The Week at Cosmic Joke - 18th Mar 2024

The Week at Cosmic Joke - 18th Mar 2024

We’re going to cut to the chase…we love a Guinness in the Cosmic Joke office, and we love St Patrick’s Day. Both of these are going to feature heavily in this blog post, so be prepared! Hopefully you found the time to celebrate yesterday with a drink or two, but aren’t approaching the week with too sore a head this morning. We celebrated St Patrick’s Day apart this year, for the second year in a row!! But we made sure to enjoy a drink together before some of us had to jet off.

In amongst all of the partying, it’s been another busy week with a bit of corporate video production, a low budget commercial and plenty of post production, as always. There were some interesting new features to a lot of our video productions these past few weeks so there’ll be some new production features to look into here, along with the usuals. Let’s dive in…

St Patrick’s Day at The Cauldron - Shooting Vertical Video

We talked in last week’s blog about our recent video production with The Cauldron. These shoots are becoming fun, regular features of our production calendar, as The Cauldron bolsters their business model with more of a social media marketing strategy, based around very regular social media video releases and an ever changing menu tied to hashtag holidays and trends. We’ve covered a few of these shoots already this year and last week, we spoke about their special International Women’s Day Menu and how we created some promo video content for that.

This week, we’re taking a look at that same shoot in a bit more detail, as it contained one key element for us - we shot the whole production vertically. That’s right, we committed to capturing all of the content for the new IWD and St Patrick’s Day menu vertically and not in widescreen at all. This was our first time shooting dedicated vertical video and it was an interesting experience to say the least.

a group of st Patricksday themed cocktails on a table with some props  around them
It's always fun to dress cocktail scenes, but the theming for St Paddy's Day is both abundant and colourful!

Before going into the details of the production, it’s probably a good idea to ask ‘Why would you shoot vertical video?’ or ‘What are the benefits of shooting vertical video?

The benefits of shooting vertical video really lie in why vertical video is required as part of a social media marketing strategy in the first place. And the answer to that is that Instagram seemingly favours vertical video from an algorithmic perspective i.e. If your video is vertical and not widescreen, then it’s going to be shown to more people. This, of course, is based all around people watching video content, especially social media marketing content, on phones. You can watch widescreen videos on phones and many people do (we do!) but regardless, if you’re marketing yourself through social media, you’re going to want your videos to be seen and if that’s more likely when they’re vertical, then vertical video it is. The Cauldron is committed to marketing through social media, which makes sense, as a fresh and exciting cocktail experience, so this time, we all agreed that we’d stick to vertical video.

So, back to the original question: ‘What are the benefits of shooting vertical video?’ We’ve covered why vertical video assets are required, so let’s take a quick look at our previous workflow. Previously, we’ve been shooting all of The Cauldron’s video content widescreen, as is natively intended by the camera. This has a few benefits such as all of our kit is designed for shooting widescreen images and there are still plenty of uses for widescreen video content such as on websites or on YouTube and Vimeo.

In the past we’ve taken this widescreen content and, if required for social media, we’ve conformed it to be vertical by changing the frame dimensions in post production. We were experiencing problems, however, because there was always something of a gamble with how content would look when it was intended for widescreen and was now being forced into vertical video. Similarly, the footage was degrading slightly because we needed to expand the height of the video to match the vertical requirements so we were effectively upscaling beyond the native pixels that were captured. To counteract these issues, and with The Cauldron doubling down on their commitment to marketing with vertical video assets, we took the plunge, invested in new video production equipment to facilitate vertical video shooting and carried out this whole shoot capturing vertical video only.

close up on a piece of camera kit for vertical video filming that is circular shaped, soft in the background is a member of cosmic joke holding it
It may not look like much, but this cheeky piece of kit allows you to do versatile, vertical filming on the fly!

We shoot most of our social media video content on Sony A7SIIIs, which are super versatile cameras. They allow you to natively shoot vertical 4K video by turning the camera portrait - so that’s already a great start. But what about grip? What about tripods and gimbals and rigging?

This was our issue ahead of shooting this entire promo in vertical video. How do you shoot vertical video on a Sony A7SIII when you still need high end footage and plenty of control in the video production? We bought two key pieces of kit to make this possible and they were really easy to get hold of from Amazon. We bought a vertical video switching plate for shooting vertical video on tripods and we bought a vertical camera mount for our DJI Ronin RS3. Both of these pieces of kit were super cost effective and did the job well, so if you’re considering picking them up, go for it.

a ronin handheld gib on a table with a camera mounted in, set up ready to film vertically for social media content
Slightly more complicated, this set up requires more time for setting up and balancing, but ultimately it's worth it!

From there, we approached the shoot in mostly the same way. We needed to shoot each drink from the menu individually, as well as capturing content of the assembled menu as a whole. We did the usual set dressing and built small scenes to sell the narrative element of each drink. In this instance, it was all about capturing the party atmosphere of St Patrick’s Day - and when the client is called The Cauldron, you know you have to include a pot of gold. The big change here, with shooting all of this vertical video content, was that we now needed to think vertically when it came to set dressing. It was an interesting experience working with an image that was so much taller than usual and we found ourselves employing different strategies when it came to set dressing and art direction, such as elevating drinks, hanging banners and decorations from the ceiling etc. It was incredibly helpful, however, to know that you were shooting the image that would actually be seen and make it into the video - the guesswork of conforming video clips to vertical frames in post production was completely eradicated.

the back of a camera is in focus, showing the scene that it's filming - a collection of cocktails on a table with a colourful backdrop
A new challenge for Cosmic Joke - filming everything vertically - was ultimately a success and opened up new adventures for different frame sizing and how to approach it!

