Nick Francis

Nick Francis
Nick is Chairman of Casual Films. He co-founded the company in 2006 following a stint at the BBC. As a director/producer he won lots of awards for his work internationally, including the prestigious IVCA Best Director Gold. Nick spends his (working) time thinking about how to make Casual the best production company our clients could possibly imagine. He is a keen snowboarder, photographer and cyclist. He lives in California with his family and usually doesn’t talk about himself in the third person. Usually.
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Five Awesome Brand Films to Get You Inspired for 2019

Posted by Nick Francis
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Being an almost limitlessly creative medium makes video an exciting and rewarding tool to work with. One of the things we like about making video for businesses is that we have very clear constraints within which to work. Unconstrained creativity is anarchic. Within constraints creativity flourishes. This is why having a well thought out brief is so central to creating work which is memorable and effective. You can download our guide to writing a good brief here.

Before you start with any project it helps to have an idea of the kind of thing you want to produce. To that end, we thought we’d pull together a few films which nail it - to help you to channel your thinking. Have a watch, have a think, and then maybe get in touch with an exciting production company you might know...

Dramatised Charity Film: 

Oxfam – The Heist No One is Talking About

 

This is probably my favourite charity film of all time. By reframing the issue of tax evasion, it makes the subject far more tangible for the audience. It is as illuminating as it is memorable. The cinematic production really adds to the drama and impact.

Inspiration point:

Films with this much gloss and thought require a significant investment. You can get a long way to a result like this with some decent creative thought up front. Once you have an idea as powerful as this, there are almost limitless ways of producing it - Hollywood production values or not.

 

Repurposed Material:

BMW Careers

We love this film because it demonstrates how effective video can be at illustrating company culture. It was produced from the large amount of material that BMW already had. This was combined with some library footage and a punchy soundtrack, to deliver an effect that is eye-catching, memorable and effective.

Inspiration point:

Even if you're not BMW with endless amounts of great footage, have a think about the material you already have. Maybe you can update it, add to it or repurpose it easily to give you great content that you can get more mileage out of.

 

Business Mini-Doc:

AutoDesk – History of 3D Printing 

Most companies are associated with interesting stories if you look beneath the surface. I like this mini documentary because it allows Autodesk to give real depth and context to the work that they do. It builds trust with the company both internally - with employees - and externally - with customers, prospects and potential recruits.

Inspiration point:

Admittedly, 3D printing is kind of cool and looks good on camera – especially the time lapse footage. There are always interesting stories that you can use to build trust with your brand if you look for them. Keep an open mind and ask around. Ask your employees/colleagues/clients. Video is a magnifying glass on issues. You can make a film about an individual or an event and reflect the story of the many.

 

Interactive:

Aloe Black

 Love is the Answer InteractiveThis will link you out to an external site.

This isn’t a brand film, and the interactive is pretty basic, but we still tend to go to this as a great example of the medium, because it’s so satisfying. It doesn’t hurt that the track is ace too. As with any new creative technology, some of the early  interactive has been a little prone to gimmickry. This confidently avoids that because the interactive adds to the narrative of the band coming together. It manages to inspire excitement as we switch from storyline to storyline, seeing what the next band member is up to. This could be used in a corporate context to show almost any process where different threads run concurrently - a recruitment process, a product being assembled or an even being prepared.

Inspiration point:

Interactive video is a great way of increasing engagement with your audience. We have seen engagement rates on some of our interactive films rate at nearly 4x live action video. It may seem a little intimidating, but it just requires an understanding of the mechanics and a little preplanning.  

  

Mixed Media Product Launch

Apple’s Big News

 

Sure, it’s Apple, so it’s stylish, glossy and delish. Producing something like this doesn’t need to cost an Apple budget though. This video works because it combines a number of elements effectively: live action video, on screen type, beautifully rendered animation, powerful audio blended with a strong dash of humour. Most of these elements are inexpensive to create, it just requires a good script and some planning. They can come up with the creative idea and then produce it quickly and efficiently. 

Inspiration point:

 

It's easier to create something like this than it looks. Being clear on what you're trying to achieve before you start is the key. Once you have this, a professional producer can help you to create something memorable and effective.


It helps the production team if you have an idea what you want your video to look like. Whatever you're trying to achieve take a moment to consult our easy to follow guide to writing briefs which will make your video more engaging, memorable and ultimately effective.

Topics: Content Strategy, Repurposed content, Being a better commissioner, Boost sales and encourage donations, Increase brand awareness and appeal, Attract and retain the best candidates

Five Essentials for Recruiting the 2030 Generation

Posted by Nick Francis
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"85% of 2030's jobs have not been invented yet"

- Institute for the Future

We're living in 'The Age of Accelerations'

This is what the inside of the Fourth Industrial Revolution looks like, and it feels a little crazy. This is probably why our time has been described as the 'Age of Accelerations'. As everything is now digitally driven, all technological advancement is pegged to Moore's Law - ie. it doubles every two years. That's acceleration.

