With social distancing taking hold around the world, people are turning toward screens and machines now more than ever for connection, comfort and entertainment. Despite this unprecedented opportunity to connect directly with consumers through content, many brands feel hampered by those same social distancing policies, which limit their ability to produce content.
Whether stuck working at home or seeking a partner somewhere in the world who can safely secure a shooting location, there’s never been a more necessary time for speed, quality and value. Thankfully, even if mobility and personnel are seriously limited, you can still strategize around offering impactful content with just a single room, a single actor and a smart media plan, which was the recipe used for our Northgate Market Super Bowl campaign.
We’re confident that resourceful brands of any size can likewise generate high-quality content under great restraint, including at home. Below are just a handful of ways that they can do so, either by themselves or with the guidance of a creative and production partner.
Considerations for Shooting at Home
Livestreaming is a relatively simple alternative for brands seeking to build an authentic, transparent connection to those at home. In fact, TV broadcasters around the world have begun livestreaming their reportage from home offices, sometimes even with a pet in tow. While livestreaming is great for maintaining a connection with audiences, brands should pay special care toward having the necessary equipment setup—even for the simplest of livestreamed experiences.
Northgate Market took a minimal approach to shooting its campaign that, through a smart media plan, made added impact.
“Livestreaming has a lot better value than most people think,” says Lewis Smithingham, Director of Creative Solutions at MediaMonks. “But while people don’t need satellite, giant server farms or origin servers, it’s worth asking yourself: what happens if I lose my feed, if my kid kicks out my power cable, or the dishwasher blows a fuse?” Anticipating hiccups like these in a professional context becomes especially imperative given the fact that networks are under strain while millions of people work from home or stream content simultaneously.
Partnering with an influencer can mitigate some of these concerns: they offer that same penchant for authenticity and are well-experienced when it comes to connecting with fans at home. The more casual atmosphere of an influencer speaking directly to their close audience can also ease worry about a momentary loss of connection. In addition, content creators are adept at producing first-rate content at home without the need for having a director “on set” to achieve quality, having all of the equipment on-hand that they need.
And speaking of equipment for producing traditional video: while rental houses may still be open in some parts of the world, you can never be too certain when situations change overnight. This is where there’s still value in leaning on a global partner who can zero in and identify regions that safely and securely enable production.
We don't think anything is impossible. Any challenge is doable or fixable.
But a safer bet would be to simply use your smartphone, if nothing else is readily available. Their cameras have become so advanced that any flagship phone is likely to offer a professional-grade output. (If you don’t believe us, have a look at any of these films shot on smartphones.) That said, different teams using different devices can lead to compatibility issues; for example, some phones might be more difficult to export to post than others due to differences in file type or software compatibility.
Can’t Shoot Anything New? Easily Refresh Existing Assets Instead
This moment offers an opportunity for brands to really get creative and think more agile in terms of content production—and one of the simplest ways to do so is by refreshing or optimizing existing content in a way that quickly results in relevant assets at scale. We’ve taken a similar approach in transforming a handful of existing assets into a social awareness campaign that grew more effective week after week, using performance metrics to continually optimize and drill deeper into audience segments.
This same method could be incredibly useful for brands who must reassess a content strategy, optimizing it to better reach consumers at home via digital channels. When high-quality stock video is added to the mix, you can keep your creative content current by translating the brand narrative to different contexts with the footage available.
We used a cut-out animation technique to make a 360-degree video for Vans.
But a more unique way to refresh existing content and offer something new is through animation. There are a handful of different techniques used by our global animation team to produce animations for brands, two of which work well with existing assets: the cut-out technique, which animates flat assets and backgrounds, or 2D motion graphics. Both of these methods are highly scalable, adaptable and fast to produce, making it easier to squeeze value or quickly iterate new content when needed.
Innovate with Entirely New Ways to Shoot
Before social distancing, a lot of businesses balked at the thought of remote work—and most of them probably discovered they can remain just as productive from afar after all. The same can be said for shoots on set; consider having a production team—with minimal personnel to ensure regional safety regulations—overseen by your team via livestream, as if you were there in-person. A team distributed across the globe can help identify where and when these opportunities are possible, ensuring they’re executed with safety and security in mind.
Those with bigger expectations in mind can take a cue from game engines. “If I were a camera operator, I’d be learning how to operate a camera virtually,” says Smithingham. “Do an activation within an online game. There are ways around this and do shoots virtually; if you look at The Mandalorian, the whole thing was shot in one room. Brands can lean into that and do wild and crazy stuff.”
Content shot within a virtual space would certainly challenge brands to rethink their content production strategy. But it could also help them be seen as innovators—and become more relevant at a critical moment: interest in videogames has spiked in the past few weeks as a means of entertainment and gathering with friends virtually.
By marrying together a technical and creative mindset, brands can find the most effective and accessible solutions to generating content while working from home. “We don’t think anything is impossible,” says Smithingham. “From ensuring livestreams don’t miss a beat to connecting with content creators who have high-end tools in house already, any challenge is doable or fixable.”
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