Overall, the shoot was a big success - it’s probably some of the best work we’ve created for The Cauldron in recent months and that has definitely been aided by natively shooting vertical video. The video assets were exactly as intended and the footage really holds up with no compression from scaling. There were some extra production elements to handle when it came to rigging everything in place and there is definitely a learning curve to managing a production where all of the video content is being captured vertically, but the benefits of the experience far outweigh the negatives.

Is widescreen video dead? Absolutely not, we still much prefer a widescreen video image and shooting widescreen as a production experience, but if you know with certainty that you need vertical video assets, then we would recommend shooting your project natively as vertical video based on this experience. You can see the results for yourself over on The Cauldron’s social channels and their St Patrick’s Day menu is available all of March, so if you like what you see, then why not head in for a tipple and tell them we sent you?!

Low Budget Guinness Commercial - Shooting With a Laowa Periprobe

Now one thing you’re probably noticing from The Cauldron’s menu is no Guinness! Well, they are a cocktail bar after all, but don’t worry, if you’re looking for some St Patrick’s Day video content that involves Guinness, then we’ve got you covered.

Late last week, we shot a promo for The Font (a local Manchester bar) to give them a marketing boost ahead of St Patrick’s Day weekend. When it comes to St Patrick’s Day, it’s a huge advantage as a bar if you serve Guinness, so our task was simple - make sure that people know The Font serves Guinness, and good Guinness at that! We’ve always been huge admirers of the advertising work that Guinness has done, so we thought rather than make a bog standard video promo for a bar, let’s try and make a high-end Guinness commercial (on a miniscule, tiny, fraction of the budget.)

This was a really fun shoot! We love a production challenge and getting creative with available resources, so when it came to crafting this low budget commercial, we really had to open up our box of filmmaking tips and tricks to shoot something that had the wow factor. It was also a great learning experience.

a man and a woman are stood behind a bar, filming a pint of Guinness being poured - the girl is holding a light to light up the shot being filmed
A small Cosmic Joke commercial crew means all hands on deck...which means more Guinness to go round afterwards!

When you think of Guinness advertising, you think of all of the incredible, attention grabbing black and white, filming commercials from the 90s. But you also think of the slow motion bubbles, the liquid ribbons, as the black stuff settles or the velvety, creamy white head forms on the top. It’s all of the luxurious details that have helped to make Guinness the stout juggernaut that it is - and it’s exactly those details that we decided to focus on.

We decided to build the ad around the sights and sounds that make the pouring and drinking of Guinness what it is. To bring these details to life, we decided to use a macro probe lens - specifically a Laowa Periprobe. This was our first time using this lens and it was an absolutely insane piece of kit. It allowed us to elevate our macro photography to the next level, and the probe element enabled us to get right inside a pint of Guinness - artistically, but also literally! There was quite a steep learning curve when getting to grips with what’s possible with this lens. This mostly arose from the new perspectives that it offered - for example we didn’t really know what the inside of a Guinness pint glass looked like until we got in there with the probe!

a long lens is attached to camera and is pointing at a half full pint of Guinness, behinda bar
Using the Laowa Periprobe means you can get up and close and very personal with shots that would otherwise be impossible and it adds a little extra sauce and quality to commercial filming!

It was one of the longest ‘production time to shot length’ shoots that we’ve done in a long time, but that’s the nature of commercial videography - spending a long time to get perfect shots of products. You can see the full results of the ad below, which might be really useful if you’re looking for example footage of a Laowa periprobe in action - if you’re interested in knowing more about the lens, or having us get inside one of your pint glasses for a bit of commercial videography, then let us know!

On the socials - Remembering Live Music Filming at SxSW

Similar to our stomachs, the socials this week have mostly been full of Guinness, or other leprechaun related cocktails. If you specifically want to see what our Guinness drinking capabilities are like, then we released an epic ‘splitting the G’ contest on St Patrick’s Day itself. As we mentioned above, you can see it here if you missed it.

a female stood in the foreground of an office scene that has been setup for filming. There is a male in the background that is being filmed for a corporate message video
Just a sneak peak at what we look like when we're being serious at work and NOT just drinking/filming Guinness...

Elsewhere, we had another corporate video shoot with Oliver James this week and we released a little BTS sneak peak of that. We also took a trip down memory lane back to shooting in Texas this time last year, specifically at SxSW festival and filming a couple of music showcases. As we’ve talked about (a lot!), we love filming live music and doing live music videography, so it’s always nice to reflect on a big opportunity that we’ve had to do that. We’re going to be delving into more of our Texan content and some travel videography over the next few weeks - it was a big trip with a lot of shooting, so there’s plenty to see! But in the meantime, you can see that specific live music recap here.

Looking ahead…

Next week, the majority of us are taking a quick break before a busy spring. We’ll be out of the country on our travels, so whilst work will continue back in our Manchester post production office, there won’t be as much happening out on the road with various video productions. As a result, there’ll be plenty happening on the social media side of things, but there’ll be a week off from the regular blog - expect a bumper edition to enjoy after your Easter break!

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.