Category Archives: News

Discover our aazing projects

Want to reduce production time and cost for your content strategy…

… while maximising resources and creativity? Nucco Brain’s new process will change your approach to content production.

See it in action!

Multi-channel, omni-channel, cross-channel.

Terms that are flung about willy-nilly these days to try and reinforce the fact that “WE HAVE MANY CHANNELS NOW AND YOU SHOULD USE THEM ALL FOR COMMS!!!”

“Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.” – Aberdeen.

So, in reality, omni-channel is important for obtaining and retaining customers.

Simple as that.

With that said, having the knowledge of how to maximise production (i.e how to create content that works across all these fabulous channels) is still something of a rarity. This leads to duplication, lack of consistency and poor use of budget and time.

This means marketers are left with less time, less budget, less freedom to try anything new or bold.

Sad times.

Traditionally, advertising, marketing and communications agencies might have helped out here. They develop strategies to bring consistency and ‘one voice’ to the communications. They plan production pipelines to deliver in line with the strategy and available budget.

With the need to produce a range of different content, in an agile, multi-channel manner, the traditional agency model is being tested by shifts in the market (specifically the less time/budget/freedom to try anything new or bold conundrum).

Internal marketing teams are either taking production in-house or are asking a number of specialist studios to provide a different piece of their content marketing puzzle. This can come with its own set of problems – from the ‘Chinese whispers’ effect of communication between studios to the different ways of approaching production – and can actually lead to more issues than were encountered with a more traditional agency approach.

A Production Workflow designed with Cross-Channel in mind

At Nucco Brain, we have developed a bespoke production workflow for cross-channel, agile and scalable production. With this workflow, we can produce visual content that works in more traditional ways (visual branding, animation, etc) but then expands them across the range of digital channels (interactive videos, gamified learning/training content, digital OOH, AR, VR, etc).

We call this workflow TrueTime Rendering – leveraging game engine technology to produce content in ways that can be upscaled in an agile manner. We can produce flat video content with it. We can then turn it into a 360º video, using the very same assets. We can then add interactivity to this content with a few extra clicks (I’m oversimplifying but, again, it’s the same assets and the same engine). We can then develop this further, to an AR or VR experience (again, using the same assets and the same engine).

There’s no need to export to another format and ‘adapt’ it to another engine to scale up the experience. The TrueTime Rendering workflow means we can reuse all the assets and add on the bits we need, as and when needed. No more ‘I wish we’d built that with VR in mind’ moments – our workflow allows for these considerations to come up as and when fits the business needs.

Cut out the rendering time

One of the main benefits of utilising a game engine for the development of content is the rendering times.

Traditional 3D content production, using the likes 3DS Max, Maya or After Effects, comes with its own set of problems. While the power of these applications is undeniable, for some things it’s just not needed.

You may be familiar with the idea of having to change a production asset, or animated sequence, or lighting setup, or whatever other change you wanted to see happen in the content you were making. You then have to hit render and go for a walk/go to lunch/leave it running over night. The main issue with this is, after waiting all that time, you may want to make another change… that’s a lot of dead time for some potentially minor changes, even with access to a render farm.

The TrueTime Rendering workflow is based on using a game engine – one built for real-time rendering on a multitude of devices. Given the engine itself is built to render in real-time, the render time for any piece of content should be about as long as the content itself.

Producing a 1 minute animation? Don’t like that last animated sequence? TrueTime Rendering will have your changes ready to view in approximately 1 minute. Want to add in some additional interactivity? Once you’ve set the parameters, give it about 1 minute and you’ll be able to test them out.

From a client/studio point of view, this means you can iterate away without the dead time that’s plagued production processes for so long – rendering! This means you can try things out without the fear of a wasted iteration, taking hours to put back to where it was (instead of the minutes it would take with TrueTime).

Style = Substance

There are some cases where TrueTime isn’t the answer. Photo-real CGI, live action or photography, Hollywood-level VFX – that’s not really what TrueTime is about.

We developed the workflow specifically for high-output, multi-channel communications. Video series, interactive learning, AR walls, virtual reality experiences – that’s TrueTime’s bag.

