Curly helps create a bit of magic

Curly Productions recently worked with all round amazing new startup Toddler Fun Learning to create a visually stunning version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

We were determined not to create your average, run of the mill version of this classic children’s lullaby so came up with a sweet story and two fully realised characters.  The story revolves around a little girl called Poppy who can’t get to sleep one night and spends the evening gazing up at a beautiful, bright star in the night.  The star, to Poppy’s surprise, comes alive and waves down at her beckoning her to come up and play.  The star then takes Poppy on a magical flight that she will never forget.

After creating a full storyboard and narrative behind the video, we teamed up with top illustrator James Taylor who created all of the drawings, which we then took and animated in After Effects, finally putting together the final edit in Premiere Pro.

 

If you have little ones – why not show them this magical version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before bedtime tonight?

 

 

If you are looking for your own animation for your brand please do get in touch.

 

What are Explainer Videos?

An explainer video, is very simply, a video which explains to your audience about your product, service or any subject of your choice in an easily digestible form.

We’ve all tried to explain things to a friend and struggled to conceptualise exactly what that thing is, whilst your friend stares at you dumbfounded.  Well, think about this on a much larger scale – as a business, how do you explain a complex product or service offering to a potentially huge audience online?

The answer is explainer videos.  The most popular explainer videos are those that are able to break down even the most complex of topics into a simplified script that uses clear and concise language and avoids jargon.  This script is then usually turned into short, animated video with the main aim of helping the audience understand that subject.  Think of an explainer video as the animated version of an infographic.

OUR_WORK_WITH_UNITIED_UTILITIES_IN_VIDEO

A good explainer video will help you bridge the gap between your product and the end user – making you instantly more approachable and straight talking.  If a customer is confused by your product or service, they’ll go elsewhere.

We recently created an explainer video for successful Liverpool based digital agency Mando Group, about their ongoing working relationship with United Utilities.  Mando Group wanted to convey to the audience their 5 year history with United Utilities, how they have helped them, and the technology they have implemented.  We were able to take their brief, and strip it down into its simplest terms into a storyboard so that the viewer wouldn’t be baffled by complex tech jargon.  We then created designs that were easy on the eye, and helped to convey the messages in the script.  Finally the animation was assembled and edited to music.

You can watch the completed explainer video here:

We also produced an explainer video for property maintenance company Pulse.

If you’d like to talk to us about your explainer video then please contact us.

 

Is your brand ready for its close up?

Who wants to read what you’ve been doing everyday? We want to see it. Scroll down for Curly’s tips on how to use new social network Vine.

The growth of multi-platform surfing and browsing has seen a proliferation of video sites. YouTube, Vimeo and Pixorial; they’re all about video-sharing and showcasing your work in image rather than text.

Now the latest platform has launched and it looks set to be a game changer. Owned by Twitter, Vine allows you to create six second videos as an embedded clip within tweets. The video loops endlessly and you’re able to include audio. You don’t need to include one steady shot: Instead you can shoot a microfilm from a variety of different angles using the nifty editing button.

View our first attempts at a Vine video here:

Darth Vadar Attacks!

Baltic Creative in 6 Seconds

Short, snappy videos sharing a moment online are nothing new, Gifs have been doing them for years. What Vine does though is use quality shots and relies on creativity. As Twitter relies on brevity and clarity to make a point in 140 characters, so Vine means you have to make the most out of your shots to clearly illustrate what you’re doing.

Making brands think visually, rather than just through text, is an important part of video production. It’s about keeping the viewer engaged and enthused (although if your attention wavers in under six seconds perhaps your worries are bigger than whether you need a video for your brand or not). Vine will raise the profile of video and encourage companies to think about how they could showcase their work in moving image, rather than just stills. The timeframe is so tight you’ll have to get to the point quickly and effectively.

Inevitably the debate will hint that a social network like Vine will make video producers redundant. Yes, because Twitter has made copywriters obsolete. There will be some who think they can do it themselves. There will be others who will see the potential of the video and decide they want a piece of the action (no pun intended).

So here’s Curly’s guide if you want to try out Vine and explore making your own short film;

*Like all social networks have a browse and watch other people’s micro videos before you film your own, that way you’ll have a better idea of how you can use Vine to promote yourself and what’s proving popular.

*Know what you want to record. Short, sharp and clear messages are really important with a six second film. Pick an element of your business or part of your day to day routine.

*Use the editing tool to record from different angles but make sure it has a coherent structure and makes sense to the viewer watching it.

*Be creative. Exploring the editing tool means you can try stop-motion animation or play with audio and music. Be careful of background noise though if you’re editing shots. Early users say jump shots with music or clattering in the background can be jarring on playback.

*Cross-promote. You can share your Vine video on Tumblr and Twitter. But there are glitches with it’s relationship with Facebook. The app is only on iOS at the moment but anyone with a Twitter account will be able to watch your videos.

Happy Vining!!

What is a corporate video?

A corporate video is typically a video commissioned for use by a company, corporation or organisation, usually not intended for television broadcast.

Here at Curly Productions, we don’t particularly like the term “corporate video” since it conjures up negative images of the horrendous training video that David Brent forces his team to watch in The Office.

Whilst we are commissioned by corporations and companies to make videos, we do something quite different.  We pride ourselves on creating the broadcast quality videos that could take any shape or form, but are always creative.  We want your audience – whether that is your customers or your staff, to remember the video and to share it with their friends or colleagues.

There is a huge variation in what form a corporate video might take.  A corporate video could be used for many purposes but mainly they are produced for promotional purposes, sales or training.  They’re also produced for a variety of screens – mobile, tablet, PC, Mac and television.  Also, budgets can vary significantly, from a straightforward piece to camera from a company CEO, to an all singing all dancing advert with a 10 man crew, set builders and actors.

