Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Online Business

Taskhub Video

Story of the shoot – Shoot date 14th March 2012.

I was contacted by a friend, who had recommended me as someone who could make a good-quality but inexpensive video. The client was a brand-new startup company, looking to create an online marketplace where people could buy and sell the services of people in their area. They had a tight budget, and a very demanding schedule – just a few weeks before they wanted to start using the video to promote their big idea.

To describe what he was looking for, Taskhub’s creator Rahul showed me a video he really liked. It was made by a US company called Sandwich Video, and was for a company called Airbnb. Watch it here.

He then revealed that he had been in contact with Sandwich, and they had told him that the Airbnb video had cost $300,000 to make, but that they could make him something starting at £100,000! He politely declined.

So, he said, my challenge was to make a video that looked like hundreds of thousands of dollars, for only a very few thousands of pounds. This required some lateral thinking.

First of all, we asked that the client provided us with a free location. He had some neighbours with a very lovely flat, so they agreed to lend it to us for the day. We then drafted in the friend who had originally recommended us for the job to be the main actor in the film, and another work colleage to play one of the other parts – we also borrowed her parents’ dog. They agreed to work with us for nominal fees, because they are lovely people. They’re also very good-looking, which is a bonus.

Then, for the male parts, we put the cameraman and soundman to good use, so they earned their money for the day twice over too – lateral thinking in action – or is that exploitation, I can never tell the difference?!

Next, we needed a storyline. I came up with the idea of a birthday party, as it would mean we could decorate the location cheaply with balloons and banners, and we could get our main actor to bring some lovely dresses to wear, to add a bit of glamour. I wanted to create a circular story, so I created a storyboard in which Helena used Taskhub to find a birthday party caterer. The caterer used Taskhub to find someone to walk his dog, and the dog walker used Taskhub to find someone to clean her flat. The cleaner ended up finding Helena on Taskhub when he was looking for someone to help design his website. All three would then arrive at Helena’s birthday party, as they were all local and had connected through this new service.

The client liked the idea, so I set about gathering props. I needed some presents and some champagne for the party, so I bought some differently-sized boxes of tissues and wrapped them in cheap wrapping paper. I bought one bottle of champagne for the shoot, and a few bottles of cava for the actors to drink – sadly there’s no real glamour in TV, we just make it look good!

Taskhub Video_Kitchen

On the day of the shoot, we all gathered at the friend’s flat. Our editor came along to make sure the shots would work with on-screen graphics, something we were inspired by when watching Airbnb. Her first task was to use her cameraphone to record the position of everything in the flat. Anyone who’s ever had their home used as a location will know that camera crews take the whole place apart to get the shot they want. We wanted to make sure everything went back exactly as it was when we left. Then we set up our first shot, which sees Helena blowing up a balloon for her birthday party.We immediately hit a snag. Helena didn’t have enough puff to get the balloons started. So, our editor Paula had her second job of the day, blowing up each balloon just a bit, so that Helena could carry on.

Taskhub Video_Dining room

Shooting for TV requires the actors to do the same thing two or three times, so that the cameraman can get the shot from different angles and distances. We also do several takes, to get the focus and the lines perfect. The problem was, we only had four champagne glasses, and each time Helena poured the champagne for the final sequence, we had to get it back into the bottle for the next take. So, my biggest contribution to the day was carefully pouring cava back into the champagne bottle, drying out the glasses and putting everything back in exactly the same place. By the end, the cava had rather lost its fizz, but the crew enjoyed it anyway – there aren’t may perks on a job of this size, but we made the most of what we had!

The client was delighted with the final video, which saw Paula teaching herself how to do tracking graphics, so that she could get the speech bubbles to bounce along and move with the person they were pointing too, a really nice effect. We added some nu-folk style music from the brilliant people at Audio Network, which really lifted it and made it feel quirky and modern, which is what we wanted.

All in all, I think it looks like a much more expensive production than it was, and this is our aim – if you want something expensive but can’t afford it, see if we can think of a way to give you the same effect on a tiny budget – solving these problems is one of the favourite parts of my job.

Watch the finished Taskhub Video here.