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.


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.

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

flame engulfed microphone from a brand film

What Makes Good Corporate Video Production?

Manchester Video Production

In Manchester, video production is highly competitive and there is some outstanding video content being created every day. However, often when people think of corporate videos they assume they are boring health and safety videos, training videos or cheap corporate films that the viewer stops watching within 10 seconds. Maybe that is the case in some corporate video productions that lack creativity and invention. It doesn’t have to be this way though. When you’re lucky enough to work for one of the best video production companies Manchester has to offer then you do things differently. We pride ourselves on delivering exactly what our clients are looking for, while always striving to think of a new angle or perspective to ensure the end viewer watches the entire video and even more importantly, remembers it.

Corporate Video Production, that’s not so Corporate

Granted, some subjects are dry in nature and it can be a challenge to add something a bit different. However, it could be something as subtle as getting more interesting takes of the same question in an interview and coaxing a touch of personality out of the contributor. Afterall, sometimes the most confident and gregarious individuals get nervous when a film camera is shoved in their face. On the other end of the spectrum it could be an abstract concept that subliminally resonates with the audience in a highly creative way. There are many ways to create a video idea. You could have the exact same brief and concept, but a totally different creative approach. Sometimes this comes down to budget but more often than not it doesn’t. It’s simply a matter of being brave with the execution. Don’t assume a video has to be a certain way just because that’s how most people would create it or imagine it. There is always an original way. Always a more interesting route. Sometimes you just need to be bold and try something new. At Groundbreak we’re always trying to do things a bit different which is why our portfolio is so diverse.

Business Culture Videos

Below is an example of one of our corporate video productions that is all about the culture of a business and the people that make the company tick. This is a quintessential corporate video that isn’t very corporate at all. I doubt you’ll have watched many corporate videos that feature a burning microphone or a martial arts champion showing off his moves.

Our client was determined to showcase the people behind the scenes. They all have their own personalities which combined is what makes the business a success. They wanted the world to see who they are and what they’re all about. Above all, the owner wanted potential clients to know why they do what they do and why they love what they do. Anyone who commissions them to build a studio knows they are in very safe hands- Not just that they’re experienced which is important, of course- but more than that. Clients can now see how much passion they have for what they do, highlighting that it’s more than just work. It’s a vocation and everyone in the company has a musical background or keen interest in music. That’s why everything works in perfect harmony.

Our client was blown away by this video and said it had gone way beyond their expectations. This was a lovely compliment for the Groundbreak team because we truly care about our video productions. It means the world to us to receive that kind of feedback. It’s also of high importance that the videos we create make a difference for our client. We want them to walk away with a corporate video that they’re proud of. Something they want to show to the world because it delivers the message that they want to share. It shows their potential clients who they are and why they are someone you’d want to do business with. Finally…results. The video needs to reach the exact target audience it is aimed for and open their eyes. Maybe make the viewer feel something that isn’t tangible, but highly positive. What better way to achieve this than to create a video that not only resonates and instigates an emotion, but lingers in the persons mind long after they’ve watched it.

(RED) Weapon of Choice

In order to capture the stunning pictures required we decided the perfect camera for this particular video production was a RED camera. There’s a clue in the header above to the exact camera we used for any DOP’s or camera geeks like us reading this. We needed to shoot in hi speed (slow motion) for numerous shots in order to achieve the effect and style we were aiming for. This camera is an excellent choice when you want to keep resolution but shoot a slow-motion scene.

In my experience corporate video is a loose term. It can mean a range of video content from social videos, brand films, promotional videos, animation explainers, product adverts and everything else in-between. Essentially, it’s a video that is created for a company or brand as some form of promotion, education, information or advertisement. The only thing that really matters is how the corporate video is executed, how engaging it is, and that it nails the brief.

If you’re looking for a corporate video or simply a chat about how you could implement a video content strategy. Please do give us a call and we’d be happy to help contact us.

2d animation production for television

The Groundbreak Autumn Round-up

Celebrating Manchester’s Best Video Production Companies

Here at Groundbreak we can’t believe we’re edging closer to the end of November. What an autumn it’s been already here at Groundbreak HQ. We spent an evening at the MPA inspiration awards last month as one of the best video production companies Manchester has to offer, nominated for best video. We were pipped to the top spot by a BBC collaboration in the end, but still very proud to have one of our commercials up against the biggest players in the industry. It’s two consecutive years now we have been an award nominated finalist at the MPAs for television adverts we’ve produced from concept to final delivery. Video production in Manchester is thriving and here at Groundbreak Productions we are in the thick of it and loving every minute of producing outstanding corporate and commercial videos.

