The Week at Cosmic Joke - 29th April 2024

The Week at Cosmic Joke - 29th April 2024

We can’t believe it’s the end of April already! It feels like spring hasn’t even sprung yet, but hopefully May will bring some better weather (especially because we have a bunch of outdoor activities and video productions coming up this month!)

As April draws to a close, we’ve been pulling together some projects that we’ve previously filmed that have a lot of focus on editing and post production, whilst also keeping busy on the video production side of things with an arty project that’s very close to home - literally!

So, as always, settle down and let’s dive into a look back on all of the videography shenanigans from the last week in Cosmic Joke land…

Face to Face: An Artist’s Video Portrait with Jude Wainwright

One of the best parts of our job is that we get to travel for work - we’ve been lucky enough to produce video content all over the world. But what about when you want to stay a little closer to home? Well, that’s what we got to do this week with a video production that only had a commute of about…10 feet?!

That’s right, we stuck very close to home with this one - creating a video portrait of local artist, Jude Wainwright, ahead of her upcoming solo exhibition, Face Off. Jude’s studio just so happens to be right across the way from us in our wonderful Manchester home, AWOL Studios.

Jude Wainwright artist sat in her studio with a window behind her
Our favourite artist, both in Manchester and the WORLD...Jude Wainwright, posing for her upcoming Face Off exhibition

Jude is a leading Manchester artist (and great friend of Cosmic Joke) who you may have seen gracing your screens recently as part of Sky’s Portrait Artist of The Year competition. This coming Friday 3rd May sees the opening of her brand new exhibition, Face Off at Saan 1, right here in Manchester. This leading exhibit, which features 20 new and unseen works, looks to be a key milestone in Jude’s work as an artist, as she pushes her boundaries into uncharted new realities. We had the absolute pleasure of producing a video for Jude this past week to showcase and promote this new exhibit, as well as her artistry in general.

The task at hand was relatively simple - we needed to highlight the upcoming exhibition and promote Jude’s work. There were, however, some considerations. For a start, we couldn’t really show any of Jude’s paintings as these are unseen works and the sole purpose of the exhibit is for people to come and experience these pieces, not just see them on a video. Then there was also the issue that the exhibit itself doesn’t exist yet, not in its final format in the gallery anyway, so we couldn’t be doing anything like a walkthrough video or a teaser video in the gallery space. So, what was our solution?

To figure out what kind of promotional video to create, we turned to Jude’s work for inspiration. Jude’s paintings are all self-portraits, depictions of her and her realities, so we decided to create our own portrait - a video portrait. This video would be an intimate look at Jude’s background and work to help people really connect to the artist and listen to the stories and inspiration behind the paintings. It would also be a great opportunity for people to gain access to, and a unique insight, into an artist and their world.

two cosmic joke camera operators filming jude wainwright sat in her studio at an easel
It was a privilege being welcomed into Jude's studio and filming her in her private and intimate space

The plan was to film Jude in her studio - in her own space, at the centre of everything, surrounded by her work. We would film a talking head interview of questions and answers that would allow Jude to discuss her work in a free form fashion, bringing her artistic journey to life in a way that would invite audiences into her inner workings.

We shot the talking head from two different angles at two different focal lengths, as we wanted a wide angle on one camera, to really showcase Jude’s studio and place her firmly in that space, whilst the other closer angle would allow for increased intimacy to match the subject matter. Lighting was kept simple and naturalistic so as not to detract from anything else. In addition to the talking head interview, we also filmed a video portrait in this setup, a literal moving portrait of Jude, to go with the more figurative ‘portrait’ that would be the edited video as a whole. For this moving portrait, we filmed at 100fps for a dreamy, slow motion feel.

Once the interview and portrait were wrapped, we spent some time shadowing Jude whilst she worked, focussing in particular on the small, intimate details of her work. This had a dual purpose; creatively, it matched the intimate nature of everything else in the edit, by showcasing the small, tiny details of the artistic process, whilst practically, it meant we didn’t need to focus on the paintings, which were deliberately being hidden ahead of the exhibit opening.

two cosmic joke camera operators filming jude wainwright painting in her studio
Not only did we film Jude discussing her work and exhibition, we were also able to film her actually at work

To be able to film in an artist’s inner sanctum is a privileged but daunting experience, but hopefully we did it justice! The final video was released earlier today and we were extremely excited to see it pull in thousands of views immediately, with countless positive comments and impressions across social media during the first few hours. We’re sure the exhibit will be a huge success and we’re hopeful that the final video portrait has helped to build even more of a hunger within the audience ahead of opening night. We’ll be there, champagne in hand, so expect a full report on that next week. And if you’d like to see the full video for yourself, then here it is:

New York, New York: The Journey - Corporate Video Production With a Difference

We’ve had a look at some video work closer to home, so now let’s head further afield and bring the travel and adventure back to our videography.

A dominant part of last week, from a video editing and post production perspective, has been working on an episode of a series we produce with Oliver James known as The Journey. This creative corporate video series is all about looking at senior figures within the business and telling the story of their ‘journey’ to this point in order to act as something of a roadmap or inspiration to others within the business. Teaser of a previous The Journey episode below...