This is one of the reasons the whole world seems to have gone a bit weird over the last few years. Established norms are not quite so normal. The things that we grew up understanding as obvious are being questioned. Change is everywhere. That change is accelerating.

For more on the Fourth Industrial Revolution you might like to check out this film by the World Economic Forum:

 - This was not produced by Casual Films -

The pace of change and the accompanying deluge of information has repercussions on every area of our lives, from the kitchen to the bedroom to the sports field to the office. In the office we need to grapple to not only understand what the new normal is, but to try to understand what it will look like in five or even ten years time. 

If we find this challenging, imagine what it is like for the young people who are leaving school now and looking to enter the workplace. What are they looking for from their employers and what can we do to help them to make the right decisions for their futures? I was having a chat with a friend the other day about how how the workplace is changing and what this means for the next generation of recruitment. I thought I would share some of those thoughts here.

1. Evolving learning environments

According to the experts who attended the Institute for the Future workshop in March 2017, 85% of the jobs that today's learners will be doing in the year 2030 haven't been invented yet! Even if that figure proves to be a little optimistic, the only way that recruiters can attract the very best talent is by creating working environments that allow for continual learning and development. The best talent are looking for working environments that will allow them to grow and evolve to be ready to fit into and prosper in the workplace of their futures. They will run from anything that that has an inkling of stasis.

2. Entrepreneurial attributes

As robots and algorithms take on more of the workload, specifically human traits like creative problem solving, perseverance and vision become increasingly valuable. These attributes are routinely correlated with what we think of as an entrepreneurial mindset. The best businesses of 2030 will be the ones who attract and retain entrepreneurialism by allowing it to flourish. This requires trust, space and clear boundaries to get the most from the best staff. Smaller teams provide increased ownership and accountability and are useful in creating positive environments for human characteristics to excel. By taking on a large amount of the administrative and repetitive functions, machines clear the way for humans to do the things that they do best. This should make for a far more enjoyable, rewarding working experience.

3. Globalisation 

Despite recent backlashes, as then US Secretary of State John Kerry said in 2013, the "globalisation genie can't be put back in the bottle". It will face challenges, but the tools that have made instantaneous global communications and rapid global logistics possible cannot be uninvented. For the workers of 2030, competition for job roles will not be with people from down the road, but from the schools and universities of Beijing or Mumbai.

This raises the bar for those entering the workplace, but it also means that to recruit the best employees, companies need to think about their talent globally. It means that they have to grapple with the challenges of relocations, global employer branding and communications.

4. Digital innovation

We are all digital companies now. The need to attract top digital talent essential for everyone from Google to Tesco. Some companies naturally find this a lot easier than others. In order to attract the best digital talent, companies need to show that they are serious about digital transformation and are willing to invest and go the distance to delivering it. They need to allow top technical talent freedom and space for innovation (within bounds). Transformations of this kind need to be driven from C-suite/board level. 

The failure to grasp the importance of this represents an existential threat to even the largest of businesses, as we have seen with the likes Blockbuster, Toys-r-Us, Woolworths. To capture the talent they need to avoid, digitally transforming companies need to inspire/enable genuine ‘start-up’ thinking. This creates a compelling offer for new joiners who want to be a part of driving the change. You have to really mean it though. As I mentioned before, the best people won't go anywhere near anything that smells of stasis.

 

 

Vodafone Digital Ninja

5. Business Purpose

Gen Z have grown up in a world surrounded by climate change, the ‘plastification’ of the oceans, mass extinction and social inequality. They care deeply about these and want to their working lives to be part of the solution. For millennial employees for example, the ability to contribute to charitable causes at work leads to increased loyalty. Deloitte found that of the 54% of millennials who were provided with the opportunity to contribute to good causes or charities, 35% stayed in their job for 5 years or more (vs 24% without the opportunity). Gen Z are even more engaged than their forebears to drive change.  Clarify your purpose as a business and then live it, communicate around it and engage the workforce that will deliver future success.

You may also be interested in the Attract and Recruit the Best Candidates homepage.


We'd love to hear what you think about these? Do you agree? What have we missed? Whatever you think, we'd be fascinated to hear your thoughts. If you would like to book a call to discuss this, or anything film related, you can do that here:

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Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates

Producer Felicia's Dos and Don'ts of filming in the extreme cold

Posted by Nick Francis
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Time, tide and shooting schedules wait for no man nor woman nor icy blasts. So said no-one. Ever.

With this in mind, this week Felicia and some of the team travelled to an absolutely freezing (-23ºF/-35ºC) Chicago. As every day is a school day at Casual Films - and because you never know when such things might be helpful - here we share some of the dos and don'ts of shooting in the Arctic winter.

Do work with a top notch crew. The more things you can depend on the better. Particularly when the hotel door lets you down too...