Video Production For Global Brands

Another great achievement this autumn for Groundbreak has been working with a multi-billion-dollar client from over the pond for the first time. Our new client has impeccable standards and expect quality video and perfection with all of their commercials. It involved a large green screen shoot directed by our in-house Director Geoff and produced by our very own Creative Producer Sean along with the rest of the Groundbreak team. We needed a 35-person crew, a RED Helium 8k and two Arri Amira cameras all shooting in synchronicity. Fortunately, the team at Groundbreak like pressure and thrive under that kind of environment. It’s all top secret at the moment but watch this space for the commercial’s release in the new year.

Animated Videos

It’s been a hectic autumn for our post-production team too. We’ve been creating numerous animations both 2d and 3d. We’re putting the finishing touches to a magical 3d animation imagined and realised by our talented Head of Production Matt  for another wonderful client which will be polished and mastered just before winter arrives. Animating this piece was great fun with it being a highly satisfying and captivating style. However, the most fun part was the sound design. We locked ourselves away for a good few days in our post-production studio and created hypnotic sounds that we’re certain will blow the audience away.

One of the many other animations we have recently created is a fun 2d TVC we produced for another client which has just been broadcast. This is a product animation highlighting an exciting range of security products in a fun style that even briefly includes a fire breathing dragon (no, not the John Lewis Advert!). Due to our client’s positivity towards the final video animation we’ve no doubt it will deliver excellent results for them and we look forward to creating the next one.

Winter – A Busy Time For Corporate Videos

We’re always crazy busy at this time of year because many of our clients want to shoot their commercial, corporate or social videos just before their Christmas parties as part of their marketing strategy for the new year.

See you soon and here’s to a fun and productive winter season that’s just around the corner.

Enjoyed this round up? Have a look at our other video production blogs, including behind the scenes stories, equipment reviews and general video production hints and tips !

head shot used for video blog

Memorable TV Commercials

Last week it was my birthday. I won’t specify the exact date as the team at Groundbreak HQ often become quietly frustrated when I am inundated with flowers, chocolates and negligee from well-wishers and fanatics.

Nor will I explicitly state the year that I was born. When I am occasionally pushed for an answer to this question I daintily wither like a debutante southern belle, offer only “the year of the Dragon”, and nod to indicate that that should suffice. 

A further clue would be that I share a birth year with the most consistently ubiquitous voice of Pop since my early teens and po-faced Bajan – Rihanna. Another still is that I am the same age, height and weight as MMA and Dublin’s Conor McGregor, he has ever so slightly better posture than I do which creates the optical illusion that he is in marginally better shape than I am fitness wise. A third clue, a certain giveaway, is that I have the same year of birth as the unrivalled, unparalleled, the absolute definitive ginger wizard of his generation Sir Rupert Grint. 

As true for myself as it is for BadGalRiRi, The Notorious and GinWizWeasley – since we were born, things have changed. When we four were born television advertising in the UK was only 33 years old (I’m quite old, the Berlin wall was still up) and between then and now TV commercials and marketing have changed significantly.

Old TV Advertisements

One thing I remember being confused by as a child were the advertisements that were seemingly for a generic product that was unbranded. Usually for foodstuffs like the famous “go to work on an Egg” ad campaign of the 50s and 60s (long before I was born). Who pays for those ads? Hens? Were they governmental schemes to push egg sales and if so why? Is that what communism is? Where were the adverts for shoes?

“Remember to buy shoes!”

“Shoes! For your feet”

“Slip in to something lacy”

Remember when the League Cup was sponsored by Milk? MILK! Not Alpro, or Dairy Crest or any other brand. Lactose or otherwise this was a huge national football competition that was sponsored Milk. Good old-fashioned Milk direct to you from the Mad Cows of yesteryear. Bizarre.

Here is an ad that was being broadcast during the year that myself, The Fenty founder, The 170 lbs Irish gorilla, and The Venerable Saint Rupert Grint were born. This ad is a TV commercial promoting that most prestigious of products – Pork. The ad encourages families to “lean on Pork”. This pun seems to hint at pork being less fatty than other meats as well as being comparatively economically priced so when the pantry looks bare you can always lean on pork to get you through the week.

Staying with the food theme, although this time overtly branded, this next and equally odd video features current spouse of the fabulously tyrannical Rupert Murdoch and mother to four of Mick Jagger’s children Jerry Hall. She turns to camera as the narrator whose voice sounds like he is newly recovered from inhaling some water asks us “Are you a Bovril Body?”

