This year the format of the IVCA Creative Breakthrough Award was a 48 hour filmmaking competition and was hosted by Friends of the Earth to promote their ‘Because We Need Bees’ campaign. Our intrepid team of industry newcomers were tasked with writing, shooting and editing a two minute film starting at 6pm on Friday afternoon and had to deliver by 6pm on Sunday.
Florrie, Patrick and Raymond took on the challenge and in the short timeframe, they had to think fast and be practical. Quickly deciding it would be impractical to film actual bees, they concentrated on a script that communicated the message with facts and humour instead. They pinned down the actors and location early on, that was a matter of convincing Andrew to come in to the office on a Saturday along with Itchy Parkin and Raymond to support him. After a long Friday night of scripting, and a day of filming on Saturday, Patrick spent the whole Sunday editing ready for the deadline at 6pm.
Take a look at the film here:
They were absolutely delighted to be invited along to the prestigious IVCA Awards night at Grosvenor House and even more surprised when they were awarded the winning prize.
Casual were also pleased to have been name-checked in the opening video for the ceremony:
Congratulations to Patrick, Florrie and Raymond for a fantastic success.
We held the launch of our first Casual Academy film for the charity CoppaFeel! on Tuesday evening at our office.
Friends and family of the students headed over to Casual’s London office to watch the film for the first time. The Academy team have been working hard over the past six weeks to create the film, learning about various aspects of film production in the process; from finance to footage and pitching to post production.
We were joined by the delightful Kris, Boob Chief of CoppaFeel! who told us a bit about the charity, and Timothy, one of the students told everyone about his experience of the course. The preview was a big success, and a proud moment for the team, all of whom were making a film for the first time.
We also screened a short ‘behind the scenes’ film:
The Casual Academy aims to help young people in the boroughs of Hackney & Islington get into film by offering a free evening course over 6 weeks, taking them through the entire filmmaking process. Participants have the opportunity to work on a real client brief which benefits local charities who receive the film for free.
“This was the first time we’ve run the project and our ambition is to run this on a regular basis so that we can give more young people the opportunity to gain employability skills and learn about what we love – filmmaking” says Barnaby Cook, Casual MD.
If you’re interested in participating in the Casual Films Academy, or would like more information on the initiative – please contact email@example.com
Our very own MD Barnaby Cook was interviewed last month for the Member’s Room section of the prestigious House magazine.
It’s delivered directly to the homes of all Soho House members worldwide, with supplementary copies placed in Soho House Group’s clubs and hotel rooms, Cowshed spas, selected restaurants, and in selected Virgin Atlantic Lounges.
We’re really pleased to get some coverage ahead of the launch of the Casual Academy and Casual Foundation. Watch this space for further info!
We waited with baited breath to see the results of this year’s Televisual Corporate Top 50 and were absolutely delighted at the unveiling of the results.
Well-timed for celebration, we opened the magazine on a Friday afternoon to find that we’d dropped 6 places in the rankings from 18th last year to 12th this year.
We had also shifted down on The Peer Poll rankings to =8th, coming down 3 places on last year’s =11th; that’s a big thanks going out to our peers!
As it was a Friday afteroon, we all headed off to the pub to celebrate the success.
Cheers to Televisual!
Over the last two months we’ve been working with a group of 18 – 24 year olds from Islington. They’ve learnt about lots of aspects of filmmaking, from creative to scripting to finance and marketing right through to shooting and editing. They’ve been working on a real brief for excellent breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel!
We’re screening the film on Tuesday 9th April at our offices and it would be great if you could come along. Tickets are free and are available here.
We worked with the agency ‘Frameworks’ to create a 3D animation as part of Toshiba’s latest integrated campaign ‘Together Commerce’.
Together commerce is a new acquisition for Toshiba, so the video was to educate all audiences of customers and staff, potential customer and candidates.
The animation was one of the more ambitious that we’ve undertaken for various reasons including hypothesising about what retail will look like in the future – but Toshiba are very pleased with the outcome and are looking to translate the video for other markets based on its success in Japan.
As part of a website refresh, the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer has made a bid to shift content focus away from text content and into video; more specifically – animation.
In partnership with Casual Films, the charity will look to replace much of the text content on its ‘About Us’ section of the Breakthrough site with a beautiful 4 minute animation detailing everything from its foundations as a charity to how it aims to support breast cancer sufferers day-to-day.
Animation is has the shareablility factor online – hopefully penetrating more than just the ‘About’ pages of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer site. In today’s world of social influence, creating something watchable and likable for such a poignant topic is an extremely clever move; it’s hoped the animation serves them well both on and offline in the many circumstances it can be used.
Creative Boom have covered the story on their site – click through to read it.
We would like to make a statement clarifying a posting on a casting site for extras in a film which was advertised as unpaid.
Casual Films is in no way connected to the Living Wage campaign. We run run a regular filmmaking course called The Academy for young people in Hackney & Islington which is free of charge to the participants and takes them through the process of making a film. We like them to work on a film for an issue that is close to their hearts. We were excited to discover a cleaner that had written a song about the Living Wage campaign, and wanted to create a music video to help promote the campaign. Once the film was completed, we were going to approach Living Wage to ask if they would be interested in using it.
Casual Films run The Academy free of charge for the participants and pick up any associated costs of producing the film. There is no budget as such and we therefore look at ways we can produce the film on a shoestring. During a planning session with the young adults we discussed ways that we could find extras to support one of the scenes in the music video. Various methods were suggested including asking friends and family to donate their time to the cause, and it was suggested we could put out a casting call to gauge the interest of the public. Regrettably, the irony of this was lost on us at the time, and we are now fully aware of the issue. We have asked for the posting to be removed with immediate effect from the website concerned.
Casual Films fully endorse the Living Wage campaign and deeply regret the confusion caused by the posting.
We recently created a video for education charity SGOSS, which looks to recruit governors for schools. Aside from the initial excitement of working with them because they live upstairs in the same studio block as us, we were also delighted to hear they were after something really creative.
The film aims to raise awareness about the work of school governors and demonstrate how people from different walks of life, not just parents and teachers, can use their skills to support children, education and schools. The video is a call to arms for new volunteers, as well as highlighting to employers the benefits of encouraging staff to engage their skills in new and challenging environments.
We really lke the finished piece, particularly as most people can’t quite decide whether the animations are indeed animations, or paper that we’ve hand crafted. Take a look here:
We’ve been doing some thinking about how you can define the effectiveness of recruitment video. We’ve come up with three ways (quality of message, reach and impact & action) which we have affectionately dubbed ‘The Tripod’ of Recruitment Video Effectiveness. Have a read.
There are plenty of statistics on the power of video. It’s 5.33 times more effective than text for keeping people on your site. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, with over 3 billion views per day. If your site has video, it is 53 times more likely to appear on the front page of a Google search.
The use of video in recruitment communications has grown enormously for the same reasons it has elsewhere. It has an ability to engage an audience and bring an employer’s brand and culture to life that is unmatched by text and still images. Case studies that provide statistics to back these claims up do exist.
CERN’s new recruitment unit measured the effectiveness of video during their recruitment process. They found that a written job posting would receive on average 1000 views and 20 applications. After producing video content for the posting, it received 5000 views and 150 applications. These numbers add to the dearth of reliable information championing the effectiveness of video as a medium. However, they do little to help define the various parameters for success found in an individual piece of video.
Before we go into our breakdown of how to measure recruitment video effectiveness, it is useful to define what kind of video we’re talking about. The types of video used in recruitment fall typically into two camps – video that is used to replace CV’s or the initial stages of the interview process, and video that communicates and promotes an employer’s brand. The former most frequently relies on the employee for production and is the subject of a very different discussion. At Casual Films, we are engaged entirely in the latter.
This type of video has a variety of uses in the employee lifecycle, from attraction to onboarding, learning and development, and employee engagement. Video is commissioned for a wealth of different reasons. If you can connect with a candidate emotionally and give them a real insight into what they can expect from a role at your organisation, you are more likely to attract and retain them.
In order to measure effectiveness, you have to have a clearly defined objective. With video, more often that not, you need the co-operation of the client, the agency and the video production company to single this out. If a video is commissioned for the wrong reasons – ‘there’s a space on our website so we’d better make one’ or ‘everyone else has done one so let’s do one too’ – the only ways to quantify success would be that the video exists and that it looks pretty.
Without an objective to influence decisions throughout the video’s production – all the way from concept development to delivery strategies – its results will be left entirely to chance. Just having a video on your site will not achieve uplift in applications or quality of candidate. Only a highly targeted and tailor-made piece of video content can be considered intentionally effective.
Below we have defined the three main areas in which a video’s effectiveness at meeting an objective can usually be measured. By developing a better understanding of these measurements – what they entail, who they benefit, and how important they are – the process of determining a clear objective is made far simpler and more efficient.
1. Quality of Message
This can be defined by how a film looks, how it makes you feel, how original it is and how good the production values are. The production company has the most control over this and will therefore tend to champion these qualities as the thing that defines a video as effective.
This area can be hard to measure as certain elements are subjective or unquantifiable. The best approach for assessment would be to conduct focus groups or run questionnaires and interviews. By asking a series of questions before and after a subject watches a video we are able to monitor how their perceptions have been changed.
We trialled a messaging questionnaire for one of our own videos about the production process – ‘How to Make a Film Film’. After watching the video our target group reported a 15% increase in their understanding of video production.
This is perhaps most frequently used to assess effectiveness. Virals have shown that it is possible for a video to distribute itself across millions of viewers through sharing on social media sites. It is easy to measure the number of plays your video has had by using one of a plethora of tools that are available. Google Analytics and YouTube’s video statistics tool for example provide easily attainable audience and engagement data.
However, this area is also the most misleading when assessing the effectiveness of video in the recruitment space. We have spoken extensively in previous articles about when viral video is and is not appropriate. Put simply, what good comes of every man and his dog seeing your video if they do not react in a way that you want them to. Data gained in this area focuses more on the effectiveness of the distribution strategy rather than that of the video.
3. Impact & Action
Video is often at its best when it evokes emotions in people that inspire them to find out more or take another desired action. Provided that an objective and, by extension, a call to action are defined you can usually measure a video’s impact quite easily. For example, the CERN study we referenced earlier used this area to measure effectiveness by monitoring application rates.
The more subtle and difficult parts of impact to measure are emotional changes or actions that do not require immediate interaction with a website. These are best monitored with methods similar to those used for the quality of message.
This area is typically the most important as it is directly linked to the video’s objectives. However, impact is often the most difficult area to measure accurately. With sufficient planning and resources this can be accounted for early on in the production process which highlights the importance of the client, agency and production company collaborating to define objectives that are ambitious yet achievable.
Every once in a while, when working in video production, you realise how strange your job is. It’s that point when you take a step back from the camera and the surreal nature of your situation comes to light. Over the past few years that feeling has snuck up on me precisely three times.
The first instance occurred as I sat on a bus into town with a severed pig’s head in my lap. The second struck at two in the morning after twenty-two hours of lying in a darkened room playing with puppets. The third and most recent occasion came as I attempted to attach a miniature red necktie to a very confused white rabbit. If that wasn’t bizarre enough, a man with a welsh accent tried to seduce my long-eared friend.
This picture of a lagomorph escort service wouldn’t seem out of place in the twisted mind of David Lynch, but Twin Peaks this was not. No, my incongruous revelation in fact happened on the set of a little advert we were producing for Totaljobs.com.
The video played at the start of the RAD Awards part of a suite of adverts promoting the event’s sponsors. Totaljobs wanted to stand out from the crowd and asked us to come up with something a bit ‘different’…
Tarantino is back with the eagerly awaited second installment of his historic ‘trilogy’. Inglourious Basterds set the tone back in 2009 with a bloodthirsty hunt for Nazi scalps and a very loose grasp on the history books. Basterds was great fun but Tarantino manages to up the ante with Django Unchained offering a story with a little more depth.
Introducing viewers to the slave trade of the Old West in a way only he could – by juxtaposing a Spaghetti Western with a piece of Blaxploitation cinema – Tarantino’s latest is as controversial as it is hyped. In true QT-style these two kitschy genres are turned from cheesy relics of the past to contemporary epitomes of cool. Whether it’s Nazis, Gangsters or men on horseback, Tarantino always manages to create characters and worlds that are able to immerse his audiences entirely.
The film follows Django (Jamie Foxx) and his quest to be reunited with his beautiful wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). The German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), with his liberal views on slavery, frees Django from bondage and offers to help him track down his wife. In return Django must lend a hand finding and killing the white criminals that are on Schultz’s hit list. How could he possibly refuse?
As is to be expected Django Unchained is impeccably cast. Foxx performs his role as a badass on a mission with precision but ultimately plays second fiddle to Waltz’s marvelous portrayal of Schultz. The pair provide comedy and composure in equal measure and the relationship between them is a pleasure to watch developing. Conversely, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson provide easily loathable villains in their performances as calculating plantation owner and mandingo fighting enthusiast, Monsieur Candi, and Stephen, his equally repugnant senior house slave. However, despite all these stellar performances, our main characters are all upstaged by an anonymous mob of bag-wearing racists in what may be one of the funniest scenes in the whole of Tarantino’s back catalogue.
With plenty of brains, heart and blood, Django Unchained is a blast and comes highly recommended. Django may already have your curiosity but boy does it deserve your attention!
We are really proud to have supported this year’s RAD Awards. We would like to extend a big thank you to Angela and Pete at RBI for organising last night and congratulations to all the winners.
So we thought a quick blog post on our involvement in the night. First and foremost we worked with Robert Grieves to create the animation that launched the awards. We involved key people from agencies on the shortlist and turned them into ‘Radster’ cartoon characters who were so desperate to get their hands on a RAD they tried to intercept the shipment of trophies to the Grosvenor.
However there was more to our involvement than that. We filmed people arriving and Adam did a sterling job of editing the footage together on the fly before it was shown on the big screen in front of the industry. This morphed into the showreel animation that showcases the shortlisted work.
Thanks to animator George’s tireless work we also created a quick animation to show off the breadth of RBI’s brands. George’s characters went down so well they were used to brand a taxi which was in the Great Hall on the night.
Not content with all of that, we were also on hand to film interviews with all the winners when they came off stage.
The branding that we developed for the animation was then used on the invitation, programme and other collateral on the night. And it was great to see our ad in the programme:
And we also produced sponsor videos for TotalJobs…
AND, we also did some vox-pops at the Shortlist Party we hosted at the Soho Hotel in early January which can be viewed on the RAD Awards YouTube channel here.
All in all a fantastic night and we can’t wait for next year!
£30,000 – £35,000 p/a
For Account Managers ready for something different, Casual Films is the place to be. We’ve been growing our production company since 2006 and, while we’re still small and independent, we’ve worked with some pretty big brands. Think Samsung, Barclays, Jaguar Land Rover and RBS. Sound good? Well now you can work with them too.
Working with big name clients. Managing projects from pre-pitch to delivery. Working with the whole team to pull together quality productions. It’s all in a day’s work for our Account Managers. So is putting the customer first, keeping an eye on the financials and juggling multiple projects without breaking a sweat. You’ll be building relationships with clients, learning what makes their business tick and discovering ways to make film work for them. You’ll also be adept at project managing, setting expectations, helping to produce films and animations, negotiating with suppliers and influencing our team. We’re looking for a real people person – someone who can manage relationships and keep clients coming back for more, and whose talent is backed up by solid referrals.
We specialise in video and animation for corporate, consumer and employer communications. In six years we’ve produced over 2,000 videos, won a series of awards and made a lot of clients very happy. Our secret? We do things a little bit differently from everyone else. See for yourself: www.casualfilms.com
If you like our work and think you could make the grade, send a copy of your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a covering letter explaining why you think you’d fit in. And we’d only like to hear from real live candidates, so no agencies please.
Friday 22nd February 2013
When Samsung came to us wanting nineteen films explaining and promoting a broad range of their features and services across their mobile devices for a brand new website they were wheeling out, we took a big breath and knuckled down to it. It was a tall order, but we were taller. Except Florrie (the producer), who is actually quite short.
The films were split into three sections, each requiring a different style to best convey the relevant information. The first group was how to guides, explaining step-by-step key information regarding the operating of a number of Samsung’s phones, tablets and synchronizing software. We got our favourite Samsung presenter Layla into explain these ones. As ever, Layla was ridiculously charming, professional and an all around pleasure to work with.
The second set was comprised of eight films which outlined the various hubs (music, video, game etc.) available to Samsung users. We agreed that we didn’t want these films to be too dry, detailed or serious, so we came up with the concept of having a couple of guys – housemates lounging around their flat – just chatting and kind of presenting the information at the same time. We cast a couple of cracking actors, found an offensively trendy Shoreditch flat and had a lot of fun making it.
The last set was by far the most fun, creatively ambitious, and challenging. A drama set over five films, with an ongoing narrative explaining really useful, everyday features and all with a very ‘British’ feel; a sort of indie-soap opera. As hackneyed as it sounds, we went for a girl-meets-boy plot. She’s a dancer, he’s a cellist, they meet at an audition and fall for each other – aided quite conveniently by their Samsung smart phones, tablets and laptops. We wanted something that wasn’t too cheesy or trite, but was straight to the point, and we loved the idea of the music and dance performing an important part in the films, so we cast an actual cellist and dancer, Danny Pagarani and Niki Campbell who were just bloody superb.
As a shortcut to instantly recognisable Britishness, we shot in Brighton. A lot of the films were comprised of montage, and much of it was outside, which is actually really stupid because Mother Nature is a cruel mistress when she wants to be. Luckily, we were blessed with lovely woozy October sunshine, and we were extremely fortunate to have a fantastic and unerringly adventurous DoP, Jack Shelbourn, and the invaluable support of 1st AC/AD/Tech Supervisor/all-around-dude, Patrick Hoelscher. We all stayed in a beautiful seafront town house in Kemptown, which was probably more fun than it should’ve been.
Florrie the producer was an absolute rock during the whole production, helping out not only with all the usual bits, but also with the writing, casting, and generally fostering a really fun, productive and energetic atmosphere for the entire shoot period. The whole project was certainly a challenge and I spent more than a few late nights putting it all together, but by god was it a useful learning experience. Plus the films turned out alright I reckon.
Guest Blog by Dan Hollis.
Things have been a little quiet on the social front round these here parts and I think we can squarely lay the blame on year’s Dryathlon; perhaps a necessary withdrawal for some of those more frequently lubricated members of staff. We think it’s a fabulous idea – devised by our friends at PR agency Unity and that’s why most of us are participating. It’s a simple concept: No Alcohol. For January. For Cancer Research UK.
Too big for one single team , we’ve split into two – inevitably leading to more than a little competition in the office. This has had a positive effect on fundraising, as we’re in position 5 and 18 respectively on the national team leader board (yes, national) having already raised a combined total of over £4500. It’s a sad fact that almost everyone will have a family member or friend affected by cancer which makes Drythlon a fantastic and relevant cause for all.
To sponsor one of the teams click through to either of the links below; any donations are very gratefully received.
Well, this year has certainly been a busy one and we have only just got back from our US office visit but we still made time to make a Casual Christmas card for you.
So from everyone at Casual Films, here and in the US, we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Click here to see our special Christmas message for you.
Next Thursday evening, the UK Casual office will be flying low over the skyline of New York City as they prepare to land for the weekend of their lives. With no idea what the US office has in store, one thing for sure is that there are Christmas drinks to meet Casual’s US clients, friends and affiliates on Friday 14th so they get to know what their Yankee counterparts are up to.