A typical full service production has the following stages:

Pre-Production –  The bit where we listen, research and prepare for the Production.  This could involve scripting and storyboarding.

Production – The shooting phase, either on location or in a studio.

Post-Production – The edit, or the bit where we put everything we shot together into a beautiful and memorable package combining music, graphics and footage.

We work with a huge variety of clients on many different types of Corporate Video.  You can see some of our work in our showreel below:


Curly Productions are a Video Production company based in Liverpool, specialising in online and corporate video production.

Concern Universal’s Water is Life Campaign enlists the help of Curly Productions

Concern 2Curly Productions has completed work on an “about us” video for global charity Concern Universal – an international development organisation tackling poverty from the grassroots.

The film was developed as part of Concern Universal’s Water is Life fundraising campaign as a way to introduce who Concern Universal are and what they do.  The film was premiered at a House of Lords reception as part of the Water is Life launch, which was fronted by Olympic Rower Katherine Grainger.

The Water is Life public campaign officially launched on 21st October and the video is featured on both the Concern Universal homepage and the Water is Life campaign page.  It will help encourage people to donate to help raise enough money to replace Concern Universal’s old, inefficient drilling rig to bring safe, clean water to over 25,000 people every year in Malawi.  Since Concern Universal started work in Malawi, they have drilled 3000 new boreholes and brought clean, safe drinking water to over 750,000 people.

Christian Hughes, Managing Director of Curly Productions says:

“The main challenge for us, was to condense the huge breadth of charitable work that Concern Universal do around the world into a 2 minute ‘about us’ video.  We were able to take their messages and strip everything back to its simplest form to highlight what is different about Concern Universal – namely that they tackle poverty from a grassroots level.  The work that Concern Universal do every day is truly inspiring, and it was an honor to work with them to promote their cause.”

Curly Productions worked with Concern Universal to create the concept and script, film the footage in Malawi, create the graphics and produce the final edit.

Alexandra Sherry, PR and Communications Co-ordinator at Concern Universal said:

“When the film was shared with the whole organisation, it was a rare moment when every single department was impressed!  The Programmes team liked the way our work was represented, the Fundraising and Communications teams were happy to have such easy messages to explain our complex approach, and everyone else was emotional about seeing our work communicated in such an inspirational way.

Curly Productions managed to refine our complicated messages and communicate our expansive work in just two minutes.  The beautiful footage shot on location was used to great effect, with fantastic editing and sympathetic, relevant animation.  The film has helped us develop how we market ourselves and the messages we use.

Concern Universal is so proud of its new film and can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

You can view the video here

Curly Productions is a corporate video production company based in Liverpool.

Curly Productions cleans up with Kärcher

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As warm weather finally approaches, many homeowners will be looking to wash away the dust and dirt from the winter and embark on a spring clean. That’s exactly what cleaning specialist Kärcher are hoping and to promote their range of products for home and garden – including pressure washers, window vacs and steam cleaners – the firm brought Curly Productions on-board to help spread the word.

Filmed on the latest cinema camera – the Canon C300, 20 videos were produced each examining a different household chore, and how Kärcher makes it easier. From cleaning a wheelie bin to scrubbing up decking each of the short films was made to be broadcast on Kärcher’s own website as well as YouTube, showing users how to get the best out of their range of High Pressure Washers, steam cleaners and window vacs.

Curly Productions were briefed by London based Shine Communications on behalf of their client, Kärcher. Phil Springall, Marketing Manager at Kärcher said, “For us, a picture paints a thousand words and the videos that we have created with Curly Productions offer a fantastic guide to our customers on how a Kärcher product can provide effortless cleaning solutions in a fraction of the time. The assets have been designed to last the test of time over the next few years whilst providing quick effective answers to any customers looking for further information.”

Christian Hughes, Managing Director of Curly Productions said, “We love working on a premium brand like Kärcher, and together with Shine Communications, we have been able to produce some really helpful videos for their customers. I’m confident that the high end results produced by our commitment to using the latest technology and the very best crews, will serve Kärcher well over the next few years.”

Curly Productions have worked with Kärcher before, most notably on 2012’s Clean Up Britain campaign. Phil adds, “Working with Curly Productions has really been a collaboration of ideas and enthusiasm. Curly really got to know our business and became a crucial part of building the brief which made the shoot simple, fast and effective. The end results speak for themselves and we very much look forward to our next collaboration”.

You can watch the videos on Youtube here.

 

Curly’s guide to Vine: Keep it short, keep it sweet.

Vine Logo

Suddenly videos of more than a minute on YouTube seem incredibly long. If Twitter’s 140 character limit made blog posts seem long winded then Vine is set to have the same impact on video.

A chance to communicate a message in six seconds on a looped format might seem challengingly tight when you first read about it. Get in the swing of it and the brevity is refreshing.

It’s one thing to be on Vine but, like with any social media platform, doing it well is often a different matter altogether. You have to get your message across quickly, creatively and succinctly. So no pressure then.

Vine isn’t the only video format social media platform to launch this year. Instagram’s new video feature limits time to 15 seconds. It features 13 custom filters for video.

In Vine, as in Instagram, there’s no room for bagginess so the first step is to know exactly what your message is. Keep it short and sweet. You might be launching a new product line, communicating a new offer like a service or a new office. You might choose to use to announce a new member of staff or unveil an important piece of news.

Even though time is short you still need to have a beginning, middle and an end. What have you got for people to see? How do you want them to feel? The most impressive Vines create a closed loop; the video repeats on a loop with no obvious break or seam when it finishes and goes back to the beginning. It isn’t the be all and end all, however. You need to have a coherent ending that delivers a punch line or a satisfactory conclusion. Without that your audience will feel cheated or will just shrug their shoulders.