9076deee-10c4-45ea-b64b-15c0dfbc0c41-2

Don't trust that your flight will get you to Chicago during a Polar Vortex. Felicia had 2 tickets booked on 2 separate airlines, just in case.

Do have a safety briefing before the crew starts for the day. Crew safety above all else.

Don't panic when the - decidedly not top notch - snow removal guy quits at 5 am on the morning of the shoot.

Do hire a different snow remover guy who was better, friendlier and cheaper than the original guy was any way.

Don't tell your mom where you are or what you're doing because she will worry and ask you to text her every night when you're back at the hotel (true story).

Do make sure you keep hands, ears and batteries warm before use. Cold drastically reduces their operating time, particularly the batteries.

WhatsApp Image 2019-01-31 at 15.40.08Do hire as many powerful lights as possible in an attempt to make it look and feel sunny inside.

Don't touch bare metal without gloves on - you've seen Dumb and Dumber right?

Do check the minimal operational temperature of the equipment you're using, realise you're well below what it's supposed to be able to handle and embrace the fact there is only so much you can do when it comes to outsmarting Mother Nature.

She will always always win. But you might just get what you need from your shoot before she does.


If you're unsure about how to light and film a house in the freezing cold of the Northern Arctic winter, or a street near you, you can book a call with an excellent producer, like our very own Felicia, by clicking right here.

Topics: Being a better commissioner, Production process, How-to

Marketers? Your goal: genuinely improve your audience’s lives

Posted by Nick Francis
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The Internet has sped up our lives – email has turned airmail into ‘snail mail’. Mobile Internet connectivity has made our lives faster still. We’re being robbed of the last shreds of time we had to think. The pace of life, and the profusion of different channels and distractions has sharpened our perception of the value of our time.

As marketers, this poses a challenge for getting our communications heard. Along with this heightened awareness, the audience has control of how they invest their time. With the growth in ad-blocking software, marketing messages face a challenge to be noticed. For us to achieve cut-through (landing our message with the audience), our content has to pass over a higher ‘is this a valuable use of my time?’ bar than ever.  It has to provide genuine value to the audience, making their lives better for having interacted with it, even just a tiny bit.

Tom Fishbourne Adding ValueLike so many of Tom Fishbourne's excellent cartoon's this delivers an important truth that is invaluable for marketers 

Being ‘TRUE’

Content marketing is about delivering ‘value’ to the audience. What do we actually mean by that? Marketing guru Seth Godin describes it as follows:

“…something that people would seek out, and that they would miss if it wasn’t there.” 

In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be. Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:

Timely

Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its “You Can Dunk in the Dark” tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game, and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – good advice 30 seconds too late is annoying.

Relevant

As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.

A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand. Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.

"44% would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions.

22% would definitely defect"

- LinkedIn

Useful

One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.

Casual Films Provide Value Tyler Milligan

You must create content that your audience will actively seek out, love and share because it's great.

Entertaining

We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.

The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of these things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.

 

There are different ways of skinning a cat though...

Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:

- Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories.

- Educate the audience with useful information.

- Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content.

There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.


If you found this interesting and would you like to learn more about how to make really great content?

We have condensed the last decade and nearly 10,000 films worth of learning into what we consider to be the Ten Commandments of Better Video. You can download them here.

Download ten ways to make better videos Jakub Gorajek

Topics: Content Strategy, Being a better commissioner, Increase brand awareness and appeal

YouTube’s content structure: Hero, Hub and Hygiene/Help

Posted by Nick Francis
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In the same way that traditional broadcast channels have schedules and different types of programming for different audiences/time of day, so can your business. You don’t necessarily need the same breadth of programmes that they have. But it is worth thinking considering how your audience interacts with the different content that you create or curate.

A few years ago now the helpful people at Youtube published their guide for content planning. This defined three different types of video which reflect the different ways audiences access content online. They called this structure: Hero, Hub and Hygiene.

Hero Hub Help-1The hero, hub and hygiene/help content structure

YouTube realised that the user is drawn into an online video channel in one of two separate ways – they either see something that catches their eye, which gets them to click on it and watch it, or they type in a search term to find out about something that they are specifically looking for. Once on the channel, they should be encouraged to subscribe. From then on, they are sent notifications when the channel is updated with new material; this leads to the necessity of regular magazine-type content. These different types of content give rise to what they have termed hero, hub and hygiene/help.

Hero

This is the really eye-catching, click-bait stuff. It is more akin to traditional TV advertising as a type. This is where you ‘go big’ to raise awareness of your brand and the other content you are sharing. It is often ‘chunked’ or divided into shorter clips or images, and used as a promotion for the channel itself in banners on other sites. Because of this, its purpose is to catch the audience’s eye with the concept, image or title as they browse elsewhere. They then click on the link and are drawn into watching the video, before being served the other content hosted on the channel.

Deutsche Bank: Agile Minds - hero content is not necessarily about spending lots of money

Hub

This is the ongoing magazine-type material. This should be updated regularly with the goal of getting the audience to check back in to see what the latest show is. This is designed to be ‘pushed’ out to existing subscribers; this means that they will receive a notification when there is some new material for them to have a look at. They then click on this and revisit your channel.

