The Week at Cosmic Joke - 11th March 2024

The Week at Cosmic Joke - 11th March 2024

We’re well into March already and as we rush towards spring, we’re really starting to ramp up production on all manner of video projects. March is always a busy time for us and this year is no exception, with lots of work to create around upcoming holidays and celebrations, like International Women’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Easter.

We were back down in London this week, shooting for our friends at The Cauldron - helping with their social media video assets for new menu items. We also created all of the International Women’s Day video edits for one of our corporate clients, along with also hosting our own photoshoot with the one and only BARBIE, in order to discuss women in film and video production.

So, let’s dive in…

International Women’s Day in Film & Video Production

This past Friday was International Women’s Day, which is a really important day for us over at Cosmic Joke, with 50% of the company ownership being female. We try to demarcate the day each year in a different way, and use it as a springboard to explore gender issues in our industry of film and video production. For this year’s visuals, we didn’t need to look far for inspiration. To tie in with the release, and global domination, of the Barbie movie, Mattel has released a line of Barbie dolls that showcase women working in film production as their ‘career of the year’ range. This presented us with a perfect opportunity to create some fun visuals that were very on brand for us (we’re big kids!), whilst also being able to deliver a powerful message in an approachable way.

So what did we do? Well…we bought the set of Barbies and had a photoshoot, that’s what!  We decided to photograph each of the role-specific Barbies with paraphernalia from our office and studio that tied in with their respective job role. It was a fun way of relating the idealised job role of Barbie’s world into something more recognisable and functional for us. We were able to pair these images with specific stats relating to gender equality for that particular job role.

4 barbie dolls with text on screen reading international women's day 2024
Barbie's 'Career of the Year' 2024 - Women in Film and they're amazing!

Whilst only a small ‘social media campaign’, it was really successful for us and generated a lot of engagement. It’s important when planning these visual social media campaigns to make sure that you’re delivering your message in a clear but attention grabbing way. This is something that we work on a lot with our clients and it’s always fun to put it into practice for ourselves. The use of the Barbie dolls was such a fun way to highlight a very serious issue, and rather than come off as flippant, we feel that this approach enabled us to communicate with people on a more approachable level. If you’re failing to catch and hold people’s attention, then you’re failing to communicate any message to them, whatever it may be.

a barbie doll holding a plastic camera with a camera and lens behind her in the background. The stat information explains how there are only 7% of female cinematographers in the top 250 grossing films
Working with the Barbies was a lot of fun, but they did also highlight that the numbers of actual women in film are very low.

As for the message itself, when it comes to gender equality and equity in film and video production, we still clearly have a long way to go. What’s clear from the statistics is that we need a shift in attitude towards women in film and tv production: from how we train and hire, right through to how we watch media and engage with video content. We like the tie-in with Barbie because it gets to what we believe to be the heart of the issue, which is that there aren’t enough girls and women believing they can have a role in film and video production from early ages. Barbie says that you can be whoever you want to be and it’s time we all started working towards showing younger generations that if who they want to be involved in film or video production, then it’s possible!

Bringing International Women’s Day to Life for our Clients

International Women’s Day is a big day for sharing important messages and inspirational stories, so it’s no surprise that along with our own photoshoot, we were also creating plenty of International Women’s Day video content for our clients.

As we spoke about in the previous blog, we were in-house with Oliver James last week, shooting their International Women’s Day video content. This week, we’ve been focussing on packaging this up as finished, edited products and it’s been quite labour-intensive when it comes to motion graphics work.

Rather than our approach to IWD, which focussed on exploring issues within our industry, this video content was specifically focused on what is happening internally within the business. As a result, a key message that we took for the visual side of things was accountability, namely that internally the company is working towards equality and equity, alongside the actual aims and objectives of the International Women’s Day movement. So whilst the majority of the video production work of this project was talking heads, we knew that we needed to elevate it in post production somehow to really bring home the framework of the message.

a female employee sat looking into camera with a busy office background
Key female employees delivered the corporate message for IWD 2024, so we made the talking heads as clean and engaging as possible to help the message cut through.

Our solution was to base the edit around the actual International Women’s Day website. We decided that if we had a visual focus on the content of the website, it would reinforce the concrete messaging, goals and aims that were coming out of the IWD movement in a relatable way. It would show people that these goals and objectives actually were set out as they are and not just being ad-libbed or rehashed to match the internal objectives of the company. In short, it added visual accountability and legitimacy to the video as a whole. The added extra was also that it provided plenty of visual interest to keep the edit engaging and fun to watch.

In terms of what we actually did, we had to create a replica Windows desktop from scratch, using a combination of Photoshop, After Effects and various other visual effects tricks of the trade. We were able to use this replica desktop to showcase the video content and make innovative use of picture in picture, to bring to life various graphics and to highlight in text some of the key messaging. When it came to showcasing the actual International Women’s Day website, unfortunately, the screen recording of the website from a browser was in too low a resolution, so this also had to be created from scratch, like for like. The added benefit of this was that it allowed us to further enhance the imagery of the website and bring it to life in a more interesting way.

a windows desktop screen with two videos playing of two different females
Whilst it was a labour-intensive process of building a desktop from scratch, it was a great way to showcase Picture in Picture in a fun and unique way.