You have to make an internal decision about how important production quality is to you. A video shared in six seconds via social media is going to look fairly low-fi. If you’re already producing a company film for one reason or another then using shots from it to create a speedy Vine is a good idea. But if you’re creating a Vine, nothing more and nothing less, then don’t worry about just using the products on your desk. Some of the most effective Vines have been made with a biro and a scrunched up ball of paper. It’s the idea that’s important, not the props.

Learn about stop motion animation, at least the “York notes” version. Vine works by holding your finger down on the screen to record. Take your finger off and it stops recording. That’s how you can fit so much content in. Move anything around you like. Make a character run across the screen and sink a basketball into a net. Chart the lifespan of a cut flower. There’s no limit on how long the gap is between shots only that the shots together add up to six seconds.

Lastly don’t worry about making mistakes. There’s a fear that social networks prime brands to fail. It’s a transient medium and the main thing is honesty and authenticity. That’s why posts work if they are engaging and have a sense of humour. You can’t make sure everything is polished and perfect because otherwise you would never press send.

Have a good idea, think about how to creatively communicate it, add colour and character and keep it short.

Curly Productions are a Video Production company based in Liverpool, specialising in online and corporate video production.

How much does it cost to make an online video?

This is a question that we get asked all of the time, and really, there is no set answer.  Every client, and every project is different and we’ll always craft a production with a client’s  specific needs and budget in mind.

Just like building a company website, there are many, many different elements that go into making a corporate video and of course, as you add more elements, the costs increase.

Video Production Company LiverpoolMany companies nowadays are seeing the huge advantage of making an online video but are unsure where to start, and also wondering how far their budget will stretch.

So, what should you be budgeting for your online promotional video, or corporate video?

What it boils down to is what you need your video to do for you and how important premium quality is for you.  You can, of course make a video very cheaply, much like building your own website – there will always be a place for this sort of content.

We produce our videos with TV quality in mind.  Even though we are primarily producing for online use, we want our videos to hold up on any screen – be that TV, cinema, tablet or phone.  It is our firm belief that if quality is sacrificed, it might tarnish your brand and completely defeat the point of making a video in the first place.  The internet is increasingly becoming the place to watch TV content, and your audience is watching content on all sorts of screens.  They are used to premium TV content; anything less will look inferior.  All of our camera operators have TV production experience and most still work in television.  We only use the highest quality HD equipment that produces superior images.

If you want your online video to be creative, original and feel premium then you will need a production company with great ideas, first rate crew, and top notch production equipment.  In the production industry, when great equipment and amazing people come together and create something that looks really high end, it is known as the Production Value.  The higher the production value, the more premium your video feels to your audience and in turn the more premium your brand feels.

Online Video Production

To achieve this premium quality, and end up with something that feels premium, a good gauge for minimum spend would be £3,000 – £6,000 for a shorter, more straight forward video, all the way up to £12,000 – £30,000 for a full video campaign.  The huge variations in price come from adding more elements like multiple cameras, sets, actors, scriptwriting, camera jibs & tracks, studios and graphics.  They all contribute to production value and of course the price.  The more days it takes to produce your video also quite obviously increases the price.

On the flip-side, we would never suggest that the more money you throw at a production, the better it is.  Sometimes all you need is a fantastic idea that is really simple but truly memorable.  That is why we put a great deal of time into the pre-production phase.  To make the best videos, we spend a great deal of time listening, and then a great deal of time thinking and coming up with amazing ideas to make sure you get the best return on investment for your online video.

 

Curly Productions are a video production company based in Liverpool, specialising in the production of premium online video content.

Charity celebrates its 2nd birthday by showing what the smallest amount can do

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Curly Productions joins the Liverpool founders of Be One Percent campaign to celebrate their second birthday with a visit to see the projects and communities their donations have paid for in Malawi. 

Two years ago a simple idea was devised in Liverpool. Anyone can tell you there is a vast difference between the poorest and the richest in the world: Few can think of a way to make the world a little fairer, as much as they would want to. Be One Percent was established with the promise of donating 1% of your income to help eradicate poverty.

In its first month eight people raised £166 which paid for malaria treatments for 332 people.

In the following 11 months Be One Percent has funded projects supplying clean water for whole villages, donating 1000′s of vaccinations, planting entire forests, buying malaria nets, school books, school meals and footballs. Be One Percents network of givers now raises £3000 a month for great projects around the world.

Be One Percent teamTo mark the first anniversary of the charity, a team are flying out to Malawi to visit two projects supported by their donations; Mary’s Meals (made famous by the young Scottish schoolgirl who began a blog highlighting school dinners and now supports projects in Africa) and Concern Universal.  The team consists of a musician, an entrepreneur, a filmmaker, a photographer and a designer.  In this trip they will be going into rural Malawi to see water and sanitation projects, school feeding programmes, Seed-banks and Microfinance initiatives.  If you think you could afford to donate 1% you can join a small group of people who are changing the world every month by being 1%.

Christian Hughes, Managing Director of Curly Productions is going on the trip with stripped back camera equipment:

“When I was asked by the Be One Percent team if I would like to go on the trip to make some films to highlight the work that Be One Percent is doing in Malawi, I jumped at the chance.  Curly Productions has always had the ethos that as a business we should always try to use our skills to contribute to the wider global community, and this was the perfect opportunity.  Usually working on much larger productions, I don’t normally get the chance to get hands on and shoot documentary style myself – so going with a backpack filled with a Canon 5D and a few lenses really excites me.  Its film making in a raw but very pure form.”

Be One Percent will be posting a series of videos after the trip made by Curly Productions.