Jerry with the sensual air of someone who has never been asked a more reasonable and enticing question answers “With 20 calories a cup, naturally”. She then takes a sip from a double handled, fine china and (one would guess) antique, Bovril cup.

There and then as a babe in my mother arms I unlatched from her breast. Screaming, I declared that milk was for sponsoring football tournaments and overweight people – I was to have a Bovril Body! In the (few) decades since, I have drank Bovril and Bovril only. Another striking similarity between myself and the two-weight world champion Conor McGregor as I’m told he does the same when cutting weight before fights. A marketing triumph.

The above ads are examples of commercial productions that were still in their broadcast cycle when I was born. However, the following and final ad actually debuted in the very same Tibetan year of the Female Fire Rabbit as I did. In a harrowing prophecy of my retirement this commercial features an 80-year-old jogger Walt Stack. He is running over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge topless. As he runs he tells us that he runs 17 miles every morning. He then tells us that people ask him how he keeps his teeth from chattering in the winter time. “I leave ‘em in my locker” Walt quips and runs on by, the guy is a maverick. Walt, as astounding and virile an octogenarian as I’m sure he was, is not the star of this ad. The true star is what follows next. A logo and a super.

“Just do it. NIKE”

This was the very first* usage by Nike of “Just do it.” It was pitched to Nike by a marketing executive who reportedly came up with it by repurposing the last words of a murderer who uttered “Just do it” to the firing squad that were braced in anticipation ahead of him in his last moments.

The flippancy, the attitude, the simplicity, the singularity of focus and determination, the inspiration, the hope, the unsympathetic self-belief of the phrase has entranced and resonated with us ever since. From that day to this, from an 80-year-old jogger running 17 miles because he can to NFL and Nike athlete Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for his national anthem to this day in protest of the treatment of minorities in the US, Nike have found moving stories and branded them. How does an 80-year-old man run 17 miles a day? How can an athlete have the courage to lose his job and millions of dollars to stand up for what he believes in? In the first case and the second, which was heavily marketed by Nike to mark the anniversary of the phrase in 2018, the answer is the same – Just do it.

The birth of a truly iconic and globally successful symbol within the world of advertising… as well the birth of Nike’s Just do it. A fine year of the dragon indeed.

*Not the first use of “Just do it” by any brand. Two years before Nike’s campaign Britain’s very own Weetabix had an ad that could not have been more of its time. Featuring animated characters that made up the Weetagang dancing through dark city streets, a bespoke rock ballad extolls the virtues of a filling breakfast and even squeezes in a brief sax solo, the pavement flags light up as the characters step on them, the song and the ad end when the characters jump in to a billboard Weetabix ad and the singer shout-sings “Wake up with Weetabix… and just do it.” We now know what really kept Walt Stack running 17 miles every morning.

chair featuring in video blog

The Story About The Chair

Seamless Video Production

We take some things for granted. We’re supposed to. When things are well-designed they are supposed to appear entirely innocuous, borne of nature, as though they have lain there for time immemorial and we have appeared among them rather than them among us. This is not only true of physical designs. In video production good sound design can, and is often intended to go unnoticed. A well-crafted visual transition can be so seamless that the viewer stays immersed in the film and unaware of a cut and similarly, production design can often be taken for granted. Even when not subtle or naturalistic, set design and props can be easily overlooked if they are executed well in a video. Whether a set is intended to meticulously represent an actual place and time, or to create an entirely ethereal and symbolic space, if it is well designed we readily accept the world that we are presented with and all things within it. We go to that world without much thought for the strenuous labour of the set builders, prop buyers or production designers. Sourcing props is definitely not work that deserves to go unnoticed, even if it is intended to, as I can personally attest.

Sourcing Props

My friends and family have grown used to seeing me become increasingly incensed at inanimate objects. Worse still, inanimate objects that are not present. In fact, them not being present is exactly what enflames me. I can be heard listing things I need to do, locate or acquire for a project and inevitably the list dips in to the ludicrous at the end with a flourish. The list starts quite normally. “I need to book a soundie, arrange catering, talk to the wardrobe supervisor and find-” now this is where the list becomes vaguely bizarre in perfect synchronicity with my cadence becoming distinctly manic. The point at which I say “find” is usually a good indicator that my to do list is about to go awry and I’m going to sound a little panicky. Below are some examples taken from my real life. Verbatim.