Overall, this video was another great example of how using visual effects in corporate video can give you a really interesting and dynamic finished product. When it comes to corporate video, it’s often seen as boring and dry, the challenge is always to shatter that myth and create video content that can match the expectations of a modern audience - visual effects work is just one way to do that. Along with all of the visual effects and motion graphics, we did also some light branding work for this corporate video project - establishing a ‘look’ for how Oliver James was visually presenting IWD, mixing the purple colour scheme of IWD with OJ’s own branding to create something unique that felt like a strong campaign aesthetic for the day. It was great to follow along on social media, as the various offices around the world celebrated IWD 2024, and see our branding and video work in action.

a company logo combined with the branding of IWD to create a bespoke graphic
Finding new ways to keep on brand and go off-brand is a fun way to flex our graphic design muscles for clients - and it was great to see it being used in their IWD content across the globe!

Sticking with IWD and video production, we also bolted on some IWD 2024 shooting to our trip down south with The Cauldron. Originally booked as a video shoot for upcoming spring drinks content, we were also able to capture their new International Women’s Day menu that is running throughout March. We really enjoy product photography and videography and we’ve really enjoyed elevating that content through our work with The Cauldron this year - and this shoot was no different.

a group of cocktails with text reading international women's day for the cauldron pub
Shooting entirely portrait for a group of cocktails was a new challenge that we embraced...we learnt a lot about placement and keeping it interesting when it's not traditionally the most attractive way to shoot products!

The idea behind the menu was a great one, a series of drinks designed by female bartenders from the different Cauldron venues around the world. Our job was to capture product videography and photography, of each drink individually, and the whole menu together. The challenging part of that was the turnaround time - we had less than 24 hours to carry out the shoot and get the various videos and photos out on social media. This is one of the real benefits of having a designated post production facility in Manchester - we were able to shoot all of the content we needed on location and transfer it back to the post production team to begin working on it immediately. All of the video content and product photography was signed off and delivered before we’d even left the venue...perfect! So if you’re looking for last minute, quick turnaround video production, then you know where to go!

a cocktail with the name unladylike and the name of the creator and where they are from. There are flowers soft in the background.
Great to see female mixologists taking centre stage for IWD at The Cauldron...and great to taste all their creations too!

As for the production day itself, we had expert bartenders and mixologists on hand to prepare all of the drinks, so all we needed to do was concentrate on the lighting and set dressing, with some help from the uber talented production designer at The Cauldron. We went with a floral theme, as it best visually represented the purple hue that’s associated with International Women’s Day. Other than that, we kept it simple and allowed the drinks to do the talking - a little bit of uplighting helped to make them look extra special. We also committed to shooting all of this content vertically, so it could be immediately released on to social media in the most clickable, bingeable format. This is something we’ll talk about more next week, when we focus on a deeper dive into this shoot but for now, all you need to know is…we bought some new toys…

a camera with a monitor that shows a cocktail being filmed in a dressed space
When filming vertically, you improvise with your kit! A quick and easy way to check that everything being filmed still works in the space.

Commercial Videography Showreel

Now for a quick focus on our commercial videography work, as we completed a new showreel this work to advertise our skills at…well, advertising! Without further ado, here’s the reel in all its glory:

We absolutely LOVE this showreel, as it really showcases how far we’ve come with commercial video production over the last few years. There are tonnes of our favourite video projects on display here, from fashion to food and beverage to retail. As the year is getting busier, and we begin to ramp up video production in a variety of different areas, we’re hoping to continue growing our commercial portfolio, so if you’re looking for any kind of video advertising, product videography or commercial production, then check out our services and give us a holla!

On the Socials

We’ve covered off most of our social media content this week already with our strong focus on International Women’s Day and pushing new aspects of the website and showreels. If you head to our Instagram page this evening though, you’ll be able to find a fun look behind the scenes of our Barbie photoshoot, which is definitely going to be worth checking out! We’ll also be using social media for a trip down memory lane this week, reliving our trip to Texas this time last year to film The Hara at SxSW and then exploring Austin and beyond with Oliver James. Lots of good content to look forward to, including some never before seen bits and pieces….

Looking Ahead…

Looking ahead to this week, as well as taking a trip down Texan memory lane, we’ll also be back in with Oliver James creating more creative corporate video content, whilst also firing up the post production conveyor belt to deliver all of our spring menu assets for The Cauldron. Additionally, we’ve got some custom logo animation work going down, an invitation to test out some new lenses AND we’ll be drinking plenty of Guinness, as we create some fun St Patrick’s Day video content.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post by accident, or like what you’ve read and want to know more about us, then we’re Cosmic Joke, a film and video production company based in Manchester. We specialise in music videos, live event filming, commercials and bespoke branded visuals. We create engaging short form and feature length film content that has screened around the world and you can learn more about everything we do here.