For TrueTime to work at its best, we need to turn to the power of stylisation. Bear with me while I go a little off-pitste here and talk about comic book theory. I promise you, it’s relevant to B2B and corporate communications too.

Scott McCloud, a leading comic’s theorist, shows us why stylisation works wonders when trying to engage with a broad audience (he talks about comic book readers – I’m drawing the parallel to communications). We live in an increasingly symbol/icon/emoji-based world and already engage with the idea of stylisation – these symbols can be understood as an image utilised to represent a place, person, object or idea.

McCloud says humans are a“self-centered race”, unconsciously looking for ourselves in what we see. In this way, a simple cartoon such as a circle with two dots for eyes and a line for lips silently communicates to its readers that this is a face. Importantly, it is impossible for the reader not to see a face, because our minds are programmed to recognise and relate this icon back to ourselves.

So, back to the point of why stylisation works for what we’re talking about here: B2B and corporate comms.

When we talk about illustration, animation, infographics, CGI, VR, AR, etc – stylisation enhances storytelling because it lets the audience focus on the message, as opposed to whether or not the characters in the story are an accurate representation of who they are.

The message comes through stronger and connects with the audience effectively.

Job done.

The well-oiled production machine

For large businesses with many stakeholders (their customers, their suppliers, their employees, their shareholders, etc) getting a consistent, effective, engaging content calendar together can cause headaches. Constant engagement of these various audiences – coordinated across a number of marketing teams spread over a number of international markets – well, that can keep people up at night.

As technology and creativity become more intertwined, there’s no need for B2B or corporate comms to suffer from a lack of innovation when it comes to content production. If the marketing team’s job is to define the vision and mission of the business, this shouldn’t be obstructed by convoluted production approaches.

TrueTime Rendering offers a real solution for creative visual content production, giving time and flexibility back to marketing teams. The ability to scale an idea all the way up from print to a VR headset leads to increased campaign longevity, more cost-effective budgets and an agile timeline that responds to the needs of the business.

At Nucco Brain, we’re excited to share this workflow with the world and are hosting a dedicated event on Wednesday, 12th September, from 8:30am – 10:30am, at Runway East Moorgate. We’ll be delving into how it works and will be looking at the use cases we have already applied this method to.

If you’d like to find out more, you can sign up at the Eventbrite page here and learn more about how TrueTime can help maximise your content marketing calendar.

The Role of Digital Content in Hiring and Retaining New talent as a Media Agency

If there is one term that has become a buzzword in the past few years, it is ‘millennial’. Today, more and more media agencies are realising the importance of making their message appealing to the twenty-to-thirty-something audience of today. But what about recruitment?

The world is changing, and so is employment. With the new wave of millennials now ready for employment, agencies must adapt to their interest and vision of the world to recruit and retain their interest in a highly competitive industry.

Last month, we took part in the D&AD New Blood festival, which celebrates new talent about to enter the design industry. This led us to reflect on the ways into which the employment scene is changing in the modern day.

Here are our main takeaway points:

 

Experience and aspiration

The millennial employee of today is more interested in building experience and doing a job that they love rather than climbing the social work ladder. Recent research has shown that in order to progress through the creative career ranks, individuals should stay on average 2 years in a position before changing jobs. As such, employers must adapt their HR strategy to stay one step ahead of the curve in recruitment. They should also aim to provide regular incentives and promotions for employees who remain in their organisation.

 

Multi-talented employees are key

It used to be that being an expert in a field rather was the ultimate goal in a professional’s career trajectory. However, today this is no longer the case; now knowing a bit of everything is often preferred, especially for companies who are looking to make savings by employing individuals who can cover various job roles. In the world of millennials, where slashers flourish, multi skilled individuals hold more value than they used to. This is especially true in the media and ad agency sector, where it is important to have an integrated view of the creative process in order to execute a project.

 

Social media-centric recruitment

Millennials are not only social media natives but digital natives as well. No longer is online social networking something used purely for entertainment, today it is one of the first places people look for jobs. Millennial see their social media profiles as an extension of their personality, and so it is a good way for employers to spot the types of characters they want to be part of their team. Today Instagram has become a common place for new designers and artists to display their portfolios, so media agencies should maintain a strong presence on these platforms and keep an eye out for fresh new talent.

