OUR HELPFUL BRAND VIDEO CASE STUDY
BRAND VIDEO FOR HIPCAMP – THE BRIEF
STARTUP UP VIDEO BACKGROUND
We were asked to create a brand video for Hipcamp. They’re a San Francisco-based, Silicon Valley backed startup. It would be simplistic to describe them as AirBnB for camping because the Crunchbase tagline for the company is that “Hipcamp unlocks access to private land for camping and outdoor recreation”. An intriguing proposition given that land ownership in the UK is a difficult topic. 50% of England is owned by under 1% of its population. 5% is owned by homeowners and 30% by the aristocracy and landed gentry, a fact that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. A company that’s interested in opening some of this up in a way that benefits both the owner and visitor sounds fantastic. Effectively they’re tackling both the supply- and demand side of providing interesting camping locations.
All this aside, we much prefer the more romantic tagline from Hipcamp’s website “find yourself outside”. Plus, we love making films for startups. You can find other examples such as this startup video for Yodeck or this one for hardware tech startup Sunswap. Though this one ended up featuring in quite heavily in our Video Production Wrap Up video.
They contacted us because they were looking for a UK based company to help announce the acquisition of the UK campsite management company Cool Camping and effectively the de facto launch of Hipcamp in the UK. Our brief was to create something genuinely authentic and appealing to UK campers.
The company’s mission is simply ‘to get more people outside’. We were excited to be part of this by creating something that both appeals to the existing community but also brings in new people. Company Mission videos are a passionate area of interest to us.
We were given some creative guidance about what would be of interest but as is often the case we went our own way. After a short pitching process including a new we were very excited to get the gig.
BRAND VIDEO INSIGHTS
The UK experience of camping is a little different to the US experience, particularly because wild camping is much less common here. Whereas rain is, generally speaking, much more common. It’s alot
This brand video had to speak to the UK camping community as a demonstration that the company understands its customers. It’s pretty common for authenticity to be a key buzzword in the brand video briefs we get but throughout our dealings with Hipcamp it was clear that this was a genuine requirement for them. The people we worked with care deeply about the experience of camping and the community of people that use their service. Authenticity is an easy area to become mired in cliche and Hipcamp were passionate about the difference between looking authentic and being authentic.
Having spent many nights ourselves under canvas this was great to hear.
Camera Operator holding a professional camera. He’s looking into camera and the sun is behind him. He’s quite silhouetted but not entirely. It’s a beautiful day and the sun is low in the sky. It’s a still shot from a brand video production for a US based silicon valley tech startup called Hipcamp.
We created and refined the Hipcamp Brand Videos concept, working closely with the team and finally pitching it directly to CEO Alyssia Ravano getting sign off from the very top of the Hipcamp mountain.
Brand videos are (unsurprisingly) very important to those people that work on the brand. So we expected the client to be even more heavily involved in the conceptual side. The creative ended up being relatively straightforward. Working with a remote US based team presented the usual challenges which are relatively simple to overcome now. It was the logistics that proved a little trickier. Our guide to choosing a location for a corporate video was a bit less useful here. This just needed the right look, and all other considerations such as power, access and amenities would need to be made to work.
Hipcamp, working with the newly acquired Cool Camping, put together a list of their preferred locations based almost entirely on the visuals. The chosen site was in beautiful Pembrokeshire and was about as far west as you can go and still be in Wales. The location was gorgeous, though not a particular hotbed of local freelance film crew.
The search paid off though, given the shot below from our sound recordist, Tony Frances, on the very first night before shooting.
Brand Video for Hipcamp tech startup shot in Pembrokeshire. Features an unfiltered vivid and beautiful sunset over the sea in West Wales
We worked with our regular storyboard artist to create the initial visuals for the project. As George Bernard Shaw once said “the biggest myth about communication is that it has taken place”. The storyboarding process allows us to confirm that the creative communication has actually taken place. Not only does the production team understand the director’s vision but also the client, the production team and the director, indeed everyone on the project, are talking about the same film. A brand video’s no good if it’s off brand. Storyboards are a highly useful and functional first step to navigating everyone to the same page.
Brand Video Storyboard features a series of sketches in a storyboard format. The panels are, in order, a woman looking at her reflection. Then she’s petting cows. Then she’s enjoying the rain. Then laying relaxed in her tent. A side view of her listening to music on her phone and then doing yoga.
DRAFT VIDEO AND RECCE
There’s a saying in the military that ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’. It’s as true for filmmakers as it is for soldiers (or sailors, as one of the client’s on this served with the US Marine Corps). As part of our pre-production process for medium to large projects we generally provide an additional step which is to go and shoot the video first. On our location recce of the site in Pembrokeshire we took a tent and some camping equipment and had our wonderful producer Jennah act out the scenes for us. This allows us to check the edit in advance, ensuring scenes go together properly, that there are no issues with timing and it’s often a useful inspiration for the actual filming days.
BRAND VIDEO PRODUCTION
There are many small ways in which experience is helpful or even vital. Putting together an experienced crew in far West Wales meant relying on Welsh crew we’d worked with previously. After 12 years in business we have contacts all over the UK including from filming a couple of times in Cardiff. The usual process here is fill the gaps with people you know and then work from their little black book. Shoots like this are why we value creating a positive environment on set. It would be hard to rely on people for help in these circumstances if they’d had a torrid experience of working with you previously.
We put together a combination of core Vermillion team, a Cardiff contingent and some from London. The initial brief took place in a pub in Haverfordwest and the next two days of filming were, frankly, a whole heap of fun. The cast were great, we rounded up some locals to act as extras and the location was magnificent.
The major issue we had was unsurprisingly the weather. One part of the creative process was to capture the fact that rain doesn’t usually put hardcore campers off. It’s not just the relaxing and therapeutic sound of rain on canvas, but something more visceral from being out in nature come rain or shine. We’d explained to the client that we didn’t see rain being much of a problem for us and it would be a simple thing to capture. As it turns out we had two days of glorious sunshine.
PRACTICAL SPECIAL EFFECTS
One of the reasons to work with a solid, professional video production company is for these kinds of situations. In the preceding couple of days it looked like a lack of rain my present a problem and we didn’t have the budget for a large scale rain operation. So we went to a hardware store and bought 6 hand pumped water sprayers and relied on the magic of Hollywood.
The most beautiful part of the whole schedule happened to be when we needed rain so our DoP, Dan Hunt created a flag to block out the direct sunlight on the talent and six of us pumped the water sprays straight up, creating the illusion of rain.
EDITING PROCESS FOR CLIENTS
We provided Hipcamp with our standard process for editing. This involved a polished first draft and working closely with them (and frequently referring to the Hipcamp brand guidelines) to put the creative vision together.
Even without a transatlantic relationship, the days of clients coming in and sitting in for the first edit are long behind us. We generally use Vimeo for client reviews as the change auditing function is pretty useful and it’s always helpful to have calls to talk clients through some of the editing process.
For the sunshine for rain shot we felt it was important to ensure that this worked visually. As the client was based in California and unable to attend the shoot we tested how authentic this looked by simply not telling them that this was how it had been achieved and questioning them in particular on how we felt those shots looked. We repeated the process with other audiences and at no point did anyone feel that it was anything other than natural rain. Only then did we reveal how it had been achieved.