Production - shaken, not stirred

Production - shaken, not stirred

Production - shaken, not stirred

Production - shaken, not stirred

Production - shaken, not stirred

David Vass, Head of Production at Mito, d.vass@mito.hu
May, 2020 · 5 min read

Most of the content created in the last few weeks focuses on one main topic: the virus sweeping through the world.

This article is no different, so let’s skip the exposition and take a look at how all this affects us advertising people and particularly the field of production.

Campaigns are not lost...

We started as the creative and digital agency of Vodafone Hungary. Then in the past 4 years we designed and built several digital solutions for the Deutsche Telekom Group - peaking at the EU-wide self-care mobile application, the One App.

...just transformed!

This article tries to explore and discuss some alternative possibilities. We’d bet a large amount of money that the list below is gonna be even longer in a couple months. We have a lot of experimenting ahead of us, but let’s see where we are right now.

How it went down for us:

In the first few days, the agency was flooded by a tsunami of decidedly panicky video calls trying to appraise and manage the situation, such as:

As you can guess, projects started to go under in rapid succession in the wake of these ominous calls.

But there’s a silver lining:

From the ashes of the ruins, new, sometimes experimental projects started to rise up like phoenixes - projects that would have been inconceivable a few months ago, because thoughts like

would have kept repeating in our minds. We had to seriously tweak our mindset to be able to quickly adapt to the situation before getting down to work. Let’s put our cards on the table: we have to use what we can. 

What are these?

We started as the creative and digital agency of Vodafone Hungary. Then in the past 4 years we designed and built several digital solutions for the Deutsche Telekom Group - peaking at the EU-wide self-care mobile application, the One App.

Motion design instead of shooting

It's nothing groundbreaking: we have done it before and now we’ll do it a bit more for a while. An animation works if it was intended to be an animation. The idea may come up to rethink already existing projects that were about to start filming - in cases like these, it usually does not work to adapt the live action material into animation in its entirety, so it’s best to take a step back and decide what can be preserved and what needs to be let go of.  

Filming from the couch

This has happened too - and we are not saying it wasn’t weird. As if all of us - the director, the production team, the creatives, and of course, the actors - were sitting in front of a virtual video assist monitor, while everyone (or almost everyone) was in a different district. Of course, for this to work, the material needs to be compatible with the concept that filming with not_professional_cameras only makes it more authentic.

Stock-piling

No question about it, amateur videos recorded with a phone are of dubious quality in most cases. Stock materials are perfectly suitable for use in projects that are less product-specific. Nowadays, there are numerous sites offering premium materials, but it doesn’t hurt if you have a few photographer or cameraman buddies whose footages you can use, because that makes it less likely that you’ll come across the same material in someone else’s project.

Live streaming

We are starting to get used to it that someone plays the guitar live on Facebook every day and that we only see a row of talking heads in chat windows, called colleagues. For brands and the users of social platforms, entry-level streaming is easier than ever, with no real need for a crew, as the technology is available: if you have a phone and stable internet, all that’s missing is the content, and it’s our job to provide that. The term ‘entry-level’ should be double-underlined in red: for more complicated streams, it’s best to bring in the heavy artillery, both for cameras and sound.

We shot Borsodi - Kanapé Kvíz with the entry-level solution.

Studios - photo and sound

Moving the small photo studio of the agency home can do wonders if you need to shoot simpler, less actor-centric materials. If you have a good brief, it’s totally doable by one person. If you don’t have a studio, you can quickly order the basic equipment from most rental companies - what you need will fit in a small downtown flat. Incidentally, there are already several sound studios offering fully separate recordings - only the audio engineer and the narrator are on-site. And sometimes the narrator can even record the material at home and it is mastered later.

Phones everywhere

Nowadays, phones are able to record in quite high quality, but they won’t be a match for our usual filming equipment for a while yet. However, the current situation requires us to settle for them - and shooting alone at home sends a better message than using a whole camera crew - sorrynotsorry. Right now, a lot of materials like this are running on social channels and on TV as well.

An example for using phones: Borsodi

Mini crew

If all else fails and none of the above solutions work, we take a risk and shoot with a minimal crew, taking the appropriate health precautions. In our case, this means a few people at most - we’ll have to forget about shooting with a crew of 50-60 people for a while. Only those should be on site who absolutely need to be, everyone else works remotely - yes, maybe the director as well, even if that sounds unimaginable at first.  

OTP Bank social content was shot with a small crew, only 1 DOP on-set + talent.

Where to go from here?

This responsibility falls on all members of the triumvirate: the client, the agency and the production team as well.

Pre-production

Pre-production

Do as many steps remotely as possible. Additionally:

  • Do casting via video - believe us, this is going to be fun!
  • Do recce with a small crew
  • Make compromises regarding the location (avoid small closed areas)

Production

Production

Precautionary measures on set:

  • Test on-site and prior to the shooting
  • Travel separately
  • Have dedicated personnel responsible for sanitization
  • Limit the on-set crew to key people and keep them separated (active and standby units)
  • Make wearing masks and gloves obligatory

Post-production

Post-production

This may be the easiest one:

the post-production processes and steps can all be performed from home, sitting in our chair - or at least the ones we need most frequently.

If you decide not to create any new content, it’s still advisable to look over the already existing on-air materials in light of the virus: for example, don’t show large crowds and pay special attention to the portrayal of elderly people.

The Hungarian Advertising Self-Regulatory Board has published a recommendation titled “Advertisements at the time of the health crisis” which covers this topic: what’s recommended and what’s not.

What we can do now:

If you have to let go of a concept, do it. Rethink.

The creative and the production teams should move in together. But only digitally.

Now is the time to take the road less travelled.

Use mask, gloves, wash your hands often and stay at home whenever possible.

But most importantly: watch out for each other!

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