 

While employers pay close attention to the social media channels of their future employees, the opposite is equally true. Millennials use the online social profiles of corporations and their employees to get a sense of the company’s culture. Brands should therefore value showcasing their culture through their online marketing strategies. Also, in order to convey a positive image at all levels of the company, social media etiquette training should be an important focus point for HR teams. Our creative team has previously been involved with creating content to inform the employees of Rolls Royce Engineering about the company’s social media policy and to promote social media awareness in the workplace:


In a world driven by Millennials, it is vital to be responsive to the changing recruitment sphere. Employees need to be valued as multi-talented individuals, to be given opportunities for recognised progression, and be traced and attracted through creative means. So, bring your recruitment message up to the same level as the output of your media agency’s work and you will see the results.

5 Pieces of Advice to Grow a Content Agency

Last month, our team once again collaborated with D&AD, this time for their New Blood Festival in celebration of new artistic talents. As part of the event, we met with 20 young creatives for a talk on Nucco Brain’s 5-year journey as an agency.

We discussed some of the pitfalls to avoid and pointers to strive for in creating and growing a content production agency. So, here were the takeaway points that we believe will allow every content agency to flourish, and get its story heard.

1. If you are for everyone, you are for no-one

It goes without saying that you are founding a content agency for a reason – you have a story to tell, or the tools to tell one – something special that sets you apart. The first thing you need to do when growing a content agency is to focus on these key business values that you bring to the table and consider how you plan to use them to make a name for yourself. What is your unique selling point? Can you meet the needs of a niche customer base with a particular point of view?

For example, here at Nucco Brain, we combine intuitive storytelling with innovative technologies in animation, VR and AR to visualise brands’ messages in a memorable way. It’s important to know how your agency makes its mark, because if you haven’t nailed down your own unique value, how are you going to sell it to clients?

2. HR & processes matter

As a content agency, your team is going to be made up of creative souls – we get it, we’re the same. However, you have to make sure that, amidst all of the brainstorming, crafting and creating, the operational side of your businesses doesn’t get lost. HR and processes matter, and it will take time and effort to get them right. This will develop as you grow as an agency – at first, everyone in your team will have to multitask and play more than one role, but as you expand, it’s important to ensure that everyone is clear about their individual role and responsibilities.

This will ensure that externally, the client knows who they are talking to, and internally, there is no breakdown in communication through the production process which could harm the quality of your projects. The magic is in the process, not just the end product. With each project you take on, pay attention to your process and adapt it based on what works and what doesn’t – and then ensure these changes are implemented throughout your team.

3. Stay Up to Date

Whilst it is vital to know what sets your agency apart, it is also important to root yourself and to know your place in the market you are entering. With no sense of your wider creative environment, you will become lost, and struggle to signpost your presence to clients navigating the market.

So, stay up to date with market and global trends in all areas – not just your niche, and practice the art of adapting what you know to capitalise on current trends.

4. Don’t Mistake a Spike for a Trend

As we’ve said, it’s important to be plugged into market trends, but at the same time, don’t mistake a spike for a trend. Agencies that constantly try to remodel their entire process to match every fleeting viral obsession lose their sense of identity and struggle to survive in the long term.

Agencies can grow and die off of one account – don’t build your business model over one project alone, without thinking of the journey that takes you there. Similarly, be wary of serving that one client that eats up all your resources and finding yourself with no project afterwards. Treat your agency holistically, and always keep an eye on the long view.

5. When Business is Good Don’t Forget About Business

This leads us to our final point: when business is good, don’t forget about business. Creatives can often be tempted to lose themselves in their art – but you must resist this urge in order to keep growing as an agency! Don’t become absorbed within a single project, remember to keep the practicals in mind.

This means marketing your services, networking with other companies and industry figures, and taking every opportunity to grow your resources and nurture your talents. And, of course, don’t forget about new talent – new blood brings new perspectives and opportunities to innovate.

