Screensaver Visual Production

following the London-based video production company

South Africa!

Well, our furthest and one of the most enjoyable trips to date – and the first time to South Africa for both Clemence and I.

Clem’s been a busy girl this last month, having travelled across the Middle East – filming in far-flung locations across Dubai, Oman and Kuwait, while Steven has been busy in the UK.

We flew out to Johannesburg just over two weeks ago, where we stayed in the Fire & Ice hotel in the Melrose Arch area.

fire and ice hotel, melrose arch, johannesburg

fire & ice hotel

After a quick nightcap, we slept well, then met our client early before setting off to our first location. We had a good number of interviews to get with clients across the city, before gathering general footage of the city. This is a well-versed routine for us now, but each country and each location has its challenges.

Soon enough, we found ourselves on an office rooftop overlooking the city of Johannesburg – the helpfulness of those around us was great, willing to do whatever they could for the shot.

rooftop view from office in johannesburg

joburg rooftop

We ended the first day, happily satisfied with our footage, with a meal at a local restaurant. We had a nice mix of typical meats from chicken & springbok, to fish curry and ostrich.

The second day allowed us to see places in an area of the city called Sandton – where we could film Mandela Square and the shopping malls.

mandela square in johannesburg

The interviews today were tougher, playing with reflections and people, but the day came to an end for us sooner, and involved a brief trip in an air balloon! This gave us another great view of the city and an experience that none of us had before.

view from balloon

Our second day ended in style when we met with my girlfriend’s parents who still live in the city.

Day 3 we were destined for Pretoria, a short drive outside of Johannesburg. We saw the Jacaranda trees – something Pretoria is famous for – lining almost every street with their pink flowers. Quite lucky, as they only flower for short periods during the year, so this made a nice addition to our recording.

Pretoria was lovely, and we were looked after and supported brilliantly by the clients we were filming. A very exciting travel company doing good things in South Africa. We couldn’t linger for too long however, as we were flying this evening to Cape Town from a regional airport.

Now, if anyone reading this has ever flown with Kalula, you’ll know what I mean when I call them nuts! The flight was fine, but something about the safety announcements made us all laugh – something you never do in the UK, and not that there’s anything funny about air safety, but the line:

“On your life jackets you have a whistle to attract attention and a light to shine into the shark’s eyes…”

…cant help but make you smile.

Safely in Cape Town, late at night, we found our hotel in the harbour and quickly realised why the South Africans call it the windy city!

harbour bridge hotel

So, we had two days left to complete our interviews and gather our city shots in Cape Town. We had arranged for the help of a local production company to help us here with our filming permissions (so much easier to be looked after by a local team) and someone who could also take us around.

Tony from Prinz Productions met us at breakfast, along with the client. After blitzing through the interviews we were free to explore, and were treated to a meal at South Africa’s oldest vineyad in Costantia.

groot constantia

We said our goodbyes to our clients who flew back to the UK and Joburg individually, but we had Tony for the evening and the day after to ensure we captured the best of what we could.

Our first views of the landscape from high up were quite spectacular:

cape town viewpoint

We had a great afternoon’s sightseeing and filming, even recording a quick timelapse, and playing with a new 360 camera on the iphone:

Camps Bay

filming camps bay

The final day was a blast – the weather was a little shifty to begin with, so found a little pocket of sun just outside the main city to film the visibly renouned coloured beach huts.

beach huts

…before moving zipping off all over the place for shots in and around the CBD, the football stadium, the unfinished overpass and more lovely high shots…

clem filming city

cape town football stadium

table mountain

This has to be one of the most incredible trips this year. We grabbed some excellent footage, met some lovely and very helpful people, and enjoyed every minute of our time there.

Maybe next time it won’t be for business? Although for the enjoyment we had, it didn’t feel too much like work.

Until next time…!


Poland Day 1

Hi all,

After a brief lul, the Screensaver team are back on the road. We’ve quite a run coming up, the first of which being 4 days in Poland.

We flew into Warsaw yesterday from Heathrow but our delay caused us to miss our connection to the city of Wroclaw where our filming was due to begin. Thankfully, our airline put us up in a hotel overnight and with 4 hours sleep made it onto a replacement flight very early this morning. Only snag was the searing pain in my head on landing, but I’ve put that down to the air pressure.