To follow the trip from 22nd February visit www.beonepercent.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @Beonepercent

 

One of the ways we are making life easier for our clients

We don’t like standing still here.  We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our service offering to our clients.  That might be using the latest cameras or edit suites, but one issue was really bugging us – the need to transfer large video files back and forth to clients for review.  Services like Yousendit have a great purpose within a business but we couldn’t help thinking that there was a better solution.  Making great online videos isn’t a one sided process and we value client feedback every step of the way.  What we wanted was a private, password protected screening room for clients to watch their in production videos, and be able to give feedback right there in the browser – no downloads.

We feel we’ve found the right solution called Screenlight, with a client login portal integrated into our website.  We caught up with Co-Founder, Chris Potter to explain the key benefits for our clients.

Video production client review

How did you come up with the concept of Screenlight?

The story of how we got started is one we share with many great startups. One of my partners, Rich Keating, worked at a company that produced corporate videos. He was frustrated with the process of sending out review videos to clients, so he started hacking together a custom web page with a Flash player for each client. This worked well for clients, but didn’t really save him any time, as it was labour intensive and not repeatable. Together we saw a way to automate the process and make a better experience for production companies and their clients alike.

How does Screenlight improve the workflow between production company and client?

ScreenLight is designed to make it easier and faster for production companies and their clients to communicate with each other throughout the video production process. ScreenLight benefits clients by:

1) Providing them with an easy way to review project material. When the production team uploads a video, it is automatically converted into web friendly formats that can be viewed by anywhere, anytime, and on any device.  Project participants don’t have to worry about things like codecs and whether videos will play back for them, because it just works. Essentially, this removes technology worries from the equation, so everyone can focus on the task at hand, which working together to tell the most engaging story possible.

2) Improving project communication. Clients can login to the service and provide detailed feedback on videos with threaded comments that reference specific points in the video timeline. This means that the conversation about what needs to be done next takes place right in the context of the videos. Since all of the participants can see and respond to each others comments, it keeps everyone on the same page. This helps eliminate ambiguous comments and potential miscommunication. It also helps get rid of long and confusing email threads.

3) Helping production companies make better videos faster. With online video review, it’s easier for everyone to provide feedback whenever, and wherever it’s convenient. This means that scheduling delays associated with review meetings and conference calls can be avoided. The faster your production company gets feedback, the faster they can turn around any requested changes. As a result, the whole process becomes more collaborative.

4) Working together online also means that it’s easier for production companies to source the best talent from around the world. This can provide better quality, cost savings, or both. The end result is that it’s easier to meet today’s increasingly tight production deadlines.  The bottom line is that we have created a system that helps make everyone on the project more productive. The service has YouTube’s ease of use, combined with the security and privacy that you would expect when producing material that you aren’t ready to share with the world (yet).

What problems does Screenlight solve?

ScreenLight solves three major problems that production companies and their clients encounter when they are collaborating on a project.

1) Transferring video files is difficult. It’s slow and expensive to ship hard drives by courier. Large file sizes mean that email isn’t a great option unless you are sending very short postage stamp sized videos. FTP is difficult for clients to navigate and it’s a hassle for administrators to keep secure. Other options like YouTube don’t provide a secure and professional user experience for clients.

2) Encoding videos so that they play on different platforms is difficult. Alternatives like FTP and Dropbox allow production companies to share large files. However, they do not automatically encode video so that it will playback on phones and tablets. It’s time consuming and challenging for production professionals to encode and share videos in a way that their client can easily view on different devices. ScreenLight takes care of this dirty work, so that the production team can focus their time on higher value activities.

3) The process of getting feedback is on video is difficult and time consuming. In most projects there are a number of different stakeholders providing feedback on videos. They all have different schedules, priorities, and opinions. In person review sessions can be great, because they can get everybody on the same page at once. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to coordinate schedules and these sessions can drag on as people debate what needs to be done.

The alternative of sending out videos and getting email feedback is much worse. The conversation easily gets fragmented across different email threads, some people get left off important messages, and sometimes new people show up in the conversation and you don’t know who they are and why they are providing feedback. This conversation is complicated by the fact that everyone is trying to describe visual material and changes that need to be made, and this whole conversation is taking place outside the context of the video.

All of this creates potential for miscommunication, and it wastes time, as someone has to sift through the various conversations and put together a prioritized list of what needs to be done next to move the project on to the next step. With ScreenLight, communication is kept in the context of each video. Time coded comments ensure that feedback is precise and meaningful, and everybody can review videos at a time that is convenient for them.

Adobe Premiere ProWhere do you see the future of online videos for companies? 

It’s great to see how companies of all shapes and sizes are using video to communicate with customers and build their trust. One of the most exciting aspects of this is that we are really at the start of the video revolution.  Rather than simply moving 30-second television spots online, I see companies embracing the lack of constraints afforded by online video to tell deeper and more engaging stories that people actually want to watch and share with others.  It doesn’t take massive budgets to do this either. As an extreme example, look at dollarshaveclub.com, a startup that created an amazing explainer video that brought their product to life, went viral, and turned a $4,500 investment into millions of dollars worth of press.

For business to business marketers, I think online video presents a way to engage with customers in a more direct way that sidesteps some of the formality that big companies usually employ.  Online retailers can use video to showcase their products to life and reduce some of the friction of buying products online. Zappos is one example of a company that is doing a great job with this.

Finally, online video presents a way for big brands like Red Bull to engage with their audience in totally unique ways. Their sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from the stratosphere is an amazing example of how video can eclipse the awareness and engagement of traditional advertising campaigns.

I think the key thing to remember when starting out with an online video market is to define your objectives, understand exactly who you are trying to reach, and then work from there to create the most engaging stories possible. You don’t need your content to be viral or to generate millions of views, you need it to connect with your target audience and motivate them to take action.

