Video Studio Curve

Film Studio Fairytale

Film Studio Fairytale

Our video studio and creative hub is almost a year old!

Scheduling and running a working film studio has been eventful and a terrific learning curve.

On the south side of Bristol, 15 minutes from the airport and next to Parsons St Station, the studio space itself is two storeys high and nearly 900 by 800 metres in floor size.

It has acoustic tiling, four space lights with dimmers and lots of flats to create most types of interiors.

With colorama rolls, green screen and a fully working kitchen set, it offers a well-sized space for drama, interviews, product demonstrations and music videos.

The great thing about Mendip Media Studios is its ease of access and its built-in value for clients.

It has parking for 6 cars right outside the door, access into the studio for small lorries and vans to unload products, product storage, a fully equipped prep kitchen and fibre connectivity.

Alongside the studio, Mendip Media offers its fully equipped offices, meeting areas and edit suites for client use.

Our very first dry-hire, just after we had moved in, was a Tesco’s photography shoot. The products arrived; chilled pizzas, pies, ready-meals, taking up two fridges worth of space. Over two days, the creative director and photographer spent a lot of time arranging food items on the floor on a white colorama.

This taught us our first hire lessons: prepare well for the client and make sure there’s plenty of tea on hand!

Since then the studio has been pretty constantly in use.

We’ve rigged and derigged the kitchen-set so many times now that we’ve got the preparation phase down to a fine art, and each time we set up we try to improve and tweak the set and props.

Our aim in 2016 is to get as many creatives into the space to see for themselves why it’s such a good place to film or photograph.

And we’re running some great discounts this month, so if you’re looking for somewhere to base your video or photography project get in touch.

Video Shapes Marketing Now

If Only ...?

If Only …?

It’s 2025 and as you unlock your office door, all systems spring into action, including the coffee machine, so that by the time you’re settled at your desk, the coffee is brewing, Siri is running through your list of emails (if that’s what they’re called in a decade’s time) and your staff are checking in via video technology from their global locations.

This is the world of the not-so-distant future.

As you check the sales figure and flick on your social media channels to see how your brand is doing against its competitors, you feel uncomfortable when you again confirm that practically all B2C retailers in your market are being watched on video platforms that have long out-performed the old channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Now even more than ever, you realise that had you followed the advice of the marketing pundits and pushed video firmly to the fore of your marketing strategy in 2016, your product sales would be competing favourably with the brands that commissioned multiple high quality videos.

Sweeping aside the sales figures and banishing thoughts of missed opportunities, you plug in your Babel ear-piece and make sales calls to the strong leads you have in several countries.

Everything is going well, until the inevitable request to see your product in action.

“I don’t have a video of the product” you admit, “but I have some great photos of it in various stages of action.”

There’s a pause at the other end of the phone and then “I’m sorry but we need to see the product working. It’s crucial we understand how it performs and how easy it is to use. Perhaps you’ll come back to us when you have a product demonstration you can share.”

You pull out the Babel earpiece and throw it on the desk with a sigh.

It’s now you need another coffee; you think “it’s a pity that someone hasn’t invented a hologram assistant that can make a brew,” and then a small voice in your head adds, “… it’s a pity you didn’t have the foresight to make those damned videos!”

Monkeying Around in the New Year

Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey

Ushering in the Year of the Monkey, this weekend the Chinese celebrate the biggest event in their annual calendar.

Brands in the hotel, restaurant, entertainment and experiential consumption industries should be thinking video to communicate their brand at multiple digital touchpoints especially now as Chinese travellers board their plane for the big get away this weekend.

The Chinese New Year is a huge annual event – be it in people’s spending or migration. In 2015, the seven-day Chinese holiday recorded a total retail and restaurant sales of RMB678 billion (approx. USD104.6 billion) in mainland China, double the total spent by the Americans at Thanksgiving 2014.

According to Bloomberg, Chinese people undertake 2.8 billion trips during their Chinese New Year celebrations, with close to 5.2 million Chinese – a 10% year-on-year growth in number – taking outbound trips in 2015 to Europe, the United States and other destinations in Asia.

A recent survey shows that some 80% of Chinese travellers have used an electronic device such as a mobile phone, desktop or laptop to plan and book travel, compared with only 53% last year.

So if you’re in the hospitality business and want to capture some of the lucrative Chinese tourist spend, start planning your video strategy for Chinese New Year 2017!

新年好  新年好


The Art of Food on Camera

Food We Dream Of

Food We Dream Of

Food for the lens is something of an art.

Ask a food designer and they’ll tell you that making food for filming or photography is like painting; it’s a combination of ideas, planning, time to choose the handpicked ingredients, hard graft and an ‘eye’ for composition.

Looking at food in a TV ad, film or cookery programme, you’d think that most of the time most of us produce the luscious looking dishes that regularly appear in the kitchens and dining areas of celebrity chefs. And that the food ingredients we use in our home-cooking are a glorious unblemished colour and as fresh as when they were plucked from the ground or tree.

