Woo, we made it!
When you can chalk-up your first TV adverts as a video production company, you grow in stature. That feeling when you see your work in the ad break provides a wonderful realisation that as a creative team you’re most definitely on the right track!
Technically, our video production company created our first TV adverts in 2019. The experience was a good one overall, however, we didn’t have full ownership of the process and so that led to mixed results. For those of you who don’t know the process, making adverts for television is a trickier prospect for a video production company than a promo video for a website or for social media. There are additional steps to adhere to which add time and complexity to the process. The main one which sits at the centre of any TV advert lies with a body called Clearcast, who will effectively tell you whether your ad is suitable for TV audiences. As a video production company, we register and learn the Clearcast process, and then have to keep this at the heart of our approvals process throughout pre-production, production, post and delivery.
In January of 2021 we received an enquiry from online florist Prestige Flowers who were at the exciting stage of commissioning their very first TV ad. This would prove a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our ability to deliver the full production process, and if we were successful, it would firmly mark us out as a trustworthy video production company in this area. Our first step – as with all new project enquiries that come through – is to understand the needs of the client and formulate a working brief. That’s where I come in as Pocket Creatives’ Creative Director. My almost 20 years’ experience across broadcast, internal communications and corporate video gives me a great foundation to work from and, I like to think, plenty to offer our clients.
Those initial steps with a client is where I effectively ‘earn my money’, and is one of my largest professional contributions to a new project before handing over to the video production team. At this stage, I’m gathering information before formulating ideas and presenting them back to the client for selection. Our video production company works in a different way to how the competition might here: I start by flooding myself with as much project information as possible, as well as looking at the client’s brand guidelines, some of their past work as well as that of their competitors. I do this so that I can gain a better understanding of the market they operate in – and rather than looking to copy anyone else, I’m trying to find ways to deliver their message in a way that stands out notably from the competition. As a video production company, we work across so many different sectors that sometimes we have to become an instant expert in a given field – in this case, online flowers!
Once I have everything together, I’ll deliver an initial proposal to our client with a large number of idea ‘nuggets’ as I call them – a range off approaches our video production company could use to deliver the project, with an accompanying blurb on the reasoning behind these approaches, likely costs, and timelines. From here, I’d ask a client to select either one standout option or a shortlist that we can develop and take through to a more advanced stage. For Prestige Flowers, it was clear that they wanted something that was based around a human scene, telling a story and delivering their message in that way. That’s the benefit to working like this at the start – what I can’t easily do using other methods though is to gauge what a client really wants. I guess this is part of what you’d expect when commissioning an experienced video production company for your project.
At the next stage, the full creative approach is written up before it’s loosely approved at the client’s end and then we start to involve the video production team at ours. Now that a budget is approved and guide timelines are in place, everyone at our video production company can really get to work. We start the Clearcast process by submitting a script, and that will tell us whether there are likely to be any compliance challenges at an early stage. For the production team, we’ll be looking at actors, locations, etc. and will work to the smaller details in preparation for upcoming shoot.
Now, you remember the date we mentioned earlier? January 2021. Do you remember the uncertainty in the world at that time due to the challenges of COVID? In the UK, we had just emerged from a difficult Christmas, but as a business we remained positive, and we had been operating COVID Secure since the summer of 2020. The ups and downs of the next few months would still cause havoc – booking actors proved difficult, locations would appear and then be retracted – but everyone at our video production company (and especially the video production team itself) demonstrated great resilience in the face of each new challenge that was thrown at them.
The feedback that our video production company received from Clearcast was thankfully minimal: we had to ensure that any products shown on screen would be as accurate to those that a customer might buy as possible. Secondly, as we were shooting with a dog, we needed a vet on site to ensure the animal’s welfare. That’s a new one for us, but I love that the rules include one that obliges a video production company to consider the welfare of non-human talents too!
By the end of the pre-production process our video production company will have generated a mountain of paperwork and plans – from shot lists, to schedules, and beyond – and we’ve finally found the right location. Pocket Creatives have numerous location directories to use when finding the right space, and our video production company also keeps an in-house database of places that we’ve either used previously, or that we’ve earmarked for certain future projects. Finding the right location here has arguably been the hardest part of the overall production. We’ll also do a location recce so that we can review the space in person, taking everything into consideration, from how much physical space there is, whether the overall aesthetic is right and so on, and we’ll start to plan where camera positions and lighting would sit. Photos are taken from each part of the space so that we can easily communicate with our storyboard artist, who can then create her storyboard frames with accuracy. As a top quality video production company we know that getting this prepwork done right provides greater reassurance to the client before we get to the shooting day.
Last on our video production company‘s to-do list are props, make up and clothing, all of which are looked after by our Production Assistant, Maddy. It’s perhaps easier to understand now why budgets for a TV ad tend to be higher – as not only is there a greater amount of time required at all stages, but multiple people with different roles across the video production company need to collaborate and link together.
We can now move on to what any video production company worth their salt should see as the fun part – the shooting days!
The shoot would take place over 2 days, and with 3 cars of equipment arriving at the location, plus the forest of flowery products provided by Prestige, it’s all coming together nicely. The next aspect of note for shooting a TV advert is time. Television audiences are used to viewing in the highest possible quality, and that means every frame of our advert has to be perfect – hence the multiple cars of equipment and the need to spend 2 days capturing shots to fill just 30 seconds of finished video. It would be irresponsible for any video production company to put anything other than quality at the top of the priority list here, otherwise all you’re going to achieve is damaging your client’s appearance when their ad looks poor in comparison with others.