The Marriott Wandernaut Show

This animated series was shared internally to allow staff to hear from key leaders and keep up to date with what was going on across the business. These films gave staff members a reason to check back in and be involved in the company channel.

Hygiene/Help 

Classic help content: How to Light a Room for Tesco

This is the content that people actually search for – how-tos, guides and instructions. This type of content is designed to pull users into your channel through search results. Initially, YouTube called this ‘hygiene’ because it is about things that people need to do. They since changed this to ‘help’, because that better reflects what it is/does.

How they work together

By using the three different types to complement one another, it is possible to draw an ever-increasing number of subscribers into your channel – an initial goal of any channel operator. How this works can be seen in the following diagram:

Hero Hub HygieneHow it works: building an audience with the hero, hub and hygiene/help content structure

Your audience find Help content by searching for key words or phrases. This leads to a gradually increasing number of subscribers. Having subscribed they continue to be able to access the Hub or magazine style content you share. Additionally, tentpole Hero content is pushed out drawing larger numbers of viewers back onto the channel. These videos cause the viewer numbers to spike, with subscriber numbers increasing proportionately. You then continue to build trust with your subscribers by sharing content which they genuinely like and value. We'll look at that in more depth next time.


Whatever you are trying to achieve with your content. Whether you want to create a simple how-to or a multistage campaign, it's essential to set off on the right foot. To help you to do this, we created our guide to help you create briefs which are better thought out, clearer and more likely to get you the result you're after. Click here to download it:

DOWNLOAD BETTER BRIEFS 

Topics: Being a better commissioner, Increase brand awareness and appeal, How-to, Content Strategy

Why is video such a powerful communications tool?

Posted by Nick Francis
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 "Of all the arts, the most important for us is the cinema"

- Vladimir Lenin

The leaders of the Russian Revolution were fascinated with the power of film as a propaganda and educational tool for a largely illiterate population. The reason for this was the medium’s ability to inspire emotion among groups of people.

Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 – genius filmmaker of the Russian Revolution
One hundred years on, film/video remains the most potent tool available for generating emotion in a dispersed audience. It’s the ability to move us that makes good cinema completely spellbinding, and why, historically, TV advertising has been so lucrative. We are moved because we empathise directly with what happens to the characters on screen.
 
Storytelling is an essential tool in any corporate communicator’s arsenal. It’s when it’s combined with the natural properties of film that it becomes the most powerful communication tool available to humanity. This is because video is most effective when used to portray human emotion.
 

Empathy

ˈɛmpəθi/

noun

“The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

Empathy is a key evolutionary skill. It’s fundamental to our ability to form cohesive social groups. It allowed our forebears to benefit from not having to fight sabre-toothed tigers literally alone. It allows us the same benefit, metaphorically speaking. When we see or hear about people experiencing specific emotions, we’ve evolved to feel those same emotions. For example, if we see someone who’s suffering from the cold, we feel a little of that suffering. This makes us more likely to offer a jacket, blanket or space by the fire. These emotions assist the survival of the species, and are part of our intrinsic need to seek out experiences, understanding and companionship. These are fundamental elements in what makes us human.

The mechanics behind empathy have long baffled neuroscientists. To begin with, it was assumed that the emotion was as a result of a logical, mental interpretation in order to predict other people’s actions. Then, in the early 1990s, Italian researchers studying the brains of macaque monkeys made a breakthrough. They discovered that the same area of the brain lights up in monkeys that are just watching their fellow monkeys reaching for food as in those who are doing the reaching.

Casual FIlms BrainThis led to the discovery in the brain of what are called ‘mirror cells’. This profoundly changed our understanding of neurochemistry. These cells allow us to understand other people’s actions, not by thinking through what they are doing but by directly feeling the emotion that they are feeling. When you see someone frown, for example, your frowning mirror neurones fire up too, creating the sensation in your own mind that you associate with frowning. You don’t have to experience what the other person is experiencing to make them frown; you feel the emotion directly and effortlessly.

Professor Talma Hendler, a neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, studied brain scans in order to understand the chemical basis for empathy. She found there are two types of empathy at work, which are illustrated by where they occur in the brain. The first and more advanced type is what she calls ‘mental empathy’. This requires the viewers to think outside themselves – to mentally put themselves in the other person’s shoes – and think about what they may be experiencing. The second is called ‘embodied empathy’. This is a more intuitive and primal empathy, which you might experience when watching someone get hurt.

natalie-portman cropNatalie Portman in Black Swan

As part of her studies, Prof. Hendler showed Aron Aronofsky’s film Black Swan to a number of subjects, while monitoring their brain activity. I watched this intense psychological thriller on a very bumpy flight in what was the most potently dramatic cinema experience of my entire life - but that's another story. As Natalie Portman’s character experiences hallucinations at the depths of her psychosis, the audience develops – temporarily – the same brain chemistry as a genuine schizophrenia sufferer. Watching a film of someone with a psychological illness effectively gives the audience the symptoms of a psychological illness.

