film production Manchester

The Future of Film Production in Manchester

I love being part of the film production scene in Manchester. Of course at the moment the world of video and film production has been severely affected all over the world. It’s impossible to go out and film most corporate and commercial gigs safely. However, there are lots of film production jobs that can continue during lockdown. This virus will pass and film production in Manchester and elsewhere will make a full recovery and thrive once again. There are already glimmers of hope. Shoots are being pencilled for the autumn. Logistics are already being considered. Concepts and ideas are being discussed in order to get film production up and running later in the year. So how has life been for film producers during this time?

VFX Film Production Manchester

Visual Effects (VFX) fortunately is virus proof. VFX can be worked on from home. Our latest commercial shoots were filmed early this year. This means during the pandemic VFX can be applied remotely. Which means our video production process, or more specifically the post-production work can continue.

Animation Production

Animation, like VFX is often done remotely so during this COVID-19 lockdown animated corporate or commercial videos are probably the best form of film production. Every stage of the animation process can be done by individuals safely working alone. More importantly it would not be detrimental to the overall animation. Maybe the postproduction side of film production will have a boom in 2020 for this exact reason.

Finding Film Locations

Big commercials, particularly live-action shoots have been put on ice over the last few months for obvious reasons. Perhaps this is the hardest hit part of film production. Fortunately, this gives location scouts a great deal of time to source potential film production locations using the vast array of film production location websites. These can be local, and there are some great lists covering Greater Manchester, to worldwide lists. This can keep the most relentless location scout, director or location manager busy. Of course, eventually a visit to these locations will be necessary before shooting but this extra preparation could save time in the future.

Scripting and Storyboarding

Another part of film production that is perfect for remote working is the scripting and storyboarding process. All that is required is a skilled script writer and a laptop or a talented storyboard artist with pencil and paper/tablet and the magic can happen. Some aspects of film production are actually better when isolated. The peace and quiet of your own home or garden here in sunny Manchester can be great for creativity. And with the internet it’s easy to share your progress at every stage with producers and client for feedback and development.


Editing as part of the post-production process is certainly not affected by any kind of lockdown. An editor would often be sat with a producer or director. However, it isn’t uncommon for an editor to sit on their own in the dark for long shifts. Some editors work better when simply left to their own devices. The very best editors I’ve worked with prefer to collaborate with the director by showing them what they’ve been cutting at the end of each day and receiving feedback rather than having them lean over their shoulder during the entire edit and distracting them.

Sound Design

Sound design and sound mixing is another part of the film production process that is perfectly suited to a solitary talented technician immersing themselves in a project. They’ll more often than not be wearing noise reduction headphones which shows that isolation is ideal.

Survival of Film Production

People might think, perhaps understandably so, that if you can’t shoot then film production would grind to a halt and wouldn’t survive. Yes, film production has been slowed down but there are many parts of the film production process that involve individuals working alone as single cogs in a big machine.

Film Production in 2020

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon that the film production scene in Manchester, London and across the UK is slowly starting to gather momentum as the lock down eases. It’s important to not rush things as lives are more important than creating film. However, with careful and meticulous planning it shouldn’t be too long before big shoots are possible once again. The rules have changed, and the processes will be altered to ensure the safest possible environment for cast, crew and clients are adhered to. However, there is undoubtably a light at the end of the tunnel.

At Groundbreak we’re all really looking forward to a bit of normality. Once it is safe to do so we look forward to collaborating with you on your next film production. If you’d like to start planning now for a film production later in the year it’s never too early to start pre-production. Contact the Groundbreak team to start the process.



Photo by Debbie Johnson from Pexels

visual effects portfolio

Visual Effects Specialists

A visual effects portfolio should showcase different styles of visual effects (VFX). It can never show everything achievable of course as the possibilities are endless. A visual effects portfolio is a bit like a video production or animation showreel, I suppose. It gives glimpses into the different visual effects achievable. A visual effects portfolio is like a window into the world of creativity. Its aim is to attract attention and inspire. Sometimes subtly and other times to stop the viewer in their tracks. There is always a new way of creating visual effects and for a multitude of applications. That is the exciting thing about VFX in the world of video production and animation. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to visual effects.