Toronto & Chicago Trade Mission: How’s business across the Atlantic?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking part in a trade mission to Toronto and Chicago, hosted by the Mayor’s International Business Programme (MIBP) and London & Partners (L&P). The aim, along with my trade mission brothers and sisters, was to scope out North America and see whether our fast-growth start-ups (with turnovers of £1m or more) see value in expanding across the pond. Fourteen UK-based businesses, on a mission to take over the world… well, not quite, but you get the point. These businesses were split between the two broad categories of Edu-Tech and B2B-Tech. Nucco Brain doesn’t fit specifically well into either of these, from a tech point of view, but we certainly work with clients in both sectors to produce content for their platforms, apps, experiences or general marketing. Broad scope, for Nucco then, to see whether there are North American partners we could collaborate with in the future. The sun was out, the skies were clear and the people (as expected) were extremely friendly and accommodating – all things looking bright to kick off what would be an eventful week!

Tuesday 

We started off at Toronto Region Board of Trade, where we heard what Toronto had to offer as a city for startups – excellent talent pool, easy trade throughout Canada and only a hop, skip and a jump from the US border. Canada has some great incentives for businesses who are innovating (with things like the SCHRED tax incentive for R&D) and trade agreements with the US means that the border is pretty invisible when it comes to providing services. There was a panel discussion with the leading Edu-Tech businesses in Toronto, as well as key stakeholders within the education sector, giving their views on the pros and cons of the Toronto market as a whole. Needless to say, there were far more pros than cons!

Wednesday 

We went to one of the WeWork’s in Toronto, to investigate one of the sites where startups have flourished already in the Toronto scene. We then headed to our respective airports to catch flights over to Chicago, the second stage of our mission. After arriving and checking into our hotels, we went to a lovely evening soiree, hosted by the British Consul General, at his residence in Chicago. All I can say is WOW – his residence was amazingly impressive and it was truly an evening where great connections were made (I won’t go into too much detail about the amazing Friday night I had with someone I met here… maybe for another blog that 😉 )

Thursday

 Our final full day on the mission started with a trip to 1871 – Chicago’s very own center for technology and entrepreneurship. Here we were given similar treatment to that of the Toronto Region Board of Trade – this time from World Business Chicago. Speakers told us the major benefits of expanding to Chicago: there are a large number of Fortune 500 companies HQs in Chicago, it’s in the Midwest so connected easily to both the East and West coasts, there is already a mature startup scene with open doors to newcomers. All sounds good to me! Next stop? The Motorola HQ and the Google offices, to see the space they had both developed in Chicago – super impressive spaces, for sure! The final stop of the day – WeWork Chicago: this time to pitch in a ‘Shark Tank’ style environment (Dragon’s Den for any UK readers). It was somewhat nerve-wracking to pitch your business to a panel of 3 successful entrepreneurs (as well as attendees of the networking event that followed) but everyone on the mission did an excellent job. If nothing else, it was a great experience to be a part of (and I think we’d all spieled about our businesses enough by that point to be pretty clear on what we needed to say). Another great day in another great city…

Friday

 Another colleague and I traveled to a film, media and entertainment incubator called 2112. This was an awesome part of the trip for me, as a big fan of music and film production – it’s 160,000sqft of filming, audio recording, mixing and production studio space, with a startup incubator at the heart of it. Words can’t describe this place (it took us about 3 hours to get the full tour) but the sheer scale of it blew my mind. They’re doing awesome things at 2112, facilitated by the founder Scott Fetters (who is a great mind and took me on the unforgettable Friday night out I mentioned earlier). Worth checking them out, for sure, if you’re ever in Chi-town!

In summary 

The trade mission was a great explorative experience, where I met loads of businesses Nucco Brain could collaborate with in the future. Chicago, particularly, left an impression on me and made me think it would be a great place to expand our business into North America, eventually. The guys at L&P were a great help and organised an awesome week of activities. On top of that, the people I was on the mission with were a great bunch of people and I hope to see them at some point in the future on that side of the pond, expanding our businesses together – here’s hoping that’s sooner rather than later! 😀

By Mark Kershaw

Client Engagement Director at Nucco Brain

(photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash)

News from Annecy 2018: The Latest Trends in the Animation World

We have to admit, we were more than a little excited to attend this year’s MIFA Animation Festival. It’s the time of year to catch that plane to the little alpine town of Annecy in France and geek out on the latest animations. 