So, if you are in downtown Manhattan near the Evelyn Drinkery at 171 Avenue C next Friday evening – pop in and say ‘Merry Christmas’ and join us for a drink.
We’re thrilled to be gracing the (web) pages of the press again with an article on Personnel Today discussing why and how you should use video in your recruitment communications. The article talks about the value and effectiveness of video and its ability to bring an employer’s brand to life in a way other media cannot; accompanied by our ‘How to make a film’ film, of course!
For the full article, click here.
Or check it out below.
And to watch our ‘How To Make A Film’ Film, click here.
Always at the cusp of all digital marketing development, Figaro opened its doors once again for their inaugural video seminar, with delegates in attendance from all walks of digital marketing life. The event was hosted by the Hospital Club in Covent Garden and in addition, our very own Barnaby Cook was part of the afternoon’s seminar programme, offering a talk through of video’s offerings as an effective communications tool, as well as showing the audience some of Casual’s most recently completed work.
Also shown was our widely celebrated film on ‘How to make a film’; if you haven’t watched it – you should. Feedback says it really does make the video production process more accessible…
To watch the ‘How to make a film’ piece and a clip of barnaby’s presentation on the day, please take a look at the links below – and of course, any questions – just give us a shout!
For ‘How To Make A Film’, click here.
For Barnaby’s presentation, click here.
Well, our week in Aberdeen was certainly an eventful one.
With the chance to do something more than a bit different, we were stupidly keen to push forward with a bold creative when TAQA approached us for a recruitment film. TAQA wanted a stunning film, which would attract the industry’s smartest, brightest and most passionate in the energy sector. Their strapline, ‘We Mean Energy’ gave us more than enough to run with and we decided to give ‘energy’ a whole new meaning in the world of recruitment.
We had a whole week in Aberdeen, to delve into the different lines of work within TAQA and to capture the best of Aberdeen, and who knew it’d be so fascinating!
Our first day saw us board a huge shipping vessel out of Aberdeen Harbour, with safety gear galore and the Captain talking us through procedures. We were ready, Steadicam rigged, swaying in unison with decidedly uneasy stomachs.
Feeling a little less queasy, on our second day we headed over to the TAQA offices, to film their employees. We were given a warm welcome and promptly took over a large floor space with excessive amount of kit. But this was no normal office; nearly everyone’s screens were full of colourful graphs and diagrams, that while I certainly didn’t understand them, I hoped they did. They were all smiling, which was unexpected, considering the grey, ominous and low-hanging clouds and the damp chill in the air. Nonetheless, within no time, the whole floor seemed to find great hilarity in their colleagues being filmed and were all keen to appear as smiling, laughing extras!
But our day was not through yet… No, we had one more thing in store for Nick, Adam and Catherine that afternoon… they were to film Aberdeen from above. So Adam Etherington, harnessed in and legs hanging out the side, took off into the air with Nick, to film the landscape of Aberdeen from hundreds of feet in the air.
The next day was what I was looking forward to most…filming an Arabian horse, chestnut brown in colour, galloping with stamina along Balmedie Beach at sunrise. Now, for a girl who doesn’t really like animals (sorry animal lovers) even I could not deny the beauty of these stunning creatures.
Our fourth day took us to an industrial park where we filmed TAQA employees’ onsite at Aker Qserv. Qserv provide well intervention and process and pipeline services to TAQA and proved a really visually interesting location to film. It was a hub of activity as there were men everywhere working on large machinery, forklifts and cranes aplenty.
Our final day saw the final of our early rises. We were keen to film the morning shifts at the Heliport. The men (and a handful of women) were already dressed in their survival suits, getting the usual briefing before boarding the helicopters, to be taken out to the oil rigs. It was a surreal place and a surprisingly quiet one really, considering the usual buzz of a terminal. We explored the place to its’ fullest, capturing the scheduling, the landings and takeoffs, the anxiously waiting riggers, the going-ons in the hanger and the hungry returners.
After that we headed to our final destination: the Core Labs. This was a quiet place of work, where scientists and geophysicists studied the makeup of core, extracted from thousands of metres below the ocean’s surface, smelling of the wanted ingredient: oil.
Many thanks to David Priestley from TAQA who proved to be an excellent host. At the end of a packed week, we returned to London exhausted, but happy. The film is in post production now, so watch this space.
Guest blog by Corrina Stegner.
What a week.
Welcome to the Recruiting Trends Conference in Las Vegas. Little lost? Straight under the replica Eiffel tower, under the Pharaoh statue, past the absinthe kiosk, left at the craps tables and clouds of smoke hanging over the poker den at Caesars’ Palace, hang a right past the life size replica of Michelangelo’s David and up the escalator: BINGO.
It was really interesting to see what the peeps out in the US are up to, and talking about the latest and greatest tips and tricks in recruitment. We met some really bright folks sprinkled amidst the ruthless self-promoters, heavy sales pitches, podcast legends and HR bloggers. Thanks to Recruiting Trends for making us Brits welcome, and in particular for the Suite Party with a trampoline (obviously).
It all kicked off with a TrendSetters series of six presentations from thought leaders. In turn Gild, SkillSurvey, Qualigence, Aspen Advisors, Startwire and TheLadders gave TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) style 18-minute presentations about their view on the recruitment challenge. All six thought leaders were also sponsors of the event. Talk about Vegas being the home of long odds. We teamed up with a colleague in LA to film these talks on the first day, as well as the drinks and nibbles afterwards.
The final day culminated in an exhibition stand affair, with a hilarious sticker game to encourage networking. All coming soon to an event near you.
Amidst the heavy cost of a few days in Vegas, the chance to win a freebie was a compelling sell. To be in with a chance of a prize, we shamelessly spoke to people on every stand at the exhibition, who dutifully gave us the elevator pitch and an all-important sticker. Sticker book full, we waited in nervous anticipation with a giant salty pretzel (complimentary) before coming away empty handed.
Then we were off to New York the next day to check out the new office and company flat. Leaving Las Vegas with a clutch of business cards, a sense of uncertainty and a hopefully temporary addiction to blackjack.
The British Consulate deserves a many thanks for hosting our event on Recruitment Video and its effectiveness. We were joined by a great bunch of people from agencies, and direct employers, including Work Comms, TMP, UNESCO, Aeropostale Inc, Samsung and the Mountbatten Institute, to name a few.
In planning the event, we realised that defining effectiveness in recruitment video is far from straightforward. Handy really, since that’s what we’d called the event on the invite. After a whole day batting ideas back and forward, we’ve come up with what we think is a pretty neat structure or framework for understanding the issue, which got quite a few heads nodding.
As if this, and the free food and booze, wasn’t enough for the HR inclined of Manhattan, Jerome and I were helped out by Yazad Dalal from TMP in the US, who shared the stage with us and discussed the four pillars of digital recruitment. Yazad brought a certain maturity with his ideas and approach, which we were very grateful for. We certainly wish him well in his Asian adventures.
Thursday – Friday
Working from the US office over on West 20th Street, also known as the Meatpacking District, was a new experience. It was it great to meet Allen, our Account Exec / Marketing Assistant / Production Assistant / extraordinaire State side, and Mark from SparcPoint whom we’ve been doing a fair bit of business with. New York is full of life: high speed freaks, 24-hour energy and dogs in Halloween costumes, which after the fullest of weeks, were all excellent reasons to get on a plane back to London village and spend time with the comparably down to earth and unpretentious inhabitants of Shoreditch.
Aaah the peace and quiet.
Now that the cauldrons are cleaned, the cobwebs are dusted and our hangovers are cured, we wanted to give a big thank you to everyone who made it to our Halloween Massacreade last week. We had a great night and hope you did too! We’ve decided to post some of the less incriminating photos from last week for your enjoyment or sadness if you weren’t there….
For more, go check out Facebook album of our ‘Massacreade‘…..
Cinema over the past couple of years has been pretty disappointing for sci-fi fans. When we heard rumours that the directors of Alien (Ridley Scott), and The Terminator (James Cameron) were limbering up to make their long awaited return to the genre, we held our breath with excitement.
By the time Cameron’s contribution, Avatar, hit the screens our faces had turned bluer than a Na’vi’s. The hype that surrounded the film and its new 3D technology was almost unbearable. Maybe this was it? The biggest moment in science fiction since the Wachowski brothers (now siblings) released The Matrix back in 1999… Maybe not.
Visually Avatar was stunning; its 3D experience was totally immersive. As a tech demo it blew your optical socks off. However, underneath the pretty presentation and cool new gadgets a middle-of-the-road action film lurked. The script was hollow, filled to the brim with clichés, and told a story that’s been heard a million times before. “Maybe Scott will do better…” We hoped.
Prometheus, the prequel to Alien that’s not a prequel, that is really (but not quite), came out earlier this year. The first thirty minutes or so seemed halfway promising, showing echoes of the slow-burning tension seen in Scott’s 1979 masterpiece. Unfortunately it spent the next ninety minutes unravelling that entirely.
More clichés, gaping holes in the plot, and a shameless attempt to unnecessarily tie in the Alien franchise turned Prometheus into a laughable and out-dated jump-fest. Where Alien created pure fear with its unanswered questions and claustrophobic isolation, Prometheus conjured up frustration and tedium with its recycling of ideas. Sci-fi geeks around the world sighed a sigh of disappointment and returned, unfulfilled, to their day-to-day lives. “Maybe next time…” We prayed.
To rub salt in the wound, pining fans of the genre were constantly mocked by blatant cash-ins on their nostalgic optimism. The desecration of cinematic sacred grounds continued as usual with classics such as The Thing, Total Recall and Tron being treated to horrendous remakes or sequels.
It’s a cruel trick to dangle the potential return of an old favourite in front of the faithful only to have it bastardised and, god-forbid, Michael Bay-ed. It’s even crueller at a time when new ideas are thin on the ground. Sure, Inception was cool but all it did was take The Matrix, rewrite it slightly, and set it to a Hans Zimmer score.
Whilst it’s true that there has been a spattering of very original, interesting and entertaining sci-fi works (District 9, Moon and Monsters spring to mind), by and large the genre’s lacked a thought-provoking, game changing blockbuster for almost fourteen years. This is why Looper’s got me rather excited.
First things first, does Looper live up to its billing as the next The Matrix? Unfortunately no. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it a lot but I lost interest in a couple of weaker segments and, if you think about it too much, the plot falls to pieces due to an unnecessary shift in focus and a confused understanding of conflicting time travel theories. Narrative problems aside Looper manages to create an imaginative and engrossing vision of the future.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a Looper, an executioner for the mob. He waits at the edge of a remote cornfield for his targets to be delivered and disposes of them with a swift blunderbuss shot to the chest. The year’s 2044 and Joe’s targets are sent to him from the future.
Time travel is invented thirty years later but is quickly outlawed. The mob, being the sneaky bunch of criminals that they are, manage to keep possession of their time travel machines. They use them to deal with anyone they deem to be a problem by sending them back in time to be erased. Due to the highly illegal nature of the whole time travel thing the Loopers agree to make sure all the operation’s loose ends are tied up by closing their loop – killing their futures selves.
If a Looper chickens out and fails to close their loop they have a group of very angry mobsters to answer to. There’s a rather disturbing and unique torture scene that clearly illustrates how severe the punishment for leaving your loop open is. Unfortunately for Joe his future self is played by experienced badass Bruce Willis. As you’d expect, Bruce isn’t particularly easy to kill.
The plot runs away with its self a bit from that point onwards but manages to stay largely enjoyable throughout. Nevertheless, Looper’s main strength isn’t its story it’s its attention to detail. For example, subtle prosthetics are used to transform Gordon-Levitt into a younger version of Willis. During an early scene where future and present Joe meet in a cafe the resemblance is quite uncanny.
Rian Johnson’s not so distant future is so well thought-out it feels quite plausible. I particularly enjoyed the nod to our affinity for ‘vintage’ fashions with Joe’s insistence on wearing a tie. His boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels), shows disdain for the trend commenting that it lacks creativity. Some things just don’t change…
I couldn’t help but feel Johnson borrowed quite a few influences from Katsuhiro Otomon’s eighties manga series Akira in narrative and mood. The western world has fallen into serious decline as the East gained more economic power. Rusty solar panelled cars line filthy streets like relics of environmental policies that came too late. Public libraries are left abandoned as survival takes precedent over enlightenment. And people have begun to develop strange, unexplained telekinetic powers.
Johnson’s possible future soaks into every bit of Looper’s art direction and blends the familiar with the alien to great effect. This is perhaps where Looper’s deeper meaning comes to the fore. Joe’s tale isn’t anything particularly new or special but it’s one of many versions that could have been told.
Underneath Looper’s guts and guns sits a cautionary tale. In front of us all lie countless possible paths. We need to take responsibility for our futures now otherwise, through poverty, pollution and widespread ignorance, we could be doomed to close our own loops in years to come.
Science fiction at its best uncovers often-overlooked contemporary truths in a way that isn’t preachy or dogmatic but still holds meaning. It softly causes us to reassess our position in the world – sometimes without the audience even noticing.
In Avatar, Cameron was too obvious with his ‘wars, colonisation and corporations are bad’ message. In fact most of the script lacks finesse, unobtainium anyone? In Prometheus, Scott had very little to say on his themes of ‘the origins of man’ and ‘corporations are bad’ getting stuck on trying to make the film fit into the Alien canon instead, well, sort of.
Johnson, on the other hand, uses Looper to ask enough meaningful questions about our present day actions without providing explicit answers. The Matrix it isn’t, flawed it is, but Looper may be the nearest darn thing to the Wachowskis’ effort in over a decade.
Being a corporate and recruitment film production company, it’s essential for us to keep up-to-date with the recruitment landscape. In our most recent bit of research we decided to look at the Fortune 1000′s top 100 businesses’ use of video on both their .com site, and more specfically, careers pages; the results were pretty surprising. Our very own Mr. James Chamberlain wrote up some of our findings for British American Business’ Network magazine. You can read the full article below…
Our latest endeavour has been one of awesome proportions; a climb of the Alps avec equipment in aid of STaR Academy’s launch promotion film. STaR Academy is a business offering training for sales professionals; so we decided to use mountain climbing as a metaphor for training. For those who are interested, here’s an account of our undertakings on the trip by our very own Simon Berry…
TRAVEL DAY, SUNDAY
Departing for pastures new and with the hope for snow, sun and serious mountain climbing action, myself and Nick Francis, Creative Director at Casual Films, embarked on our incredible journey on a wet and windy Sunday evening, from London City Airport.
Arriving at the Mercure Chamonix Centre Hotel, exhausted from our journey, we unpacked our bags, greeted one of our talented-climbers Marcus, exchanged war-stories, raided the mini-bar and climbed (ahem) into bed.
A long day of shooting lay ahead…
DAY 1: VALLEY SHOOTING, MONDAY
Waking on our first day, we experimented with the brand new Sony FS700 camera we had hired, shooting ultra-slow motion rain crashing off our balcony. The torrential rainfall meant our hopes of getting up on the mountain that day were dashed, a new plan was hatched.
Arriving at a stunning chalet in the heart of Chamonix, we set up our camera and proceeded to shoot our climbers staring into distance from the balcony. The combination of torrential rain and ultra slow-mo, providing us with stunning shots of crashing rain, and swirling mist around the mountain.
With a renewed hope for better weather the following day, we wrapped shooting on our first day and returned to the hotel to shoot time-lapses of the stunning mountain landscape.
DAY 2: MOUNTAIN SHOOTING, TUESDAY
After another huge breakfast, of mainly pain au chocolat, we packed out kit and jumped into Matt’s car, La Plane in Italy our destination. After a short journey we arrived at the gondola that would take us 3800ft to the summit.
As the gondola swung in the mounting winds, we prepared ourselves for the sight of fresh snow, and joined by our experience guide Stuart Macdonald we talked through the dangers and pitfalls of shooting, 3800ft up in deep snow.
Arriving at the summit, Nick and I were immediately hit by the lack of oxygen, operating at 3800 metres brings. After catching our breath we assembled our kit and began our trek across the snowy mountaintop. Led by our experienced guide Stuart armed with a long stick to check for dangerous crevasses hidden beneath the packed snow. We carefully made our way across the stunning landscape.
Our two climbers, Marcus and Matt, set out on their own journey allowing us to shoot them from a far, our camera perfectly capturing their perilous ascent.
As both teams made our way towards the rocky summit, we continued to film on the Sony FS700, and a Canon 5D Mark II. Marcus with a GoPro attached to his helmet, capturing a first-person perspective of the treacherous journey.
Arriving at the rocky summit, we made our way to the top, dragging with us heavy camera equipment, and copious amounts of warm grenadine.
With Nick manning the impressive Sony FS700, perched precariously on to the rocky summit, I positioned myself nearby with the Canon 5D; we proceeded to shoot our climbers as mother nature battered us with bright sunlight and snowy clouds. With Stuart well at ease in the treacherous conditions, we proceeded to shoot our climbers as clouds rolled over us, enveloping us in whiteout after whiteout.
As the weather worsened, we finished filming, much to the relief of our guide, who warned us, we were running out of time to make the last gondola home, and faced a tumultuous evening sleeping on the mountain in a freezing shelter.
We packed our gear and made our way across the snowy landscape, the temperature dropping and our legs weary.
DAY 3:MOUNTAIN SHOOTING 2, WEDNESDAY
We awoke on our final day to news that the weather had worsened over night. Our expected location was no longer reachable as the gondolas were out of action due to 100mph winds.
After a quick consultation with guide Matt, we jumped on the mountain train to Montenvers above the stunning, but receding, Mer De Glace glacier in search of a location to shoot our base-camp sequence. Arriving at the top, and feeling no affect from the altitude, we quickly set up base-camp, with the knowledge a storm was on its way.
Whilst the rain had yet to arrive, the wind had certainly gathered pace. In between shooting our climbers, setting up camp, lighting the stove and organizing equipment, the wind attempted to spread our equipment across the rocky landscape.
As the morning turned to afternoon, we powered through the strong winds, climbing even higher to shoot some epic wide shots.
Finally with all our shots captured, and some still photographs taken to document the occasion, we boarded the train bound for Chamonix town. We had wrapped filming on our mountain expedition.
With tired minds and bodies, we boarded our plane and disappeared into the pouring rain; our filming expedition a success.
Having recently expanded his Family Guy universe to include the less popular shows American Dad and The Cleveland Show; it was clear writer/director Seth MacFarlane was looking for a new challenge…
In a pot-smoking, stripper loving, foul-mouthed teddy bear – the eponymous Ted – MacFarlane takes his first live-action steps, and succeeds in marrying his love of classical music, and toilet humour to a mainstream, cinema-going audience. MacFarlane crafts an entertaining narrative driven by central performances from Mark Wahlberg (John) and Mila Kunis (Lori). MacFarlane himself voices the misanthropic teddy bear.
As a young boy, desperately lonely and aching for companionship, John makes a Christmas wish that his best friend, a teddy bear, could come to life. And so Ted is born through the power of a Christmas miracle – nothing being more powerful than a child’s wish at Christmas… apart from an Apache helicopter, as Patrick Stewart asserts.
Ted becomes a celebrity overnight – as every talking teddy bear should – and enjoys the vicissitudes that any drug-addled child actor of the 80s would. Skip forward thirty years and Ted’s star has burned out. He and lifelong buddy John now live out their days stoned on a sofa and chatting their frat-boy banter.
When John’s improbably tolerant girlfriend, Lori, finally cracks under the weight of Ted’s shadow it’s up to John to choose between growing up and watching Flash Gordon repeatedly with his not-so-cuddly toy.