But even as we see the aspirational dishes appear like genies in an impossible time-frame, we know that our own experience of food, 90% of the time, is nothing like the stuff on tellie.

Either we’re too tired to cook after work and opt for a ready-meal or make some quick an’ easy comfort meal – spag bol, macaroni cheese, beans on toast. And then it’s left-overs or try to use up the rapidly decaying vegetables at the bottom of the fridge.

Yet there’s magic in images of recipes that look magnificent. It makes us believe that we too can create great looking, delicious dishes if only we had the time (and talent).

It’s a sort of pornography – a longing, a fantasy, a desire to plate up something on a par with Master Chef.

And a vague educational agenda aside, this is the aim of food filming & photography.

To create a longing in the viewer to be that person who fashions the perfect dish which in turn sells more ingredients and possibly creates celebrity foodie brands like Fanny, Delia, Nigella and Jamie.

Never underestimate the work it takes to make food on camera look great.

There are weeks of planning before any food shoot to cover all the bases from creating the recipe, sourcing & buying the ingredients, choosing the colours & textures of the props, dressing the set, costuming the presenter, cooking the dishes, arranging the food on the plate and making sure it looks fresh and appetising under hot studio lights.

Hats off to the production managers, creative directors, food stylists and professional cooks, not to mention those who do the clearing, washing up and rubbish removal after filming; our craving for food on camera would hardly be met without these legions of dedicated folk!

Food Filming A Room Of One’s Own

Having a room of one’s own to film and photograph food has been a revelation.

In the middle of last year Mendip Media moved from rented offices to a custom-designed, double warehouse complete with creative suites, fibre connectivity, offices and at its heart a spacious, two-storey studio with adjoining preparation kitchen.

At the time it seemed a natural progression as the in-house creative team was out-growing cramped accommodation and, despite being sited next to the BBC in the centre of Bristol, unable (thanks to BT) to connect to the fibre enabled exchange several hundred yards up the road.

Today we’re celebrating a small milestone: 6 months in our bespoke studio.

It has taken getting used to … in a good way.

We have been filming in or renting out the space constantly since we moved in. And if there’s down time, the creatives are in the studio filming, photographing, lighting or set designing to improve their skill set.

The flexibility the building gives us as sole owners is that we are able to schedule shoots without incurring extra costs and at our own discretion. This absolutely helps clients, especially those trying to market product launches and whose timetables are constantly disrupted.

Our first commission for multiple food videos from China came in just before Christmas, so not only are we starting to export our video production and expertise as food videographers, but we’re also making good use of superfast connectivity in dealing long distance with a marketing team as if they were in the UK.

All in all today, despite the government health warnings, I’ll be raising a glass of cider to Mendip Media Studios.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Mendip Media’s video production and studio please contact me 0117 974 4320

The Generational Divide Challenges Restaurant Marketers

Fried Chicken Wins in Digital

Fried Chicken Wins in Digital

Whilst the middle age gourmands slug it out in newsprint about which web list (French or English) has the most accurate guide to the world’s best restaurants, KFC is creating  digital apps with Snapchat to increase visits by 13-34 year olds to its fast food outlets.

The style, content and advertising route for the two types of restaurants – posh nosh & not so posh, tells us shed loads about the millennial divide.

Those born in the noughties are steadily moving away from even the early web innovations of the pre-turn of the century generation.

To those of us who grew up with newsprint and tellie, websites seemed a thing of wonder (and still do to some).

But for the kids who are growing up with the web and mobile technology, social media platforms, interactivity and the internet of things are where it’s at.

So back to food. The high end, exclusive eateries where youngsters will likely neither be seen (nor heard) and the popular, snack meal canteens, which are squarely aimed at a young demographic, are of course going to use different marketing channels to reach their target markets.

But the posh nosh restauranteurs better watch out, the kids grow up to become potential clients.

The shock of it is, that despite La Liste and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants having pretty good traditional websites and using Twitter & Facebook, both these respected social media platforms are considered old school by the millennials.

The young have moved on to Blinkx and Vube for video; Snapchat, Whisper and Gossup for chatter; Periscope and Instagram for photos and probably a whole host more I’ve never heard of.

So KFC has nailed it for it now; a Snapchat Geofilter app is just about as ‘on it’ as you can get to get Generation Y engaged with a brand aiming to be down with the kids.

Whilst the thought of Snapchatting about a bucket of fried chicken sends me into a tail spin, the brutal truth is that the internet is evolving so quickly that content producers and marketers are struggling keep up as the users take control.

Smart Video

Feeding the Beast

Feeding the Beast

2016 has started well and that’s because I’ve found a like-minded soul in Jake LeVoir from US video producers Slate & Main. His blog post predicting a change in how clients commission marketing video echoes my sentiments exactly.