Our Visual Effects Portfolio

If you’re new to VFX then have a look at our visual effects portfolio here to give you a sneaky peek at what visual effects are all about and how they can help enhance a video production. This in turn will show your brand in a great light and increase revenue in the big picture. It certainly adds a layer of magic to a video. And it’s not just about increasing production values. It’s more than that. It opens up possibilities and means you can go further with ideas. More creativity is achievable. You aren’t restricted by what you can film on a live action set. It gives you freedom in a similar way to animated videos.

Why Use Visual Effects?

There are many reasons you might feel visual effects are suitable for a particular video production or commercial. There might be an impossible live action shot that isn’t achievable without VFX. Maybe your brand mascot is a flying pig (stay with me please). As part of the commercial script, said pig needs to soar high up in the sky and land on a roof after doing a loop the loop. The same pig then delivers a clever line of dialogue to close the commercial. Now obviously the best video production company in the world wouldn’t be able to shoot that in reality. As far as I’m aware flying pigs are only real in fairy tales and the only pigs I know that can speak live in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Therefore, in order to achieve the impossible, you would need to use visual effects.

Subtle Visual Effects

The example above using VFX would be a considerable video production gig. With a significant budget and team. However, not all visual effects involve flying pigs. Often visual effects are used in a much more subtle way. Maybe you need to shoot a scene and heavy rain is fundamental to the story arc (like most days here in Manchester). Without a significant downpour the story just wouldn’t make sense. Your video production agency has sourced a rain machine which is doing a great job. However, due to the location the rain machine is not able to cover the entire shot due to health and safety reasons. What do you do because you need the entire shot to be drenched with pouring rain?

The Visual Effects Solution

This is an instance that VFX would be a great solution. The visual effects team would create CGI rain which would match the real rain and blend seamlessly into the shot. So now you have the full shot of rain as desired. This makes the overall commercial work, and nobody would have ever known that some of the rain wasn’t in fact real. So that is an example of how visual effects can be used in a subtle manner to enhance a shot without it being the star of the show. You could of course have a flying pig soaring through the rain too if you think it necessary.

Considering VFX For a Business Video

It’s always worth considering visual effects in your next video production project. You may only need an explainer video or an interview with the boss, but at the same time VFX might greatly increase your projects production values and possibilities. Which in turn could give your video much more traction, reach, and long-term success.

If you’re interested in finding out more about visual effects and the possibility of using them on your next video production, then please get in touch and we’d be happy to help.


Our VFX Portfolio

Our Visual Effects (VFX) portfolio is diverse and ever expanding. At Groundbreak our VFX portfolio is a place where we can create the impossible and have fun along the way. Visual effects and CGI are a powerful tool in the world of video production. We’re especially proud of our VFX portfolio because it’s an aspect of Groundbreak that has evolved significantly over the years. We have gone from only occasionally using VFX to regularly lifting the production values of a video production by adding a touch of VFX magic. Our VFX portfolio showcases some of the many creative directions you can take a production. It’s also a tool that highlights how visual effects can help tell a story in what would be impossible during a live action shoot.

VFX Portfolio Magic

Our team loves nothing more than shooting a high-end commercial and then adding some beautiful, seamless VFX to take it up a notch. This could be to simply wow the viewer or maybe it is actually the best way to guide the story arc. Creating the impossible in order to tell a story or enhance a message. There is something truly stunning about the combination of high-end cinematography and perfectly executed visual effects. Making the unreal appear real, and at the same time appear natural and comfortable within a shot is a true skill. Our VFX portfolio has numerous different examples of how VFX can be used to enhance a video or add a touch of magic.

Delays On Set

All producers, directors and crew will have been on set and been up against it time wise at some point. This could be for a myriad of reasons. Maybe the script changed last minute on set. It could be that one of the talents is running late because their taxi has broken down. Maybe a technical issue regarding the lights, grip or camera. Whatever the reason, it isn’t uncommon. Sometimes when this happens there is a temptation to move on to the next shot and add in the details with VFX later. In fact, many of the commercials in our VFX portfolio will have had delays on the shoot for one reason or another. It’s part of the job. It doesn’t affect the final video if you have skilled VFX operators involved. Delays and things that make you think on your feet on set actually adds a bit of spice to the day, in my opinion.