Whilst Kunis provides admirable support to Wahlberg and MacFarlane, it is really the Wahlberg and MacFarlane show. It is a testiment to Wahlberg’s acting skills that he is able to bring such authentic interaction with a CGI teddy bear, especially during some of their more emotionally charged exchanges.
Seth MacFarlane clearly relishes delivering some of the crudest and funniest gags of the movie. If you’re easily offended this probably isn’t the film for you. MacFarlane’s not one to shy away from political incorrectness, whether it’s boarder-line racism or Wahlberg knocking out a fat kid with his fist. However, unlike the equally outrageous South Park, MacFarlane’s wisecracks seem only to serve as shock value rather than to offer an intelligent, frank and unabashed critique of the absurdity of modern culture.
Whilst Ted might be filled with crude jokes, the odd “did he just really say that?” moment and a sentimental love for the 80s, MacFarlane has created a film with real heart and a familiar narrative that many of us (although most likely unwilling) can relate to despite the talking teddy.
MacFarlane succeeds where many have failed in crossing over from TV to features. It may not improve upon the flagging humour that we’ve seen in the more recent Family Guy episodes but it provides us with more of the same and it translates well to cinema. Ted doesn’t warrant repeat viewings but in a summer where comedies have been a little thin on the ground it’s an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
If that’s not enough, it’s worth it just for the Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) cameo…
The revered French novelist Françoise Sagan once said “Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus,” and we’re inclined to agree. Not that we have anything to cry about however as we’ve just created a new recruitment video, in collaboration with TMP UK, for the luxury car brand Jaguar Land Rover who we’re very proud to work with, so don’t expect to see any tears on the Number 30 to Angel anytime soon.
The video showcases the benefits of working for a brand responsible for fast, sexy cars that have been driven by everyone from Steve McQueen to James Bond, as well as being some of the discerning vehicles of choice for our Royal Family, so fingers crossed producing their video means some of that fast, sexy coolness has rubbed off on us by proxy, which will make travelling on the Number 30 that much more of a sleek and stylish affair.
Thanks to Ian Foster, Keni Wong and Jon Porter over at TMP for making this happen.
Come and join us on Monday 3rd September at the Business Design Centre, where Casual Films will be speaking on the effectiveness of video as a communication tool. Kyle Brown from Samsung will be joining us to talk about how video has produced real ROI for the business during the product purchasing cycle. We’ll be showing some of our latest videos as well as answering your burning questions on the topic of online video and its effectiveness.
We’d love you to pop down and attend our session at 11am on Monday morning, as well as experience some of the other things Cross Media has to offer this year. The event details can be found on the Cross Media 2012 website.
Have you ever wondered how to make a film? Well we’ve just made a film to show you how a film is made called ‘The How to Make a Film Film’… That’s clear enough isn’t it?
Let the Casual Films team talk you through some of the basic stages of filmmaking and get a glimpse of the hard work behind the magic of video.
Guest blog by Matthew Chamberlain
After nine years in the making, Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy comes to a close in spectacular style that, whilst not quite reaching the heights of The Dark Knight, concludes the story with yet again one of the greatest films of recent memory. With the superhero genre filled to almost breaking point with bloated content and throwaway plots, this is the film that comic fans deserve, and definitely the one it needs right now.
It was always going to be tough following The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar but we all knew the franchise was safe in Nolan’s bleak and dreary hands. The film is not without its problems but these are inconsequential and picky problems that I force on top of a well-spent 165 minutes. Like the two films previous I found Batman’s nasal and often incoherent grunt of a voice vaguely ridiculous and the unfortunate studio decision to alter Bane’s voice left him sounding too loud and disjointed from the rest of the film. I got over these problems in mere minutes and was left with 160 minutes of sheer geektastic awesome!
Visually this movie is stunning with some of the most amazing set pieces in the series so far. The film starts with a massive 2 plane set piece, leaving one plane boarded, destroyed and crashing to the ground within the first 10 minutes. This sequence alone sets the tone for much of the grandeur to come, and becomes even more impressive when you discover that this stunt was performed for real and not, in fact, done in cgi. The action is bigger, more intense and much more desperate this time as the sun rises on a truly broken and battered Gotham City. Alluding to a quote from The Dark Knight (with Harvey Dent professing “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”) this film revels in the sunlight, finally allowing us to clearly see the brutality Batman must endure and indeed dispense in his efforts to save Gotham.
The acting is again top notch and, even though Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman role gets better film on film, it is the supporting cast that steal the film, filling every scene with emotion, malice or, on the odd occasion, bringing a smile at the most unexpected moments. Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard finally bring strong female leads to Nolan’s universe. Hathaway flourishes as Selina Kyle, flicking seamlessly between hopeless vulnerability and cold, heartless intensity in a heartbeat. Whereas Cotillard smoulders as Bruce Wayne’s business partner Miranda Tate.
Tom Hardy excels as Bane, Batman’s toughest enemy to date, bringing an immense screen presence and an impressive ability to convey an incredible range of emotions through his eyes alone. Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls in a great performance as John Blake, a police officer who truly believes in Batman’s ability to inspire good. These are two of the best character actors in Hollywood today and their turns in this film do not disappoint.
Heading up the smaller roles in this film, Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic as the vicious and slimy crime lord Daggart, and Matthew Modine offers one of the best character arcs as the conflicted and promotion obsessed Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley.
Returning trilogy veterans Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are all right on the mark with their characters of Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox respectively. The potential to further flesh out Freeman’s Fox was somewhat wasted this time round but his comedic timing was excellent, leading to some great chuckle worthy moments. Caine and Oldman both give their best performance so far portraying two men pushed to breaking point with their crippling responsibilities of being associated with the Batman. It is almost impossible to watch Alfred’s descent and not have a tear in your eye.
Finally let’s not forget the return of Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow. This has to rank as one of the greatest cameos of all time, offering a scene lifted almost directly from the comics and showing just how far Gotham has fallen.
But the overall stars of the film? That has to go to Hans Zimmer and the rest of the sound design team. Zimmer has, for the third time, crafted a beautiful score punctuating through at just the right moments to manipulate our emotions beautifully. The rumbling bass and constant chanting builds a feeling of dread and anticipation throughout the whole film. But the greatest achievement is the perfect use of silence, choosing exactly the right moment to leave you completely undistracted during some of the more brutal or moving scenes.
As a new dawn rises on Gotham city, for us, the curtain falls on probably the greatest superhero trilogy we will ever see.
A couple of years back we produced a recruitment video called “What Do You Want To Do?” through Tribal Resourcing for Thames Valley Police. It was an action-packed, high-octane piece rounded off with a high-speed car chase. The video went down a storm and has since won a whole bunch of awards. However, after reading a post on Radley Balko’s blog, The Agitator, we looked back on our TVP video in a slightly different light.
Radley contrasted a 2009 recruitment video from the Decatur, Georgia, police department with one from 2008 for the Newport Beach, California, police department.
DPD’s video puts emphasis on the force’s responsibility to “enforce a higher standard” and assist their community at large, it even has a bobby on a bike! NBPD’s video, on the other hand, takes a more Full Metal Jacket-esque approach and shows guns, shouting, more guns, angry dogs, even more guns and ties it all off with the friendly catchphrase “Stop resisting!”
The two videos couldn’t be further apart in their approach, but seeing them placed together clearly illustrates just how versatile video is. Both advertise essentially the same thing yet they target vastly different audiences. Further to this, it’s worth considering just how far these videos go to maintaining a certain style of policing, whether that approach is right and whether it dictates or is dictated by the levels of crime in that area.
Interestingly, according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Rate database for 2008, Decatur had roughly 60 more violent crimes and nearly 2000 more property crimes per 100,000 people than Newport Beach. It would appear guns are slightly more efficient at stopping criminals than bicycles…
When watching “What Do You Want To Do?” back, I now can’t help but feel it errs more on the side of Newport Beach’s approach. Whilst being nowhere near as extreme it opts for excitement over social responsibility. The stats suggest that this may not necessarily be a bad thing but with this new perspective would we have taken the same approach if we were to do it all over again?
Recruitment based communications are evolving at an exponential rate. We need to constantly strive for new and better ways to reach audiences as what was relevant and effective only a few years ago quickly becomes outdated. By looking back at our past projects and seeing them in a wider context we can identify their strengths and weaknesses and take mental notes to help improve future projects.
Casual Films is looking for a marketing intern during August and September to assist its marketing and PR manager in rolling out a number of activities. The ideal candidate should be studying towards a marketing qualification and have an interest in working within the creative industries. WordPress or CMS experience would be of benefit.
According to the estimates, 4 billion people around the world should have tuned-in to watch Danny Boyle’s epic Olympic opening ceremony last Friday. It strikes me that someone may have been making up statistics when they came up with that inflated number but either way it was still a pretty bodacious performance. Few people other than Mr Boyle could have mixed together trampoline beds, the industrial revolution and neon birdmen on bikes without it seeming like some cheese-induced nightmare. Whilst the entertainment dipped in a couple of places (the house party bit with Dizzee Rascal and that annoying texting couple felt a bit tacked on to me) the overall quality and scale of the production was breath taking. It had a perfect balance of funny, touching and simply awe-inspiring moments.
I don’t want to spoil too much for anyone who’s not had a chance to see it yet; my words wouldn’t really do it justice anyway. You can see the entire ceremony on BBC iPlayer at the moment and I really recommend that you give it a watch. You’ll even have the luxury of being able to skip past the 90 minutes of athletes from countries you’ve probably never even heard of walking around the perimeter of the stadium… But this hasn’t been the only opening ceremony to catch our eye this year.
Back in March we attended the IVCA Awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The event was introduced by an incredible bit of animation from Jack Morton. They had really gone all out to create a visually stunning and technically impressive piece that set the tone for the evening.
Inspired by this, we put our thinking caps on. Employer communications is our industry and the most exciting and respected awards are… the RADs. Our work has been behind the winning entry for the Best Audio/Visual at the RADs for the last four years running and has won Best Work for two of those (thanks to the creativity and hard work of agencies Work Communications, People People and TMP Worldwide). But so often we’re not formally recognised, “How is the world at large ever going to know!?”, we cry plaintively.
Well, after recovering from our plaintive crying, we pulled up our socks and approached the convivial Peter Clarke of the RBI RAD Awards team about doing our own version of an opening video for the next year’s glitzy RAD Awards ceremony – and they were delighted to have us on board.
We’re currently working up some Casual-style magic in the creative department for the video and several other pieces as well. Can’t say too much about the theme for next year, but it’s going to be a good one.
IVCA Awards 2012 – Opening Titles created by Jack Morton Moving Image
Guest blogger: Andrew Stephen
The hangover from the AGR conference has finally lifted, unlike the heavy clouds that followed us back from Wales; thanks to everyone that made the event both fun, and really rather interesting too.
Two days of exhibitions, workshops, fizzy chats and general fun with the great and the good of graduate recruitment were capped off surreally by a pair of Keiths.
Before the drinking began in earnest, we met a very real Keith Chegwin, and a very unreal Keith Lemon impersonator on the Sunday night, the existence of which we’re still very much struggling with. Yes, the AGR were really pulling out all the stops.
Chegwin greeted us familiarly; ‘Great to see you again’ (what a pro) and we got a timeless picture with the celebrity giant which we’re currently trying to find a small enough frame for.
Thanks to Work Group for their workshop on the Tuesday morning slot, which was attended by Vodafone, Siemens, IBM, Enterprise and a number of other big graduate recruiters (and us). Whilst we are not the biggest grad recruiter in the world, we found the session really interesting and it got a lot of the audience talking and involved – no mean feat considering the scale of the previous night’s festivities. We were impressed by how much the audience learned from each other by sharing stories of success and failure. In a conference predominantly full of agencies, it was the direct recruiters that stole the show, with in-house teams winning their fair share of awards.
Thanks to Stafford Long for the cakes, Thirty Three for the sweets, Graeme from Penna for introducing us to a New Cross Sunrise (Campari base, yellow Grappa and a splash of orange if you’re asking) and Work Group for the absinthe.
Congratulations from us to all the award winners; and in particular the University of Exeter. Props to Hugh Dennis for being an excellent host and a final congrats to Keith Lemon, whose career is clearly going from schting to strength, so like Mark Morrison he’s sending a body double to do his dirty work.
This all went some way towards compensating for the fact that, once again the AGR have bravely overlooked audio-visual and video, in both the awards and the conference itself. In a marketplace in which video content and strategy is a key part social engagement with candidates, and in which last year almost 40% of the Times Top 100 had prominent video work on their graduate recruitment homepage, we think this was a bit of a gap. I guess we would say that though wouldn’t we!
At Casual Films we like to ask the big questions. Why are we here? Is there an afterlife? What happens when you stick 7 men in a small, hot, sweaty room with over 100 puppets and a camera? We are proud to announce that The Alternative called upon us to help Fon solve one of these three mysteries. No prizes for guessing which!
Fon were after a new promotional video that they could show to potential business partners. The video would replace their traditional PowerPoint presentations and needed to complement the cracking work that The Alternative have been doing on their tradeshow stand design.
A little birdy told us that Fon were fans of our Macmillan Cancer Support Online Community piece. The Casual creative team bashed their heads together to take this crafty concept a few steps further to meet Fon’s requests for a clean and professional yet fun video.
We discussed many potential approaches but finally settled on using stick puppets to animate a jovial voiceover. We recruited both the drawing talents of Laura Barnard and the fantastic voiceover skills of Silas Hawkins, and started to plan how we could execute what was quickly becoming a mammoth job.
We cut out every one of Laura’s illustrations and constructed each puppet by hand. There was printing, sanding, cutting, sawing, painting and sticking happening across the whole of the Casual office. For a few days we were more Casual DIY than Casual Films!
With all 100 puppets prepared, the 6 Casual staff that showed the most puppet-y promise were ushered into the Casual studio with Director, Nick Francis. The doors were locked behind them.
Who could tell what happened in that room? All that could be heard from outside were frustrated expletives and Nick frequently barking surreal orders (“DOWN WITH THE BRONTY” seemed to be a favourite). Those inside emerged a couple of days later, pale-faced and refusing to relive their experience. Perhaps we will never be able to solve the men/room/puppet/camera riddle but at least we managed to make a cool film at the end of it all.
Like any good business, we like to stay on top of the latest offerings within our industry, and those of our clients.
This week we’ll be back at the Online Marketing Show to check out the what the latest is in digital marketing, exhibit our wares and make some connections amongst those in-the-know.
If you’re going – look out for us at stand A324; We’ll have a collection of our latest case studies and we will be screening some films we recently produced. Please do come and have a chat and feel free to pose any burning film-related questions you may have.
We look forward to seeing what everyone else has at their stands and talking to those we met there last year.
For those of you who’ve been watching the super smooth AMC series Mad Men you may remember a rousing speech given by a certain Mr Draper in series 5’s festive episode “Christmas Waltz” (If you haven’t fear not, there are no spoilers here). Don rallies his troops together with a string of passionately spoken and inspiring words preparing them for a defining moment in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s history, pitching for their first car ad.
“There are six weekends between now and the pitch. We are going to spend them all here. We will celebrate Christmas here. We will ring in the New Year together. And in the end, we will represent Jaguar and it will be worth it. Every agency on Madison Avenue is defined by the moment they got their car. When we land Jaguar, the world will know we’ve arrived.”
Whilst fantasising about one day being the sharply dressed, inhumanly handsome and disarmingly charming Mr Draper it dawned on me that SCDP’s pre-Christmas position drew a lot of parallels with that of Casual’s. For on the run up to Jesus’s birthday not only were we working on a large-scale global project for one of the Big Four we were also working on our very own defining moment, our first TV ad. This period contained the largest volume of work we had ever taken on. It was time to sink or swim.
Dassault Systèmes, one of the major players in the development of industry software, had decided that the best way to make themselves more of a household brand and hit their significant growth targets was via a global marketing campaign. Following the success of some of the other material we and TheFrameworks had produced for Dassault Systèmes (“ENOVIA: Your World in Formation” and the “DSCC Launch Animation”) they decided that we were the perfect candidates to produce the TV commercial that supported their poster campaign from airports around the world.
We worked with TheFrameworks to develop a concept that showed how Dassault’s software could be used to solve some of the key problems facing humankind in the modern age. The application we finally settled on is a project that has been running for some time now to prove the potential of towing icebergs from the Arctic to Africa in order to provide water to cities in times of increasing drought. Ray Brennan, the Creative Director at TheFrameworks wrote the script that was then produced by Nick Francis and Jamie Childs for Casual.
We decided to shoot the film in Cape Town, South Africa as this covered the broadest range of locations and gave us the best weather in the winter months.
We worked with a local production company, Mackenzie Rudolph, who were excellent with all our requirements. They organized everything on the ground, from cast and locations to a helicopter from which we’d film our iceberg towing tugboat.
On our arrival in South Africa, we spent three days auditioning actors and signing-off/selecting locations. “It was strange to have so many people making sure the project ran smoothly and I found it slightly unnerving that I wasn’t more stressed in the run up to the first day’s shooting” reflects Nick. We arrived on location on the first morning of the shoot to be greeted by a small army of crew checking kit, unloading the array of vehicles and generally getting ready for the day ahead.
“I was slightly apprehensive due to the scale of the operation. However, this subsided almost as soon as we turned the camera over as I realised that making a film with 70 crewmembers is the same as making a film with 5, you just have more people to do everything. I say almost because on out first location – the supposedly burning hot South African desert turned out to be lashed by wind and horizontal rain, not to mention the abrasive sand being blown up into the £200,000 worth of equipment that the camera team had to protect.” A quick decision was made to move to the second location instead and return to the rather sodden desert the next morning.
The film was shot by Chas Bain, who had operated cameras on a number of large feature films including James Bond: Quantum of Solace, X-Men: First Class and Snow White and the Huntsman. “Working with someone with so much experience and confidence on set was a real pleasure and tells in the quality look of the piece” says Nick.
A team from Shadow Jack in central London did a large part of the graphic elements. These included the tugboat carousel shot, the final iceberg reveal and a number of grey sky replacements – particularly in the desert.
Music was composed by Takeshi Furukawa and supplemented superbly by a live recording of Dominic Brennan’s choir mixed by Casual’s audio and music ace Guy Hixon.
The ad’s already been playing on your telly boxes for about a month. Dassault love it and there’s even talk of future adverts being commissioned. Whilst we don’t quite have the Draper-like arrogance to suggest that the world now knows that we’ve arrived but hey if you move an iceberg you’re bound to make a few ripples. The first TV ad is a pivotal moment for any production company and we’re very excited about what the future will bring…
Every once in a while we all get a nostalgic pang that desperately craves for times gone by. People were cooler, times were simpler, prices were fair, politicians were trustworthy and children respected their elders. If asked what decade you’d like to grow up in who’d pick this one? Well sorry to break it to you but the past is rubbish!
Children have always been disrespectful little brats. Politicians throughout history have had to get their hands dirty every once in a while. Prices have risen but so have wages. How is having to ring an operator to get your call connected simpler than tapping a name in your phone’s contacts list?
And who in their right mind would call this cool?
Ken Snyder – By Request Only (1976)
The present is pretty darn good despite the whole global recession malarkey. Need more convincing? Have a look at this short clip from the early nineties and try telling me that recruitment video, at least, isn’t better…
I rest my case.
Getting asked by Casual Films to be a guest blogger was a flattering surprise. The first time a production company’s asked an archivist to write for them? Small step for mankind but…
Barnaby offered me the gig after my recent visit to Casual, on an early leg of a mission I’ll be pursuing over coming months on behalf of the BFI National Archive: visiting every producer (as many as will have me…) of Gold winning comms films from this year’s IVCA Awards. In Casual’s case, ‘Chemistry All Around You’ and ‘Macmillan Online Community Animation’.
