Tag Archives: animation

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.

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 Power Of Effective Explainer Videos

Corporate comm. often involves complex information spanning dry topics. Making this info digestible and accessible without turning your audience off in seconds is the challenge!

Explainer videos are one clever way of getting points across in an engaging way. Structure and style play a big role in effective explainer videos. But with the right creative approach you can tap into your audience’s imagination and create a communications piece that’s set to grab attention, even across the trickiest topics.

Making it accessible

Our brains work in a certain way when it comes to processing information. The more intricate the subject, the bigger the need to break it down and make it easy to digest. Think from your own point of view. Everyone’s been in a situation at one time or another where they felt overloaded with information.

To work effectively, explainer videos can’t simply dump huge amount of detail within the first few moments. Instead, they need to follow a clear structure to guide the viewer through the points one at a time. This all starts with a hook. Forget about conveying a range of messages in the first seconds.

To really engage your audience, you’ll need to grab attention with something that’ll pique interest. From there, you can guide them through a journey of awareness, moving onto basic information, then delving into the more complex core of the piece once the viewer is comfortable and engaged.  

Let’s take as an example the latest explainer video we have produced for the European Space Agency on 5G technology:

Find out more about this project

Within the first few seconds the narrator states a fact relevant to all audience members: “being connected is everything”. Through this one sentence, the audience is able to relate to the video’s topic – a hook prompting them to keep watching until the end.

What about style?

Style matters in explainer videos. Because they’re all about appealing to viewers in a novel way, the look and feel of the video will be an important factor in grabbing attention and keeping the audience involved.

Stylised characters are a tried and tested way of enticing an audience to identify with scenarios in explainer videos. Adding a personality to the comms, animated characters, such as the ones created for the 5G video,  open doors for people to relate to the complex topic of the video.

Make the story feel personal

 A narrative with a personal angle is the best way to create a link with your viewer. That means developing a specific story with a certain point of view that’s likely to appeal to your audience. But it shouldn’t end there.

Tying this in with your personal angle as a brand will help you bridge the gap between audience and message, as well as conveying your overall identity. In the ESA video for example, following an explanation of the 5G network and its benefit to the public, the video highlights how the European Space Agency is involved with the technology – thus bringing back the discussion to its core business.

Do it right, and this is what will really make your explainer video stand out from other content pieces.  Interested in learning more? We’ve previously written about our production process for explainer videos on our blog:

Complex ≠ Complicated: 4 Best Practices To Turn B2B Communication Into Exciting Content

Nucco Brain’s Recipe for a Successful Branded Content YouTube Series

 

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

Could VR Save Your Corporate Comms?

Corporate communication has had a certain reputation for being dry and unengaging in the past. But new technologies like VR are now increasingly becoming part of the modern business world, and companies are catching onto the benefits of integrating them into their corporate comms strategy.

VR, AR and 360 videos are just some of the ways businesses are connecting with their audiences. And not just for external communication, but for business training purposes and internal campaigns too. The innovative use of tech like this gives companies a new way of creating immersive training experiences and unforgettable comms pieces. All powerful stuff when you want to drive engagement.

How can VR fit into your comms strategy?

Strategic content creators are now opening the doors to fresh possibilities in VR and 360 videos. Providing brands with a platform to visualise the future of their industry, or engaging with a holographic executive delivering a comms message are just some of the opportunities it offers. VR is also incredibly freeing as it enables companies to put people in impossible situations in a controlled way.

For example, with one of our recent project, EDF Nuclear Symphony, we helped public audiences and stakeholders to understand how a nuclear reactor works through a VR experience.

Screenshot from EDF Nuclear Symphony

Adapting this to your particular business and needs is key to making it work. Essentially, the user can walk through a digitally rendered environment, allowing them to react to a situation as it unfolds. For training in areas like first aid, operating machinery and policing, VR can be an invaluable tool. By creating the right kind of experience for the user, companies are in stronger position than ever to engage with immersive, educational interactive experiences.  

Is VR a cost-effective training tool?

When it comes to investing in new tech, it’s important to know how it will benefit the business as a whole. Another core use of VR for corporate comms is to let people travel without moving, which presents exciting cost effective training and learning opportunities. As opposed to hiring a trainer or arranging a specific location for the training to take place, users can hop online and start learning.

For example, Unit 9’s project Lifesaver VR aimed to teach CPR skills to the general public through a VR app easily downloadable from any phone. The results? In tests with a selection of schoolchildren, teenagers’ confidence in performing CPR increased from 38% to 85%. And all those tested said they were more likely or MUCH more likely to perform CPR in a real emergency.

Students testing Lifesaver VR

This makes it an accessible tool to be sure, but the ways of engaging with tech like this doesn’t end there. Now, you can find VR and 360 capabilities everywhere, including platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo, making reaching your intended audience easier than ever.

Are VR’s possibilities limitless?

The short answer is, not yet. Understanding the power, uses and limitations of VR will stand you in good stead if you’re keen to integrate the tech into your corporate comms. Don’t forget, VR is a great hook, but it’s an individual experience and users will need to plug in with a headset. So, you can see how reaching a big audience could be problematic.

Using VR in tandem with other digital content such as video and infographics are the best way to encourage interaction. You can also broadcast 360 videos of real life action to larger groups to give them a similar experience. This will give you the thrust to engage with a mass audience, while creating an invaluable additional touchpoint for VR users. 

We used this approach when working on Innovate UK’s Predictions: Day in a Life 360 video for the organisation’s trade show by creating an immersive experience inside a dome. This experience allows Innovate UK to engage with its industry partners and the general public on the subject of technological innovation.

Predictions: Day in a Life 360 – Inside the dome

Using VR and 360 videos as a smart element of your communications toolkit, is certainly the way forward.