I don’t know about you, but Wroclaw isn’t somewhere I’d previously heard of, but the wonder of the world still amazes me and how many beautiful places there are that don’t even register on your radar!

Filming today has gone very well. A strong first interview (recorded in Polish) kicked things off well. The second interview not so great due to the background noise, so we may well reschedule that later.

We’ve also been able to investigate the city this afternoon in the lovely sunshine and made it up to the top of the church to film the city vista. The beauty of the main square has made things straightforward for us here so far, and the light has been gorgeous.

In between, I unwittingly managed to insult a waitress, but had a lovely lunch! Bar the slightly odd tasting ricotta in the pasta…

The team and I are now in the car, heading off to Katowice where we film tomorrow before Warsaw on Thursday and Friday. We’re in the very capable hands of our guide for the week, who’s been fantastic.

Enjoy the pictures and I’ll update again tomorrow. Hope everyone in London is surviving the tube strike!


4 Days in Riga

Last week I was asked at short notice to provide location filming and editing services at a conference in Riga, Latvia.

The project kicked off by filming some interviews in London, and then fly out to a hotel in eastern Europe to set up camp for the edit. I was to film on-site too, over the duration of the conference, collecting interviews for a special display at the end of the event.

This was new ground for us, as we’re used to editing back at the studio – but up for a challenge as always. I’d spent a good day testing our equipment back in London, and aside from minor blips in laptop performance, the kit worked well and allowed me to do all I needed.

I was stationed in a suite on the 24th floor, overlooking the centre of Riga. They were long days, but we achieved the result we all needed, within the timeframe required – after 3 long days delivering the final product at 7am the last morning.

To top off the experience, I managed to find a couple of hours to get lost in the centre of town, catch some of the world cup games, and saw the Swedish archipelago from the plane on the way back.

The success of this project has now added another string to the bow and is a service we’d love to exploit again!


Island Hopper!

The next stop on our travels is the beautiful island of Capri, Italy.

We flew in to Naples on Tuesday evening, where we stayed a night before boarding a boat to Capri at an early hour first thing on Wednesday.

First impressions of Capri are wonderful, the attractive port with ascending narrow roads, and small cars that were very characterful. Our open-top taxi rushed us up to the piazza where we found our hotel minutes from the centre.

Our last two trips to Lusaka in Zambia and Cadiz in Spain have hardened us and helped prepare us for details changing from the original plan. You have to accept that when time is not in your control and you’re reliant on other people’s timetables that thinking on your feet will prove to be an asset. This is one project where these skills would be tested.

We often travel with a small team on these projects, two of us from Screensaver and two from the PR company we’re working with. We’ve been asked to produce four videos from this trip, which will not only include 6 interviews from both Capri and Rome, but illustrative shots from cities too. It’s a big ask in a little under three days, when we’re working long hours and in searing heat! To make the project slightly more complicated, the interviews all take place in Italian.

The biggest challenges as a producer are acquiring enough volume for 4 videos and also more importantly ensuring the videos are also filled with creativity. Volume alone won’t impress a client, no matter what your conditions.

Clemence and I blasted through the first few interviews, changing camera setups 4 times allowed us to work in a single location. Having a client hierarchy is tricky here, making sure that everyone with an interest is kept happy.

By the end of our first day, we had acquired the vast majority of our interviews and a good amount of GVs from the area. It’s not yet enough, but it’s a strong start. Our initial plans were thrown away when we realised that the Rome section of our trip was not going to be an option, and so staying in Capri to improve on the range of footage we had would work out best. This gave us the benefit of having just a single city to film in, howevethee now needed enough material in Capri alone to fill 4 videos rather than 3. We tinkered with our ideas and set off for a 7:30am interview the next morning, to fit an extra one in.

Day 2 pushed us hard, but we completed all of our interviews and claimed most o the footage we needed. The third day was more relaxed, and focused on getting the quality above the volume we had already acquired.
Determined to make the most of our time, we split into two teams, armed with a checklist, and steamed off into the sun! The views from the island cliffs were breathtaking, with turquoise water and seemingly hidden trails, statues and walkways on every path.