Purpose of mission? Threefold…
One: Encourage producers to place the films in the BFI National Archive for permanent preservation. Yes, I’m hoping to see ‘Chemistry…’ and ‘Macmillan…’ go into the BFI’s vaults, alongside the 35mm negatives of Brief Encounter and The Red Shoes, and thousands more films and programmes made since 1895. These include a rich heritage of British corporate or, as it used to be called, industrial film stretching way back (potted history here).
Second: To find out more about them. It always surprises me how little gets written about corporate film, outside the sector itself, considering how much gets produced, on behalf of virtually every institution shaping modern society. One of the fascinations of communications films is that they’re ‘in the thick of things’, the working world in which much of all our lives is spent. That makes them unique social documents (if not often high art). So we want to observe the scene – my plan is to publish blogs on the BFI’s site about those I’ve spoken to and the films they’ve given to the Archive. I hope, in a small way, to be helpful to the industry as well as future scholars, by exposing it to commentary from an informed outsider. I admire the unpretentiousness of everyone I’ve ever met in the business (can’t say the same of every branch of the film industry, but that’s another story…). But I’d like to challenge them a wee bit, to stand back and cast a constructively self-critical eye on the meaning of the work they produce. Not least by reminding them of the heritage to which it belongs.
Third: Awareness-raising. Archivists don’t just worry about preserving the past (yesterday’s present) but preserving the present (tomorrow’s past). More moving image is being produced now than ever, mostly 100% digital and web-distributed. How much will survive? Do today’s hi-res files and browsable streams stand a better chance than yesterday’s negs and prints? We simply don’t know but need to do more than twiddle our thumbs waiting to find out. Much blind faith is being placed in hard drives and cloud storage… Even if vast quantities of content did survive, how much sense will future generations be able to make of it all? Hence the value of public-sector archives acquiring ‘exemplars’ of every present genre of film for the record.
So, producers everywhere: keep an eye on your past productions. How are the master files being stored and how robust is that storage? Why not talk to an archivist sometime about cloning the most important films for long-term preservation and public access? It will cost you little but may benefit you much.
Casual is just one of many companies I’m speaking to. I admire and am fascinated by them all so I should stress that my presence here is in no way an ‘endorsement’. In the unlikely event this blog starts a trend of curators getting invited by producers to preach the archive gospel on their time, I’ll be only too delighted.
Senior Curator (Non-Fiction)
£21,000 – £25,000 p/a
For Account Executives ready for something different, Casual Films is the place to be. We’ve been growing our production company since 2006 and, while we’re still small and independent, we’ve worked with some pretty big brands. Think Samsung, Barclays and Phones 4U. Sound good? Well now you can work with them too.
Working with big name clients. Managing projects from pre-pitch to delivery. Working with the whole team to pull together quality productions. It’s all in a day’s work for our Account Executives. So is putting the customer first, keeping an eye on the financials and juggling multiple projects without breaking a sweat. You’ll be taking briefs, learning about client’s businesses, setting expectations, checking films and animations, negotiating with suppliers and influencing our team. We’re looking for a real people person – someone who can manage relationships and keep clients coming back for more, who’s probably working in a similar environment and whose talent is backed up by solid referrals.
We specialise in video and animation for employer, corporate and consumer communications. In six years we’ve produced over 2,000 videos, won a series of awards and made a lot of clients very happy. Our secret? We do things a little bit differently from everyone else. See for yourself: www.casualfilms.com
If you like our work and think you could make the grade, send a copy of your CV to email@example.com along with a covering letter explaining why you think you’d fit in. And we’d only like to hear from real live candidates, so no agencies please.
Much like Welsh teenagers, there are some occasions that are simply too big to ignore, and this year London has (at least) two of them. The first was last weekend’s Diamond Jubilee extravaganza, and whilst there were some aspects that left a rather bitter taste in the mouth, there were some jaw dropping visual moments that left us here at Casual quite impressed.
First let’s complain about things, we are English after all.
So curmudgeonly stuff out of the way, and on to what made it great – the spectacle!
The flotilla was indeed a sight to behold, if you could get close enough to behold it (I thought we were done with the moaning? Ed.) and was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Similarly the bunting. Epic amounts of bunting were festooned across the city and the likes of Regent Street (yes I’m classing full size Union Jacks as bunting) would have given even the most stout Republican a stirring bout of national pride.
Then there was the turnout. In your face nature, you picked on the wrong country. Elsewhere they might have stayed indoors, but to we Brits a good torrential downpour is like daring us to get the barbecue out – millions turned out in their most jingoistic finery and made quite the impression.
So, all in all, a pretty decent way to mark HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne, and a spectacle we’re unlikely to see repeated in our lifetime. Bravo to all involved.
Except for you Barlow. If you’re involved at the next Coronation, take heed – book better acts and tell them why they’re there.
This year we were delighted to find that CIPD had acknowledged the value of video in the employer communications industry and added it as a category to their awards. Over the last year we have worked on a number of recruitment film projects with various agencies and were over the moon to find out they’d be entering some of those films for awards within the category.
The shortlists were released last week, and as it happens, 4 out of the 6 films shortlisted are those we’ve created in partnership with agencies for clients such as George at ASDA, Laterooms, Jaguar Land Rover and Next. We’re proud to have worked with People People, TMP and SMRS on these projects.
As you can imagine, we’re incredibly chuffed given that ‘Best use of Video’ is a new category; we now have all our fingers and toes crossed that one of the films we worked on is selected to win.
We will be putting some of the shortlisted films up in the ‘Work’ section shortly – so keep an eye out!
Being the only UK production company that specialise in producing work for the employer communications industry and having worked on the campaigns that won Best Audio/Visual at the RADs for the past four years (and Best Work two of those years), we wanted to build on our success. Realising the importance of not just creating beautiful looking films – but films that are also effective in communicating with the audience, we are delighted to welcome Andrew Stephen who has a strong strategic employer communications background.
Andrew has over seven years’ experience in the employer communications industry, including a five-year stint at Work Communications where he worked with clients such as Accenture, Citi, JP Morgan and Prudential.
Andrew brings a unique mix of passion for film and employer communications and CSR for good measure. Casual are looking to do some interesting things around low-carbon filmmaking and charitable work in the coming months, so watch this space.
The reason for moving into film production in Andrew’s words? “People like film, clients like commissioning film. It’s easy to see the difference between a great piece of film and run-of-the-mill – and that’s a massive opportunity when you’re working with the talented people we have in the Casual Films team.”
Andrew replaces Jerome Cook who is moving to New York to head up the office in the US.
Are you a fireman who’s always wanted to be an accountant? Maybe you’re an accountant who’s always wanted to be a musician? Perhaps you’re a musician who wants to walk in Brian Cox’s footsteps and become a famous physicist? A degree from Birkbeck, University of London might be just what you need…
Birkbeck are specialists in evening higher education courses. They offer over 100 different courses from Law through Marketing to Egyptology. The courses are run as evening classes so you’re studying won’t get in the way of your day job.
Don’t think you can afford to study at an institution with state-of-the-art facilities, global reaching connections and a keen eye for new and changing opportunities in the world of work? Well don’t worry, Birkbeck offer fantastic financial support and, for the first time ever, students at Birkbeck are eligible for government funded student loans. If you don’t meet the requirements for a student loan or simply don’t want one, they even offer course payment schemes that are completely interest free!
These great schemes really help to make university study accessible for all so when SMRS asked us to produce a video that highlighted the financial opportunities available at Birkbeck, we were more than happy to oblige. Give the video a watch below. You never know, you might even end up enrolling yourself on a course that could change your future!
Commissioning video can sometimes be a daunting task; particularly if you’re new to the game. Videos come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be produced on wildly differing budgets. You’ve heard that video is one of the most effective tools for communication yet you may not have a clue what sort of video you want or will work, how much it should cost or how on earth you can get your target audience to watch it. We held a seminar in London’s Hospital Club a few months back to help remove these uncertainties and share some pearls of wisdom on how the production process works – from start to finish.
We gathered together a selection of industry experts who each shared their expertise on how best to go about commissioning and delivering video. We’ve condensed their advice into three handy articles for your reading pleasure. This article, the first of the three, focuses on how to get the most out of your project before the production even starts; the briefing stage.
The brief is the foundation of your project and will ultimately determine the strength or relevance of ideas developed by the production company. There are a number of key points that need to be identified in your brief. If you struggle to answer any of these you should either reassess your need for video or seek advice.
Without a well-considered brief production companies may still be able to blindly pitch you ideas. However, it is very likely that they won’t ever feel ‘right’. It’s like cooking a sponge cake without a recipe. You might have a rough idea of the ingredients but by guessing quantities it’s unlikely it’ll turn out the way you want it to.
So what are the main points you need to identify in an effective brief?
It might seem obvious but this is one of the most important things to identify.
Single out one core problem and what you want the video to achieve in relation to this. For example:
• No one understands what our organisation does – make my business offering clear and easy to digest
• Our employees ignore important internal communications – make internal communications more entertaining and engaging
• Graduates rarely think of us when applying for jobs – increase our exposure to the graduate market
If a single problem or goal has been made clear the video can focus entirely on tackling it. If too many functions are thrown into the mix the aims of the video become diluted and considerably less effective.
You don’t necessarily need to know what form you want the video to take.
Whether it’s a talking head, animation or a short film, a good production company should be able to help talk you through some options and find the most appropriate format. At this stage what’s important is what the video will need to do not how it’ll do it. Will it be there to promote, inform or educate?
With the aims of the video tied down pinpointing exactly who the target audience are is a very worthwhile exercise. The more focused this is the more effective the video will be. There should be one core demographic that you want to speak to, if others start to listen along the way that’s a bonus.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all video. If you try and simultaneously target businessmen, potential clients, your existing clients, parents, teenagers, dog owners and women from Sweden it’s practically guaranteed that your video won’t be relevant to all, if any, of them. If you’ve already defined your core problem identifying a specific audience should be an easy but essential task.
A couple of decades ago this step wouldn’t need much consideration. You would have had a choice between cinemas, on TV and through VHS. Online and mobile videos were barely even twinkles in the postman’s eye. Nowadays if a video’s distribution strategy isn’t carefully considered it will simply get lost in a sea of digital content.
When you know what you’re saying and whom you’re saying it to you need to think seriously about how you are going to be able to get a chance to say it to them. No matter how good a video is it won’t watch itself.
Will you drive your audience to your website to watch the video?
Will you send it out to them directly?
Will it be watched on mobiles?
Will it be displayed in public spaces?
Will it be watched with or without sound?
Will it be distributed globally?
Will it be on a YouTube channel?
Will it stand alone or will it accompany other material?
The list is almost endless but will help to uncover the limitations of the video’s environment and optimize its potential success.
Another thing to note would be that in most cases you are best to avoid asking for viral distribution. When it works it wins big but it’s an extremely high-risk strategy that’s appropriate for only a small number of projects. In the majority of cases a highly targeted video will return much better results. Unless you’re a household name or are launching a promotional campaign for a low cost everyday consumer product I wouldn’t touch viral with a 10-foot barge pole. It’s a largely meaningless term when it comes to commissioning video and can be a major hindrance for anything other than indiscriminate brand exposure.
Whilst you may think you’ll end up with a better deal if you don’t name the price you want to pay this is a misguided approach. Whether you’ve got £500 or
£5,000,000 to spend on a video, you are better to be upfront about your available budget. Any trustworthy production company will still quote competitively and for a treatment that they perceive to be of the best possible value for your available funds.
Asking for the cost of making a video is like enquiring about the length of a piece of string. You could send your brief to anyone from an enthusiastic film student to a world-renowned production company and receive vastly disparate quotes for essentially the same video. However, the main points of difference between them would be their filmic quality and the experience and reputation of the team entrusted by you to produce it. With increased experience comes a reduced risk in your project falling flat.
Filmmaking is an extremely flexible process. By making your budgetary constraints known you are setting up a framework from which a film can be constructed. When combined with the three previous points this framework is strengthened and allows for accurate and useful concepts to be developed.
If you have any mandatory requests outside of these four points, any source materials that you like or any styles you want to avoid then these should also be made clear in your brief. Just remember to keep it focused and don’t be afraid to place a certain degree of trust in your production company.
The production company should know what they’re doing and should be able to take the video’s purpose, audience, distribution strategy and budget into account and develop an interesting idea that can achieve exactly what you need it to. If you are uncertain of anything they should also be able to advise you on the best possible solutions. This is where we move to our second step – Development and Production…
We is really well good with words and language and English and stuff. That’s why it’ll come as no surprise that Pearson chose Casual Films to create a humorous little promotional video for their new language course MyGrammarLab.
Pearson wanted to illustrate to people who speak English as a second language the difficulties that bad grammar can get you in to. They approached Casual with a light-hearted idea centred around a police interrogation with a twist. The perp has a rather loose grasp of the English language and the copper has a strong affinity for the correct use of grammar. Needless to say the two aren’t exactly a match made in heaven…
Top-notch performances from Tim Parker (the cop) and John Doughty (the criminal) as well as good old-fashioned hard work from all the crew really brings the script alive. The shooting location had a consistent room temperature of about minus 500 degrees so it’s a wonder we didn’t all end up with hypothermia!
We’re really pleased with the finished piece and, more importantly, Pearson gave glowing feedback. We even recently found out that since February the video has had almost 15,000 views on the YouTube. We have many happiness!
Paulo Nutini once sang ‘Jenny don’t be hasty’. I can’t really remember the rest of the song so the context is a little hazy, but as far as memory serves I think that Jenny was a post production professional working in the not too distant future.
Sounds about right.
And in composing such a niche song, it seems that Mr Nutini was actually offering a sage nugget of prophecy to editors around the world – especially ones named Jenny. If only we’d, or indeed anyone, had been listening back then, we may have thought twice last summer before dismissing Apple’s latest release, FCP X, out of hand.
Like everyone else in the world, we at Casual Towers were dumbstruck by just how bad this new piece of software was, and were left questioning Apple’s motives behind releasing a child’s play thing instead of a professional editing platform.
But like any good child’s toy, it’s only a matter of time before the adults secretly have a go themselves. And so imagine my surprise at the end of my first run out in FCP X that instead of a punctured space hopper, I was left with plenty to think about.
Yes, at first glance it has something of the iMovie/Windows Movie Maker about it, and you can see why ‘professionals’ scoffed. But people are always scared of change, and in FCP X you’ve got that by the bucket load. Nothing works as it’s ‘meant’ to and trying to apply traditional editing techniques leaves the user frustrated.
This is because Apple have slightly reinvented the editing wheel. They have switched from a track based timeline to a magnetic one, which does take a bit of getting your head round. But once you do, it starts to make a lot of sense. I won’t go into detail of how it all works, but let’s just say that manipulating your clips in this way is actually very efficient and intuitive, with trimming, rippling, rolling all fewer clicks away than ever before.
But Apple didn’t stop there. They have re jigged media organisation with ‘smart groups’ and keywords that make logging and binning footage a lot easier. You can access whatever clips you are looking for at the click of a button, or if you’re feeling lazy, FCP X will also automatically identify, and group, different types of shots without you doing anything at all! Combine this with a vastly improved keyframe interface, a powerful 64-bit engine and background rendering and you have plenty of food for thought.
In fact FCP X makes enough elements of editing so much easier that it almost feels like cheating, which I think is part of the problem. All its ‘one click’ solutions fuel an amateurish perception, like taking photos with Instgram. Yet just because these features are easy to use, doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. If the user can match colour between shots just by clicking a box, or sync and edit mutli clips with minimum fuss, then why the hell not.
I’ve always been a firm believer that your editing software only plays a very small part in the overall editing process. As long you understand what makes a good edit it doesn’t really matter how you arrive at it – be that FCP, AVID, Premiere, or indeed your iphone. The software should be as transparent as possible to facilitate your storytelling. And what FCP X has done, especially for the ‘prosumer’, is taken a lot of technical worries out of the equation by making the journey from ingest to finished product a lot simpler.
As a result I believe we’ll start to see higher quality films, from a wider base of ‘editors’ who might have struggled to achieve the effects they were looking for with more traditional platforms. So like it or not the ‘old school’ may need to move with the times to stay ahead – combining this new usability with their existing editing knowledge in order to maintain the distinction between professional film making and home movies.
However, and it is a big however, FCP X in it’s current state still lacks some vital ‘pro’ options that would need to be remedied before it became a truly viable option. Yet with announcements of RED support at this years NAB, it seems that we might not be too far away.
So only time will tell how far Apple take FCP X, and how widely it is eventually embraced by the editing community. But I’ve got a sneaky feeling that if you check back in 12 months time your may find Casual Films’ team of editors sitting around eating their words.
No, don’t worry, it’s not a ‘disgruntled postal worker’ type story – it’s merely a hilarious play on words that, while implying we were the victims of an act of appalling violence serves in fact to introduce the fact that we hired someone to come in and take photos. See, it’s all really innocent.
So, as the keen reader of this blog that I’m sure you are, you’ll be aware of some big changes here at Casual Films. The most noticeable change being a physical one – after years of working in our office petite and – what’s the word estate agents use for horrifically cramped and confined? Oh yes – cosy, we moved all the way across the hall to the huge studio next door and set about turning it into the sort of super cool and awesome ‘New York loft’ style venue that we’d always dreamed of. Once it was complete it was so good that we all became 10% cooler just because we work here – the design and décor is that good.
However, as anyone who’s actually cool will tell you, there’s no point being cool unless people can see that you’re cool. You see? Cool.
And so we invited our excellent photographer friend Jake Curtis in to the office to capture just what it is we love so much about our new work space – and thanks to him and some nice styling by Lucy at Lula Blue we can now show you. So, allow me to shut up and please have a look around…
According to a study by Dr Mark Pereira, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as stave off obesity (the study unfortunately doesn’t take into account the traditional British fry-up)… Armed with this nugget of nutritional information we decided to see to the welfare of our brothers and sisters in corporate video production by hosting a management breakfast in association with the IVCA.
The breakfast was held at London’s Hospital Club with an aim to foster more of a community within the industry. Although we’re competitors all the breakfasters agreed that by sharing problems and solutions we could help each other to improve.
Marco Forgione, Managing Director of the IVCA, kicked off the session. We discussed freelancers, pay, cash flow and perceptions of value amongst clients. Patrick Russell from the BFI was also on hand to tell us about archiving our work for future generations.
AT FAAAAAT SAM’S GRAAAAAAND SLAM SPEAKEAAAAAAAASY! DA DADA DADA, DA DADA DADA! Sorry the lines between reality and Bugsy Malone have become a bit blurred since last weekend… I’m no longer sure whether I’m a child gangster in Prohibition era Chicago or a Casual Films employee. Either way, splurge gunning the Casual office at the start of this week didn’t go down too well. This identity crisis and temporal confusion are not the product of psychosis they have instead been brought on by attending Future Cinema’s latest screening.
For the uninitiated, Future Cinema put on events every once in a while that combine theatre and film to enhance the viewing experience of silver screen classics. The audience get all dressed up in suitable attire, in this instance flapper dresses for the ladies and trilby hats for the men, and step into a secret location that transports them into the movie’s world. For this Bugsy screening the east end’s Troxy Theatre had been transformed into a replica of Fat Sam’s.
We headed down to Limehouse after work on Friday and were ushered through the Troxy’s back alley entrance. We were led into a room blocked off by a large bookcase and, after discreetly passing a book through the shelves, were granted entrance to the venue. True to its reference material there was a boxing match already in progress in the middle of the speakeasy and all the front tables were filled with punters eagerly awaiting Tallulah’s show.