“I need to book a soundie, arrange catering, talk to the wardrobe supervisor and find-

  • A dozen gymnasts
  • A Mother of Pearl dressing table
  • A church that will let us shoot a blasphemous music video for an Australian political party
  • A Dalmatian
  • An ice truck
  • 12 pews [I found the church but it didn’t have pews. The Director wanted pews]
  • Two snakes
  • A chair

A chair. Or ‘The Chair’ as my friends would call it when enquiring “how’s work? How’s it going with The Chair?” “Have you sorted The Chair?” or “I heard shouting. Is it The Chair?” It’s the most benign sounding item on the list but as with all things on the list the challenge is twofold, first in finding a very specific chair/Dalmatian/dressing table and secondly in finding it yesterday. So having it delivered today! This chair was very specific and very time sensitive. We needed a black leather armchair with a brass frame and we needed it by Sunday. Today was Friday. Both myself and a Production Assistant called furniture shops, prop hire companies and set designers all to no avail. We turned to a little known, secret industry resource called Google. We found chairs that were 2 out of 3 combinations of black leather, brass frame and available to be delivered on Sunday but none that were all 3. The Chair Triumvirate alluded us for hours. We persevered but started to consider alternative options as the possibility of us finding THE chair dwindled. It was suggested to me that we could use one of the chairs that was available to collect and of a similar design and paint the frame and leather to make it the right colours. I applauded the ingenuity and dynamic approach to solving the problem (it was less patronising and The Apprentice-y than it sounds) but said I it could never work. I know Directors and clients are very prescriptive with set design briefs. They want what they want, and we MUST find it.

I had an idea. It was not fool-proof but we were nearing the deadline and, as my tattoo reads, momma ain’t raise no fool. We would purchase the exact chair that we wanted but had thought impossible to have on set on time. I would then arrange a same day courier to collect the chair directly from the distribution depot, in Kent, and bring it directly to set, in Manchester, the client would love it and I would relax somewhere near the snack table and enjoy the shoot. It wasn’t an ideal plan but it was by no means a hare-brained scheme. It was certainly more straightforward than the plan to acquire the Mother of Pearl dressing table which involved me personally collecting it directly from the manufacturer… in Karachi. The Chair was approved by the client and Director and purchased. I arranged a courier to collect The Chair on Saturday morning and deliver it directly to set that same day, a whole day before we needed it. There was some back and forth arranging security access for the courier to be able to get the chair from the collection point but it was all arranged and I slept well on Friday night.

The chair was to be delivered to the shoot location before 6pm on the Saturday. I’d sent an email double checking the booking and that all was well at 8am. I’d received an email confirming that I should relax and enjoy a Saturday morning just as I would any other – being beaten up and mocked by my daughter. At 5:50pm I called the courier to confirm that the chair had been delivered. The lady on the phone sounded trepidatious. She said she would give me the driver’s phone number. This never happens. You can beg and plead for the driver’s number. You never get the driver’s number. I became stricken with panic. “Is there a problem with the delivery?” I asked in an unexpectedly high-pitched voice. My daughter mocked me. “You can talk to the driver” the lady said. In hindsight, I only wish the courier company could have passed The Chair to me as quickly as she passed the buck to the driver. I called the driver and asked him if he had delivered the chair. He told me “they were closed” I asked him that if the shoot location was closed would he to deliver it directly to my house and asked if he was still in the area. He said, “no the distribution centre was closed.” He hadn’t collected The Chair. The driver had arrived to collect the chair at 4:30pm. Thirty minutes after the distribution centre had closed. He had planned, in a daring feat, to collect the chair at 4:30pm in Kent and deliver it before 6:00pm in Manchester, a bold bordering on moronic attempt at bending space and time that if achieved would have been a remarkable leap in travel technology and human evolution but was in actuality a monumentally cretinous catastrophe that I seldom needed.

I calmly walked out into the garden to take stock/bare knuckle attack my punch bag. I called the distribution centre. An automated message told me they were closed until Monday morning at 8am. I gently sobbed. My daughter mocked me. I called the Director and explained. There was a potential solution. While the shoot started on Sunday the scene that we needed The Chair for wasn’t scheduled until Monday at around lunch time. I spoke to another courier and asked if they could be at the door of the distribution centre coiled and ready to spring in to action the second it opened. They assured me that they could have the chair loaded on a van and hurtling towards me by no later than 08:05am on Monday, that depending on traffic they could have it with me by around 1pm and that their driver had no ambitions as a scholar of paradoxical time/space continuum equations. I spent the rest of the day preparing the final things for the shoot. I just needed to book a soundie, arrange catering, talk to the wardrobe supervisor and find a 4ft x 4ft mirror, a white coffee table that could double as a bench and a 20ft x 20ft roll of flooring and The Chair. I slept less well on Saturday night.