 

Before founding ScreenLight, Chris Potter spent over a decade advising companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors on business strategy, marketing, innovation and product development.

Curly Productions are online video production specialists based in Liverpool, UK.

 

Becoming a teen with Lil-lets

lil-lets1Curly Productions has just completed a series of viral films for Lil-Lets helping the brand engage with a younger audience as well as extend their schools programme. Broadcast on their YouTube channel, the videos are part of Lil-Lets Becoming a Teen site, catering for young women who have questions and queries about growing up.

Working with Lil-Lets London PR firm, Shine Communications, Curly was commissioned to produce six short films featuring celebrities including Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, TOWIE siblings Sam and Billie Faiers and X Factor grad Amelia Lily. The celebs were interviewed by two teenagers on topics including Body Changes and Relationships. So far, the videos have had over 45,000 views in their first two weeks online.

Curly Productions also made a 20 minute film featuring Lil-Lets in-house Agony Aunt, Ask Vicki to send to schools as part of their personal and social education curriculum. A thousand DVDs have already been sent to schools across the UK.

lil-lets4The firm’s production team worked with Shine and Lil-Lets throughout the briefing and strategy process for the videos. Working on script development and editing, Curly also helped find a suitable location for the shoot, as well as advising on the actors to use as part of the celebrity films.

For the shoot itself 2 x Canon C300 and 1 x Canon 5D cameras used with full lighting rig, track and dolly on purpose built sets. The edits were performed on top end iMacs at Curly’s Liverpool based edit suite.

Christian Hughes, MD of Curly Productions says.

“We’ve built a long relationship with Shine and their clients because we understand how to get to the heart of a brand. These two different briefs had to have two specific perspectives, even though they were both targeted at teens. For the education film in particular we had to work within the framework of the national curriculum and the strict ethos and responsibility Lil-Lets feels when talking directly to teenagers.”

lil-lets3Mary Young, Head of Marketing at Lil-lets says:

“Lil-Lets are delighted with the results so far.  The content was turned around within a short space of time and was seamlessly managed by Curly Productions.  As well as delivering the production element to such a high standard, the team were quick to understand the brand and create a communication style that reflected the importance and sensitivity of the subject.  Curly Productions are a pleasure to work with.”

 

Visit http://www.lil-lets.co.uk/becomingateen to view the videos.

Curly Productions are a Video Production company based in Liverpool, specialising in online and corporate video production.

Filming with Be One Percent in Malawi

behind scenes

Hello, Christian here.

I’ve just got back from a self-funded trip to Malawi with charity, Be One Percent – my head is still spinning from what we saw out there.  The trip was rewarding yet humbling, we saw lots of happiness but also great sadness and hardship.

Be One Percent are a collective of individuals who give 1% of their income every month to help the world’s poorest people.

We went to Malawi as quite a motley crew.  We were Steve Pilgrim – Co-Founder and drummer to Paul Weller, Matt Johnson – Co-Founder and CEO of Mando Group, Ben Waldron – Be One Percent website creator and Creative Director at Igoo, Chris Norman – Photographer and Owner of Oomoo Coffee shops, along with myself who was tasked with filmmaking duties.

I went equipped with a backpack stuffed with a Canon 5D along with 3 lenses, audio recording equipment, lightweight tripod.  At Curly we are used to working with a minimum of a 3 man crew, so this was going to take a little bit of getting used to!

Once out in the country, we visited a huge range of projects that Be One Percent supports or is looking to support.  We visited:

  • an irrigation system that helps a village farm their crops 3 times a year as opposed to just once
  • Several villages that now have water bore holes installed, meaning villagers have access to fresh & clean water.
  • Micro Finance initiatives that allow villagers to lend and borrow money to increase savings.
  • A stove project that teaches villagers how to build clay stoves themselves, which are much more efficient than cooking over an open fire, saving firewood and reducing accidents.
  • School feeding programmes with Mary’s Meals.  They are able to feed a child a school lunch every school day for just £7.00 per year – incredible.  This means children actually want to go to school as this may be the only guaranteed meal they get in the day, meaning they get a decent education.

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I was blown away by the friendliness of the Malawian people, and the welcome that we got in each and every village that we visited.  The people and children of many of the villages that we visited literally have nothing except each other.  An empty water bottle was a prized possession for many children, yet they all had a huge grin on their faces for us.  Talk about putting things into perspective.

Over the next few weeks we will be posting a series of videos filmed at these projects.  If you would like to find out more about Be One Percent, please visit http://www.beonepercent.org.uk

Photographs courtesy of Chris Norman.

The Video Production Process

Here at Curly, we like to make things easy for our clients.  That’s why we’ll guide you easily through the production process – an essential part of making an online or corporate video.  Following this process ensures that we can prepare properly for each subsequent stage, resulting in a video that not only looks great, but one that your target audience remember and want to share.

Pre-Production – The bit where we listen, research, imagine and prepare.

Pre-Production

We do something very simple here, we listen – we don’t tell you what you want. We first arrange an initial requirements gathering meeting with you either here, or at your offices where we would chat about your requirements and your audience in more detail so that we can create a video that exactly matches what you have in your head, along with gearing it to your specific audiences.  This listening stage is really important as it means your video will always be on brand and fulfil your requirements which means your customers love you even more!

We then go away and come up with a narrative outline, along with the key messages that we need to get across in each video. It is really these key messages that we want the audience to take away.  We’ll also be working hard to create a concept that is memorable and encourages your audience to share.

At this stage we will also do the shoot organisation: booking the crew, the equipment, organising logistics, getting relevant permissions from filming locations and contacting any participants.  Laura, one of our producers is highly skilled in preparing even the most nervous of interview participants and can be on hand to provide them with some media training before the cameras start rolling.