People come from across the globe to showcase their work, delighting industry professionals and fans with their creative skills. This melting pot of talent plus a fun, irreverent vibe puts it top of the list of any of our industry’s events.  After all, where else can you find attendees throwing paper airplanes fashioned from event programmes at the cinema screen, to uproarious cheers each time one hits the target. Just magic! But aside from all this, there were some serious talking points on the agenda this year that got us fired up:

Women getting serious kudos

Picture designed by Mathilda Holmqvist

We don’t need to tell you that gender equality is a hot topic at the moment, and with good reason. It’s something that’s receiving big attention throughout the media world, and in the animation industry, it’s no different. The head of the festival signed a pledge to promote gender equality both at the festival itself and within the organisational staff.

We’ve loved to hear that CITIA, the organisation responsible for the event, has an equal split of male and female executives. But still, only 20% of the films that made the cut for the festival are directed by women, showing there’s still progress to be made. Despite this, the festival’s good work in promoting gender equality can’t be denied. This year the focus on women, including presenting Women in Animation with the Mifa Animation Industry Award.  

The rise of digital channels

Hot off the back of France Television’s decision to cancel the France 4 channel, the people behind Annecy festival and us here at Nucco Brain are contemplating the rise of digital. Why, you may ask? The dropped channel distributed mainly kid’s content and animation, and now it will be moved onto digital platforms.

While broadcasting and production companies reverberate with this news, their potential deals being washed out, there’s a bigger discussion to be had around the role of digital. There’s no escaping the effect digital transformation is having on the industry, with more people fragmenting onto digital channels, where funding possibilities are reduced compared to the budget broadcasters are used to.

On a more positive note, the digital trend could well have some advantages. This is especially true for brands who could provide a new source of funding outside the traditional broadcasting business model. You only need to take a look at some of the online digital and VR content highlighted in the festival to see just how powerful new technology can be.

Annecy is now over, but we already can’t wait to be there next year – and we’ll make sure to perfect our paper airplane flying techniques in the meantime!

The Future of Healthcare: Communicating Innovation

A few weeks ago I attended an event that held the title “Innovate or Stagnate: Can Technology Keep the NHS Healthy” – it was an interesting evening of talks from some of the leading experts in the field. I came away with mixed feelings though – hope at the thought of technology saving our beloved NHS, despair at the thought of how or whether they’ll implement it all in time.

Communicating innovation is one of the more challenging adventures in the marketing industry – people want and fear change at the same time. They want it because the future holds exciting opportunities; they fear it because they may not understand the implications, costs or impact it will have on tried and tested circumstances.

To get it right, businesses who are innovating have a need to be constantly engaging the parties who are implementing these innovations and aware of how they communicate with their many different audiences. In the case of the NHS, it is the government, health trusts, payers and healthcare professionals who need to understand how these innovations save money, time and, most importantly, the lives of patients under their care. Further even, it is the patients and the general public at the end of the line who are directly experiencing the ease and improvement of experience that innovation in healthcare could bring, and the future potential it has.

On Thursday,  June 21, we are hosting an event called the Future of Healthcare: Communicating Innovation where our managing director Stefano Marrone will be discussing how brands can and should build a consistent narrative on innovation and sensitive health topics to different audiences across different visual assets. A focus will be on strategies to overcome some of the main challenges associated with public health communication campaigns such as finding ways to both raise awareness and drive behavioural changes within multiple audiences.

Tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/future-of-healthcare-communicating-innovation-tickets-46326935110?aff=es2

Communicating innovation to different audiences requires special skills and unique approaches. Let us teach you how.

-Mark Kershaw

Client Engagement Director

Koko Kanu selected at Supertoon International Animation Festival

We are super proud to be in competition at the Supertoon International Animation Festival in the animated commercial category with our film “Koko Kanu – Add some adventure”. The festival will take place in Šibenik, Croatia, from 22th to 27th  July 2018.

Last year, our team worked with Koko Kanu, part of the Campari Group, to create a world of exotic elegance and adventure for their summer launch.  Alongside the animated video, we also created a set of gifs and images to share across the brand’s social media platforms for their special summer launch campaign.