VFX Fixes

The knock-on effect of relying on VFX to “fix it in post production” however, is that you are adding labour to the post production. Sometimes this doesn’t matter because it is a simple fix and won’t take long. So could well be a shrewd move. However, the old cliché “you can fix it in post’ sometimes causes a nightmare for the post production VFX team. I have been on set when I was a trainee when the term ‘fix it in post’ was thrown about instead of getting additional takes. I’ll never forget the look on the VFX supervisors face. I could see his face drop because he knew he was going to be doing the fixing and in for the long haul. Something I didn’t appreciate at the time.

Different Reasons To Use VFX

There are different reasons to use VFX. Sometimes it is simply a way in which to fix a live action shot in order to make the shot seamless and flow exactly how the director envisaged it. Other times it is used to enhance and lift a video production by creating something impossible to shoot like a tornado in an office or a high-speed train whizzing through somebody’s kitchen, for instance. Visual effects have many uses and numerous video applications. One thing is for sure, I am a big fan. Not only because VFX can make the impossible a reality but because it gives incredible flexibility when creating a video.

If you are looking to use some VFX wizardry in your next video production, then Groundbreak is perfect for you. Whether that might be implementing an idea you already have or if you’d like us to get involved right from the beginning and help conceptualise your video and advise what is achievable then please do get in touch and we’d be happy to help.





video production company

A Worrying Time For a Video Production Company

As an owner of a video production company and animation studio, like any other business owner the thought of losing everything you’ve battled so hard for over the years is a sobering thought to say the least. Losing a business or livelihood is not life or death but it would be a bitter blow. This is currently a reality for many business owners, employees and freelancers around the world due to Covid-19. Like every type of business out there, a video production company or animation studio takes many years to build. Over time a reputation is forged.

Video Production Teammates

Unearthing the right people that you want to share your working life with is incredibly difficult and often takes years. Fortunately, I got the hang of recruitment over the years and only collaborate with decent human beings. People that I would happily spend time with socially. Folk who not only care about the next video production or animation gig, but more importantly are decent people who care about others and stand by their morals. Respectful and considerate people. The kind of team you’d look forward to sharing a brew with after a long day on set or in the animation studio. You know you can be upfront and straight down the line with them. My kind of people. Our video production company is more than a business. It’s a small family. We often share the stresses and strains that come our way in life and always know we have support. During these challenging times it reminds me of how lucky I am for this.

Binary Opposites

When running a full-service video production company and animation studio, just like in life there will always be ups and downs. This is inevitable and unavoidable. You can’t fully revel in the most fantastic times if there aren’t a few rough rides along the way. Comparisons are essential. That overwhelming sense of achievement and contentedness can only be reached and truly appreciated by the occasional bleak reminder of darker times. It’s this binary opposite that can have the power to make life magnificent and full of joy. If you’ve been tainted by challenging circumstances in your life, then happy times have an additional lift. A sense of feel good and well-being is often magnified after a grim encounter. Maybe, after this pandemic has been ground to a halt positivity will be hard to contain. Once we’ve all got our lives back on track that sense of relief will turn into an unbridled sense of positivity, I hope.

Out of Control

You can plan for the future and ensure things are in place to deal with problems or the tougher times you come to expect in business life. That could mean detailed cashflow forecasts, purchasing the best insurance for your latest advertising shoot or mitigating potential workflow issues before an animation or VFX gig develops past the storyboard phase. However, there really isn’t much successful planning you can do regarding a pandemic that surreptitiously creeps up on you. It’s not something our video production company was expecting or planning for. Yes, we did make significant changes starting in February once the warning signs had begun. Searching for a niche survival offering and making changes on the hoof. As we witnessed projects pushed back, put on pause or cancelled for at least a few months. This instigated a feeling of helplessness. It is rare that something is out of your control in such an absolute way. It truly puts everything into perspective and reminds you that everyone’s health is all that matters.

