Do you take short cuts when telling your story?

While our clients vary from sole traders to multinationals, selling anything from chocolate bars to big tech installations, they’re all confronted by a similar task. They need to tell the story of their product or service.

From our experience, trying to do this in house is a challenge. When we first speak to clients, they often flood us with details. They know their product inside out, and want to tell everyone everything. We know that isn’t always the best approach.

Over the years, we’ve developed a workshop format combining classic story telling techniques, a little business coaching and a lot of questions to challenge our clients to really get to the heart of their story.

NC Workshop.png


The process is hard work and often not quite what the client expects. I think that as a ‘script’ meeting, they’re expecting to be going through words on a page. Instead, one of our first questions is “How do you want your audience to feel about this project?” It’s amazing how the mood in the room changes when clients start talking about wanting their audience to feel intrigued, excited, and involved.

We use a set of specially designed cards and stickers to make this workshop a physical experience, and we’ve seen clients get really get active, walking around the room, interacting, laughing, and bartering over story points.

By the end of session, we’ve looked at the audience, what their needs are and how the film will appeal to them. We’ve cut all the content back to a Minimal Viable Video script – the shortest possible video that will have the greatest impact. We’ve built this back up to an outline of the script, taking into account how we can punctuate the video with key plot points. We get more achieved in two hours than we have in weeks of sending word docs back and forth!

If you’re planning a marketing push, whether or not that includes video, and you want help in building your story, then let us join you for a workshop!

Here’s what one client had to say about the workshop experience:

“What a revealing process! For a subject matter I knew inside out and with pre-conceived concepts and storytelling strategies in place ready to roll-out, a couple of hours’ evaluation with Napoleon not only sent the baby out with the bathwater, but the bath tub too!

Part one of the workshop set the scene. Not ‘what is the subject matter’ but more the psychology, from both the selling and buying points of view. Easy to jot down but invigorating as Napoleon got to grips with what it really meant. Their ability to listen, comprehend, evaluate and challenge was enviable.

Part two took us back to the drawing board. Those pre-conceived concepts were long gone. With our challenge now presented in a new light, some deep thinking followed; propose, challenge, justify, amend / proceed. With Napoleon’s objective independent view, there were no short cuts to take here. But, in relatively quick time a new storyboard was born. One that bore little resemblance to draft one, yet made perfect sense; justifiable sense, not just within the setting of the discovery workshop but later to my peers too.”


High Speed Video Services

I’m afraid this is not about a new camera that films at 10,000,000 frames per second, or riding through the desert at 200mph trying to film some birds… It’s about delivering professional videos, quickly.


Let me be clear, I don’t encourage 2-3 week (or sometimes less!) turnarounds for script-to-screen video projects. There are many reasons why it’s not ideal, but the point is, demand has changed and video content producers should be changing with it.

The projects I’m talking about here start from pretty much nothing. A client has an urgent need for a video, usually to support a presentation or product launch with an immovable deadline. They have written material, they might have brand guidelines, they might even have the bare bones of an idea. But most importantly they have an need. To clearly communicate their product or service. Soon!

Last year a new client approached us after finding us on Google. In their own words, their requirement was;

“…turning an animation video around which I needed urgently in just under two weeks when no other animation agency wanted to take the job.”

This client from a large, respectable organisation (that most companies would jump at the chance to have in their repertoire) had phoned several agencies. With their challenge in one hand and money in the other, they had simply been told, “no”.

Well we didn’t. We jumped on board, and in less than two weeks they had their finished video, used it in their presentation and they secured extra funding for their proposition.

Now I’ll be honest. When we saw their feedback after the project was completed, we were thrilled as always that the client was happy, but did we really want to be thought of as the last minute choice? Does this look like we’re so desperate that we’d say yes to anything? Hopefully not.

When I heard this request, all I heard was the same thing I hear with any new business discussion.

1. You have a challenge

2. We can help

3. You will be pleased

4. We can win future business

Sure enough. 8 months later, the client returned with another project, a bigger budget and a longer lead time (just!).

It just takes an understanding from both sides that with a tight deadline, comes compromise. But compromise doesn’t mean lack of quality. Some of the projects we are most proud of have been completed in a few weeks.

For a tight turnaround project to be successful, clients need to;

1. Put a lot of trust into the content producers

2. Collaborate daily to get what you want

3. Ensure feedback and approvals from stakeholders are swift

4. Have clear expectations

Content producers need to;

1. Set clear expectations and timelines

2. Collaborate daily to ensure clients get what they want

3. Set an achievable creative approach

4. Be flexible

5. Never go back on your word

Flexibility is key, with both space and people. Our in-house team look after the creative direction, ensure the smooth running of the project and maintain consistent client communication, but our network of freelancers allow us to flex when the project demands it, and bring in the right people for the job. Physical space is important too. When time is tight we need our teams together, so we setup our studio with a few extra spaces for us to continue working comfortably on the busiest of days.

Without a doubt, we’d prefer all projects to have a longer lead time, but in a now culture when consumers expect everything faster, doesn’t it make sense to prepare your services to be high speed too?

Will badly lip-synched ads be a thing of the past?

