Last week LBB’s Paul Cooper spent two days at Craften Amsterdam, a new conference designed to bring together the very best of European production. Sitting in on panel discussions and case studies, and a very unusual speed-dating event, he has returned, brain bursting with new ideas. Paul shares his thoughts below.
Day One on Wednesday kicked off with Erik Verheijen, Director of Broadcast / Head of Production, from W+ K Amsterdam who presented on the use of integrated elements. He showed us how the various elements came together in their wonderful campaigns for Heineken. “The Date”, the second instalment of their global ‘Open Your World’ campaign, follows the Heineken Legend as he woos his girl on an epic date. This was followed by “The Legendary Making of The Date”, a tongue-in-cheek and very funny look behind the scenes on set, a 3 minute branded content which pulled the curtain back on the story both online and in broadcast.
We then had a case study from Jung Von Matt and Markenfilm Crossing on the development of an “invisible car” for Mercedes Benz in their “Invisible Drive” campaign. By wrapping a car in LEDs and projecting video of the street, recorded as the car drove by, the vehicle was rendered almost invisible. Bravely Mercedes had chosen to go with a spot that didn’t actually show the car itself, but concentrated on its environmental footprint instead.
The morning was rounded off by Steve Davis and Sean Singleton from the APA, who gave us a presentation featuring 20 tips on how to get more work.
After lunch the first two case studies explored the impact of shrinking budgets and the fact that clients are expecting bigger and better spots on shrinking budgets. RKCR Y&R and Partizan presented their “Flying in the Face of Ordinary” work for Virgin. A glamorous piece of work shot in Cape Town on a very tight schedule, it was an example of an agency and production company collaborating to create high quality work on a smaller budget than previous campaigns.
Neil Riley from Passion Pictures in London shared their “UK Stadium” work for the BBC. It was a job with an ever-evoling, spiralling brief and it was fascinating to see how Passion ran with it. The team faced the dilemma of either reign in what they had offered or to charge onwards all guns blazing, working exceedingly long hours with their artists offering more and more of their time in order to create something extraordinary. In the end, the fact that there would only ever be one chance to work on the London Olympics swung it for them. They decided to go above and beyond to produce something that they could be incredibly proud of.
From eyes to ears, the next discussion was a right earful. “The Sound of Craft” was a panel discussion featuring The Ambasadors, MassiveMusic and Sizzer. This was neatly followed by Tribal DDB and Stink Digital’s “Obsessed with Sound” work for Phillips, an interactive campaign that celebrated the individual artists behind every musical moment. The campaign allows people to isolate each player in an orchestra and listen to their contribution to the music.
Day One closed with a seminar on the highly successful Guardian film ‘Three Little Pigs’. Davud Karbassioun from BBH London, Chris Harrison from Rattling Stick and Ben Stallard from The Mill took us behind the scenes on the campaign. We heard how an intelligent and open minded client can make such a difference. Rattling Stick explained the difficulties of shooting big demonstration scenes in London directly after the rioting and unrest in the capital.
The evening began with some drinks at the venue before groups formed and everyone disappeared into Amsterdam for a night of eating, drinking and general merry making.
Day Two for LBB commenced with a large breakfast, a slightly sore head and a couple of Paracetamol before a leisurely stroll through the city to the riverfront venue. It must be noted that it was very thoughtful of the organisers to make sure that the sun was shining for both days of the festival.
Half of the morning was taken up by “Fresh Market”, a speed-dating session with a twist. Top European creatives, Heads of Integrated Production and Executive Producers came together to share new business opportunities with visiting production and post-companies. Each attendee was invited to have three 15 minutes meetings to share their best work and speak about their company with their potential clients, face to face.
Carl Grinter, director of production from Rushes post production in London had this to say on the Fresh Market and Craften in general: “The nature of production and post-production in commercials and content creation is becoming so diverse, and requires greater knowledge to manage the creative process within confines of budget and schedule. Because of that, the case studies and specialist conversations at Craften helped mark out the new frontiers ahead of us. The value of good conversations both on and off the stage will help us at Rushes build additional branches and networks to our business. The requirements we are being asked to accommodate in post-production particularly cross into all areas discussed and Craften enabled some fresh thoughts to emerge from other's experiences.”
Kerrie Finch from Finch Factor then moderated a panel discussion between Parasol Island, MediaMonks, Unit 9 and Bacon de Czar on “Digital Synergies”. The conversation explored how digital companies are at last getting involved in campaigns and projects earlier in the whole process with agencies and clients much earlier on and how that is benefitting all involved process with agencies and clients much earlier on and how that is benefitting all involved.
Each speaker shared their different views on how they preferred to work. Wesley Ter Haar from MediaMonks told us that they work only with agencies and not clients as they find that working directly with the clients takes too long. His take was that they find it easier to create partnerships with agencies rather than a number of separate brands. Stine Hein from Bacon de Czar, however, has found that they like to work directly with the client as so many brands are building themselves up from inside. Other interesting threads that came from this panel were that MediaMonks only hire established or young up and coming talent – no middle level staff – and that, although they work internationally, they still favour face-to-face for meetings which is why they have opened offices in different locations. Panel members also identified a growing brand migration away from Facebook as companies don’t want to be beholden to the strict guidelines they are forced to adhere to.
The last case study before we broke for lunch came from Myles Lord at Heimat Berlin and Maarten Boon at Minivegas on how the challenges of creating CNN’s “Ecosphere”, an incredibly technical job that involved illustrating tweets as plants as they develop in real-time conversations.
So with only an afternoon left the organisers still managed to squeeze in five more case studies to inform and entertain us. The Adidas Originals “Collider” work from Sid Lee and B-Reel was an online artist collaboration featuring team-ups between artists from a variety of backgrounds that can be viewed and interacted with here.
Johannes Ahlund and Lars Bjurman from B-Reel explained how they helped put together “The Beauty Inside” for Intel Toshiba, an involving example of branded content. Over six episodes, viewers can follow the life of a man, Alex, who looks different each day. The concept is that he's falling in love with the same woman who doesn't know he's the same man inside. People all around the world were able to interact and submit their films to become Alex.
Johnnie Frankel from Rattling Stick and Duncan Malcolm taught us how to build and populate an utterly convincing moving model village for Talk Talk with “Mobile Britain”.
Blink director Dougal Wilson and Jake Mengers from MPC seemed to revel in the spotlight, a great double act who gave us the most entertaining talk of the festival as they discussed the creation of “The Pony” for Three Mobile.
The final case came from David Green of BETC Paris and Yuki Sugar from Soixante Quinze, who illustrated how a bearskin rug can become a director in their “The Bear” spot for Canal+.
All in all a wonderful selection of work that highlighted how and why the craft of making commercials is still alive and well despite the shrinking budgets that all seem to be facing.
All that was left now was to board the boats provided by Bonkers that took us along the canals to an evening of music and booze supplied by the lovely chaps from MassiveMusic.
Of the event, Francisco Condorelli, CEO of Craften Europe and the Ciclope Festival said: “Craft should be celebrated and put in the spotlight, especially now that the technological revolution is making production companies more vital to agencies’ work. With Craften tickets selling out a week before the event actually took place, it’s evident that there’s a need for discussing the craft, and our festival offers a stage to do that.”