertising, marketing and communications so it’s tricky to avoid when working in commercial video production. I think bad experiences in the past have meant that in my mind the word has evolved to mean “let’s see who can talk the loudest when we’re all getting a little tired and bored and we’ll just go with that.” One of my favourite writers Jon Ronson produced an episode of his Radio 4 documentary series on Brainstorming and its pitfalls which is definitely worth a listen if devising new ideas with a team is part of your life. Luckily at Groundbreak things work a little differently.

Evolution of Ideas

Whoever is working on the brief will have time individually to digest it and come up with some ideas before we discuss it as a group. We will also often go away again after hearing each other’s ideas to hone our own or take someone else’s forward. A commercial video production is like a baby, you just want the best for it and for it to reach its ultimate potential. You probably wouldn’t make the best parental decisions on the spot while trying to find a long enough break in the crossfire conversation of your colleagues. So, having a little creative incubation time individually before finding a clear consensus on an idea is a precious luxury in commercial video production but in my opinion, it should be a necessity. It helps us each take the brief in potentially different directions which opens up our individual perceptions of what is possible rather than us creating one idea between us in what can easily become a microcosmic echo chamber.

The Groundbreak Way

Our way of working ensures that we take in a good range of creative directions on a brief. We organically find the route that we’re most excited about, we get to a conclusion quicker and we often have a few concepts to pitch to our client so they are sure to be as excited about the production as we are.

Pre-Production

Once we’ve shaped our idea, pitched it to the client who have heralded us as geniuses and whipped out their chequebook quick snap, we then get into the production. Excellent commercial video production is as much about communication and preparation as it is about creativity and the art of storytelling. Pre-production is all about ensuring that we are completely prepared to execute our concept to the highest possible standard, including factoring in contingencies. It is also about giving us and our client the clearest and most detailed possible preview of exactly what the finished film will be. Commercial video production is often a sizeable investment from a client’s marketing budget so we like to do everything we can in pre-production; storyboarding, scouting, scripting to guarantee that the client knows exactly what we’re working towards and has any stress taken away from them allowing them to focus on enjoying the process.

Scriptural Psychosis

The best commercial video productions centre around a strong script. Captivating composition and sumptuous sounds are incredible to experience but when a magnificent script ties up the commercial message neatly and provokes an emotional reaction then the whole package becomes something special to be proud of. Scripting a first draft for a commercial video production is one of my favourite ways to spend a workday. I’ll take the tram into the Manchester office and, after fighting past the baying mob of teenagers greedily enquiring how Coronavirus has affected my life in commercial video production. Then I’ll start to think of opening lines for the script. Usually I’ll have the voice of the actor or narrator in mind before anything else. Then I’ll psychotically sound all of my thoughts in their voice and with the emotional tone of the commercial for a while to get a feel for what sounds good.

Being “In” The Script

Once you get the flow of the delivery and one or two lines you’re flying. I am very easily distracted so white noise in noise cancelling earphones is a godsend for me when writing a script. Being “in” the script in this way is something that not only sounds fabulously pretentious but is also a very fragile state of mind. Writing a first draft of a commercial video script is like sketching out drawing lines which you know will be painted over. The eventual script will in all likelihood be quite different to what was originally written but the form, message and structure will remain based in that first draft. Once a solid draft of the script and a storyboard have been signed off, we then have an excellent idea of exactly what is needed for the shoot.

Shooting Commercial Video

I adore commercial video production shoots. Working as part of a commercial film crew is a thrill and joy to behold. Watching all of the pieces and people come together on set is incredibly satisfying as you see the culmination of weeks or months of work come to fruition. Being on set is a heady juxtaposition of moods. There is a palpable sense of fun and electricity that runs tangentially to a sense of focus and heightened awareness.

There may be some slight apprehension from the cast which is perfectly contrasted and allayed by the Director’s calm and contentment. There is a sense of great importance attached to every task but also an assurance that everything is happening exactly as it should. There is a speedy pace combined with hushed and tranquil voices. Commercial video production shoots have an atmosphere that suggests everything absolutely must go perfectly but that nobody will panic too much if it doesn’t. A collection and collaboration of some of the most creative and resourceful people you will ever meet means that everything will go according to plan, even if it doesn’t.

The Edit

After the wonder of the shoot day we enter post-production. Commercial video production is a process where every phase of the production has to be thought of as where the magic happens. A great concept goes nowhere without a script that does it justice. The script is nothing but ink on paper without a storyboard to visualise it and a shoot to capture it. I don’t know if you have ever seen raw rushes from a commercial video shoot but if you have then you know just how important post-production is. A clip may be 40 seconds long but just one second of that clip is trimmed, colour-graded and made into 3 seconds of the final 30 second commercial.

First Cut

The skill of a great editor is invaluable as they take the vast amount of footage that can be gathered on a commercial shoot and, using the storyboard and script, see the story among the rushes, shiny gems of takes glistening against the gaze waiting to be mined. I would say a commercial video production reaches peak excitement when you are sent the first cut. You know it’s a first cut, you know the client may have amends, you know that you may have notes to give but more than anything else you know that you got it. You know that the commercial you all willed into existence has come to be. It’s a few tweaks and weeks away from being the shiny new toy on your showreel.

On Air

The excitement of a first cut could only possibly be bested by seeing your commercial on air when you’re not expecting it. Then it is truly a complete work. By the time that happens we’ll be deep into other productions, equally excited by them and it’s a heartening reminder of the calibre and purpose of working in commercial video production as you see your work doing its job and making your clients product look and feel incredible.

If, like the masses of Manchester who are banging on our office window cutting through my white noise as I type this, your appetite for what the world of commercial video production is like is still not satiated then you should contact me or Groundbreak HQ directly or visit my more in-depth delve into what we do here.

 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

tv commercial production blog

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.

Crystals from commercial for brother international produced by Groundbreak

Brother Commercial Wins EOPA Video of the Year

European Office Products Awards (EOPA) 2019

On March 5th 2019, the winners of the 18th European Office Products Awards (EOPA) were announced at a special presentation dinner in Amsterdam.

The winner of ‘Video of the Year’ was our video project with Brother International Europe, showcasing the VC-500W full-colour compact label printer with ZINK Zero Ink Technology.

Award Winning Video Production

This commercial shows the power of Brother’s printing technology, a concept that was formed and then brought to life by GROUNDBREAK with stunning results. Click on the thumbnail to view the video below:

The judges of the awards ceremony commented,

“As video content becomes increasingly vital, companies that produce interesting, creative and informative videos to showcase their products, services or company while engaging the customer are reaping the rewards. Judges will be looking at how the video captures the viewers’ attention, brings the subject to life and conveys a message.”

This commercial was also nominated for the Best Content Creation category, at last year’s MPA Inspiration Awards in Manchester so now it’s great to have an ‘award-winning video’ title to add to that!Video of the year winner

Professional Video Production

Would your business benefit from high-quality video content? Have a look at our video showreel and portfolios of commercials, visual effects (VFX), animations, and corporate videos. If you have any questions regarding video production, contact us and we’ll get back to you!