Production – The shooting phase.

Video Production Company LiverpoolAll of our camera operators are TV camera operators, highly skilled with excellent people skills. Ben, for example, is also the main cameraman on Come Dine With Me, so is used to filming well lit and beautifully composed footage.

Depending on the requirements, we will either be providing a 3 man crew or larger to film your project.  This usually consists of a camera operator, sound recordist and director.  Other roles might be a camera assistant, autocue operator, focus puller, director of photography or even aerial cinematographer.  We have access to a huge network of talented production staff, so whatever you need we can source it.  We’ll adapt to fit your requirements.

Here at Curly, we always keep up with the latest technologies and we can recommend the latest cameras and technologies to shoot on according to your budget.  We have been filming on the Canon C300 a lot lately – a new cinema camera that gives a beautiful high quality filmic look. Please take a look at a How To video we did for Karcher that was shot on the C300 or Lil-lets lets talk.  The shoot would either take place on location, or in a studio, depending on the requirements.

All of our crew members are super friendly, so not only will you love working with them, anyone that isn’t used to being in front of the camera will also feel completely at ease.

Post-Production – The Edit.

Post ProductionWe are used to turning around edits very quickly for clients, sometimes in 24 hours for simple edits.

The first stage would be collating all of the footage, ingesting it into our edit suites, and assembling it according to the narrative/script that was established in the pre-production phase. Good preparation in the Pre-Production phase will always save time here.

This is the point where music is sourced and purchased. We would usually recommend using royalty free, stock music which over the years has become a very good, viable alternative to copyrighted music, whilst being a lot more budget friendly.

The footage is edited together and graded (a colorization process that makes it look the best it possibly could). We are also able to create incredible motion graphics if it is required meaning your video will stand out and be admired.  We are also able to put together a memorable end screen using your brand guidelines with your required call to action.

We have an online, password protected screening room that is personalised to you. When the first version of your edit is completed, it will get uploaded to this screening room for you to watch securely from the comfort of your laptop, iPad or iPhone. We always see the edit as a collaborative process between the client and us, therefore in the screening room, you can make suggested changes right there and we get the feedback instantly. We will make these changes and resubmit to you.  We always strive to make things as easy as possible for you and take the stress away from you.

We are also experts in video marketing. We know social media and are able to advise on the best ways to direct the most people to your videos, including the use of YouTube annotations and keywords.

Once your video has been signed off, we can then deliver it in a huge variety of formats and mediums.

 

If you have a project in mind and would like to discuss it, please do contact us.

Curly Productions are a Liverpool based video production company specialising in producing online videos and corporate videos.

 

 

How to optimise your content for a corporate video

Here at Curly Productions, we love coming up with new ideas, scripts and storyboards for our clients, but often a client approaches us simply looking for our Production and Post-Production skills.  The client might have an idea in their head of what they want, and what they want to get across but research suggests that the average user attention span is 60 seconds.  So how do you prepare your script/concept ready for filming and editing?

Filming with 5D

1) Research and find several online videos that you like for inspiration.

2) Less is more.  Condense your content and pair it down to your absolute key messages.  Try bullet pointing.  The video is there to grab your viewers attention, get them interested in your brand – an in a nutshell approach.  If they want to know more, they can read further on your website.

3) Tell a story.  There needs to be a clear beginning, middle and an end.

4) If you are using graphics, try and replace text with symbols and animation to spice things up a bit.

5) Drop off rates can be quite high, so make sure you put your most important messages at the beginning, and try to start with a bang.

6) Try storyboarding.  You might not be Rolf Harris, but anyone can draw something that clarifies their point.  Not only that, but it will help you get your head around the narrative.

At Curly Productions, we always put your audience first and target your video specifically for them.  If you have an idea that you’d love to develop, please get in touch.

 

The expert’s guide to making a company video

We’ve all learnt how important it is to make sure our company is visible online. Websites, social media, online newspapers and magazines, blogs, articles; you name it, you’re probably doing it.

Yet the most impactful and easiest way of getting your message across is video, yet many company’s shy away from making one. Cost, technique, technology are just some of the reasons many firms say puts them off.

The truth is, you’re missing out. Video allows you to communicate your message in your own words. You can get right in-front of target customers and potential clients, showing them exactly how you could benefit them.

1) Content is King – Don’t make a video just for the sake of it. You need a clear purpose and narrative in mind before the cameras start rolling. The more time you spend in pre- production (planning and scripting), the better the result. Video is a more powerful medium than static text/photos but only if you have something to say!

2) Always think about your audience – Who will want to watch your video and why? Gear the content towards the interests of your target audience.

3) Length – You’re not making Ben Hur. The average attention span for online videos is around 60 seconds, so make sure your video is concise and grabs the viewer’s attention straight away. Think about episodic content that encourages the viewer to return to your site each week/month.

4) Let your customers sell you – If you are promoting your company or product, the viewer is more likely to trust the opinion of another customer rather than your CEO. Think about interviewing a customer giving an honest testimonial. People trust people rather than corporations.

5) Check your shot & check again – It sounds obvious but it is a very common mistake. Make sure that everything in your shot looks perfect, staff look presentable and there isn’t something in shot that shouldn’t be, like sensitive documents, untidiness or somebody misbehaving in the background!

6) Quality – Much like your website, the quality of your video reflects the quality of your brand or product. If you are shooting it yourself, use the best camera you can get your hands on, use a tripod, and make sure the sound quality is good. If you are contracting a production company, make sure they are reputable and always ask to see examples of previous work.

7) Soundtrack – If you are going to use music in your video, bear in mind you usually have to pay thousands in royalties for copyrighted tracks. Try stock music sites such as stockmusic.net where you can buy a track with a full license for around £40.

