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Arts Case study Video

Launching the BBC Philharmonic’s 2019-20 season

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the BBC Philharmonic for a while, producing video content for their website and social media. This particular edit was for a more offline purpose, though: the launch of their 2019-20 season. They wanted to impress the opinion formers in attendance, not just with the orchestra’s playing but with its commitment to reaching new audiences in diverse and innovative ways.

To make the edit work, we needed a range of different media from the previous couple of years, which was a Herculean task for the BBC Phil team to gather together and then for me to comb through for shots that would work. And because the material was all shot by different people on different cameras, it was important that I got the colour grade right so that the video felt coherent.

Selecting the music for BBC Philharmonic video content is always tricky. It needs to be from the classical repertoire otherwise it feels off-brand. But because orchestral music is inherently a long-form medium, it’s difficult to find pieces that work for short digital video. The Philharmonic team left it up to me decide, and I ended up going with Beethoven – primarily the finale of his 9th symphony. Not only is Beethoven heavily featured in the orchestra’s 2019-20 season, his music also has the kind of energy and drama that I wanted the film to have. There are some crafty edits in there to make the timings work, but hopefully they’re not noticeable to the casual viewer.

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Arts Case study Video

Live music videos: Fourth Man on BBC Introducing

This trio of music videos was a pleasure to put together! I can’t wait to see how people react to them. They showcase the incredible work that a friend of mine has been doing, right at the start of his career as a solo artist, having worked as a music producer on several other people’s work.

A friend of mine, Joel Atkins, has been an exceptional music producer for many years. We’ve worked together before; when I worked on Blue Peter I hired him to record and produce my Letters Song featuring the three presenters and a children’s choir from Manchester. Joel is the guy playing drums in the video!

Joel recorded and produced the “Letters Song” that I wrote for Blue Peter.

These days, as well as his music producing career, Joel is a solo artist under the name Fourth Man. He was invited by Radio Lincolnshire to record a live set for BBC Introducing, and I was honoured when Joel asked me to come along and capture the session. He also enlisted the services of Daniel Brew on guitar and Michael Power on bass, two exceptional musicians trained at the Royal Northern College Music. They recorded three tracks altogether, all of which I edited into live music videos. The first, Ten, was released at the end of June in line with the BBC Introducing broadcast.

Joel’s music combines real instruments with synths and samples, so there was a fair bit of work on Joel’s part to make the tracks work live. I think you’ll agree, though, that he and his band absolutely nailed it. I’m excited to see where Fourth Man goes from here.

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Arts Case study Video

Why the BBC Philharmonic wants concert-goers to use their phones

The new Notes web app by the BBC Philharmonic seems like such a simple idea, and yet it’s completely revolutionary. During the concert, audience members can access a web page where they’ll get live programme notes beamed straight to their device, triggered at the relevant moment.

Ellie and I road-tested the tool a few months ago, before I shot this promo video, and we were absolutely blown away. I’m a cellist, and love hearing live orchestral music, but I’m the first to admit that I really struggle at times to concentrate on long-form pieces of music. I’ve even been known to fall asleep, and sometimes even snore. This didn’t happen once while using Notes, though. It gave me little digestible insights throughout each piece so that I stayed focused and fully engaged with what was happening musically.

You’d think it would be distracting, but counter-intuitively it’s less distracting (to me, anyway) than people flicking through paper programmes. Most phone screens dim automatically in low light, and the simple design involves nothing but white text on a black background. As an added bonus, the text is fairly large so it’s much easier to read in the dark than tiny printed type. And to be doubly sure there are no complaints, there are dedicated areas in the concert hall for using the Notes web app, out of sight from the rest of the audience.

The promo video was more challenging to shoot than it should have been, as we didn’t realise I wouldn’t be able to move around during the concert! There’s nothing like harsh restrictions to get the creative juices flowing, though, and I set to work finding some interesting angles from which I could capture people using their phones.

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Arts Case study Video

BBC Contains Strong Language

Event videography is always great fun, especially when the event is one you’d want to go to anyway. That is absolutely the case with the BBC’s Contains Strong Language, a poetry and spoken word festival that takes over Hull each year in September. I got to film a wide range of events featuring everyone from Manchester’s future stars Young Identity to the award-winning Joseph Coelho to big hitters like Jessica Hynes and Mark Heap. My shots were used by Kirstie Henderson from Brave Day Films in the highlights reel below. Enjoy!

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Arts Charity Video

Music for veterans

This was a lovely project to work on with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. They took a small ensemble to Broughton House, a nursing home in Salford for military veterans, and put on a concert for them. They had also invited the residents to an upcoming concert marking 100 years since the Armistice, but not everyone was well enough to make it.

The band played classical hits, jazzy numbers and war-time favourites, and the audience loved it. My job was to capture highlights and edit them for the orchestra’s Facebook page.

This is also the first outing of a new suite of video templates I built for the orchestra, whose digital and marketing teams create a lot of digital video content themselves. The goal was to create simple animated text graphics that would be easy to use in Premiere Pro, so I used Adobe’s new Motion Graphics Templates tool. The tool is still a work in progress, but it’s a great way of making templated graphics that users can simply drag and drop into their timeline. Let us know if branded graphics like these are something your online platforms could benefit from.

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Arts Video

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Mark Simpson playing clarinet with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

We’re really excited to be partnering with the BBC Phil over their coming season, creating several pieces of video content for their social media accounts. To begin with, they asked us to come along to one of their Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. They needed an interview to be uploaded to Facebook as soon as possible on the day of their concert, to help promote the radio broadcast. We turned this around in a couple of hours.

You can watch the video on the BBC Philharmonic’s Facebook page.

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Arts Video

Our first music video

Strings Attached are an acoustic wedding band/string quartet hybrid, based in Manchester. They’re part of a wider collective of bands called Good Indeed Music, who asked us to create a music video for a new Strings Attached medley. The plan was to make it feel like a live performance and to help potential clients visualise the band playing at their wedding. We shot it with one camera at the beautiful Church of St Wilfrid in Northenden, Manchester. Have a listen, see what you think!

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Arts Other creative projects Video

Reykjavík to Hull: A tale of two cities

Reykjavík to Hull: A tale of two cities

I’m really proud of this film, which I wrote, directed, shot and edited. Iceland has a huge number of cultural links with Hull, which are being celebrated during its City of Culture year. I headed up to Reykjavík with a small but perfectly formed team (Kofi Smiles and Martha Mangan) to explore these connections.

This VT was one of several I’ve been making for a series of half-hour features called Britain’s City of Culture, produced by the local Look North team for BBC News Channel. This episode, as well as being shown on the News Channel several times, went out on BBC One in Yorkshire and BBC World News.

bbc.co.uk/programmes/p050psm5