While we waited at the bar for a cocktail and a bowl of spaghetti Dandy Dan’s gang raided the place. We ducked under a table and watched as they proceeded to splurge gun Fat Sam’s clientele. This was going to be a messy evening…
When the coast was clear, we ran up to the balcony for safety and found a candle lit table tucked away in a corner. As the lights begun to dim, a waitress made the rounds selling bags of fresh hot popcorn. We shuffled down in our seats and made ourselves comfortable ready for the film to begin.
Throughout the film live action extensions of the events on screen were taking place all over the venue. Whilst the credits rolled Dandy Dan’s gang returned for a splurge gun and shoot-out with Fat Sam’s boys. Grabbing hold of our own custardy weapons we all left our tables and ran downstairs for a chaotic fight with the gangsters.
As Bugsy and his gal Blousey made their escape for Hollywood we stayed on for an evening of dancing with Casual’s very own MD and DJ Barnaby Cook. Barnaby ensured that despite its custardy coating the dance floor stayed packed all night.
ANYBODY WHO IS ANYBODY, WILL SOON WALK THROUGH THAT DOOR, AT FAAAAAT SAM’S GRAAAAAAND SLAM SPEAKEAAAAAAAASY! I don’t think that song is ever going to leave my head…
With the New York arm of Casual gaining momentum by the day we thought it appropriate to see how our work would compete on the global awards circuit. We’ve been lucky enough to have quite a bit of success here in the UK but when entering the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards we felt a bit like the new kid at school. We soon got news that we’d made the finalist list but with entries from 40 countries and thousands of competing films we were grateful just to receive this recognition.
However, we are extremely proud and touched to announce that we have been accepted by the other children and have been given a few shiny (and unexpected) medals. We received a Finalist Certificate in Best Internal Comms for our health and safety animation: Working Safely with Luvata for global metals firm Luvata. Nick was awarded a rather grandly entitled Bronze World Medal for his directing work on “What Do You Want To Be?” for Tribal Resourcing and Thames Valley Police. Best of all we walked away with a ‘one, two’ in the Public Relations category; the Gold World Medal for “Chemistry: All Around You” for the EPCA / UNESCO and Silver World Medal for “What Do You Want To Be?”
We are beaming over here at the Casual office and want to send out a big thank you to everyone who works their backsides off on all our work and to our clients for having faith in our concepts and filmmaking skills! Thanks also to the judges – the cheques are in the post.
“Everyone is creative. Even old people” – Matthew Diffee, SXSW, 2012
Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine gave a talk at SXSW last month on ‘How to become an Idea Factory’. He’s a man who week in and week out must pitch 10 cartoon ideas to the New Yorker, knowing 9 of which will get rejected. The career he has built himself depends on his ability to pour out ideas, lest everything he has worked to build come crashing down. So here, as promised, are the tips and tricks he kindly dispensed on how you too could become an idea factory.
There are three things that affect your ability to be creative – you, your environment and your process. Get all three right and the ideas will come flowing like a broken tap.
Firstly, he deals with ‘You’. To be able to come up with creative ideas, it is essential that you are open to both appreciate and value creativity. The people that hold crucial creative attributes are curious and non-judgmental. They are open and perhaps most interestingly they hold a strong belief that they can create. In addition to this they need to be thick skinned, brave and persistent.
“The worst enemy to creation is self-doubt” – Sylvia Plath
Next on the agenda, he discussed ‘Your environment’. In order to be creative, you need to be in the right place at the right time. It is vastly important that you identify where you do your best work. If ideas always hit you in bed, well then curl up under that duvet and start dreaming. If the shower holds the key to your moments of epiphany, grab yourself a waterproof pen and white board, get that water running and jump in. You must unplug yourself from the world, and this can’t be stressed enough, turn off your phone and don’t check your emails. Though if you get that itching feeling and simply must visit the Casual Films blog we aren’t going to stop you… Once you’ve built an environment in which you can concentrate, you’re almost ready to create.
However, before you begin Matthew suggests that you do something you don’t like doing. For him, washing dishes is a version of hell. After an hour of washing-up the task of sitting down to come up with ideas seems like a blessing. Once your chores are complete you will be perfectly primed for creative work!
This leads to the next step, ‘Your process’. When you’re generating ideas, don’t shut any down and always look for a way to expand on them. Always approach an idea and then ask ‘Yes, and…?’ Instead of shutting down a thought, add things, subtract things, flip them on their heads or try mashing them up. Try imagining you have a giant funnel above your head, fill it up with all your creative and zany solutions. When it’s feeling full it’s time to ‘Flip the Funnel’ down onto the page. At this point you need to tunnel your focus into honing an idea into one that will actually work.
Now this isn’t a concrete formula for turning metal into gold, so what do you do when it still doesn’t work? You try something different. You change your format. If you have been using paper to write on, try using a computer. Look for new prompts that you haven’t thought of yet. Try imposing more constraints onto the idea, ‘this one must include…’. Invite someone else in who you can to bounce ideas off.
So finally, what advice does Matthew Diffee offer for dealing with your ideas being rejected? He has only one piece of advice.
And so we return, battered, bruised and feeling a little sorry for ourselves. SXSW 2012 has come to a close and with it ends our week in Austin, Texas.
Arriving late on the festival’s first night, we took it easy like the responsible adults that we all should be… Unfortunately this behavior was not indicative of the week that followed.
The days were filled with seminars too good to miss and the nights with parties too good to leave. The resulting mental state of the attending Casual crewmembers could only be described as… fragile. The melodramatic cries of “You weren’t there man! You just weren’t there!” seem to echo the sentiments of a stereotypical ‘Nam veteran.
This year’s Interactive festival seemed to have upped the ante on the seminar, workshop and panel fronts with something worthy of attending every hour. Keep your eyes peeled for a couple of blogs on some of the most notable talks…
On the film side of things music documentaries seemed to be a trend this year. Highlights included “Grandma Lo-Fi” a film about cult Icelandic musician Sigrídur Níelsdóttir who at the age of 70 started composing and released 59 albums in 7 short years, and “Marley” a brilliant (but lengthy) biopic on the life and music of the one and only Mr. Bob Marley.
But as the Artic Monkeys quite rightly identified “they say it changes when the sun goes down”. The nighttime sections of the trip were slightly less, well… cultured.
Without going into details the shenanigans involved party crashing, kitchen smuggling, cowboy boots, bed swapping, night swimming, a San Antonio hen party, indecent proposals, Jagerbombs, Barnaby playing ‘All I Want For Christmas’ while DJing at the SAGIndie party and one spectacular brush-off that actually used the line “sorry I can’t come I’ve been admitted to hospital with a serious fever”. The penny dropped that this statement may not have been true when the hapless Casual member turned up at a closed hospital with flowers and grapes in hand. Were I to mention more I’d probably lose my job…
It’s a good thing that the team called it quits early and decided to claw back some humanity by finishing the expedition with a visit to the Alamo otherwise we may have been a few staff members short for the next couple of weeks!
Last week we dusted off our finest suits, polished our smartest shoes and attempted to look all respectable ready for the most glamorous of occasions in any production company’s diary, the awards ceremony.
And so, on Friday evening we headed to the annual IVCA awards at the rather swanky Grosvenor Hotel. We limbered up for a nail-biting battle of filmmaking prowess. After taking home a total of 7 awards last year we had a lot to live up to. The high quality of our competition and the fact that this year the number of categories had been reduced from 35 to only 24 wasn’t going to make a similar showing easy.
We took our seats, straightened our bowties and put on our most nonchalant faces as the ceremony began…
The night’s entertainment was a bit surreal and somewhat reminiscent of a Butlin’s resort nightclub. Impromptu drumming, fake hotel staff singing opera and a Motown band dressed as ice cream sundaes. We didn’t really have a clue what was going on but sat through the performances with the stoic focus of a group of Buddhist Warrior Monks. We had awards to win and no amount of glitter, ABBA or aerial dancing would get in our way!
By the end of the evening we had received five shiny new trophies and a collection of Highly Commended awards to add to our collection. These included Golds for “Chemistry: All Around You” for EPCA/UNESCO and the Laurus Award (best film under £15k) for “Online Community Animation” for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Some of the youngest members of the Casual crew, Dan, James and Tom, also participated in the first ever IVCA Creative Breakthrough Awards. Although they didn’t win top prize they came a close second to an entry from one of Ogilvy’s talented young employees. Despite this they received much positive feedback and many pats on the back including one from the ceremony’s host, the BBC’s lovely Kate Silverton.
The boys made a cracking little video for a charity called CP Sport. CP Sport put on sporting events for children and young people with cerebral palsy to combat feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. Dermot Dolan from the charity was thrilled with the finished video describing it as “an absolutely incredible and beautiful film”. He excitedly told us how much of a difference the video would make to fundraising, finding volunteers and getting more kids involved. So that makes up for not quite sealing the award…
Needless to say there was plenty of fist pumping, whooping and general joviality throughout the night. Suitably glitzed out it’s time to don an oversized hoody, pull on my slippers and chow down on last night’s take away Chinese.
Our Awards were as follows:
Gold Award – Laurus Award: Macmillan Cancer Support – “Online Community Animation”
Gold Award – Best Editing: Adam Ruddick – “Chemistry: All Around You” for The European Petrochemical Association and UNESCO
Silver Award – Best B2C Promotion and Information – “Chemistry: All Around You” for The European Petrochemical Association and UNESCO
Silver Award – Best Photography – Adam Etherington – “ENOVIA: Your World In Formation” for TheFrameworks & Dassault Systèmes
Bronze Award – Laurus Award: Regions for ThirtyThree & TeachFirst
Highly Commended – Best Brand Communications: “Creative Journeys” for TMP & Jaguar Land Rover
Highly Commended – Best Animation, Graphics & Special Effects: Tim Francis, Martin Cook & Adam Ruddick – “Chemistry: All Around You” for The European Petrochemical Association and UNESCO
Highly Commended – Creative Breakthrough Award: Tom Bryan, James Chamberlain & Dan Hollis – “More Than Football” for CP Sport
Highly Commended – Industry Award for Communication Effectiveness: Rich Media Project for Macmillan Cancer Support
Finalist – Best Regular Communications: Rich Media Project for Macmillan Cancer Support
Finalist – Best Editing: Matthew Bradley – Creative Journeys for TMP & Jaguar Land Rover
There’ve been some darn good films coming out over the past few months so the Casual team have been spending rather a lot of time in front of the silver screen. Tired of the standard multiplex, the numb bums, noisy teens and far too many abominations starring that big-haired soppy vampire Robert Pattinson, we decided to set out on a great odyssey in search of a better cinema experience.
After sailing treacherous seas for years on end and having a series of unfortunate run-ins with Sirens, a six-headed monster and a rather irate Cyclops, we hit the shores of the cinematic haven known as Everyman Cinemas. Turns out it was all pretty pointless as there’s a branch about 10 minutes away from the office but someone could probably turn the adventure into a good book one day…
We dusted ourselves off, sank into comfy leather sofas and got waited on by the friendly bar staff. Popcorn and coke? Why no thank you sir, I’ll go for the wasabi peas and a bottle of Merlot!
Everyman cinemas are dotted in and around London. Each of the nine branches have their own unique charm. Screen on the Green in Islington is an intimate space with a retro neon façade and hosts regular Q&A sessions with some of the biggest film stars and moviemakers around. Belsize Park has a large 3D screen and electronically reclining chairs for you to play with. The Hampstead branch is a converted theatre lined on either side with large two-man sofas; it even has a concierge station!
So guess what? We were working away enjoying a nice sunny Thursday afternoon when the latest copy of Televisual Magazine landed on our doorstep with a dramatic thud.
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the magazine’s arrival as this month it’s the much-coveted Corporate 50 issue. In previous years we’ve let out a sigh of disappointment as we’ve leafed through the featured production companies and not found Casual’s name anywhere. Still, each time we tore open the packaging with wide-eyes and trembling hands much like Charlie Bucket with a tasty new Wonka bar.
Barnaby cautiously approached the magazine as if it were some kind of ominous-looking alien life form. The office fell silent as he scooped the publication up off the floor and carefully removed the plastic cover.
With a furrowed brow Barnaby scanned the pages. 50 – no sign of Casual… 40 – still nothing… 30 – not a sausage… 20 – getting worried now… 18… Barnaby screws up his eyes and presses his nose to the page… 18… 18!!! We’re only the motherflipping 18th best corporate video production company in the UK!
Not bad for the first time a publication has placed us alongside the corporate video bigwigs! But wait what’s this? Corporate production companies most admired by their peers? 11th place, quoted as being a “team of emerging talents” and “ones to watch for the future”.
We’re pretty chuffed and really appreciate the recognition both from the guys at Televisual and our fellow film makers!
Right we’re off for celebratory burritos…
The name’s Films, Casual Films. Yes, we’ve gone for a James Bond type intro to this blog because, quite frankly, we’re all feeling a little bit like super sexy secret agents. Sounds a little bit far fetched I know, but bear with me on this because it’ll all make sense in the end.
So what are the key elements to being James Bond?
Yes, any secret agent worth his salt criss-crosses the globe on practically a daily basis – all in the line of work of course – and we’ve been doing just that. In the past two months we’ve visited Hong Kong, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Zurich, Sao Paolo, New York, Montreal, Delhi, Dubai, Mexico City, South Africa and practically every major European capital. Now that’s the sort of itinerary the Mission Impossible team are used to.
Of course 007 and friends don’t travel all that way just to visit the art galleries and museums – they go there to shoot people – and so did we. We shot all sorts of people with exotic sounding names in their impressive lairs (well buildings at any rate) and without exception they all worked for multi-national ‘organisations’.
You can’t claim to be a sexy spy if you’re not prepared to mix things up a bit stunt wise, and whilst we might not have leapt any rivers on motorbikes (notice ‘might not’), we did hurl ourselves down mountains wearing nothing but skis (and full skiing equipment) and fly around the joint in a helicopter. Pretty hot action I think you’ll agree.
A spy who can’t keep a secret is, quite clearly, pretty useless, and here is where the parallel is at it’s strongest. Our worldwide travels were in aid of a few different (and equally wonderful) films for some pretty damn impressive companies – and that’s quite literally all we can say about the matter. Quiz us, grill us, tie us to a chair and torture us with pointy things and we won’t utter a word – because we take secrets very seriously indeed.
Yes, all secret agents get in to all sorts of steamy clinches with gorgeous and sexy members of the opposite sex – some who have been sent to kill them, some who just happened to get in the way.
Well, four out of five isn’t bad.
It’s that time of year again, the time when we dig out our smartest finery, get our hair cut nice and neat and practice our most polite ‘No seriously, you really deserved it – I’m happy for you’ smiles and head to a function room at a central London hotel. Yes, it’s awards time again and, more specifically RAD Awards time.
This has fast become one of our favourite nights out of the year, because for the past four years we’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved in a number of winners – see previous entries for full details – and in fact we’re yet to leave empty handed. This year’s splendid do was, thankfully, no different and we picked up another gong – otherwise this could have been quite a depressing blog. The 2012 award for Best Audio Visual/Broadcast went to Creative Journeys by TMP Worldwide for Jaguar Land Rover – a beautiful film that was as much art as it was advertising and was directed, filmed and edited entirely by our immensely talented team here at Casual Films.
As ever we feel incredibly privileged to be involved with excellent projects like these, lucky to have such brilliant staff and proud to have our contribution recognized. So, in a brief respite from patting ourselves heartily on the back, we doff our caps to all involved and say bravo to them and thank you to RAD for choosing our work.
We’ve also managed to land nominations in 4 different categories at the fast approaching New York Festivals’ TV & Film Awards, which is a rather nice welcome to our new second home.
The wonderfully wise people over at Melcrum.com have written a short article on the use of video to enhance a company’s internal communications rather aptly titled “Using Video to Enhance Internal Comms”.
They discuss how it’s getting increasingly harder to encourage employees to log onto an intranet system for information updates and that frequent in-person meetings, hand-outs and emails are a waste of time and resources.
Even social media platforms that facilitate a two-way dialogue between communicators and their audience are struggling to make a connection, as employees simply feel too busy.
The Melcrum guys did a spot of research on the most effective ways to get an employee’s attention. As you’d expect from the article’s title they found that the use of video delivered the best results. Their research showed that “93% of internal comms teams see video as an important tool, with two-thirds of respondents planning to increase budgets for video in the coming months”. More importantly, “more than 54% of internal comms professionals said their employees now expect to see video used for communication inside the organisation”.
These findings aren’t that surprising as they reflect trends in both the consumer and employment markets (have a look at our Graduate Recruiter article for more on this). A video is much easier to digest than a chunk of heavy text and will take a much smaller slice of time from the audience’s frantic schedule.
But perhaps I don’t need to convince you that video’s the way to go. You’re already here so there’s a good chance you’ve at least been considering video as an option or you’ve tried making a video and it’s not got the reception you expected.
Choosing video as a communication tool is only the first step. The second is finding an interesting and engaging format in which to package your information. Why not have a browse through a small selection of our corporate comms videos for a few examples of the many ways you can reach your employees…
Imagine what it’s like to be a surgeon going for surgery. On the plus side you know exactly what’s about to happen to you and you understand the necessity of it. On the downside you know all too well the risks inherent in the procedure, you may well have had people die on your own operating table during that self same operation and it’s more than likely that you know the individual standing over you waving a scalpel about and grinning like a lunatic.
The main point is that when you’re an expert in any specific field, becoming the customer is a bit of a double-edged sword. This is why so many dentists have bad teeth and most hairdressers look like they’ve fallen victim to a rogue lawnmower. As an expert you know the good and the bad, so when it comes to selecting someone to do it for you you’re only going to select the best. Which is why we were delighted to get a call from global ‘boutique’ PR Agency SLAM PR.
In just five years Slam have carved an awesome niche in the hugely competitive PR market. They’ve landed some big brand names already – and made a big name for themselves along the way – by putting a focus on turning customers in to ‘Brand Fans’, that is they encourage a two way dialogue between brand and consumer. They’ve found that doing this helps to create genuine loyalty – and that’s something that brands are fans of, so everyone’s a winner!
So yes, they’re brilliant and award winning and very successful, and when they wanted a film to tell everyone just how brilliant and award winning and successful they are they came to Casual Films. Read into that what you will…
…it means we’re ace (in case you read something else in to it).
Thanks to Amo Jones for his excellent animation skills.
“Casual Films’ director Nick Francis explains the thinking behind a conference opening film for software corporate Dassault Systemes…
Casual Films and the agency The Frameworks created the launch film for Dassault Systemes’ Las Vegas customer conference. Excitement and scale were the watchwords.
What was the brief?
They wanted it to be exciting and on a large scale. Dassault makes software that’s used to design anything from airlines to shampoo bottles so they wanted a film that illustrated the 11 different industries they operate in. The graphic they’d come up with was a globe with lots of elements poking out. So we thought why not go on a journey through a solar system where you see lots planets an they all come together in a big crunch at the end and leave that graphic on the screen.
Were you always going to go down a 3d animation route?
We toyed with the idea of doing it 2d, but we had the opportunity to do something a little bit special so we thought ‘Why don’t we build the planets in 3d and then animate them in After Effects in a two and a half d space?’ The two 3d designers started off with simple designs but one of them would do a planet and the other would look at it an then go and make his a little better so he quality of the planets as we went through all 11 got better and better.
How did the setting that the film would be seen in affect your thinking?