Guessing Game

The problem is we didn’t know and still don’t know how long this will go on for and salaries, bills and overheads still need to be paid. That’s a dark place for any business owner be it video production company, animation studio or any other. Looking at a cashflow that looked positive at the start of the year to suddenly the prospect of no new business and repeat jobs being cancelled or indefinitely on pause is alarming. If we knew it was going to be a specific amount of time, then it would still be difficult but at least a structured plan could be in place with a definitive ending. Unfortunately, this is a story that has a beginning, the middle looks like it is fast approaching and there is no tangible end in sight.

The World Order

My intention for this blog isn’t to be negative. I can’t hide the fact that the world has been turned upside down by a virus that hitherto nobody had even heard of. I’m shocked by how much of a grip this virus has on the world order. Often in the west we are reminded of the baddies around the world and the potential for World War Three. However, I don’t think anyone thought this would be the battle the world faces. When you consider how advanced the human race is with science and technology. You’d never have thought (unless you’re in the know of course) that a virus would be able to cripple us, our way of life and our facilities this quickly.

Keeping Positive During a Crisis

There are positives to take from this. There always are positives. As daft as that may sound right now, I think it’s important to search for anything uplifting that can give even the briefest moment of peace and happiness.


One thing I’ve noticed is an overwhelming amount of people who are prepared to help others. This might be the front-line workers in the NHS, emergency services and supermarkets who are putting their own health and lives on the line for the good of everyone else. Or to a lesser extent everyone who is selflessly offering to get food, medication and essential items for others. And I don’t mean for friends and family. I’m talking about neighbours who have never really met but are happy to help their local community in any way they can. There is something intrinsically British and also human in this regard. To help others. To appreciate that we’re all in this together. We are undoubtably stronger together.

In it Together

There are vulnerable people we share this world with. Young and old people who need our support. These are our people. We share our lives with them without having met. We are all one and the same and possess that indefatigable human spirit that will eventually persevere and shine through. I have no doubt. Yes, I’ve heard the negative stories of selfishness, but they bounce off me and are repressed. The stories that stick are the ones of friendship, camaraderie and kindness. The stories that touch your soul with a message of positivity transcending everything else.

We are going to be in for a rough ride, but we are in it together. You may be isolated, but you are not alone. Please remember that.



video production agency

Video Production Agency

As a full-scale video production agency, we work on every type of live action, VFX (visual effects, CGI) and animation production that you can imagine. We are a video production agency that develop and produce films from our Manchester and London hubs. From a challenging documentary filmed overseas to styling the narrative beats of a high-end advertisement commercial shot in studio in Manchester. The development stage of the production is where a video production agency sets itself apart from a video production company. Our clients range from small businesses who know that they need video, but don’t know what it should be or how it should function, to huge brands with vast internal creative teams that need help crafting an animation that will be the flagship of a wider campaign. Either way, as a video production agency we develop the creative that the video will showcase. Developing creative is where any video production agency becomes unique among its peers. After all, strong ideas and concepts trump everything else in creative and marketing industries.

Video Production – Infinite Possibilities

There are an almost innumerable number of routes that can be taken when producing a live action video or animation. One idea can be executed so many ways that it can be difficult to know which route is most appropriate or which will be most effective. Moreover, the possibilities increase when considering animation and VFX videos because imagination is the only limit. There are so many forks in the road of commercial video production that the final film will be one of a huge variety of different potential films. Each decision that is made throughout the production stops the film being one thing and causes it to be another. It is like a huge game of Guess Who? where each creative decision sees a swathe of potential final cuts drop and the remaining stand tall. Eventually one film emerges as the final piece, the sum total of each creative turn along the path of its creation. A great video production company can ingest the concept of a piece and advise the client on what would be the wisest production route. However, we are a video production agency meaning that we are a video production company and a creative agency. So, a good production company can advise a client on production decisions along the way to ensure that the concept of the video or animation is delivered effectively. However, we are the production company making those decisions while we are also the creative team that developed the concepts with you from the earliest inception. So, we not only help to make the decisions that ensure that your commercial is the perfect Guess Who? card that stands proud at the end of the production, we are the ones who put all of the cards up in the first place. Who better to run your production?