Lauren, our Production Director, would be taking the mantle of Director for this ad, with Haider, Richard and Ryan hands-on in camera, lighting and grip, plus an expanded team of production staff to oversee the smooth running of the project. The 2-day schedule allowed our expert video production company to organise and optimise the shooting order to fit the natural flow of each day, but we still had to shoot out of running order, which meant keeping a tight handle on continuity. Our video production company also makes sure that clients who are attending their shoot have monitors to view from, as it’s equally important for us all that they can sign shots off once they’re happy.
Our actors performed wonderfully, and our canine superstar was easy to manage. His vet guided our video production company on how to get the best from him, and would advise if he needed food, drink, or just some time out. Shooting closer to the summer meant keeping temperatures and sunlight under control for him too, as we didn’t want him overheating.
As this video production company knows only too well, from a technical standpoint what tends to get in the way of most shoots involving outdoor shots is the sun! We love the sun, of course we do, but it can be tough to shoot with. For consistency from one shot to the next, we need to balance the natural light whilst putting in artificial lighting into our scenes so that we have full control. Our outdoor shots would be a little more time consuming to complete due to the variation of harsh direct sunlight in some moments, and then diffused light as it dips behind the clouds. You actually find yourself cloud-spotting and estimating how long it might be until the next cloud moves out of the way! For outdoor shots a professional video production company can manage this somewhat with large diffuser boards, and sometimes we’ll even ‘overpower’ the natural lighting and replace the sun completely.
Once the shoot is complete our video production company gets started with post-production..
Having a storyboard for our editor to work from, plus his production notes, makes this an easier task to get going with compared to other types of video production. The most challenging aspect is actually keeping to an exact 30 seconds in duration. That tends to be around 13 shots of various lengths, including the end card with logo and branding. It’s never quite as easy as it seems at the storyboard stage, so we go through a process of refinement, nibbling frames and half seconds away until we have our best first draft to present to the client. There’s plenty of review time built in, and once we have something around 90% complete, we’ll upload this to Clearcast for their next level of approval. Again, were doing this early so that any feedback can be acted upon without it impacting the delivery schedule. Unless you’ve widely deviated from the agreed script however, you’d be expecting a good outcome from the Clearcast review.
Composed music has been written especially to go alongside this video, which is timed and completed once our video is at 100%, and what we’d call our final draft. As the music composer does what they do, we siphon off our video for the grade – if you don’t know, grading is like Photoshop for video. The exposure and colour balance are optimised before getting a ‘look’ – in our case, we open with nice and positive tones before dulling to match the somber mood in the middle, and then we’re back to being more vibrant at the end. The completed visuals are then married with the newly composed music, the end frame and clock are added before final delivery to Clearcast and upload to the broadcasters – at which point the ad is ready to go live. Along with every other video production company in the country, we have to be fully registered to be able to do this, and each broadcast upload carries a fee.
“The Pocket Creatives team have been fantastic! They went above and beyond to ensure we were happy with the end result. They are very responsive and have been a pleasure to work with. We are excited to continue with further projects! Special thanks to Steven, Lauren, Ryan, Haider and the rest of the team for all your hard work.”
Becky Poole, Prestige Flowers
It’s a lengthy process, but a wholly enjoyable and rewarding one, if you know what you’re doing and you remain attentive throughout. Delivery of TV adverts is almost like reaching the top step of the ladder for a video production company like Pocket Creatives, and receiving such wonderful feedback from our clients at Prestige Flowers (and numerous great audience reviews) just adds to the experience.
“As a team, we’ve loved working on this, as not only have we delivered a great product for our client, but this represents a huge milestone for us as a television production company. I’m very much looking forward to the next one!”
Lauren Hodge, Production Director
We have since completed our second TV ad for Prestige Flowers for Valentines Day, as well as a reversion of the 2021 advert for Mother’s Day in 2022. This gives huge value for money as the shelf life of their ads has effectively been extended with only a small additional outlay in budget.
As Creative Director, I’m immensely proud of what we’ve been able to deliver through our expert video production team, and when a video production company delivers on their promises as we feel we have here, it only helps to reassure the client even more. Our key drivers have always been to provide a balance of quality versus spend, all without ever sacrificing our quality of service.
If we can advise on help with your upcoming TV advert, or help you to understand the process in more detail, feel free to drop us an email.
Steven Mayatt, Creative Director
“Fun, innovative and unflappable. Pocket creatives are great to work with – whether it’s finding the perfect lighting for trifle to capturing GoPro footage on a whisk, they always approach every situation with a steady yet game-changing attitude. I see the whole team as trusted creative partners to make great content together.”
Kitty Aldis, River Group
“I have been working with Steven and the brilliant Pocket Creatives crew for 3 years – in fact since they started out. They have captured in excess of 100 recipes, produced 7 videos including 2 crowdfunding campaigns, their work, professionalism, and commitment to client satisfaction second to none. What’s more is how they have developed, evolved and grown in creativity, experience, and inspiration.
On a personal front the individuals in the team have to most wonderful personalities – an absolute joy to work with!”
Tanya Robertson-Lambert, Tanya’s Just Real
“I worked with Steven and his Pocket Creatives team to create a recipe video, and I couldn’t recommend their services enough! From the ideation stage, through to filming and editing the finished product, at every stage, the whole team were first-class, going above and beyond to create a compelling, high-quality recipe video that generated heaps of engagement. I would definitely work them again.”
Ben Cullen, OLIO