Animating When We Can't Film

August 28, 2020

Why Filming is Currently Difficult

I’m sure many video production companies will be facing the same challenge: most of their filming work has been postponed or cancelled due to the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Every business has been affected by this in some way and for many the effects will take much longer to get back to normal that others.  For us at Urbane Media we face the challenge of having plenty of upcoming work, but for now, many of the locations we need to visit won’t allow non-essential people on site so we can’t carry out the filming.  Many people are also hesitant to proceed with filming due to the risk of their video looking dated as people will have to be physically distanced or wear face coverings on camera.  To get around some of these challenges we have been pitching the idea of using animation a lot more than usual.  A lot of our animation projects in the past have been fairly technical pieces showing how technologies work or introducing conceptual ideas to potentially interested parties.  Over the past months, however, we have been increasing our use of animation in situations where we would usually film.  Initially we did this because it allowed us to continue to produce content for our clients and keep work flowing through the business, but it has actually given us the opportunity to explore ideas and create things that we would have never managed to by filming.

For this piece I am going to reference the recent animation that we created for The Square (a pub and restaurant located in Kintore, Aberdeenshire)who we had produced several videos for in the past, but never using animation.

The Purpose of the Video

The initial discussion around what was going to be a filmed video, identified that The Square wanted to put something out to its customers informing them of the rules they would have to follow when the premises was allowed to reopen in Phase 2 of Scotland’s lock down lift. The first plan we had was to use a member of staff from The Square and film them following the rules and explaining what was expected from the customers.  This seemed like an OK idea,but both parties felt it was restrictive and that there was a better way we could communicate the new rules to the customers.  

Deciding Upon Animation

After some discussion there was a comment from the owner of The Square along the lines of “It’s a shame we couldn’t get Nicola Sturgeon to present this video, since she’s been telling us all what the rules are for the past few months.”  This flicked a light switch in our heads and suddenly the only option we were considering for the video was animation.  Animation is limitless. Using it meant we could have Nicola Sturgeon present the video and it also allowed us to mix visual elements together in a way we couldn’t have done as effectively by filming.  Within a day we had the script written and a sample of what we could create that represented Nicola Sturgeon, but there was one thing missing. We weren’t going to get Nicola Sturgeon to voice the character, and we also wanted to inject an element of comedy into the delivery so that the audience would pay attention to the messages.  Fortunately for us the videos that comedian Janey Godley had been creating for social media had become very popular, particularly the ones where she was speaking over Nicola Sturgeon’s daily coronavirus updates.  It was something that would perfectly fit our animation as well as being recognisable to most of the people who would watch it. After a short discussion with Janey Godley’s management about our idea and what we wanted to achieve with it, we had our voice.