8) Provide the backup – Don’t just expect to make a video, put it on YouTube and watch the video go viral. Make sure you publicise the video through press releases, social media, relevant websites and through your staff.

 

Curly Productions are online video production specialists based in Liverpool, UK.

How to recycle your old Xbox 360 by turning it into planter

When my Xbox 360 was struck down by the infamous red ring of death, tragically it was out of warranty and to be honest, it just didn’t get enough use (with 2 young children!) to justify the £80.00 bill to repair it.

So there it was, gathering dust in our cabinet, until my wife decided to have a clear out.  Under pressure to throw it in the bin, I wanted to see if I could brighten up our new office space and give the Xbox a new lease of life as a plant box.  Some may say its criminal to turn such a processing powerhouse into a mere box to hold soil and plant roots, but I felt it was more respectful than chucking it in the bin.

Xbox’s are notoriously difficult to get into, as Microsoft don’t want you tinkering with the innards.  I’m not going to jot down step by step how to get in, as there is a much better video here that tells you how to do it.

So, with nothing more than a few screwdrivers I opened up my old console, and one by one took out each of the Xbox’s vital organs – the DVD drive, processor, motherboard, fan.  The console slowly became the shell I was looking for.

I then purchased some heavy duty gravel bags – the idea being that the inner metal container becomes a natural drainage system out of the screw holes at the bottom, with the plastic chassis catching the drainage water.  Therefore I had to seal the plastic outer case with the heavy duty bags.  The metal case then slots back in.  I also sealed around the edges of this metal case so that bits of soil didn’t escape.

The case then gets filled with soil and whatever plants you want in there.  Finally, you snap the side and front panels on, and voila!  Water the plants and hope it doesn’t leak!

 

If anyone has any other broken consoles looking for a new lease of life in the Curly Productions garden, then we’d be very grateful!

Christian

 

 

 

Curly Productions are online video production specialists based in Liverpool, UK.

Our top 5 Christmas films with great visual effects

Deciding which is your favourite Christmas film is tougher than deciding your favourite film.

It’s harder because it has to be perfect; you can watch most movies any day of the week but Christmas films only have a short window in which it’s acceptable to watch them.

A chat at Curly Production towers revealed that the majority of Christmas films at the top of our lists have really great visual effects, motion graphics and animation. This probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Filmmakers are going to be putting their biggest budgets into movies that are released when people are off work or school and are actively looking for something to do. Big budgets, increased production value, the belief goes, means bigger audiences.

Visual effects are about more than having more cash to splash around though. When they work well they elevate the story. Even if you’re making a short film or an online promo, visual effects can help make your audience feel like they’re part of a different world; they are immersive and make it easier to articulate ideas.

This Christmas the cinemas will hope we’ll all flock to see The Hobbit but having special effects on at Christmas is nothing new. Here are our top Christmas films with the best visual effects;

1. Die Hard. Yippee Kai Yay Melon Farmers!

Die Hard

Yes, Die Hard IS a Christmas film.  John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, obviously, fights to save his wife and her colleagues who have been taken hostage during their Christmas party. Sounds quite dull when you read it like that. It is the visual and sound effects though that lift this film and make it a classic. It won two Oscars for sound and visual effects. The best effect is when the top of the building blows away as McClane jumps from it. Astounding.

2. The Snowman

The Snowman animation

There are many who will shed a manly tear when they watch The Snowman. It’s such an important part of our childhood we can sometimes forget that it’s an astonishing piece of animation. It could be argued that the stripped back graphics are what makes it so personable. A silent film with just a few sketches and beautiful music. When it’s one of the key ingredients the animation had to be a step above the rest. The effects are done using traditional animation techniques with pastels and crayons drawn onto celluloid and then traced over hand drawn frames. It makes it timeless and nostalgic, as the best children’s illustration should be.

3. Hugo

hugo-movie

Pixomondo, who worked on the visual effects in Hugo, won their first Oscar for the film. Directed by Martin Scorcese it’s a story about the birth of cinema so it seems fitting it should be the first film that uses 3D in the most successful and arresting way so far in film.  The inspiration for the visual effects was the “persistence of vision” of early filmmakers. It mixes homages with a use of innovative technology. The film creates a new world in the train station it’s filmed in and the shots as the camera ducks and weaves to follow the action – reminiscent of the epic Orson Welles shot as the camera flies through a neon sign – which makes it immersive as well as thrilling.

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas Animation

Christmas films don’t have to be mushy. Tim Burton taught us that. The film tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King who presides over a world of ghouls and goblins who celebrate Halloween. Disillusioned with the holiday Jack explores the world outside his own front door and discovers Christmas. The film uses stop motion animation which is the perfect video production technique to bring the weird and wonderful creatures to life.

5. Gremlins

gremlins

What are the three rules for looking after a Mogwai? If you know that without using Google then you’re probably aged between 28 and 35 and you grew up with Gremlins. Written by Chris Columbus the movie won the Best Special Effects Oscar in 1985. The guy who worked on it, Chris Walas, also worked on The Fly and Arachnophobia. Perhaps that’s why the Gremlins are always a little creepy.  Who wouldn’t want a Mogwai for Christmas?

Merry Christmas to all our lovely Blog readers.

The Curly team x

 

Curly Productions are online video production specialists based in Liverpool, UK.

 

A new era for Curly Productions at Baltic Creative Campus

Well, we’ve finally done it and moved into our new space at the Baltic Creative Campus.  Things are still being finished off on the building, but today the signage outside was going up – looking good!

As for our own offices, we’re sharing with a fantastic design agency called Underexposed Creative who we will be collaborating with on projects, offering our clients a higher level of finish to motion graphics, title screens, and general extra pazzazz.  The office itself has a mezzanine level that we aim to turn into the informal work/meeting space.  Our aim is to turn it into a indoor “beer garden” complete with fake grass and picnic benches.  Downstairs is the more “serious” work area where the hard graft takes place.

