Earlier this year we took on the task of creating a brand film for one of Europe’s largest pillow and duvet manufacturers; John Cotton. The purpose of the video was to celebrate the first 100 years of their family business and to promote where they are today. We worked alongside Pen & Ink publishing, who were creating the Centenary Book, to develop the concept and to storyboard the film.
Weather and early mornings aside, we had a really successful shoot on location up in Huddersfield and we were joined by a great team. Along with myself and Sam, we had Jim operating a second camera and Ben from Pen & Ink, who was helping to manage the project.
When it came to the editing stage, we had a clear idea of how we wanted the overall video to look, but there were lots of different elements that we had to nail in order for the final product to be cohesive and impactful. Right from the beginning of the project we were really keen to engage the audience immediately with a striking intro; honing in on the factory mechanics and setting the rhythm for the video.
We decided to begin the film's journey with a really close look at the core of the John Cotton production process. We collected a range of mechanical macro shots from around the factory floors and focused on as many different textures, looks and sounds as we could find. Using the best of these shots, we carefully crafted sound around the visuals in order to build up a mechanical sequence and create the basic rhythm and backbone to the music bed. You can hear a clip of the sound recording below -
Believe it or not, most of what you hear in that clip has come from a typewriter! We had to re-record all of the sound effects in a studio for a number of reasons. Firstly, as we only took a small team to the shoot (we didn’t have the budget or time to bring along a sound recordist) and, as our shot list was already manic, we weren't able to record any proper audio on location ourselves. Secondly, the sound that our cameras did pick up on site was effectively white noise - hundreds of different machines, fans, lorries, forklifts, people talking etc. - so it was impossible to hone in on the specific sounds that we wanted to capture.
We really wanted to emphasise the 'macro feel' and get right up close with our sound design. It became a bit of an obsession for a few weeks running up to the recording - Sam was constantly tapping on things and trying to think of as many ways to re-create specific sounds. We had a very clear idea in our minds about how we wanted the sound to feel and how it would form a rhythm but it was a challenge to find objects that felt real. As mentioned above, we predominantly used a 1920's typewriter 'performed' in various ways and manipulated in post to create the bulk of the mechanical sounds. We also recorded a domestic hoover for the suction sound effects and the opening of a car boot to capture some hydraulic sounds. If you haven't ever seen how it's done by the pro's, check out these videos:
John Cotton were really keen to include an element of their history to inform viewers of their family heritage and how they got to where they are today. When it came to creating this element of the film, we knew it was important that we find a way to convey their proud history with flare and finesse without letting the facts and dates slow the pace of the video, rendering it boring. After playing around with a few different animation ideas we decided to present a super quick overview of the last 100 years in an old school 'cine-film' projector style which we designed and created in After Effects.
The rest of the video fell into place quite nicely once we had established the feel and the style of the film. We built up a collection of happy, active staff shots from all areas of the business - from the factory floor, to the reception, to the office and sales staff. These shots were combined with elements of the production process, showing more finished products, and a few stock clips to illustrate consumer interaction with products as well as the growing international reach of the company.
Coming from a musical background, we are both so aware of how important it is to work with music that captures the essence of the visuals and helps to convey the message on another level. For this project we asked our in-house composer, Sam Archer, to compose a bespoke piece of music that does just this. We also enlisted the help of voice over artist, Ed Hawkins, to provide us with a super smooth voice over that complements the music and communicates the brand message with warmth and authority. We're really happy with the end results on this project, the use of sound and music really adds a sense of class and quality to the end result.
And here it is!