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When we officially ‘Beat Winter’ (and COVID) for Thames Water

23rd February 2021 by Rachel Toye & Steve Savory, CH Video 

The Brief 

Thames Water came to us with a fantastic brief. 

Produce online video content to encourage homeowners to be Winter ready with helpful tips on how to prepartheir houses. 

We know that any video being shared online needs to grab attention and retain it. And one of the best ways to do that is to use short clips with fast cuts that keep you watching. So, we instantly thought of director Edgar Wright’s work which we love – quickfire shots, crash zooms, moments of speed, and then moments of super-slow motion. Basically, a really fun and recognisable technique so we decided to aim for a similar style.

Our Idea

To represent the threat of Winter, we decided to use a simple visual cue of a solitary leaf falling from a treeWho doesn’t love a metaphor?!

Following that, we present three different people each in separate houses as they complete the 10 winter tip actions (e.g., bleeding radiators and insulating pipes) in the time it takes the leaf to hit the ground. Posing the question to the viewer, can YOU beat winter?

At the end of the video, there’s a sudden moment of ‘peril’ as the characters realise that they haven’t completed one…final…task. So, viewers are compelled to watch to the very end. A fast-paced music track and graphic captions help to drive the narrative across all three characters. 

Planning a COVID-secure shoot 

A shoot like this definitely keeps you on your toes.

We had just two days to film over 20 different scenes with three actors across two locations (phew!) whilst protecting the whole cast and crew against a global pandemic.  

This was one of the first major shoots we had during COVID, so there was even more to consider in thpre-planning stages to make it safe for everyone. For example, not only did our location need to have all the specific requirements for the storyboard it also had to be spacious enough to accommodate a crew of 12 safely. Ensuring we were able to maintain social distancing throughout the days of shooting  

Other things we did to ensure the set was COVID secure: 

  • Staggered arrival times to avoid a build-up of people 
  • Temperature checks on arrival  
  • Oneway system labelled on the floor throughout the location 
  • PPE and face masks worn by crew and cast when not in front of the camera 
  • All cast and crew bought their own lunch and drinks  
  • COVID safety briefing before filming started  

On Location 

Every shot was thoughtfully planned out in the storyboard (you’d expect nothing less!) and a discussion between the Director and Director of Photography the day before the shoot ensured that all of us were on the same page by the time we made it to set.

Working in a methodical order to minimise set changes, we approached each shot so that we were true to the storyboardBut sometimes you need to adapt to your environment. On this shoot, we needed to cover a set of large French doors with black cloth and fabricate piping around the side of the house to stay out of the gaze of the afternoon sun. 

Art Directors and a Grip worked ahead of the Director and D.O.P. to dress and light each setup in advance, as well as staying on hand for any quick adjustments once the camera was in place. 

COVID added an inevitable challenge but we ensured we had time to minimise people on set and practise all the necessary safety measures. Our Producer gave a short briefing at the start of each day to ensure everyone was aware of safety measures, sanitising stations and areas and facilities they should and shouldn’t use.  

After all location shots were filmed, the final part was to capture was the falling leaf. We set up the studio with a blue screen and a camera at 90° to experiment with some fishing line and super-glue (it’s all about the glamour!). With the lighting matched to our chosen stock clip, we got the shot we needed to kick-off the video. 

Into the Edit  

With our shots in the can, we were eager to jump straight into the edit. 

We started with the music track to set the rhythm of the cuts and help move the narrative along through the various scenes. With so much thought and work put into the pre-production, we quickly ended up on a cut we wanted and presented it to our clients for feedback. 

After a few small adjustments to tweak the videowe were ready to put the final touches in. Sound effects were added to bring to life the actions and accentuate key moments whilst a cinematic colour grade was crafted to add drama and a polish to the final product. 

We broke down the content into the following video deliverables:

75 second main creative video 

45 second cutdown of main video (which works better on social) 

5 x 15 second more detailed ‘explainer videos’ of the winter tips 

Watch the Main video 

Watch the ‘Cutdown video 

Watch the Detailed’ Winter Tips 

We’d love to take your brief and turn it into something wonderful. Drop us a line with your requirements and we’ll chat hello@ch-video.com 

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