It was to be shown in a big conference hall and we wanted to give them something that made them take notice of the potency of video and of The Frameworks and us. We knew they were going to have a big sound system so we worked on the sound design to make it feel really immersive. We had a composer in he US who was going to score it but then we found a track on Audio Network, which was played by the Royal Philharmonic, and when we put that music on it we thought ‘wow.’
What’s happened since?
We’re soon off to South Africa to shoot a TV commercial for them.”
Download the full article here
Splitting the atom is one of the most incredible endeavours mankind has ever achieved, the accomplishment came as a result of some of the finest minds in history coming together and risking their lives – and the results could save our race. As recently as the 80’s the whole world believed that this nuclear stuff would bring about the end of the world via a big old-fashioned war (see WarGames, Mad Max or When the Wind Blows (bring a hanky for that one)), but now – as we approach a world without fossil fuels – it seems clear that nuclear power is, in fact, the future.
All of which makes it a little bit disturbing that the man synonymous with nuclear power in the 21st Century isn’t a genius physicist or mathematician but an obese, academically challenged heavy drinker with a tendency to lose focus and behave recklessly. I am, of course, referring to Mr Homer Simpson, a hilarious delight, no doubt, but not the man you want with his finger near any button that might do anything important.
Thankfully there’s a whole new breed vying to take his crown (no, not Lenny and Karl) and they learn the nuts and bolts of their trade at the EDF Nuclear Engineering Apprenticeship course in Gosport. This two year course is dedicated solely to providing the next generation of nuclear power providers – and as it takes several thousand people to safely run and maintain a nuclear power plant it’s a good job the course is popular!
The course itself is run much like any college course, with a variety of subjects to study, accommodation in the form of halls and plenty of social activities to establish social bonds – and you come out of the other end with a job for life! Sounds pretty good to us, and so when they asked us to make a film to let the young people of the UK (and their parents of course) know it was out there it was easy finding apprentices to volunteer to feature – they genuinely love it, and that came out in the film.
Oh, and in the canteen? Fission chips… I thank you
In the 80’s movie 48 Hours Nick Nolte played a hard nosed cop who had to spend the eponymous time period protecting Eddie Murphy’s wise cracking felon turned witness. As you can imagine (or as you know if you’ve watched the film, which you should have, it’s good. Not the sequel though, no certainly not Another 48 Hours) in those two full days they got up to no end of dangerous scrapes and hilarious japes, resulting in a very entertaining flick and a sizeable return on the studios investment (hence the sequel, God it’s awful.)
All of which beggars the question: What exactly can you do in 48 hours, and the answer is a bit vague – depends really. You can travel to the other side of the world but not to the moon. You can (probably) build a decent size garden shed but not a garage (I assume) and you could write a reasonable dissertation on sequels (believe me, you can) but you may be told it’s “The least academic piece of work I have ever read.” So it’s swings and roundabouts.
Any way, one thing you certainly can do is make a damn fine short film – as recently proven by most of the Casual Films gang for the Smoke and Mirrors 48 Hour Film Competition. The challenge is simple – you turn up with your crew, cast and kit, they give you the theme – this years was ‘Lost’ – and in the next two days you have to; conceptualise, write, film and edit the piece. Exactly 48 hours later you have to deliver a film, finished or not – obviously finished is better, and we managed that.
Our piece ‘LAMIA’ came from the twisted brain of Development Manager James via no less a source than Greek mythology don’t you know! And an incredible and valiant team effort saw it completed with quite literally more than a minute to spare.
It might not have won, but we’re very proud of every aspect of our little film and we’d love to hear what you think of it.
And no, there won’t be a sequel.
Movie buffs will know that that quote comes from James Cagney in White Heat (Spoiler Alert – moments later he blows up the gas container he’s stood on, killing himself. Bruce Willis was dead from the beginning of The Sixth Sense and Tyler Durden is just Ed Norton’s split personality in Fight Club) but we’re not here just to ruin films with somewhat unexpected endings. No, we’re here to tell you about our work.
You see, if the BBC are to be believed – and more often than not they are – then Samsung just became the world’s biggest supplier of smartphones. Quite the achievement in a crowded and competitive marketplace I’m sure you’ll agree. But why, I hear you ask, are we bragging about the achievements of an electronics giant? Well, firstly because reflected glory is better than no glory at all, but mainly because of the major role we’ve (possibly) played in establishing Samsung as top dogs.
A big part of the reason Samsung smartphones might sell so well is that they’ve probably established an amazing reputation for clear, easy to follow and beautifully written and filmed ‘How To…’ videos that make using your phone so much simpler. It’s fair to presume that maybe at least half the people choosing a smart phone might factor in the relative quality of online video based instructional snippets before coming to their decision and so, as producers of these vital sales and support tools, it’s only fair that we bask in our share of this headline grabbing glory.
We don’t do it for the glory of course, we do it to help.
And for the money.
Run Forrest, Run!
In the multi-Oscar winning hit film from 1994, Tom Hanks played a lovable idiot who strode through recent history, inventing Elvis Presley, inadvertently landing Richard Nixon in the poop and constantly (and annoyingly) calling table tennis ‘ping pong’ – it’s a romp and if you haven’t seen it then I suggest that you do so forthwith. I know what you’re thinking, and no, we’re not working with Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise or Sally Field, we haven’t found a way of re-animating Elvis and none of us are especially proficient at any sport, so why mention the film at all? Well, another thing that lovable idiot Forrest does is get up one morning and run across America, right across it, coast to coast and back again, and we’ve got our own lovable idiot who did a similar thing.
Step forward Mr Barnaby Cook.
Barnaby recently ran the inaugural Liberian marathon and, in a move echoing educationally challenged Forrest’s behaviour, decided that he was the one person on the planet not to need to train for a 26 mile run. He also seemed oblivious to the fact that Liberia and the equator are very closely acquainted, so it was likely to get a bit warm, and thanks to the time of year there was also a good chance of very heavy rain. Thankfully the organisers (including good friend of Casual Peter Harrington) were aware of all these things and so the race began in darkness at 6am so that no-one would roast to death in the 40 degree midday sun.
It all went according to plan. It rained heavily and it got very hot, but no-one died and, despite his startling lack of preparation Barnaby Gump finished the marathon in a respectable 5 and a half hours just 3 and a bit hours behind the winner. So well done Barnaby and all involved in Liberia.
Now, let me tell you how life is like a box of chocolates. In life, much like in chocolates, you are given a card that explains what everything is…
Changing your appearance is a tricky thing.
Unless it’s forced upon you – either through an accident or the need to disguise yourself because you’ve double-crossed the Triads again, then it’s reasonable to say that the root cause of any change is from within. We all want to look our best, of course we do, but whether you try to achieve that by starving yourself thin, tanning yourself orange or paying through the nose for a haircut you don’t like, the net result is usually the same. You look much as you did before, possibly a little worse, you have less money and you feel much the same inside.
Of course the extreme version of this is cosmetic surgery, and there are plenty of tragic celebrity examples out there of what can happen when you’ll avoid ageing gracefully at all costs. If you can bare to look at Pete Burns for more than a few seconds you’ll see that where once stood a fairly good looking, if undeniably peculiar, young man, there now stands a orangu-man: Half simian, half cross dressing former pop-star who’s long since lost touch with reality.
Whilst it might seem like I’m advocating a ‘no change for anyone ever’ policy, I’m not. It’s dramatic change I’m rallying against, because if you want to make a dramatic change on the outside it’s generally because there’s something wrong on the inside – and if you don’t like who you are then no amount of spray tan or eye-lid implants is going to change that.
Which brings me to the whole point of this blog. We here at Casual Films weren’t happy with what was on the inside – of the website that is – so we made a few changes. We’ve tinkered with some of the code and fiddled with some of the ports and what not and, as a result, it’s now a beautiful beast. Sure, this improvement has come with a few minor cosmetic changes (check out the new HD video player) and you might say that we’re prettier than ever before, but because we focused on what’s really important – the inside stuff – we don’t need to make massive changes and the website won’t end up looking like a big orange monkey.
…I’d be a better public speaker. Classic. It’s just as unfunny now as it was the first time I heard it at the first public engagement I can remember attending when I was probably about four, but it’s also just as certain to be used at approximately 10% of all weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s, retirement parties and ‘degrading for all involved’ office ‘awards’ ceremonies that take place in the foreseeable future. Why is this? Well it’s partly because it’s an inherently funny line that, had it not been used three billion times already might raise a smile, but it’s mostly because the vast majority of us are neither comfortable with nor incredible at public speaking.
For every cool, confident and unflappable orator like Churchill, Martin Luther King or Hannah Montana there’s a dozen gibbering wrecks, fearful of every word, desperately trying to ignore the audience or imagine them in their underwear – but not the most attractive ones, that would be off putting, as would the least attractive ones, though for vastly different reasons – so basically the vast majority of people who are put in this situation do not feel comfortable, try to cope by visualising select members of the audience (those constituting the median level of attractiveness at the gathering) semi-naked and by cracking crap jokes like the one at the beginning.
All of which is appropriate to mention at this juncture because, thankfully, Barnaby falls in to the confident Churchillian category and it’s just as well because this week he’s going to be talking to an assembly of super clever media bods at the Media Pro Expo. Media Pro is one of the very biggest and best annual gatherings of media and marketing people, and thanks to the sterling work we’ve done for Samsung, Casual have been invited along to talk to the assembled masses about all the wonderful things that can be achieved in the world of online video. It’s a great honour and a rather flattering invite as some of the attendees are very big fish indeed and they’ve paid a lot of money to be there, so we’ll be making doubly sure Barnaby’s combed his hair, brushed his teeth and done up his fly before he takes the stand.
I’d suggest starting with a joke, how about “We tried marketing on twitter but most of the people on there are dull and boring. There’s only 140 characters.”
This week, two of Casual Films’ staff members were on the receiving end of three important lessons:
1) The ‘S’ in Cannes is, however many times you try otherwise, silent.
2) It is possible to pay over £8 for a bottle of water.
3) Gravity always wins.
The backdrop for such onerous realisations was the Cannes Corporate Film and TV Awards, which took place on Thursday evening. Like its bigger brothers the Cannes Lions and Film Festival proper, the corporate awards bring together the biggest and best from around the globe, mixes in the prestige and glamour of the French Riviera, and gets everyone thoroughly drunk along the way. Although only in it’s second year, representatives from eleven countries flocked to the Palm Beach Hotel and Casino all eager to get their hands on a coveted Cannes Dolphin.
Casual Films, buoyant from multiple award successes earlier in the year, were duly nominated in a couple of categories, which meant someone had to go down there, check it out, and bring the awards home. Simple.
Simple, that is, until Adam steps up with a nomination for best editing. Unfortunately our Head of Post’s propensity for clumsiness has gone down in Casual Films folklore, regularly displaying staggering levels of recklessness with the most delicate of objects (most notably and spectacularly destroying 3TB of hard drives in one week). Sensing disaster, he was quickly paired with Matthew Bradley- a name that is no stranger to the suffix ‘safe pair of hands’ – before jetting off to the south of France.
Burdened with an hour time difference and chronic jet lag, the guys wisely spent the afternoon recuperating on the beach, before suiting up and heading off to the awards where they were met with a champagne reception, enjoyed a Cannes sunset, and dazzled a mostly continental crowd of fellow award goers with their linguistic capabilities.
And so the awards began, accompanied by a five-course meal and a seemingly endless bass guitar solo. Not long into the starter (tuna and salmon tartar if you’re interested) Casual were called to the stage to pick up their first award, Best Music for EPCA. Beaming proudly Adam and Matthew took to the stage, shook hands with the awards director and were handed a handsome Black Dolphin trophy, which, weighing in at over 5kg, caught them entirely off guard. Hanging on for dear life, they smiled through the photographs and staggered back to their seats. No sooner had they taken a fortifying sip of wine, they were back on stage again to pick up Best Editing for TVP, fortunately this time fully prepared for the heavy lifting required.
Two awards from the first three categories was pretty good going, so Casual sat back to enjoy the rest of the evening, mingle with the global representatives of corporate film, and to shuffle enough foie gras around their plates to make it look like they’d eaten at least some of it.
After an awkward jig around the dance floor, the awards came to a close, the guys said their goodbyes, remembered to go back to the table to pick up the awards (anyone that has been to similar ceremonies will tell you this is never easy) and left for the hotel.
Mission accomplished. Two awards in hand. Casual Films on the map. Large red wine stain on dress shirt.
At this point Matthew called Nick to let him know that despite not finding a taxi and now having to walk home, the evening had been a run away success. Yet disaster was but a heartbeat away.
A few metres later, all of Newton’s laws conspired against the woefully thin bag being used to transport one of the hefty dolphins, and with an almighty rip, the poor poise hit the French tarmac. For a moment the Cannes waterfront looked like Taiji Cove, a desperate scene of dolphin cruelty. To compound matters, the other bag containing the second dolphin followed suit and suddenly there were two battered and bruised dolphins strewn across the pavement.
The full magnitude of the situation wasn’t realised until the next morning when Nice Airport Security pulled Adam and Matthew to one side to enquire why they had two large hunks of heavy, jagged metal in their hand luggage. Upon removing the offending items from their bags, the cold light of morning revealed the full extent of last nights damage. It was a devastating blow to an otherwise fantastic evening. Thankfully security took pity on the guy’s panic stricken faces and allowed the infirm dolphins on the plane.
And so now they now sit in the office serving as a solemn reminder that not only can Casual Films produce award winning corporate film at the very highest level, but also that Adam is a f***ing idiot and should never be allowed out the office again.
Ten years ago if you asked one hundred people what a codec was it’s a fair bet that the most common answer would have been “Some kind of lizard.” They were happier times. Normal people were normal, they knew enough about computers to turn them on, open an email, download a naughty picture and write an essay about how easy it is to get a virus by downloading naughty pictures – and that was all they needed to know. On the other side of the fence were the geeks, they knew all about RAM, drivers and processor speeds – and far more that is beyond the grasp of ordinary folk. The universe had balance and all was well.
Then it all changed. We had the technological revolution and suddenly everyone started to use words like ‘gigahertz’, ‘usb’ and ‘ip address’, normal people even started dressing like geeks – excusing it by calling it ‘Geek Chic’. We didn’t know it at the time, but slowly and stealthily we were all being made geeks – and it’s now come to a point where pretty much everyone can build a website, upload videos or hack the Pentagon and start a WarGames type apocalypse.
We do, however, still need the proper geeks – those that know that little bit more than strictly necessary – to make sure that everything keeps running smoothly. To use an obvious example, online video, our stock in trade, is a veritable minefield what with a dozen different formats, half a dozen different players and upload methods to choose from and all those flipping codec’s (which aren’t lizards at all, but very task specific little bits of software that make magical things happen). We might understand it a lot more, but it can still be a mite confusing!
Well we like to spread the joy, so we freed our resident geek from his cage for a couple of hours and got him to produce a handy little guide explaining all the terminology common in online video, and how to get the very best results. You can find it here – but be careful, this can be a gateway into far more hardcore geekery. You have been warned!
“I’m sorry but I’ve got to dash…I’ve got a plane to catch.” It’s not a sentence we expected to be commonplace around the Casual Films office when we first set up in 2004, but we’ve only gone and got an international reputation haven’t we? Well as great as that obviously is it also brings with it brand new opportunities to show cak handed ineptitude in (or en route to) exotic climes. This past month we’ve had two such great chances – and unfortunately we’ve grasped them with both hands!
First off we had the seemingly simple task of getting a train to Brussels where we were hosting a small conference for trade organisations like the International Margarine Organisation (who were just as nice as their butter counterparts but only half as fat…) and we shared with them a little of our expertise on sharing your message online. All sounds easy enough, and it was, until one of our party (who shall remain nameless provided sufficient payment is made) reacted with shock to the request to show their passport. Yes, passports might have been in use for the last century, but it seems nobody mentioned it to our colleague – who had to join us in the Belgian capital after a mad dash across ours in a taxi to retrieve their ID from a ‘safe place’.
All turned out well in the end of course, as it did for Jerome who was heading further afield to the ERE Conference in Miami. It really was a bit of jet-setting, there and back in three days with a lot of schmoozing and business talk in the middle – but that’s what Jerome’s best at…providing he gets there. All was well, as far as we knew, until we received this email…
So a quick update on my progress if anyone’s interested.
I landed in madrid (which is on the way to miami btw, yeah back to school geography experts!) And was actually thinking everyone was going quite well until I encountered the transfers security who politely requested a boarding pass for the second leg of my journey. After being told my ticket was not correct I realised the boarding pass I had was for the gatwick madrid leg, and the ticket stub I had been clutching on the plane (and inevitably left in the seat pocket) was for the madrid miami leg.
Its easy to blame the women who ripped it, sure, but my own lack of attention to detail was being exposed again.
The helpful lady explained I had to go out through baggage reclaim, exit and re-enter and check in again with just an hour before my second flight was due to depart.
Somewhat in a hurry (I even ran some of it, which in the heat, with english clothing on, needless to say paid dividends) I exited and made my way to the check in desk and then (after queuing) tried to explain my situation to a gentleman who’s english was quite frankly inadequate.
It was at this point I, completely unfairly, decided madrid was the worst airport ever.
Eventually resolving the issue, new boarding pass in hand, I ran to security and became increasingly frustrated as they did their ‘checks’ only to get through and realise the flight is delayed by an hour.
My only regret is not having a cigarette when I had the chance*
*this is actually not true, I did have one, but I thought including this in the story would reduce the feeling of stress I was trying to create.
Hope all’s well with you guys. Missing you loads.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
Obviously he did make it, and obviously he did sterling work whilst he was over there, but the point is that we didn’t encounter these sorts of difficulties when the furthest we were traveling was Watford! Success brings it’s own problems…
You may have heard we do a fair bit of work for Macmillan, if you haven’t it’s probably because we were being uncharacteristically modest. It’s never cool to brag about how much work you do for charity. So, no matter how much we love our trumpets over here in the Casual office, they remain almost completely unblown where Macmillan is concerned (we just high-five each other when no one’s looking). Anyway, I digress. We’ve made an awesome new film for this excellent charity – it was certainly more demanding than your standard fare and is arguably one of our best.
You know when you write a postcard or fill out some lengthy form and you get to the end only to find that you’ve not got quite enough space left so you end up having to write the last few words in tiny writing at a funny angle or in the margin? Well given that we’ve all experienced that horror, then you have to ask yourself why we decided to pitch the idea of basically doing that on a huge scale for our latest work with Macmillan.
The reason is that we’re both ambitious and very stubborn. So when Nick had the idea for a time-lapse-mural-art-animation piece he certainly wasn’t about to let a little thing like it being difficult to achieve get in the way. Thankfully we found a design that really worked and an artist who nailed it – making for an absolutely brilliant film and an incredibly smug Nick who ‘knew it would be brilliant. What did I tell you?’
So well done all, and especially Nick. His postcards must look great.
Last week saw the annual International Broadcasting Convention take place in Amsterdam. Described as ‘the leading global tradeshow for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of broadcasting media and entertainment’. We thought it was only right that Casual should be there to rub shoulders with an international cast of boffins, nerds, geeks, and the odd Hollywood A-lister, to see to what was on offer at THE premiere event for the broadcast industry.
So after a long drive avoiding tulips, windmills and women of the night, Nick and Adam found their way to the colossal RAI Conference Centre to begin a two-day drool fest amid thirteen halls of cutting edge tech.