By midday, we had captured almost all we needed, the excitement of filming from a minature bus that almost flung me from the window, my personal highlight. We were looked after well, fed and watered and in good company – so despite the long days and effects of the carrying and the heat, we were happy and optimitic for the edit.

The 8 hour trip home was the final snag, and probably took closer to 12 hours once we’d worked through the delays at Fiumicino airport. No complaints though, an enjoyable trip and after a good sleep I’ll crack on with the capturing.


5 Stars in Cadiz

On Wednesday we embarked on our 6th flight in a week and a half (many apologies to the environment) but this is indicative of how our business is changing in 2010 – with a huge proportion of our work taking us further afield than our city of London.

After arriving back from Zambia last week, we managed to edit the initial draft of the first of our three videos, and am now thrust straight into a new project. Deadlines are becoming so interesting that we’re actually making edit decisions on the plane ready for Zambia changes when we return.

So, this trip takes us to sunny Cadiz, a short drive from Jerez in southern Spain. We’re due to film a case study video at a 5 star resort. Luckily we receive only a delay rather than cancellation as the BA strikes don’t seem to have too much of an effect on us.

I don’t know how Madrid manages it, but there has always been heavy turbulence on landing there in the past and this flight was no exception! After catching our connecting flight from Madrid, we have an hours taxi ride to take in some of the scenery.

The outdoor terrace at the hotel makes a good spot for a drink in the sun, the temperature’s lovely and the view is great. Due to the number of projects in production at the moment, we sit and deconstruct the rest of the Zambian edit by iPhone and forward the changes back to the office. Our end client in Spain for this new shoot meets us in the evening for some tapas and wine, so we could relax a bit before tomorrow’s hard work.


A quick spot of breakfast and then we’re quick out of the traps hunting for a location for our interview setup. Interestingly, a big number of details (even down to the interviewee) change over the first couple of hours, so we’re forced to think on our feet and quickly adjust. Special care should be taken when judging the complexities of shoots – it’s often the more straightforward of them that have the biggest potential to throw curve-balls!

It proves to be a tough day, finishing at 3 and then dashing back to the airport to head home. We got all we needed, but as the interview is in Spanish we’ll have to wait until the translation before we can get the edit moving. At least it gives us a minute to catch our breath!


African Adventure – Quick Stop in Nairobi!

So, we decided on a little detour! We’re currently stuck in traffic in the centre of Nairobi, after having a whirl around the city with William the cab driver!

The sun’s very hot; we’ve seen huge birds; bus queues that moe Oxford Street look tame, and amassed a number of photos.

The decision not to stay in the airport at Nairobi was a good one, and once we got through the visa line we weren’t far off being in a taxi. The vista instantly becomes very typically Africa -the gorgeous trees with long grass and mountains in the distance.

The city is busy, we’ve picked possblybtge worst time of day too – but as long as we get back for our flight to London at 2345 we’ll be happy!

It’s dark here now, being 2 hours ahead of London, but on our way to a market… we’ll see what happens.


African Adventure – The Return Leg pt1

Our day began at 7am, meeting for breakfast at the hotel. A little groggy after the late night, but nothing major, then a hurried pack before the last business event of the trip: a meeting with our client’s boss at the office.

We’ve really been bowled over by the people we’ve met on this trip, it’s certainly made our stay much more welcoming and would have been a different experience without them.

A little hiccup over the bill at the hotel rattles the nerves a little as we’re running a bit late for the airport – our flight leaves just over an hour after we leave the hotel! I normally play it safe and arrive at any airport 3 hours early out of sheer fear of missing a flight!

Thankfully, we made it, even after my bag split. It was funny that we’d rushed as best we could then we got stopped by something around each corner, from immigration exit forms or the body scanners. I’ve always got far too many things that go ‘beep’ on me – so it takes me an age.

Lusaka to Lilongwe

So, we’re at the end of our first flight connection from Lusaka in Zambia to Lilongwe in Malawi. It’s only a quick one, taking around an hour before we sit on the tarmac for a further hour before hopping on the next leg into Nairobi, Kenya. So, this part of the blog is being writted while we wait. You’ll probably notice the writing style deteriorate as time goes on!

We’re expected into London at 0645 tomorrow morning, so it’s a long 20 hours of flying in total.

Lilongwe to Nairobi and a day of sightseeing to follow! Keep checking back for an update this evening.