We’ve all seen those ads where you know the voice you’re hearing isn’t the actual actor’s voice. Whether it’s been filmed in another language, or like this bizarre example from Renault, they appear to have changed their minds about the script or had problems with sound recording on the day:

Face2Face have developed startling software which allows an actor to become a puppeteer for someone else’s face.

Just look at the example below, and watch footage where George Bush’s neutral expression is made to smile and talk according to way the puppeteer stretches their face. Absolutely amazing. Note, the video is cued to George Bush, the thumbnail is Trump who appears later.

So, if you’re voicing an English-speaking into French, then film the French voice actor while they’re recording the voice over, then use that footage to match the actor’s expression to their new voice.

You could even change an entire movie, so Brad Pitt looks like he’s speaking impeccable French.

While this clearly has comic and defamatory potential, it will also enable dubbing to be taken to the next level. Filming an ad in one language then localising it is a quick win, making the ad feel much more relevant to that audience.

Creating a creative space

We moved into our new studio over a year ago, but because of a small issue with the building we couldn’t commit to finishing the decorating until some works were done. They finished in December, and we’ve finally found the time to decorate our kitchen/meeting room.

We settled on some really quite… startling wallpaper. Bold, bright and floral, we agreed that it wasn’t a pattern that we’d choose for our homes, but here at work we could be a little braver. A little more outrageous. And it looks fantastic.

For me, it was always essential that the decoration of the kitchen/meeting area contrasted to the main working area. I want the NC team to feel like they are taking a break somewhere different, that they are no longer in the space they work while eating lunch. Likewise, when we have meetings I wanted it to be an uplifting and creative space, where we were encouraged to think differently just by sitting in the environment.

Hopefully we’ve achieved that. Anyway, it’s so cheerful to walk in to, you can’t help but smile!


The curious case of the out of focus book case…


“Film a bookcase!”

Yes that was essentially the brief that we worked on recently, but it does make sense when you read into it… (sorry)

Our client, a leading arbitration law firm, has the capacity to have their own filming setup in their offices, with green screen and cameras setup and ready whenever needed.

This was obviously an investment for the company, and we wanted to help them make the most of it, so the first stage was to offer our expertise on the different types of setup and kit and end results they should be aiming for. Once the consultation was completed, the next question to answer was, what to put in the background?

While green screen can have some creative draw backs and can never quite be the same as filming against a genuine backdrop, it does have the huge advantage that you can literally have ANYTHING in the background. Putting the images of glorious tropical beaches to one side, this means you can pick and chose the right backdrop to suit the content you’re creating.

One good example of this was when they filmed a newsroom style interview. With a wide shot of the two contributors and closeups on each, we needed the ability to pick and chose different angles to suit. So we modelled a 3D studio. The client could chose any specific features they wanted to include in the background, branding, location etc… and we had the flexibility to pick the angles that were just right.

3D Studio0065


The next example was ‘the bookcase’. It may seem extreme to put all that effort simply into filming a bookcase to use as a backdrop, but let’s think about the benefits;

  1. Flexible – As with a lot of our clients, the contributors being filmed are very, very busy people. Thinking solely about the green screen setup, the contributor had greater flexibility and could sit down for the piece to camera at their own location, in their own time, when they were ready.
  2. Varied – Filming interviews can often depend on the contributor, some are more comfortable sitting some standing, some may require more takes and more angles. So we filmed multiple angles, wides, close-ups, sitting positions, standing positions. We even captured the shots out of focus, so they have a natural depth of field when combined with the interview footage. So our client has all eventualities covered when the filming takes place.
  3. Bespoke – Rather than choosing a stock shot they had something that was authentic, personal to them and exactly what they wanted.
  4. Content specific – The bookcase was chosen as it had the right feel for the very experienced, educational content that was being delivered.
  5. Reusable – If another project comes up in the future with a similar use, they can reuse the backdrops, rather than scheduling another off location shoot.
  6. Cherished – For a normal interview setup, your are often limited on time spent preparing the location or backdrop, with most the attention going on the contributor. One of the hidden benefits of this setup is that we can focus all of our energy on the setting, tweaking the little details that get everything just right.

See, there’s more thought going into filming a bookcase than you might think!

Bringing photographs to life for Essential Living

Essential Living were launching a new website for their new building development. Photographs of the style of the apartments and the local area were important, but they wanted the website to really stand out. So we took still shots with a little bit of action in a way that can be looped. Someone drinking from a tea cup, some reading a book. With a little bit of jiggery-pokery, we managed to get them fairly seamless.

The response to people visiting the site has been great, they think they’re looking at a static page of photos, then suddenly a bike goes past!

You can explore their site and find all the clips at Essential Living’s site here.

Prime locations for those who like to #sip back and #relax. #cuppa #canals #urbanexploration #london

A video posted by Essential Living (@essentiallivinghomes) on

Explainer Animation for Capgemini’s IDaaS

We created this animation that explains how to govern access to your enterprise data more securely. We based the idea around an airport, since this location enabled us to show the various elements of IDaaS through different parts of the airport journey. It’s going to be followed up by three shorts which highlight key features, which will be based on characters seen in this animation.