What really sets this series apart from other corporate video production work is the extent to which we’re really able to invest creatively in the finished product, to really make it stand out as a high end, polished and engaging video. Oliver James understands that in the current, video saturated, visual market, it’s extremely important that your videos can hold their own against the legions of TikTok and Netflix. If you want your audience tuned in and engaged in what you’re saying, even if it’s an internal audience for a corporate video series, then the video quality needs to be right up there with the expectations of a modern audience. In other words, companies can no longer coast on sub-par videos that are stuffy and dry and lacking in production value.

Applying that logic to this particular video series, let's take a look at what we actually did from a video production perspective, and then specifically this week from a post production perspective.

The focus of this episode was the director of the New York office, so naturally, we had to shoot this video in New York City (it’s a tough job, we know!) So that’s exactly what we did last September when we were shooting over in America. Each episode of this series consists of a walk and talk between two members of the company - the subject and a host. This literal journey has a figurative journey mapped on to it throughout the on-camera conversation that tells the career history of the speaker. In this particular instance, we were following our subject on a glorified version of their daily commute from their home in Queens to the headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza in central Manhattan.

two men walking along a boardwalk with the manhattan skyline behind them
There are definitely worse places to film than in New York City, but it's even better when you get the skyline itself, courtesy of Long Island City

We filmed the journey on two cameras with gimbals in order to ensure we had fluid motion to match all of the walking. The two angles allowed us flexibility and options when it came to the edit. We had each of the speakers wearing concealed, wireless lav mics and a separate sound recorder working alongside the camera team. Already, this setup shows the commitment to production value and quality content. In addition to just capturing the walking and talking, we also spent an extra production day working around New York City, and the surrounding area, to capture a myriad of details and GVs (general views) to help sell the feeling of ‘place’. This video was all about geography and travel as a metaphor, so it was absolutely imperative that as part of the production, we created a sense of place.

All of the above factors also had a huge impact on the post production and editing process, which is what we’ve been focusing on in our Manchester post production office this last week. We wanted to create a video that feels like New York City because that’s where it was filmed. This means that we’ve been pulling together a tight, New York soundtrack and creating a suite of graphics and transitions that capture some quintessential New York City features like the subway.

text reading Oliver James the journey in the style of the new york city subway on a black background
We filmed in New York City, but we wanted to go one step further and make the whole video feel like NYC, even down to the text that you read!

New York is a city that has a distinct feel that’s been brought to life in film and video for generations and we wanted to make sure that our little video added to the tapestry. That’s why we also spent a lot of time this last week creating a full bespoke title sequence that looked and felt like New York, along with some designated sections that act like mini tours of the city to showcase some of the local highlights.

The edit work is still in progress - it’s a big video - but it’s proving to be a real showcase for what’s possible when you take a modern and fresh approach to corporate video production. Once everything is complete, we’ll have a more focussed and in-depth case study on here, but for now, you’ll just have to be content with the sneak peaks above and our word that it’s looking great!

Lightsaber Shots: Commercial Product Videography for Star Wars Day

This is just a quick dip into some recent commercial product videography and product photography ahead of this coming weekend’s Star Wars Day…because…we love Star Wars!

As a reader of this blog, you’ll know we’ve been working with The Cauldron (a magic themed cocktail bar chain and drinks brand) about once a month to create new videos to showcase their rotating, limited and seasonal menus. At its heart, this is commercial videography and product photography, but there’s always a twist because…they’re magic!
Last week, we spoke a little bit about the spring drinks menu that we’ve been shooting and editing, but today we’re going to look at something even cooler, because this weekend coming The Cauldron has a limited offering for Star Wars Day and we got to make a pretty cool promo video for it!

The product is a set of ‘lightsaber shots’ - bubbling tubes of alcohol that come in red, green and blue and we had a great time bringing them to life in video form! We recreated some Sci-Fi lighting by using a couple of LED light tubes in an orange colour that we hid within a couple of steel drip trays that were acting as the floor and walls of a spaceship. We added some dry ice too because…always add dry ice! All of this was filmed vertically, so it was quick and easy to get everything pulled together for social media.

a grid like cage with three coloured smoking shots of alcohol inside
How to elevate three shots on a small budget: all smoke and mirrors...literally!!

For post production, we dug into the low budget visual effects bucket and made a custom lightsaber video transition, as well as adding some lightning and the obligatory Star Wars soundtrack. It was a small video in scale, but it shows the power of some low budget visual effects work to really elevate a project - especially when that project is tied to something as creatively engaging as a science fiction masterpiece. Have a look at the video below and be prepared for next week because we’re working on something even more special and even more Star Wars for our own celebration of the franchise.

On The Socials - Earth Day!

Over on social media this past week, we took some time to look at our impact on the environment thanks to Earth Day. The film and video production industry can be a pretty gruelling place when it comes to the effect on the planet, as there’s a lot of travel and a lot of electricity in use, to name just a few factors. That’s why we partner with Ecologi to make sure that we’re a more climate action workforce that limits our impact on the environment, in order to make our planet a better place! We took to social media on Earth Day to share the fact that since partnering with Ecologi, we’ve managed to plant 1,225 trees and prevent the emission of 88.08 tonnes of Co2…and to encourage others to join us in doing the same.

Looking Ahead…

As mentioned above, we’ve got something special lined up for our own Star Wars Day celebrations. We’re also going to be heading back down south to The Cauldron to work on their next set of ever evolving and magical drinks for a couple of social media video shoots. We’ll be taking a look at how the opening of Jude’s Face to Face exhibition went down and maybe trying to squeeze in a bit of a bank holiday rest, with hopefully some better weather. See you same time, same place, next week!

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.