The first day of the shoot, Sunday, came and went and while it went very well it still didn’t have The Chair. Sunday night I dreamt of arriving home to find that I was too late and my house was closed so I had to live outside with nothing but a chair. Vans circled me. I cowered. My daughter mocked me. I woke on Monday and called the courier immediately and asked for the driver’s number so I could harangue him and ensure that he collected the chair on time. They wouldn’t give me his number. I felt confident in this company. I drove to the shoot stopping only to change a tyre because the gods felt that my morning was evidently not stressful enough. The talent on this shoot were only available to be on set for one hour. In one hour we had to shoot numerous ads as well as stills photography and social media spots. We also had no idea when they would arrive and when the hour would start. We knew only that it would be after lunch. If the chair arrived before then I could proudly take my place near the snack table, if not then there would be no opportunity for waiting around, the hour countdown would start whether The Chair was there or not and we would not be able to shoot that ad. These immovable facts whirred in my mind as I changed my tyre with my phone perched on my shoulder calling the courier. The Chair had been collected. Depending on traffic I was going to sleep very well that night.

Lunch time approached. The mirrors arrived, the bench arrived, the flooring arrived. The talent arrived. The 60-minute countdown began. I frantically called the courier. They would absolutely not give me the driver’s number. I was impressed. They called me back. The driver had arrived! He had handed the chair over to someone at reception! I asked someone to run and collect it quickly while the talent were in make-up. Minutes before the talent arrived on set the chair was rushed in and put in place. The talent, a 6ft 3 inch footballer, walked on set and immediately dwarfed The Chair. It looked like a toy. The Director and Client had a quiet chat. I gently sobbed. My daughter was at nursery. It was decided that The Chair was too small.

Despite my stress and anguish and logistical prowess being utterly worthless I would sleep well that night. For while I was attacking a punch bag or changing a tyre or being mocked, the Production Assistant had arranged for the purchase and collection (from Wigan, very close to Manchester) of a chair that was of a similar design to the chair in the brief and had the Set Builder paint the frame and leather to make it the right colours. The Director and Client loved it.

Of course, I had known of this contingency plan and I had known that regardless of what happened we would solve the problem (The Chair WAS delivered on time.) I knew that we’d give the client the shoot they’d imagined in their brief. That never stopped me endeavouring to achieve plan A while working equally hard on plan B but the real moral of the story is that the work of a good Set Builder should NEVER go unnoticed!

video production agency best video award nomination banner

Groundbreak Productions Nominated for Best Video – 2019 MPA Awards

Award Winning Video Production

Groundbreak Productions continued video production work with Brother International has resulted in yet another award nomination. This year started in fine fashion with a European Office Products Awards win in the ‘Video of the Year’ category. And was quickly followed by a triple nomination at the Prolific North Awards.

Next month we will be heading back to the MPA Inspiration Awards in Manchester. With the chance to bring home the ‘Best Video’ award for our Brother International food traceability video (below).

Brother Food Traceability

2019 MPA Inspiration Awards

This year’s MPAs will once again be held at the iconic Midland Hotel, Manchester on the 17th October 2019 from 6:30pm. With the award ceremony just weeks away we’d better get our party outfits ready (and maybe the James Bond-style helicopter ride to the ceremony we storyboarded and very nearly agreed on last year!)

And although our team will be thoroughly enjoying the festivities of the evening. We won’t forget to capture the best bits and keep you updated on our social media channels throughout the night. You can also follow what everyone else is doing using #MPAAwards19 on Twitter. 

Award Nominated Concept

This award nominated commercial is in fact part of a series of commercials for our client Brother International. Sticking to the same concept we produced retail and field commercials too. They were also nominated for numerous video awards. Due to their success we have had more commissions for this style of video production.

About the video

As with any complex TV commercial production we needed many months of meticulous planning to pull it off. We had to create something both ourselves and our client could be proud of. With everything happening in camera it was even more necessary than usual. If one foreground, mid ground, background, light or actor moved slightly off cue too fast or too slow we would have to start all over again. The whole point of the concept was to capture everything in one shot without any visual effects. And that’s exactly what we did. Which was a challenge to say the least. Luckily the Groundbreak team are not only ridiculously organised but also highly talented, so managed to pull it off.