The last few months have meant big changes to every industry with the coronavirus pandemic potentially changing the way in which we work, now and moving forward.
Most businesses were already in a transitional stage, with the pandemic forcing them to move faster and adapt.
As a creative content agency, we are often in a live production setting. In this environment there are normally several people in one studio, directors, set dressers, actors, producers, runners and camera operators amongst others. Taking the UK’s governments rules into consideration, ensured that this type of large-scale production wasn’t possible.
When the UK went into lockdown, we had just finished planning a live production for Ben & Jerry’s and about to go into production.
We already had the creative approved by the Ben & Jerry’s team and the planning and preparation was underway. It was going to be their ‘money shot’ the ‘this isn’t just ice cream; this is Ben & Jerry’s ice cream’ moment.
The original plan was to create a live, super slow-motion food shot with specialist Phantom Flex cameras (which we couldn’t wait to get our hands on), using different ice cream flavours and ingredients: Cookie Dough, Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, Fudge Brownie and Vanilla.
Following this, we had a stop motion shoot booked the next week and a green screen shoot the week after.
Then along came March 26th, full UK lockdown with the client deadline remaining the same.
As the most recent and popular buzzword suggests, we had to ‘pivot’ quickly. So, what did we do?
We firstly analysed the situation at hand, the areas of the project affected and all the possible options to work around government restrictions. Ultimately, to deliver the project to the highest standards, to the same deadline and in budget.
It was clear that we could no longer go ahead with the original plan of a live production, with people being required to work from home and limited contact with others. There could be no crew working together in the same place, so the team would need to work individually, with only one person at a time in the studio.
- We changed the live action production to CGI using 2.5D animation (a technique used to simulate 3D) to recreate the slow-motion ice cream explosion.
- We filmed the stop motion and green screen scenes with one person in our studio at a time and planned for all the logistical difficulties doing this.
- The client’s sign off and shoot update milestones would take place over video and phone calls.
- We built in and considered that there would be more sign off and review time needed than usual as we couldn’t be on set or in edit studio together.
- We allowed additional time for couriers to deliver props and materials from supplies and between the team.
Communication during this time was paramount for the project to meet all objectives, ensuring the team, suppliers and clients were on the same page at all times.
Regular catch ups and reviews were crucial to ensuring the changes and amends to the project went to plan, everyone understood their role / new role, all whilst staying relatively sane.
With some CGI wizardry, great communication, teamwork, long hours, couriers, patience and the odd survival parcel sent between the team, we delivered all the edits on time.
Ultimately, the client was incredibly pleased with the finished project with the ad achieving 30k views in the first 24 hours.
Once the project was complete, we were used as a case study to highlight how creative productions can adapt in these uncertain times.
As challenging as the initial lockdown was, the adaptations we made along the way and remote working have highlighted our ability to adapt, using alternative ways to produce content which achieves great results.
If you have any questions about our creative or production techniques, or want to discuss a project then email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Oldfield – Producer