Mendip Media was founded as an online video comms agency and has always advocated multiple video production for clients, not because it makes more money for the video producer, but because, on the contrary, to produce more videos of the same quality as a single blockbuster for the same price is not only possible but positively liberating.

It produces a different relationship with the client; one that evolves into genuine partnership and understanding of their business.

Video has come in from the cold. Its centrality to marketing strategy reflects the seismic changes in the expansion of distribution networks for video content. These same networks are also changing the content production model that was once employed to supply the exclusivity of TV distribution.

Back in the day, because TV spots were limited and expensive, so the theory went, the advert that filled the 30’ slot had to be memorable and therefore costly. Given the amount of money and creative energy channelled into TV advertising in the days before the internet, it’s not surprising advertising gold like the Smash Martians or the sound of the Hamlet cigar are still fondly remembered.

But now video is ubiquitous. Viewers expect to see it on websites and social media. Unlike the TV audiences of old, they won’t tolerate the same content over and over. Whilst the need for quality and creativity remains, the trick to get wider reach is to keep feeding the beast with fresh stand-out video content.

Eating In the New Year!

Super New Year Food

Super New Year Food

Christmas has it, Easter has it, Hogmanay has it, but unless I’ve missed out for half a century on a tradition that I’ve never been told about, New Year’s Eve doesn’t; as far as I know there is no communal English New Year’s Eve celebratory meal.

That is presuming most people eat on New Year’s Eve.

Yes, sure, we all have a few (or more) drinks as the calendar flips over to usher in a fresh start, but are these pints, litres and glasses of alcohol underpinned with a traditional meal?

If you’re at a loss as to what to eat, here are some ideas from around the world:


In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat noodles, signifying longevity, at New Year; apparently slurping them down gives even more luck in the coming year.


Pomegranates represent good luck in Turkey; the red colour, which represents the human heart, denotes life and fertility; their medicinal properties represents health; and their abundant, round seeds represent prosperity. This is probably the uber New Year food, if somewhat difficult to find in the local supermarket.


A popular New Year’s meal in Italy is Cotechino con Lenticchie (green lentils with sausage) because of the legume’s greenish colour and coin-like appearance. When cooked, lentils plump with water apparently symbolise growing wealth.

Pickled Herrings

In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty as their silvery colour resembles coins.

I’m not sure they should all appear on the same menu, but select any one of these and they’ll counter the rich, fatty Christmas fare we’ll all have shovelled down days earlier.

Here’s to a pickled herring, lentil, noodle and pomegranate fuelled New Year!

Struggling To Describe the Internet Age

Internet Babel

Internet Babel

Change on the internet is so rapid that our vocabulary battles to define ever new phenomenon in the networks and this is hindering our ability to really describe what is going on.

I saw an example of this today in an article by Seb Joseph:

“Social has always been about authenticity whereas advertising is a means to get people’s attention.”

The difference between social and advertising is an interesting choice of comparison.

I always thought that advertising was a push notification to let people know about a product, whereas social is a type of distribution mechanism.

Doesn’t advertising use social as a means of reaching people?

Advertising is a type of content that’s largely controlled by the product maker or brand, whereas other content on social is created by individuals who’ve got something they want to say.

Individuals, unless they’ve got serious money, can’t use the older channels such as scheduled TV to create distributable content. Advertising is pervasive and paid for.

Other content, which has only been around since the internet developed the mechanisms to distribute it, is made by us in our own time and is generally free to distribute.

Unless I’m missing something, these distinctions have been there since the beginning of the web.

I guess the question is should we conflate social ie the distribution channels and the content? Does it help marketers understand what’s happening as the social media networks multiply and behaviours adapt and morph?

I think it does matter. Very much. A lot of discussion around what is happening in marketing is impenetrable. The language that is being made up to try to capture the change is so technical or ‘in-speak’ that it is almost incomprehensible, or its just plain gobbledygook, which means many are being shut out of the discussion altogether.



Where Did The Magic Go?

Bah Humbug

Bah Humbug

Well we’ve almost arrived …

I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who are made up by the actual Christmas event itself, but I’ve got to say that it feels like an anti-climax just because of the sheer weight of advertising that has relentlessly and shamelessly slopped all over the season of good will since the beginning of November.

KitKat’s latest spot has attempted to mitigate the glut of Christmas fantasy nonsense from men in the moon to cats that eat eggs by being curmudgeonly, but it feels a little lame even if it is meant to be a play on the ‘take a break’ KitKat motto.

Where did the specialness of Christmas go?

Nowadays, partly thanks to our internet & mobile networks, it seems a drawn-out, diluted affair, primarily aimed at getting us to buy as much stuff as possible.

Which is exactly what it is; except that for those who are religious, somewhere buried under the wrapping paper, food mountains and over consumption, there is a birthday to celebrate.

Merry Christmas & may it quickly pass!

The Chartered Institute of Marketing IMRG - The voice of e-retail

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