This makes film an invaluable tool for marketers. What better way of illustrating the refreshing nature of your beer than by transporting your audience to a hot desert and then showing some bottles sticking out of an ice bucket, complete with condensation? The advertisers are generating the perception of genuine thirst and potential refreshment for the audience. This fact explains the continued value of video as a tool to persuade and influence.

“They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Carl W. Buehner
 

Breast Cancer Now - Chantelle  

This power is illustrated in full gut-punching style in this film for Breast Cancer Now. Watching this it is impossible not to feel some of the pain and anguish of Chantelle and her family. It is impossible because we are biologically designed to feel these emotions. Through the skilful use of film we can construct an experience for the viewer which pulls their emotions in different ways. Think of the terror of the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, the romance of Lady and the Tramp, the fear of Jaws. All effective video communications rely on this attribute, even information heavy corporate comms should have a dash of emotion. If there isn't room for a bit of human emotion in your comms, you shouldn't be using video as the medium. That said, communications without emotion are not worth communicating as no one will remember them, because emotion is essential to forming memories.
 

Roche: LeanSixSigma - no matter the subject, animation is a great way of communicating information as it allows the addition of character and emotion effortlessly.

Anthropomorphic empathy

A strange quirk of this empathy is that we have a tendency to project emotions, motives and thoughts onto the characters that we’re watching. It doesn’t even need to be a real person in order to elicit this effect. To empathise with a character, we just need to be able to attribute what we perceive as human emotions and objectives to them. Once this has taken place, we immediately and unconsciously decide whether we a) like them, and b) can trust them. It’s this quirk that allows animation to work.

Whether we’re looking at a duck, a ball or a collection of pencil lines on the screen that make up a drawn character, the effect is the same. We do find it easier if the item has a semblance of a face. The more like us the characters are, the easier we find it to empathise with them. The concept and ridiculousness of this is brilliantly illustrated in Spike Jonze’s lamp ad.

Spike Jonze, The Lamp for Ikea

There are other things that a filmmaker can do to increase the amount we empathise with a subject. For example, we’re also programmed to empathise more with children or those with childlike characteristics. Characters that are small, have big eyes or have a cuddliness to them (i.e. that are cute) are more easily relatable. We feel more is at stake in their survival and so care more about their concerns. This is our base programming at work – human genes working to secure their own survival. Music also has the effect of increasing the level of empathy with characters that viewers feel, because it adds to the illusion of their own vitality and personality.


Whatever you are trying to achieve with your video project, it really helps to start off on the right foot. You can make sure you do this by taking a quick look at our handy guide to writing effective briefs. You can download it here:

DOWNLOAD BETTER BRIEFS

 

Topics: Being a better commissioner, Production process

Casual Films of 2018

Posted by Nick Francis
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Films of 2018

As is customary for this season, we like to cast our minds back to the year just gone. The people we've met, the places we've been and the adventures we've had. In this spirit, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the films we've made this year. These are not necessarily the best, the biggest, nor most important, but they have left a mark in our Casual memories.

Mitie Behind the ScenesStill from Mitie Behind the Scenes

It's possible to see some of the trends that became part of the wider geo-political discourse of the year. We've got tech, diversity, millennials, interactive, alternative money, and connected workspaces. One thing remains clear - Whatever the purpose of the films or how they are executed, storytelling and narrative remain central to landing creative messages with an audience.

Take your favourite refreshment, put your feet up and enjoy the Casual Films equivalent of Christmas programming. Cheers!

BMW Careers

One of the great things about video is it's ability to capture intangible concepts, like brand and company culture. This is one of the reasons it makes such a great tool for those working in employer comms/recruitment. There were a number of films we could have put here, but we chose this for its fun and character, and the fact that it is still grounded in what it is trying to achieve. You can see more attraction and recruitment videos here.

 

Autodesk 3D Printing

Produced by our new San Francisco office, this mini-doc looks at the wonders of 3D printing. This video was edited from Autodesk's huge video library - with added voiceover, music and sound design to bring it all together. It shows just how effective promotional docs like this can be, despite their cost efficiency.

 

Vodafone Equal in Work

2018 saw diversity move further up the agenda for companies as more businesses sought to underline their credentials as equal opportunities employers. Vodafone chose this interesting treatment to illustrate the challenges faced by LGBT+ people in the workplace. This shows the power of video to bring facts to life through creative treatment.

 

Glint Interview Led Promo

There was also a growing questioning of traditional stores of wealth. It is fitting then that this promotional interview led film for our friends at Glint, promotes gold as a useable form of payment. This film shows how effective a simple interview can be at explaining and promoting a product like Glint. You can see more explanatory promo films here.

