Commercial video production for TV & cinema
Slate and Mortar were offered the opportunity from Net Natives to produce a series of cross-platform promotional videos for University of Hull’s overarching ‘Find your Light’ clearing campaign. These films would sit across all the social media channels, such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and would also include a national TV and cinema advertising roll-out… and to make things even more challenging, we had to turn all this around in just six weeks!
As a commercial video production company, our work ethos here is the well-examined mantra of ‘Never say no’… but with every big project you have to understand that it may stretch your capacity, resources, creative input and logistical planning to the very limits. And as a business owner, this can sometimes cause you to pause and think…
“Can we produce this in time and will we have the freedom to create something that we are proud of?”
But when you have such a great working relationship with the commissioning agency (we trust them and they trust us… which is essential); and when the client is clear on what their brand is saying and has a very strong idea of what it’s objectives are (and has previously been willing to give us the creative freedom to come up with a strong range of concepts); then sometimes it’s worth the extra hours in the office getting it all done.
So, we took the project on.
Planning for the shoot
The main focus of our initial planning was the TV and cinema ad. We knew the video production budget was there for us to be fairly ambitious with these commercials, but because of the tight turnaround time, we still had to be acutely aware of our limitations.
The campaign’s creative concept was already firmly in place – ‘Find your Light at the University of Hull’. The concept involved the use of light projections, lens flares and complex graphics, all somehow interacting with our students. It was a fairly abstract concept to work with, and after a number of storyboarding sessions, location recces and planning meetings with the agency, we realised fairly quickly that to achieve our goals we would have to bring in a specialist commercial video production crew.
Specialist kit and crew
We needed a film crew that was experienced using vintage anamorphic prime lenses and all the extra bits of shiny kit that is necessary to get the kind of light manipulation that we were after. And the upshot of this meant increasing our numbers for the shoot to 17 film production crew members (split over two units filming simultaneously) with between 5 and 10 students on location at any one time… which meant it became something of a logistical behemoth!
We filmed the majority of the footage over three days, with location shooting around Hull on the first day, with drone footage shot concurrently. The second day was for the more complicated studio shots, including all the interior light and graphic projections. Finally, day three was a little bit easier, with a skeleton crew picking up the basketball, aquarium and burger-eating footage (it’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it!).
Post production and delivery
Speaking as a production company, once all the footage has been ingested from each day’s filming (from both crews), then the tricky task begins for us… multipurpose edits, each with different durations and online uses.
By this, I mean that not only did we need to complete the 30 second TV and cinema advert (and not a frame more), we also had to produce 10-second square ratio versions (where you have to be particularly brutal in the edit!), vertical format videos (with three shots stacked on top of each other), digital signage versions and finally an extended 60 second edit which would flesh out the concept, but still keep the viewers engaged to the very end.
The commercial was released onto TV at the beginning of August and has since generated plenty of traffic and positive comments for the University’s Clearing campaign. It’s also allowed us to build our own portfolio of commercial video production work that we are genuinely very proud of.
Check out the final advert here and we’d love to hear your comments and feedback.
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