Developing a Brand with Video

At Groundbreak we are a video production agency awash with people who have a history of developing marketing and advertising creative as well as producing film and animation. This means that, as a video production agency, when we receive a brief, we are not thinking solely about how to produce a video. We are working on how to develop a brand. We know that video is strongest when it is one integral part of a wider campaign. So we work with clients, advertising agencies and as a creative agency ourselves to develop creative that pushes the brand, not just the video. This holistic approach means that our clients not only get a brilliant video production, but they also get an instant and organic extension to their creative and marketing teams.

Some clients have a very clear vision for their live action or animation project and need us to facilitate and produce their vision. Others visit us in our Manchester HQ knowing only that they want a video. In either eventuality we get to create something great. With the projects that we develop the creative for we get the fun of working on a whole campaign, developing a cross-platform brand while knowing that we then get to be the video production agency that produces the centrepiece film that launches the whole thing. With so many different avenues a production can go down based on the many production or creative decisions along the route it can be invaluable to have developed the creative concept and marketing strategy that the video sits within as we produce a film.

Decisions That Affect a Video Production

Any one creative decision by a video production agency can change the whole commercial. The entire production could be executed in exactly the same way save just one creative decision and the film may be unrecognisable. There are obvious examples. If you cast a different lead actor in your commercial, then the whole thing is different immediately. Casting is an exercise in fine tuning a marketing message. Choosing a person to embody your brand, resonate with your audience and deliver your message. Naturally choosing one actor over another has huge implications to the final piece. Take your favourite commercial and change the music. You may hate it. In fact, you wouldn’t recognise it, it wouldn’t exist. If you change the music you change the pace, change the cut, change the beats of the narrative, you have a whole new commercial. Just one change. The same can be said for animation. You might only adjust the colour palette and it looks and feels like a different video production agency created it.

There are less obvious examples. Choosing one Production Designer over another, for example. You may have an incredibly in-depth brief for the Production Designer that outlines the exact look and feel of the mis-en-scene, and why every decision therein reflects the essence of the piece. But if one Production Designer prefers linear, geometric shapes and designs and another prefers abstract curves and soft lines then they can each deliver work that delivers perfectly on brief but is also diametrically opposed to the other. A video production agency can give the exact same raw footage to ten different editors with the exact same post production brief and be given back ten distinctly different films. Send those ten cuts to ten different colourists and the possibilities multiply further.

Understanding the Bigger Picture

When you work with a video production company that does not develop creative, doesn’t write scripts, doesn’t devise marketing strategy and only produces video based on your creative then you put every one of those integral production decisions in their hands with the hope that they have understood your brief well enough to knock down the right Guess Who? cards and carve out the commercial that can stand proudly front and centre of your advertising campaign. When you work with a video production agency like us, that writes concepts, writes scripts, designs artwork and has a holistic understanding of advertising then you are safe in the knowledge that every production decision is being made with the whole brand, the whole message and the whole strategy in mind. Either because we have developed those concepts with you or, when we are simply producing your creative vision, because we deeply understand the position and function of a commercial film within a broader campaign.

There are almost innumerable ways to produce a video. But there are literally innumerable concepts, stories, marketing messages or campaign strategies for a video to take form around. Choosing a video production agency like Groundbreak with a strong history of developing powerful advertising creative means that your video production is certain to be the absolute epitome of your campaign message as a full-scale video production agency will have developed that message and campaign with you. Having a video production agency that is instrumental in developing your brand with you as well as producing your commercial ensures that it will be that perfect signature marketing piece that embeds your brand and boldly announces your entire campaign.

If you’d like more information about how we develop commercial video concepts from scratch, see the pre-production section of our video production blog. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you develop your brand and produce your commercial film, or if you’d like a game of Guess Who? contact me or pop into Groundbreak’s Manchester HQ.