 

Amplifier - We the Future

It's been hard to miss the growth in activism - particularly in the US. This film features street art legend Shepard Fairey (of Obama Hope fame) and was produced for activism group, Amplifier. They aim to increase civil awareness among children and young people by getting art into 20,000 classrooms across the US. 

 

Mitie Connected Workplaces - Behind the Scenes

We've shared this before, but it shows just how much fun you can should have on set, so we thought we'd share it again. This was the behind the scenes video of a series of films we produced for Mitie. You can see the rest of them here.

 

Greater Anglia Winter Campaign

We thought we'd end with this delightful animation created by our London team for the Greater Anglia train company. It demonstrates how animation can bring the brand to life and draw together the visual and voiceover narrative to land the story. It's a lovely piece of work and a festive way to finish the look back.


What are some of the trends that we're going to see over the next year? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

10 Video Trends to Watch in 2019

Posted by Nick Francis
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2018 was a rip-roaring ride in the land of video content, as it was pretty much everywhere else. With a new year dawning, we thought we’d take a minute to look at the Top 10 trends we’ve seen developing to help you understand how people will be using video in 2019.

If these gives you a few ideas that's great - we'd love to discuss them with you. Drop us a line or let us know your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

1. Making video go further

Video is the most effective way to get a message across online. Because any video done properly represents an investment of money and time, it is essential that we maximise the mileage on anything produced. This has seen an increase in the amount of ‘atomisation’ of content – splitting projects into a large number of outputs. These can then be optimised and shared on different social/owned platforms. This optimisation includes varying the content, the length and the aspect ratio (using square video for Facebook/Instagram).

Breast Cancer Now Square VideoSquare video works particularly well for Facebook and Instagram

We recently delivered a follow-up series of 10 to 20 second soundbite films edited from material which hadn’t made it into the original project’s outputs. This gave that client a series of cost-effective videos which worked well on Instagram Stories. This added another phase to the campaign without having to pick up a camera.

2. Quality content wins

The last year has seen our clients work with us on some of the best films we have ever made. The importance of pace and brevity has definitely caught on. It is now accepted and understood that shoehorning additional messaging into films does not increase the amount of information that the audience takes from them.

This is an important step towards better, more impactful work. There is so much content pollution out there, it is increasingly important for the material you share to be of a decent standard. This does not necessarily mean spending huge sums, but it does mean that you should take the time to consider what you are trying to achieve.

From here you can assess the best way to get there. The days of poorly produced, shaky user generated content being acceptable for global brands to share are thankfully numbered. That said…

3. We're all filmmakers now

We all have the means to shoot high quality video in our pockets. This makes the format even more accessible than it was before. Whether it’s a company news update or explaining a new advertised recruitment role, it’s never been easier to share video content. Coupled with how much more engaging video is, this is an excellent way to make sure that your message is heard online.

 jakub-gorajek-188614

To keep in step with this, it’s worth helping your staff to use their equipment properly and developing video branding guidelines and packs which can help to standardise the look and feel of your output.

4. Increased personalisation

This increase in the ease and speed of video production means that the next development we should expect to see is better personalisation. Whether you are creating video specifically for an individual or for a small targeted group, your audience want to engage with content which is perfectly aligns with their worldview. The most effective communicators should be looking at ways to tailor their content to the audience in order to do this.

 5. Going live

Live streaming on the various social platforms has really come of age. It’s growth over the last three years has been really significant. It works because it feels personal, immediate and engaging for the viewer. This contributes to the increases in engagement that those sharing live video can enjoy. This is a trend which will run and run.

6. Getting techie

Virtual reality, 360 and Interactive have all continued to come of age, they give communicators an excellent opportunity to excite and interest audiences. This is particularly true at trade shows/conferences, where the spectacle of the equipment being used can add to the buzzy nature of the technology. Beyond this, we have seen uses of new technology used as a tool to enhance the message, moving significantly beyond the gimmickry of some of the early adoption.

Casual Films Vodafone VR HeadsetStill from Vodafone EVP

7. Inherent content value is more important than ever

Your audience are more distracted than they have ever been. With more of them accessing your content through their mobile devices than ever before, they are empowered to choose how they spend their time. This means that communicators have to offer content which carries its own inherent value. As marketing guru Seth Godin says, you should aim to create material which your audience would "miss if it wasn't there."  This is a high bar, but an essential one to clear if we are to stand a chance of standing out and landing our messages with the audience.

8. Brands move closer to operating as media companies

Given its accessibility and the online audience’s preference for video, it’s not surprising that more and more brands are thinking far more like traditional media companies. For some time now, there have been outliers - RedBull, GE, Volvo Trucks - who have used video to communicate and develop significant additional brand value. This is a trend that looks set to continue and accelerate over the coming months and years. To capitalise on the opportunity that this represents, brands should have a coherent content plan, which serves their audience the material they are after in the form that they prefer.