Find out more about this project

Credits

Client: Gruppo Campari
Director: Stefano Marrone
Art Director: Stefano Perelli
Visual Development: Ariel Vittori
Background Design: Laura Guglielmo
Storyboarding and Layout: Leonie Despres
2D Animation: Jorden Oliwa
Animation: Robert Scott, Nicholas Edmonson, Clement Sacchetti
Graphic Design: Thomas Gutteridge
Sound Design: WeAreListeners

Nucco Brain wins Gold at Indigo Awards with Innovate UK 360!

We are proud to announce that our project Future Predictions 360, an immersive 360 video experience projected inside a dome at Innovate UK’s 2017 trade show, has won gold at the Indigo Design Awards in the mix media / moving image category.

The Indigo Awards celebrate innovative projects in graphic, digital, game, and mobile design from across the world.

Innovate UK Predictions – Day in a Life 360 Video from Nucco Brain on Vimeo.

Congratulations to our team members who have worked on it for many months:

Stefano Marrone (Producer)

Natasha Wheatley (Account Manager)

Stefano Perelli (Art Direction)

Nicholas Edmonson (Motion Graphics)

Robert Scott (3D Scenes)

Clément Sachetti (Motion Graphics)

Reporting on MIPTV 2018: What The Advertising World Can Learn From TV Series

A few weeks ago, we were at the MIPTV market in Cannes where our VR project EDF Nuclear Symphony was featured at the innovation hub. On this occasion, we also got to see some of the latest TV series out.

The simplistic idea that one advert is the best tool to promote or sell a product is no longer one that holds water. Technology and an explosion of content has ramped up the competition when it comes to brands making noise and gaining attention. In a world where millions of videos and blogs are uploaded onto the web every day, creating something that stands out and engages audiences is more important than ever.

These past few years, TV series have gained popularity worldwide as a major source of entertainment, and brands are turning to this strong narrative format to hook audiences.

Communicating brand identity

Think of how gripping a great TV series can be. This same series format is being used in advertising to hook an audience around a story. Why a story, and not a product? Because it appeals on a level that simply selling a product can’t. It’s visceral, experience-based and allows people to see how the brand can enhance their lifestyle.

The series format, whether on TV or the web, also enables brands to communicate their values in a natural way.  This approach to visual storytelling presents a big opportunity when getting across not only messages, but the personality of a brand, to actively engage audiences.

Take a look at the web series Future Predictions that we are currently producing for Innovate UK as an example. Within 18 months of releasing the first episode, Innovate UK’s YouTube channel subscriptions increased by 730%.

Extending experiences

Great TV shows are so compelling precisely because we follow the characters. We grow to feel something for them over time. Crucially, it gives people headspace to form opinions of the storylines and characters, and to feel involved.

Series advertising uses those exact same principles. By presenting a narrative experience that unfolds over a number of episodes, viewers have the chance to consider their experience, and share it with other audience members. This is a great way of building active engagement. Ideal for creating the buzz needed in such a competitive brand environment.

Creativity that surprises and delights

Online audiences expect more and being able to delight them with fresh content is the way to increase engagement and brand connection. An extended story with a strong narrative creates the perfect tool to build on those expectations. Showcasing not only brand values, but ingenuity and creativity. Collaborations with well known filmmakers to create compelling series have increased in the past year. For example, Luca Guadagnino’s series Walking Stories done for Salvatore Ferragamo.

Exactly as TV series do, an advertising campaign with a narrative gives brands an opportunity to surprise people with plot twists, and keep their audience on their toes, tuned in, ready to engage, and willing to share their experience with other viewers.
At the end of the day, people are looking for those immersive experiences. By taking what we know of the TV series format, we can develop interactive experiences that appeal, stand out and create connections with audiences.

Nucco Brain at D&AD!

We were at the D&AD festival this morning with a full house!

Our MD, Stefano Marrone, gave a talk on content production and how brands are the new content publishers… they just don’t know it yet.

A common trend observed these past few years is that audiences  have a constant hunger for content – good content, and brands have both the drive and resources to fulfil this desire.

Every month, our studio organises regular breakfast workshops on visual storytelling  and how brands can improve their content production strategy.  Check out our Eventbrite page and reserve your spot for our next event.