What follows is quite geeky in parts – we apologise to any normal readers for this, we just couldn’t help ourselves. However, if you are intrigued and would like to talk about or have any of this explained please feel free to email: nick or firstname.lastname@example.org
Having never been to the IBC before I was initially blown away by the scale of the place. There were thousands of exhibitors from all around the world showing off their latest creations; from the biggest and best-known names in the industry to eccentric one-man operations. Without fail, they all had something new, exciting and desirable to demonstrate and it was our mission to get round to see them all.
Nick, as an IBC veteran, led the charge into a hall that contained all the camera manufacturers, and I watched him pinball from stall to stall, occasionally stepping in to peel him off new releases from RED, Arri and Phantom before security had to be called. There was some truly impressive stuff and we spent a good morning talking all things cameras with those in the know.
There is however only so much comparing of chip sizes an editor like me can take, so after F-stopping off for some lunch (bam!), we headed over to post production. As I descended into the darkness of Hall Seven I could see a host of pale faces shuffling in a pool of social awkwardness. I knew I was in the right place. Here’s my top picks from post:
1) DaVinci Resolve.
This awesomely powerful grading tool really stole the show. Packed full of great features including a stablisation tool that could stop an earthquake and the fastest and most accurate 3D tracking capability I’ve ever come across, this software is a real step up from our own current Apple Color software.
Operating in 32 bit float YRGB, Resolve node-based image processing gives you what seemed like infinite possibilities for your grade, combined with a powerful engine that rips through 2 and 4k raw footage in real time. It also round trips easily with FCP and Premiere using XML or EDL, with smart conforming abilities meaning that editors can (not that we ever do) constantly change their mind without losing grades.
This can also be combined with either DaVincis own Control Surface, or a number of third party consoles which instantly makes you look and feel like a grading legend. And the best part is it’s cheap. You can go all in for the software and a Tangent Wave for £1500. We will be, and I strongly recommend you check it out and do the same.
2) Sony Trimaster OLED Monitor
After the elation at the Resolve stand, my mood was dampened somewhat when I realised that your grading software is only as good as the monitor you’re looking at it on. And here at Casual, we’ve historically gone for quantity, not quality. Thankfully the good people at Sony were on hand with a solution. Even after spilling my coffee on their pristine white stand, they were kind enough to show me their latest Trimaster monitors.
While Nick gawped at an F3, I watched a series of testimonials from colourists all over the world who sang the praises of trimaster technology. They even went as far as saying they would consider replacing/upgrading their precious CRT’s with the Sony kit. This is a big shout, so naturally wanted to see what all the fuss was about. However, if I’d known this meant being ushered into a tiny black room with eight other men I might have reconsidered. But when the presentation started I was glad I endured the dubious hygine of my fellow audience members as the monitor was truly stunning. Sony had lined up an LCD, CRT and Trimaster screen next to each other, and we all stood and watched in amazement as the Trimaster matched the CRT punch for punch. The blacks were as black as they come, the saturation was perfectly balanced in both light and dark and the colour temperature and picture quality were incredible.
Traditionally to get hold of a monitor for high end grading, you would need to re-mortgage your house and sell a few organs. What Sony have done is introduce an affordable digital alternative that sacrifices none of the performance and quality. Bravo! (or should that be Bravia?).
One of the great things about IBC that separates it from other conferences is that it’s not just a large showroom of tech porn. For those who care to look there is a load of forums, talks, seminars and tutorials given by industry leaders who keenly share their insights (albeit against a backdrop of tech porn). One such example was Eddie Hamilton who was talking over at the Avid stand. Eddie is the editor responsible for films like Kick Ass and X-Men and was explaining his techniques and workflows. What I found interesting wasn’t so much Avid itself (although having never used it, it was good to see what the Avid Suite was capable of) but rather how Eddie used it while editing.
As films become more and more complex in terms of VFX, I’ve often wondered how the work is shared around post-production professionals to get a coherent end result. In Eddie’s case, he hogged the lot. Showing us his timelines from Kick Ass he demonstrated how he created the edit, the sound design, and the VFX all at once in Avid Media Composer. He explained that to get a real sense of how the edit will turn out, it’s vital to be able to do all this as you cut the rushes. This means it’s possible to show the director and producers full scenes with no caveats or excuses, before handing them over to a VFX team who simply recreate exactly what has already been done.
This was really interesting to see, and reassuring for the multi skilled post team we have at Casual who have been adopting this DIY attitude for years!
Having worked on the door as an usher at IBC a couple of times in my student days I had a rough idea of the treats we had in store. That said, having been using the kit every day for the last five years did add a couple of extra layers of interest to the show. As Adam said, the scale is fairly overwhelming – anything and everything to do with the production and delivery of moving images and audio was there.
Following the success of the Canon DSLRs and the democratization of filmic imagery with their large sensors other brands have been quick to produce models which offer this in a slightly more usable platform.
Sony’s offering is the F3 with it’s super-35 size chip and XDCAM camera usability. Since we do a lot of work with the EX1 and the EX3, nice little touches like being able to use the same batteries and SxS memory cards was a big draw and with the price falling at around £10k + VAT for the body, it doesn’t seem an unattainable purchase. The image quality, when teamed up with lenses like the Zeiss Compact Primes, looks great even if you have to use an external recorder to take full advantage of the potential 4:4:4 uncompressed output. This colour latitude is a major plus over 8-bit DLSR footage which doesn’t hold up to much in the grade. Beautiful shallow depth of field shots with over-ramped hazy colours have become far too familiar – roll on lower end in camera 10-bit recording!
Anyway, one of the first things you noticed with the F3 was the zoom rocker – when it was first released it there were only primes available for it. On the Sony stand we found none other than a compatible zoom.
This 18mm-252mm T3.9 lens is aimed mainly at those looking to use the camera for ‘run and gun’ type filming. It is out later in the year and is going to retail for £7.5k + VAT. This will make the camera into an accessible self-contained recording package. We look forward to working with one in the near future.
2) Canon 5Dmk3 / 3D
This is more of a report on something we didn’t see rather than something we did. After working extensively with the 5 and 7D and more recently with their video focused camera, the 50mbps XF305 we were really hoping that Canon were going to announce a combination of the two at IBC. The ability to use our lovely Canon L-series EF mount lenses on the XF body, with a large chip, XLR microphone inputs, built in ND filters, peaking filters and all the other benefits of a proper video camera is an exciting prospect. Not this time though – maybe at NAB next year.
3) Super High Vision Video
On display in the ‘Future Zone’ section of the show was Super High Vision a system pioneered by the NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation working with our very own BBC.
Despite the slightly strange name, this camera system delivers a stunning 8K image – effectively 7680 × 4320 pixel video. That’s 16x the resolution of normal High-Definition. To put it into perspective we were treated to a demonstration, complete with a 22.2 surround sound system, of some coverage of the Copa América football. The resolution was so high we could identify individuals in the crowd on the other side of the stadium. Very impressive. To think that the arrival of HD put some actresses’ futures in question.
Apparently the BBC are going to be broadcasting the Olympics next year to three separate screens in London in SHV. That should slightly make up for the farce that was the (mis)allocation of tickets.
A steadicam mounted on a Segway. It looked like something out of Batman with a dash of Robocop. Seriously cool, seriously above our budget. Filmmaking toys don’t come much better.
3D was pretty much everywhere at the show.
We were lucky enough to go to an evening presentation on 3D featuring none other than the world’s most bankable filmmaker, Mr. James Cameron. We’ve never been massive fans of 3D here at Casual Films but this evening tried its best to change our minds.
To start we were shown some sequences from the 3D version of Titanic, which is being worked on at the minute and by happy, savvy, coincidence will be ready just in time to cash in on the centenary of the sinking of the eponymous ship. This was all fine, but I didn’t feel that the 3D really added that much to the experience. That said the sequence just after they have spotted the iceberg and are trying to stop/turn/avoid it is inspiringly superb and well worth another look, 3D or no.
We then saw Circe de Soleil 3D, a project that James Cameron’s Cameron Pace Group have been working on. This was where 3D really came into it’s own. Seeing the circus performers skipping on rapidly spinning wheels on wheels 60 feet above the ground with no safety ropes in 3D was nerve racking and we were just watching video. In this application the depth and scale that was illustrated by the stereoscopic cameras was incredibly effective, significantly adding to the experience.
The last part of the evening was taken up with a showing of Atlantic Productions’’ ‘Flying Monsters 3D’ with David Attenborough. This had just won the IBC International Honour for Excellence and was a master class in thoughtful, creative filmmaking. The stereoscopic element really added to the production with the flying dinosaurs brought to life above the perfectly rendered prehistoric landscapes. A personal favorite moment was when an 80 million year old fossil popped out of its slab and walked around on the table in front of Sir David and a paleontologist. It then flew across the lab onto one of their jackets knocking over a bin in the process. We’d seriously recommend watching it if you get a chance.
In general we found the show extremely inspiring and are now itching to put all the skills and toys we saw to work for us and our clients. We’ve only touched on a few things here. Also worth a mention are:
Phantom slow motion camera which can shoot 2000 frames per second. Allowing for 2K or HD video to be slowed down 80x. Great for filming close-up face slaps.
The radio control helicopter with a seven gyro mounted camera to ensure perfectly stable shots.
The Arri Alexa camera with loads of latitude, usability and awesome image quality. To be used very shortly.
Robert Howard, CEO from Cooke Lenses who chatted at length about their production process and his hopes for the future. We’re now saving up for a set of their beautiful Panchro lenses.
The whole trip would not have been possible without the kindness of Andy and Ady. We used to work with them at Work Communications and they have now relocated to work for Amsterdam based agency, Iris. They put us up in their spare room and then were working too hard for us to buy them a beer to say thank you. Next time gentlemen.
They say that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. Who first said this, or who ‘they’ see fit to repeat it are I can’t tell you, but I can guarantee that if they’ve ever said that to a teacher they’ll have regretted it.
Like most of us, teachers are actually quite proud of the work they do – and how hard they have to work to get results – and as it’s an absolutely essential role to the whole of society, it’s actually a bit of a peculiar thing that they’ve been singled out for slating in the form of a proverb.
There is one bunch out there that recognised the potential value of teaching experience and figured out a way to weave it into the fabric of big business. They’re a group called TeachFirst, and what they do is take recent graduates and put them in challenged schools, often in deprived areas, all over the country for a stint of two years. Over that time they’ll not only work their backsides off, but they’ll gain two very valuable things: a proper teaching qualification through the GTP on the job training programme; and the sort of real world life experience that you generally can’t find in University.
At the end of the two years the candidates can choose to stick with teaching (as many do) or they can take their now much more impressive CV to one of the many city businesses who support Teach First with a big smug grin on their faces and try to get a job. Whichever route they choose they can be sure that they’ve given something back – and so have we! Agency ThirtyThree sent Teach First to us because they wanted a short film to quell the fears of potential candidates who didn’t particularly fancy leaving the ahem ‘safety’ of the riot torn streets of London – and we did so by going up and down the country and hearing tales from candidates in Burnley, Leeds and Birmingham, and a damn fine job we did too.
So it would seem that those who can do, those who can often teach, and those who can’t teach make films about them.
Here at Casual Films we’re a pretty realistic bunch. We know that what we do, whilst we’re good at it (arguably the very best in fact, call in for more information on how wonderful and brilliant we are), is not the most important job in the world. Film making is important socially and culturally, and can be very important personally but in the great big scheme of things it’s in amongst a great big pile of jobs that could disappear and the world would keep on turning. The most important job in the world is that of the blog writer. No, obviously it’s not, that’s just a needless piece of self-promotion, it’s only ninth or tenth on the list.
Still, the point is that whilst we know all this, that doesn’t mean that we won’t occasionally get a bit self-important and carried away with it all, forgetting that there are people out there who do make a real difference… and there’s nothing to bring a soaring ego crashing back down to earth quite like meeting some of those people. We did that recently when we made our latest batch of films for Macmillan Cancer Support. These films (which were beautifully shot, well done James Bedford) feature some of the staff and volunteers from Macmillan’s helpline and online support facilities as well as some of the cancer sufferers who benefit from their assistance.
All involved spoke with such clarity and passion that it was impossible not to be both moved by their work and humbled by their attitude. I’ve said it before, but we really are very proud of our association with Macmillan and we hope that through our films we’re helping them to make an even bigger difference.
Please watch the films here and support Macmillan Cancer Support.
One of the best – and certainly most impressive – shows on TV at the minute is an American production called “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. Now the British people reading this who have yet to experience the joy will probably be imagining a show where Lawrence Lewellyn-Bowen comes into a house, buys a few scatter cushions does some stencilling and awaits the applause. You couldn’t be more wrong. This is America, and when they say extreme they mean it.
A typical show goes like this: we get introduced to a very lovely and worthy family whose house is falling down around them. They get sent to Disneyland. Their house gets demolished (yes, really), and rebuilt in 7 days. Every single aspect of the house is specifically tailored to the family and their requirements and to top it off they get a new car/college grants/magic money tree to help them improve their lives. It’s moving and brilliant and I insist you watch it right now.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that that has little to do with Casual, but you’d be wrong. You see recently we were set our very own ‘build something brilliant from scratch in a week’ project – and it was for a company who’ve been voted Social Landlord’s of the year two years running – Riverside Homes. Yes, relevant on several counts isn’t it?
So, Work Communications came to us on a Monday morning with the project – a piece of motion typography for internal use that covers the (great many) achievements of the group over the last three years, thanks the staff for their efforts, seven or eight minutes long, finished by Friday please.
We pulled strings, favours and out all the stops and, thanks to the incredible efforts of two of our top-notch animators we delivered the piece you see above. Not too shabby eh?
But do we get a TV show? No, no we don’t.
Co-star is a confusing phrase. Much like co-pilot it implies a parity of roles, but then you see that the other pilot isn’t referred to as a co-pilot. They’re the pilot, the captain – it’s their plane and they’re in charge, not very co- at all really. Similarly, in any film or TV show you have a star, and you have a co-star – seemingly an equal billing – however I would imagine that any co-star turning up and expecting the same size trailer, pay packet or excessive and flamboyant rider as the star is likely to be disappointed.
It’s a confusing state of affairs, an ambiguity of the English language that has been exploited by airlines and film studios alike to placate the rampaging egos of junior pilots and reasonable actors who probably couldn’t hope to carry a film by themselves but have delusions of grandeur and must be pandered to. I want this charade stopped. In future let’s have a pilot and his reserve, and let’s have a star and ‘other actors’ – in short, let’s have honesty.
All of which has almost nothing to do with one of our recent projects – on the careers website of international estate agency CoStar. What relevance there is lies in the accurate use of co-, because here is a company that can do all the hard work in getting you the commercial property you need, wherever in the world you need it – and presuming that the property is the star then it’s only fair to give those who enable you to purchase it equal billing. Isn’t it?
Regardless, Bayard came to us seeking our co-operation (drop it now) in a co-production (seriously…) on the video content and design of the careers section of the CoStar website and, naturally, we obliged. We’re very happy, so co-ngratulations all round (right that doesn’t even work, this blog’s finished).
Most people who work in the media have met more than a few celebrities, and what you learn very quickly is that they are indeed just normal people with fancy jobs. Like any other bunch of normal people there are some who are lovely and some who are awful, some interesting and some dull, some much more attractive than you’d think and some, well let’s just say that photoshop’s a wonderful tool. One result of this exposure to those touched by the fickle finger of fame is that you tend not to get star-struck when meeting someone famous. You’ve got a job to do and you just get on with it.
There are, however, occasions where it all takes you a bit by surprise and you find yourself with butterflies and giggling like a schoolgirl. This is precisely what happened to us at our recent shoot to promote the upcoming (and brand spanking new) Liberian Marathon. Don’t ask me how, but we managed to wangle five minutes with former PM Tony Blair and we expected it to be like any other shoot. Then, as we waited, we heard his voice coming through the wall and the butterflies flooded in, it was all very unexpected. He came in, delivered his lines with great efficiency and was very accommodating and polite throughout, but it was impossible not to be struck by his charisma. Who knew?
As for the cause? Well it’s an excellent one. You might only have heard of Liberia through the songs of Michael Jackson, but the West African country is one of the poorest in the world and, until 2005, was torn apart by decades of civil war. Since then the country and its people have made great strides towards becoming a proper part of the international community. Big sporting events are an essential part of this process and a marathon featuring an international field could make a huge difference.
The marathon, organised by friend of Casual, Peter Harrington of The Africa Governance Initiative takes place on the 28th August and there’s also a 10km run if you’re not tough enough!
What do you use facebook for? (Or, in the interests of fairness, MySpace – remember that?) If you’re at all like me you’ll spend half your day making hilarious and occasionally cruel comments on friends wall posts and photographs. New born babies are a particularly easy target: they invariably look like old men and first-time parents never tire of hearing jokes about the fact. Others use it to arrange their impressive social lives, get or promote work and show off about their latest overpriced phone/car/baby.
Whatever you use it for there’s absolutely no doubt that social networks are an intrinsic part of people’s lives these days, and now there’s a new one. Sort of.
Actually ENOVIA has been around for a while in its guise as a powerful piece of software for designers and engineers to manage the data they’re working on and collaborate on bringing new products to market. But with the latest version of the software ENOVIA has moved on a stage with simplified web-based access and enhanced collaboration tools that work in an increasingly social way.
ENOVIA is a hub for (amongst others) designers, scientists, engineers and industry experts to come together and truly work together to resolve design issues, ask for help and advice and ultimately develop products that are better for business and better for the planet. This last theme is at the heart of ENOVIA’s latest campaign – “Your world in formation” – and it’s a theme we’ve brought to life in a new ENOVIA promotional film developed in partnership with ENOVIA’s strategic marketing agency, TheFrameworks.
Nick took the helm on this, which meant jetting out to Kenya. Again. However, once again he returned with some truly beautiful footage and, thanks to some heroic efforts by the whole post-production team we’ve knocked out a great little film. Have a watch here and tell all your friends who do proper jobs (medical, scientific, blog writers etc) that social networking has finally got a social conscience.
Anyone who’s ever broken a leg will tell you that, after a while, that pot on your leg is just something you get used to. Likewise when you break something in your house – you intend to fix it but things get in the way and it never gets mended – eventually you just get used to it, it becomes part of the furniture. This is how Casual became the proud owners of one Tom Silverstone (no relation to the race track).
Yes, Editor/Operator/Director (perhaps that should just read all-rounder??) Tom was just a friend of office stalwart Adam who hung around the place like a cat at a fishmongers, but then, one day, he started invoicing us. We figured that if we were going to be paying him it’d be wise to put him to work – maybe we could prove him incapable and start to charge him rent.
His claims to be a graphic designer were somewhat undermined by his equally vehement protestations of colour blindness, but somehow he did that very well, so we were stuck with him on that front. Never content to just let someone do what they’re good at we set him to editing – that’ll be his undoing we secretly cackled to ourselves before contemplating why on earth we’d indulge in such acts of self-sabotage. Of course he excelled at that too. It seemed like a lost cause. We had Tom, and he was good so he was here to stay. Then we had the idea of putting him behind the camera as a director, that ought to scupper him. It didn’t. He performed wonderfully. Bugger.
Alas Tom is, thankfully, excellent at all his jobs and here to stay – which is a bonus as we’re kind of obliged to pay him any way, but the main thing he brings to us is the gift of song. If you ever visit the office and hear a sweet soulful voice singing along to whatever happens to be on the radio or engaged in a frantic (and frankly not wonderful) rap battle (yes, really) with Adam, you don’t need to search the cupboards for McFly, it’s not the kids from Fame – it’s Tom.
If you find Tom hanging around your office and start to get that comfy ‘getting used to him’ feeling then please return him to us, his rightful owners.