Alfa Romeo No Longer a California DreamBrands as media companies - Alfa Romeo: No Longer Just a California dream (with WSJ Brand Studios)

9. The evolving role of the production company

Given all this change and the requirement to create more content than ever, it’s not surprising that clients expect their supplier relationships to evolve. To help clients get the most from the relationship, production companies are moving into the role of content partners. This means working seamlessly together, supplementing each other’s resources and abilities as necessary, allowing each party to play to their strengths.

Whether that is some communications consultancy or the creation of some animated stings to make some internal user generated content look more professional, the relationship of the future will be based on flexibility and understanding.

10. Storytelling remains the cornerstone of effectiveness

Whatever the purpose of your video or how it is are executed, storytelling and narrative remain central to landing creative messages with any audience. New tech and evolving approaches should be used to enhance storytelling, rather than as a crutch for poorly thought through creative. Used properly though, they make 2019 the most exciting year to be a corporate/brand filmmaker yet.


New call-to-actionWe’d be really keen to hear what you think about this list – please leave a comment below. If the pace of change feels intimidating, you can console yourself with the fact that you don’t need to do it alone. Book a call with one of our producers and we'd be happy to discuss how you can make 2019 your most successful year yet.

Topics: Repurposed content, Atomised content, Being a better commissioner, News

What are the roles in video production?

Posted by Nick Francis
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There are a number of different people/roles involved in the production process. We’ve included this brief list so that you can keep up with whom is responsible for what. Each company may work in a slightly different way, but the responsibilities are more or less the same. Nearlyall of these functions are needed on every production – even if they are all performed by the same person. Larger budgets allow for more time, and more time allows for more people.

Just producingA producer, just y'know producin'

Preproduction

Creative/scriptwriter

The creative comes up with the main idea (or ideas) and then creates the initial proposal document, which will help you understand exactly what you’re getting. This may include the mood board (a collection of images that give an idea of what the project will look like), the storyboard (a shot by shot – usually drawn – illustration of the structure of the video) and any additional references that might be necessary.

He/she also writes and refines the script.

Producer

The producer is the organiser. He/she is responsible for bringing together all of the elements required for the production. He/she is the lynchpin 

in that they are responsible for making sure that the film is delivered on brief, on budget and on time. As part of this, he/she will pull together the project costing and schedule, which will be added into the initial proposal document at the outset of the project. He/she will also be responsible for all the bookings for the project, from crew, equipment and onscreen talent to travel. He/she is usually the main point of contact for the client throughout the process.

Production

Director

The director is responsible for the artistic vision of the project. He/she works with the script and the producer to plan the execution of the shoot. On set, he/she will have a clear idea of what he/she wants the finished film to look like, and will coral the rest of the team to achieve this. The days of the ‘auteur’ film director – one who will happily trample over anyone to achieve, with a distinctive, unshakeable vision – are happily behind us. Most good directors now – in particular, those in the fast-moving world of brand films – are able to think on their feet, lead a team and use an in-depth understanding of their craft to adapt to the world around them.

A director directingA director, watching a live-feed from the camera to make sure all is in order. Well, that or Netflix.

Director of photography (DoP) / cinematographer

The DoP is responsible for the camera / camera team and the way each shot looks. This means that he/she will often operate the camera (shoot the film) and do the lighting on set. Usually, having a separate DoP is reserved for larger productions.

Self-shooting director

Casual Films self-shooting director

As technology has become easier to use and budgets have shrunk, it has become more common for a director to play the role of the DoP at the same time. This leads to them being referred to as a self-shooting director. Self shooting directors now tend to shoot the majority of online videos.

Camera assistant / focus puller

The camera assistant is responsible for looking after the camera and lenses. He/she is also responsible for marking distances and keeping the shot in focus. (Only used with more high-end or DSLR cameras.)

Focus puller, DoP, Dolly GripA panoply of roles! In L-R order - camera assistant/focus puller, DoP and dolly grip who is responsible for operating the dolly, which is what the trolley the car sits on is called.

Sound recordist

Erm, they record the sound. They can make all the difference to a production that has been shot in a noisy location. He/she is most likely to say, “Can someone turn that air conditioning off?”, and is least likely to say, “Don’t worry, we can get rid of that police siren in post.”

First assistant director (AD)

The first AD is responsible for helping the director to achieve his/her vision. He/she is the one who keeps the production running to time and makes sure that everything is in the right place at the right time. When used, he/ she is the director’s mouthpiece on set. (Only used on larger productions.)

Gaffer

He/she is responsible for the crew who set and move all of the lighting. If there isn't additional crew present, they will roll their sleeves up and move the lighting themselves. (Only used on larger productions.)

Grip

He/she is responsible for mounting, positioning and moving the camera the camera (if equipment is being used). (Only used on larger productions.)

Grip workSome classic grip work

Spark

The electrician. Lots of production lighting requires huge amounts of power. To keep things working/safe, it’s necessary to have a professional spark.