All very exciting, and we hope you can come and visit us soon once everything looks fantastic.  We’re in Studio A – look us up next time you’re down this end of town.

Working with Plan UK

This week we have been working with Plan UK, a child sponsorship charity. Plan works for children and their communities to help realise children’s rights across a range of sectors, including education, health, child protection, child participation, economic security and water and sanitation.

 

Plan UK’s current focus is on the promotion of the rights of adolescent girls and responding to and preparing for disasters worldwide.

We were approached to produce a motion graphics showreel that documents how far Plan have come in the last 4 years.  The completed video will be shown to their new CEO to give them a potted history of Plan’s progress.

For more information about Plan, or want to donate to this worthwhile cause, please visit http://www.plan-uk.org

Adobe Anywhere – changing the rules for collaborative editing

The announcement of Adobe Anywhere, a new collaborative working platform for video editors, loggers and motion graphics artists, has the potential to be a game changer.

It promotes the spirit of working together, of being able to source the best creative talent and bring them on-board for a project, no matter where they are based in the world. This makes a huge difference to the service we are able to offer clients; it means a faster turnaround time, and reduces the pressure on internal servers making it easier to view files and make changes.

But more than that it means we’re able to produce better work, faster.

How does it work?

Announced at the annual technology trade show IBC, Adobe Anywhere is the next step in Adobe Creative Cloud and is designed for anyone working on Prelude, Premiere Pro and After Effects. It doesn’t matter where you’re based; the platform works from a centralised media server, promoting remote working.

Each member of the team gets their own login. Once footage is uploaded anyone with access can view it and edit it. The project is hosted on a shared server so whether a broadcaster, editing suite or a video production company it removes the pressure from your own bandwidth and servers meaning changes can be made simultaneously.

Sounds too good to be true? The secret, Adobe says, is in the Mercury Streaming Engine.  It means that the centralised server is doing all the heavy lifting. It renders the video as you’re editing and takes it to different networks. It means you don’t need as powerful a machine to edit – feasibly you could do it on a MacBook Air. It uses a single rather than multiple streams so it optimizes bandwidth so that even those with a slow internet connection won’t have the frustration of stuttering playback. The Mercury Streaming Engine works directly with the source material meaning there is no need to create proxy files. Creating these, even in low res, are time consuming and slow down the editing process.

That’s the technical bit.  What difference will this collaborative hub actually make to working practice?

 

At Curly Productions we’re always looking for ways to make remote working with clients much easier and to speed up production turnaround times. A few months ago we brought in a login section on the website allowing clients to sign in to their very own screening room making it easier, and faster, for them to give feedback. This is a huge benefit to our clients and is a vast improvement over the FTP transfer process sending footage back and forth.

Being able to work with the best creatives all over the world means we can offer an even better service to our clients. More ideas, work that stands out even more against the competition, a bigger pool to source the best talent from; it’s win, win from a business perspective.

Adobe Anywhere has the potential to seriously cut production time as well. If you employ a motion graphic artist to work on branding or illustration for a video, they are able to work on the footage whilst its being edited and view changes as they are being made.  It not only fosters a more collaborative process but streamlines activity. There are no costly and frustrating delays.

The centralised server feasibly removes the need for the time delay in tapes being shipped back and forth. Once the raw footage is uploaded then anyone with a log in can begin working on it wherever they are. It’s ideal for those working to a tight deadline.

Collaborative working is increasingly becoming part of the landscape. It is encouraging a greater sharing of ideas as well as practice, making it easier to find and use the best creative talent out there. What client wouldn’t want to use that?

For more information click here

 

Curly Productions are online video production specialists based in Liverpool, UK.

Adobe Creative Cloud – A new way for creative industries to work (and pay!)

Creative-Cloud-Adobe1No matter what your job, if you are in the creative industry, you’ll almost certainly have used one piece of Adobe’s powerful Creative Suite.  For us in the production industry, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop and Encore have been invaluable tools.  They are the amazing products that help turn our wildest ideas into reality, and help us craft awesome videos for our clients.

It used to be that we would invest heavily in the software up front, purchasing each new version as they came out and then receiving the big box containing all of the different discs to install the software on our systems.

However, in May 2012, Adobe announced a new way of using and paying for their software called Creative Cloud.  It has moved from an outright software purchase model to a subscription based model, where consumers can pay a monthly subscription fee to access Adobe’s entire suite of apps.

adobe-creative-cloudIn many parts of the creative sector there has been an outcry at this new service.  Over 5,000 of Adobe’s customers signed a petition at change.org calling on the company to carry on selling the packaged software.

We are finding it gives us greater flexibility when bringing on new members of staff or working collaborating with other editors and creatives.  As part of the package you have access to 20GB of creative cloud space to store your files, and where we only used to have our core suite of apps for video, we can now use any Adobe app of our choosing.  It is actually improving our workflow and we are always up to date with the very latest versions of the software.  We can’t wait until they release Adobe Anywhere, which will allow us to work directly with creatives all over the world on shared projects, in the same edit suite.

Adobe is obviously keen on the subscription model as it will provide regular recurring revenue instead of more infrequent sales when customers upgrade their software.  It is also seen as part of a broader trend towards cloud-based subscription software.  Microsoft have started the shift to cloud based software too, with the release of Office 365.

In the meantime, we’re keen to see where this new era of creative tools takes us, and more than ever, it means we can continually stay ahead of the competition with the latest and greatest tools to put together the most memorable online video content.

Curly Productions are a Video Production company based in Liverpool, specialising in online and corporate video production.