A trip to the cinema these days can be a bit of a nightmare. Firstly you’ve got to battle the automated booking robots who are determined to defeat you by making you go see a film you have no interest in at a time you’re unable to attend, then you’ve got to sell your first born in order to pay for the tickets and a thimbleful of mediocre popcorn. If you make it into your screen without suffering convulsions from the multitude of garish nonsense and arcade games in the lobby then you’re invariably faced with a nightmarish treasure hunt, the only prize being two seats together, one of which is behind a tall man wearing a hat. Upon completion of this hunt, and only then, can your enjoyment of the film be properly ruined by the inconsiderate morons who, for some reason, think an expensive cinema is the best time to talk to their imbecilic friends about their unbelievably dull lives in between checking their text messages and eating what I can only assume by the noise is a bag of dried leaves.
You shouldn’t go to the cinema to relax any more, you should only go if you need to get angry.
Thankfully some people appreciate the magic of cinema and want to make it not only an enjoyable way to spend an evening, but an actual experience. The best example of this, and it’s pretty damn close to perfection if you ask me, is The Rex in Berkhamstead (Hertfordshire).
Owner/proprietor James Hannaway has restored this 1930’s picturehouse to all of it’s original splendour, and it looks absolutely stunning. Seriously, you don’t even need a film, you could just sit and look at the place for two hours and leave happy. He hasn’t stopped there though, the Art Deco décor is just the supporting act. The circle is filled with tables where you can sit and indulge in a glass of wine from the bar whilst you enjoy the pre-film musical performance on stage.
I know what you’re thinking – this must cost a fortune – but think again, because even the most expensive circle seats come in at well under a tenner, making it comfortably cheaper than most of the soulless multiplexes that seem to be built wherever there’s a large enough car park. I know what you’re thinking now too: that’s all well and good, but they won’t have any new films on. Well you’ve gone and made yourself look a bit daft there, because not only do they show many of the very latest blockbusters, but they’re complimented by excellent little films that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.
I’ve wittered on quite long enough and still got nowhere near doing the place justice – and that’s because I can’t. Words simply aren’t enough for this place. I implore you to go, it’s wonderful. Just book in advance, or you’ll just be admiring it from the outside. Which is still a pretty good experience.
As soon as Casual Films officially became transatlantic by establishing a New York office it was only going to be a matter of time before they were spoken of in the same breath as the likes of PwC, HSBC and American Airlines – each of them giants in their fields and not just multi-national, but truly global companies.
Being mentioned in the same breath as them shouldn’t be mistaken for being as large as them – part of what has brought Casual their success is being small, streamlined and versatile – however they can legitimately be mentioned in the same breath as they are all sponsors of the BritishAmerican Business program. BAB helped Casual Films cut through all the red tape associated with setting up an office in America, and ever since we’ve been regular attendees to their seminars and networking events.
The Annual Conference was a perfect match for Casual and they leapt at the chance of sponsoring the program. In return for their name taking pride of place we supplied BAB with this excellent piece of motion typography created by Casual animator Amo Jones that explains just what it is they do.
Paul Brown, Director of Events and Marketing said, “It’s very fitting that this film was made by a small company who we’ve helped to become successful in the USA, and hopefully not only the film, but the story of Casual Films, will help to inspire other companies to make that leap with the help of BritishAmerican Business.”
You know those corporate films where some bronzed Adonis dressed in a snappy suit announces that “Here at Thompson’s Zips we check every single zip by hand so that you can be certain every time you zip up your zip stays zipped” and one of your colleagues turns to you, all smug and says “He doesn’t work for a zip company, I’ve seen him in The Bill.” Well, now you can be the irritating smug one, because we’re going to let you in on a little secret.
We have recently made a film for super duper brand consultancy firm Evviva. They come to your company and tell you how to make your brand stronger, what you’re doing right and where you could be doing better. Because they really know their stuff, Evviva can help you make these adjustments – and make your brand really stand out – without taking a chainsaw to your existing plans or bankrupting you in the process. Which is nice. They really are the business and we wholeheartedly suggest you check them out.
Any way, I promised secrets! Well, Evviva’s film is a (spectacular and brilliant, natch) combination of a live presenter and animation, and playing the role of a young, blonde and, quite frankly male, Ferne Britton is our very own Head of Post, Adam Ruddick! In fairness to Adam we think that for a presenter he did a great job in the edit, we just hope we can keep hold of him when ITV come around jangling their golden handcuffs.
So there you have it. Now, should you ever find yourself watching this film with others, you can turn to your colleagues – all cocky and smug – and say “That idiot works for Casual Films, not Evviva.”
Common sense is a funny thing. Not funny ha ha, if there’s one thing it’s not it’s that, no it’s funny in the peculiar sense because all of us – no matter how intelligent or switched on we believe ourselves to be – occasionally switch it off. It’s this switch off that leads to that awful smell of burning thumb you get when you inexplicably pick up a roasting tin without an oven glove, or that sees you having to turn the car around when you’re halfway to work because you remember that it’s Saturday. In short, common sense, or the occasional lapse thereof, can make fools of us all.
Why am I saying this? Well it’s because one of Casual’s most recent bits of work is a rather spiffing little film about the brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The film demonstrates all the flashy little bells and whistles of this smashing bit of kit and it’s all rather smooth and fancy and represents a very impressive job by Amo Jones and all in our graphics department. Soon you’ll be seeing it displayed on all Tabs in shops all around the country. Which makes sense, that’s its job. So where does the common sense bit come in?
Well I have been making and writing films of varying lengths, quality and subject matter for more than ten years now, and in all that time it had never crossed my mind that these ‘what this product can do’ films have to be made by someone. For some reason, despite my relatively detailed knowledge of the filmmaking process I was under the impression that these films just came with the kit, as if appearing by magic. Thinking about it now that is monumentally stupid, but like I say, it’s just a glitch in the common sense part of my brain and it’s not funny. So leave me alone.
As the more attentive/related/stalkerish amongst you will no doubt be aware, Casual Films is no stranger to the musical arts. When Adam, Charlie, Matthew and Adam aren’t busy working (when are they ever busy working? Ed) they can be found laying down tracks as Only You Can Save Mankind, a band labelled “the next Beatles”, though that was by Adam so it’s probably best ignored. Elsewhere the brothers Cook (Barnaby and Jerome not Thomas and Captain) both spin the wheels of steel on occasion (that’s DJ-ing to the uninitiated) and Tom barely stops singing long enough to have a conversation.
We, as a group, like music. I think that’s the salient point.
Sour musicality means that when something new comes along that shakes the music scene up a bit we can get a bit excited about it. We got excited about MP3’s, we got excited by Spotify, and now we’re getting excited about Puresolo.
Puresolo is, to all intents and purposes, an online recording studio. Alright, so there’s no surly sound engineer, but there’s also no £150/hour fee so that kind of evens itself up. What there is, is a catalogue of over 24,000 songs that you can choose to sing and/or play along to (yes, play along, practically any instrument too, including a large library of guitar backing tracks and record the result.
Yes, it’s karaoke – after a fashion – but Karoke, without the drunkenness or public humiliation. It’s also karaoke that gives you a high quality digital copy of your performance (at a bargain cost) that you can save as an MP3, share through social media, or send as an email. You even get to re-record if you don’t think you did your best. In short, it’s ace.
It’s one of those ideas that’s so obvious that you question why you didn’t think of it yourself, then you go on the website and realise you’d never have executed it so well if you had, so in a way you’re glad you didn’t. You’d still like the money though.
I’m going to use it to record a version of Rhianna’s ‘Umbrella’ and then send it to everyone who has wronged me – I have a bad voice, I don’t like the song and I’m mean. You, however, could use it for good rather than evil. Either way, I seriously suggest that you use it.
I’ll be honest with you, we at the Casual Films office are to fashion what George Michael is to road safety campaigns. Few of us have defined styles, and even then they’re invariably questionable. That said, we still know a good thing when we see it, and Collect London is one such ‘good thing’.
Set up by Islington designer Woody Morley, Collect London has been building a reputation for his designer t-shirts for the last few years, and he’s just launched his summer collection. Having initially featured guest designers on his work, this latest collection is all his own, and like all of Collect’s range they’re strictly limited.
Yes, each and every t-shirt is on a strictly limited 100 print run, meaning that you’re not just buying a cool piece of clothing, but a rare piece of art too. Not only does this make the range more interesting, but it seriously limits the likelihood of you bumping into someone in the same get-up on a night out (unless you’re in Shoreditch where it’s pretty much a certainty…) which improves your street-cred no end.
We think Woody is incredibly creative and he’s on to a winner, so why not online his online shop and get yourself something few others will get the chance to own.
If you ever watch awards shows, such as the BAFTA’s or the Oscars then you’ll be used to reacting strangely to seeing people for the first time. I don’t mean like realising Elijah Wood isn’t actually a Hobbit, or that Mickey Rourke actually does look like that, no, I’m talking about that moment where the Director or the Script Writer or the Voice Artist suddenly does what they spend their whole life not doing, and appears on screen. Christopher Nolan suddenly stops looking like Christian Bale (as he did in my head) and starts looking really American, Andy Serkis looks nothing like Gollum, and as for the woman who voices Bart Simpson? Well. What I’m saying is that when you know someone’s name, and maybe even what they sound like, then you start to get an image in your head of what they look like and it’s almost always wrong.
So, in order to make your life easier, we’ve made this little film about us – the people behind the award winning films that spew out of Casual Films like a celluloid geyser. See our face, hear our voices, marvel at our opinions and rank us according to our attractiveness. So, here’s the film, and below it a little list of who’s who and what they do:
Cast (in order of appearance)
Barnaby – Head of Production, Co-Founder of Casual Films, a tall fellow.
Adam – Head of Post Production, tuba player, Crème Egg connoisseur
Matthew - Senior Editor, drummist, bad boy beat boxer
Tom - Editor/Operator, keen eater, songstress
Jerome - Business Development Manager, computer geek, a taller fellow
Claudia - Production Manager, baked goods provider, foreign type
Tim - Head of Digital Integration, day trader, exaggerator
Charlie - Book-keeper, lead singer, a quiet man
Teilo - Camera Operator, father, owner of most mis-pronounced name in the UK
Corrina - Production Assistant, dance prodigy, office baby
Nick - Creative Director, Co-Founder of Casual, Andrew Strauss look-a-likey
Rob - Writer/Creative, undiscovered genius, undoubtedly a handsome chap
Kristof - Editor, beard wearer, more obscure foreign type
Guy - Head of Sound, billion dollar box office extra, office punchbag
Francis - Editor, perfectionist, New Age Hippy type
A.M.O. - Graphics Whizz, philosopher, fan of acronyms
Now if you could just send us your photos before calling that would be lovely…
If you add all of Casual Films’ box office receipts together they come to over $1Billion. That’s actually quite impressive when you think about it – a billion dollars – it kind of makes you wonder why we’re still in an office in North London and not living it up in the Hollywood hills.
Well wonder no more, because the sad truth of the matter is that 99.98% (give or take) of those box office receipts are thanks to Casual Films sound guru Guy Hixon and his sterling work as an extra. Yes, Tom Hanks, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black are just three of the stars that Guy hasn’t met whilst on the set of hit films like The Da Vinci Code and Sherlock Holmes, but he assures us that the world of the extra is a long way from the world of Ricky Gervais’s hit sitcom.
“I assure you it’s a long way from the world of Ricky Gervais’ hit sitcom Extra’s!” laughed Guy as he inadvertently repeated words I was yet to write.
Because unlike in Extra’s, Guy had no dizzy female sidekick, no witty exchanges with Kate Winslet and very few angry encounters with Ben Stiller – instead having to make do with talking to other ‘background artists’ and the odd costume designer providing him with an ill fitting beard.
He might never be a star, but extra work is something Guy still enjoys doing.
“I still enjoy doing extra work.’ Guy confirmed.
Casual Films is no film set, but Guy continues to be an ‘extra’ around the office, operating solely as a ‘background artist’, making the place look busy and helping the stars of the show – editors, directors, writers etc. – to look good.
Of course that’s not true, but it’s precisely this sort of banter that ties the office together, so as well as providing exceptional music and sound design (and our abiding big screen presence) his role as an office unifier is absolutely invaluable. We love him and genuinely couldn’t get by without him, but don’t tell him that. Tell him he’s rubbish.
All life on earth began in the sea, a couple of billion years ago. Over those hundreds of millions of years the multitude of creatures that occupy water, land and air have evolved from those first beasties and successfully filled every niche on the planet. Some are seemingly there just to be cute, like little otters, pandas or chinchillas, some are there to be fierce and control the population of other animals – like lions, tigers and solicitors. For others their place is equally clear, and it’s not good news for them. I am, of course, referring to the delicious creatures. Those beasts whose position in the grand scheme of life is best described as ‘next to some chips’.
We have surprisingly few of these on land, beyond pig, cow, chicken and fluffy kittens it becomes a real struggle to name any. The sea, however, is teeming with organisms who have evolved to a state of such tastiness that they only have themselves to blame when they get eaten by the bucketload.
It’s thanks to this surfeit of delicious stock that restaurants such as the excellent Fishy Fishy in both Brighton and Poole (co-owned by Casual’s favourite light entertainment presenter and all round nice guy Dermot O’Leary) can not only survive, but thrive. Obviously with a thriving restaurant comes a cook book, also entitled Fishy Fishy, and an app called Interesting Things to do with Seafood. Only joking, it’s also called Fishy Fishy.
New Holland, the publishers of this watery tome, called on Casual to produce some ‘how-to’ videos to go on the app and compliment the cook book. To aide us in our mission we had the establishment’s immensely talented head chef Loz Talent (who as well as having an awesome surname looks a bit like Phillip Schofield) and pushing the whole thing along was Dermot O’Lovely. Gutting a fish isn’t a pleasant thing to do, but somehow with this pair instructing you it seems like the best thing ever. It must be down to the filming…
Pre-order your cookbook here
Have a quick look around your office, your garage or your house – or all three if you’ve got nothing better to do. Go on, have a quick look and take in what you see then come back to me.
Okay, presuming that you did actually have a look and you’re not just saying you did to humour me, you’ll probably have noticed (amongst other things) paint/wallpaper on the walls, lighting descending from the ceiling – and indeed ascending from the floor – and bits of furniture dotted around the place, filling the space up a bit and serving purposes like giving you somewhere to sit or a support system for your book collection. That we can all have all of these things isn’t testament to how well we’ve all done and our increased spending power, it’s thanks to manufacturers ability to produce goods at a cost-effective and affordable level.
One of the main providers of such paraphernalia is the Home Retail Group, a mammoth organisation that owns Argos and Homebase, turns over billions of pounds every year and provides, on average, fifteen different items for each and every home in the UK. It’s an amazing statistic. It’s also entirely fabricated.
What isn’t a fabrication is that Home Retail Group came to us (via design and communications agency SAS) to create a short film for staff, stockholders and customers alike explaining just what they’ve been up to for the past year and how frightfully well they’ve been doing it. SAS came up with the great concept of the ever-changing room and provided us with an awesome set and props to work with, but bringing it all to life was a Casual Films crew helmed by Director Tom Silverstone.
The end result is a film that crams a hell of a lot of information into it’s 3’30” runtime without ever feeling like a squeeze. It’s a bit like flat-pack furniture, but on screen.
It’s a truth that if you say the same thing loud enough and for long enough that it becomes accepted as fact, how true the initial statement was has little bearing on how it becomes perceived. Joseph Goebbels famously argued that the bigger the lie you tell, the more people will believe it – and whilst it’s universally accepted that the Nazi propaganda chief was a total git, you can’t dispute that he knew a thing or two about selling a lie. It’s a principal that has, more recently, allowed Bush and Blair to go to war with Iraq, enabled Piers Morgan to be labelled a ‘personality’ and put the Lady firmly at the front of Lady Gaga.
Did I have a point? Well, as a matter of fact, yes I did!
For over a year now I’ve been writing in this blog and telling anyone who cares to read through the waffle and the dirge that Nick and Barnaby, co-founders of Casual Films, are geniuses; brilliantly successful men who deserve all the recognition they can get. Well, finally people have started to buy it! Barnaby has been interviewed by interweb recruitment Bible Ri5 about our swollen trophy cabinet and what it takes to be rather successful. Not to be outdone Nick got a visit from one of the crew at City University’s magazine. The mag is celebrating it’s anniversary by featuring a particularly successful graduate from each of it’s twenty five years in print and it would seem that Nick (Post Graduate Diploma in TV Journalism) was the stand out candidate from the class of 2006!
Ok, so it’s not The Guardian Media supplement, or Campaign – not yet at any rate – but it’s other people singing their praises, people who aren’t paid or threatened to make them do so, and that can only be a good thing. It’s time to up the ante, make the lie bigger and this time next year we could be talking about Barnaby Cook: Nobel Prize Winner -Previous Winners include Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, The Dalai Lama, or Nick Francis – Time Magazine’s Man of the Year – Previous Winners include Kruschev, Stalin and Adolf Hitler – and we’re back to how effective massive lies can be!
Check out the Ri5 article here.
The Railway Children is a story of a simpler time, a time when your dad being sent to prison meant you had to move to Yorkshire, and a time when railway tracks were seen as an acceptable playground for children. It’s been a best selling book, a successful play and a popular film and now it’s a play… again – but with a difference…
The theatre is Waterloo station.
In a stunning piece of stagecraft, Mike Kenny and Damien Cruden have transformed the old Eurostar Terminal into a 1,000 seat auditorium and brought the play to life like never before. It’s like you can actually feel the steam, well it’s like that because you can – stealing the show is the 66 tonne engine Stirling Single which trundles onto set as and when required bringing the whole production vividly to life.
It’s a remarkably fresh and innovative take on a story that’s been around for over 100 years and we were delighted to be asked to film the performance. When dealing with any live performance you’ve got to tread carefully, throw a working steam train into the mix and that only becomes more true.
We’re really pleased with the resulting promo, and can heartily recommend going to see the production – it’s like train spotting, but with a plot, and actors, and just one train, and an interval, and…(that’s quite enough!)
It’s a truth self-evident that certain types of jobs attract certain types of people. Firemen, for example, are by and large a masculine and manly bunch – the sorts that in olden times would have been rescuing dusky maidens from the clutches of evil counts during thunderstorms. Media jobs tend to bring in a more arty set, the sort who wear scarves during the summer and garish jumpers – in the past we’d have been either cannon fodder or, more likely, village idiots. Then you’ve got estate agents – a profession that, in central London at least, seems to attract money hungry yuppie types – all hair gel and Hugo Boss. They’d have been debt collectors, or evil Sheriff’s Deputies who extorted money from all the villagers. Or lepers.
Why so down on estate agents? Well it’s personal and I really shouldn’t be involving work, but then work involved me by saying that owing to our expanding business (hooray for us) we’d have to move somewhere bigger. My heart sank. I envisaged day after grinding day spent listening to their half truths, exaggerations and barely disguised lies about everything from the state of the neighbourhood to whether the place was haunted or not. The mere thought kept me up all night. Then our current landlord told us of a much larger unit next door to ours, so we just took that.
We’ve been able to plan exactly what we want and even as I type the builders are hammering away, constructing the super cool office we’ve always dreamed of. It’s got a floating desk, a separate HD viewing room and even a bottomless pit for when estate agents come round.
We’ve moved in and we’re ready to show people round, so come join us at the grand unveiling/office warming party on the 12th May – it’ll be a blast.
Just don’t bring any estate agents. I’m joking (I’m really not joking).
Get your tickets here