Postproduction

Editor

The editor is responsible for ‘finding the film’. They watch all of the shots, and then select the ones that he/she feels best tell the story that was outlined and agreed on in the preproduction stage. He/she will also have a significant hand in the impact of the finished film. It’s amazing how important the editor is to the quality of the final film. Often, a poorly edited film can terrify on first viewing, only to be completely turned around once someone who knows what they are doing has taken the reins. 

36520007Dan, an editor in his natural environment

Animator / motion graphic artist

Animators bring 2D illustrations, 3D models and inanimate objects to life. He/she is skilled at imbuing inanimate objects with the movement required to generate emotional connections with the audience. He/she may also be responsible for creating the design and storyboards for the animations.

 

Paper animatingRaych doing a little table top animation

Dubbing mixer / sound engineer

The dubbing mixer / soundie sorts out all of the audio levels in the final video, and adds any sound effects and audio flourishes. These play the important role of tying the audio and video together. The sound engineer will also make sure that the music that has been chosen fits to the edit/ animation perfectly.

Colourist / colour grader

The colourist is responsible for the look of the finished film. Sometimes different shots might look different because of different lighting/colouring during the production – he/she can iron this out. He/she may also stylise the film, which is changing the way the video looks by increasing the contrast between colours or changing the colour saturation (a bit like adding filters on Instagram). While colourists used to work only on larger productions, consumer-accessible grading programs are making this step integral to nearly every production.


We hope that helps. Whatever you are working with all these fine people, it's worth starting out right. You can make sure that you do this, by downloading our guide to writing a briefing document right here:

DOWNLOAD BETTER BRIEFS

Topics: Being a better commissioner, How-to, Production process

Using Interactive Video for Attraction and Recruitment

Posted by Nick Francis
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What is Interactive Video?

Interactive video allows the viewer to choose their own path through the content. It uses a similar methodology to traditional 'choose your own adventure' books. These would allow the reader to read a page and then ask them to choose what should happen next in the story. They were able to do this by flicking to a different page, depending on the desired choice. Interactive video platforms do the same thing, but they automate it, so that all the viewer has to do is click the button they desire and it will lead them through to the next step in the story. This allows the viewer to control their experience.

Why is it useful for recruitment and onboarding?

Interactive video is an extremely useful tool for recruiting and training because it gives the audience more opportunity to find out information on their own terms. It also allows the recruiter to working in tests and gamification which can make for a more valuable, enjoyable and socially sharable experience. Another benefit of interactive, is that it encourages the audience to engage more closely with the content. It is a far more involving experience, which leads to a more proactive response when it is finished.

 Experience a role, company, position

Then there is the benefit of allowing a potential candidate to ‘poke around’ and learn more about your business, the role and what they can expect from the job. This is illustrated by the ‘Investment Factor’ which Casual UK produced for Allianz Global Investors. Allianz GI wanted to help graduates to understand what investment bankers actually do. They also wanted to combat the negative perceptions in the market. 

We made a similar film for ABinBev with recruitment marketing agency, Havas People:

This case study video demonstrates the power of interactive to illustrate company culture and what is expected of new joiners early on in their career. Brewer ABinBev commissioned the project in part to combat the number of people who applied for roles with the company and then were shocked to find that every day wasn't spent tasting or drinking beer. 

Both of these videos won Best Interactive at the Recruitment Advertising and Design Awards in London.

Interactive and Virtual Reality (VR) 

One interesting way to use VR is in showing off different areas that your potential employees might end up working. You can see how this might work in this example, which while not strictly recruitment, does a good job of introducing the viewer to the space at the Old Vic Theatre: 

Forgive the fact that this has the same music as the Allianz GI film - we're so cost-effective, we seem to have reused it!

Casual's Top Three Tips for Interactive

1. Have a reason for it being interactive.

Too often commissioners/producers use different production/distribution methods as a crutch for poor storytelling. It is essential that the fact that it is interactive serves what you are trying to communicate. Build it and they will come doesn’t work here. Look at the examples above if you need a little inspiration.

2. Plan, plan, plan. 

Looking at a decision tree, it can be scary how complicated they can be. There are a number of specialist providers who can help you bring the whole thing to life. All you need to do is have a clear plan with a scene list and then shoot each scene as you would if you were making a normal film with a linear narrative. The key is working it all out logically on paper and then, when you’re happy, get going.

3Get to the interactive early. 

It’s useful to establish for the viewer that the video they are watching is actually interactive. Too many interactive videos fall into the trap of having too much establishing material before the viewer gets to make a decision on anything. They know that they are supposed to be making decisions and so get bored quite quickly if they have to wait. It can be something really simple, but get them to engage early and establish the mechanic for the rest of the video.

If you are thinking about creating some interactive video, and we would recommend it, because we love it. Drop us a note on: hello@casualfilms.com and we'd be happy to discuss how to approach it, no strings attached.

 

Topics: Attract and retain the best candidates, How-to, Being a better commissioner, Interactive Video

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