Nissan Qashqai: 10 years of design

Performance Communications agency came to Other Brother Studios with an exciting but challenging brief: 

'Nissan would like to take a look back at a decade of innovative design to celebrate 10 years of the Nissan Qashqai.

By combining the best features of an efficient family hatchback with the high seating position and strength of an SUV, Nissan created an entirely new kind of car in 2007 - the crossover. Ten years on, Nissan still leads the crossover market, with Qashqai, Juke and X-Trail.

We would like to see the story of Qashqai's development, showing the original Qashqai, Qashqai+2, the 2010 update, and the 2014 Qashqai second-generation model, including the Qashqai Black Edition.' 

A hugely exciting brief for Other Brother Studios to receive, the main challenge was that we could not shoot any of the footage for the video and it had to be told through existing design sketches and photography, not exactly an easy task. However, always ready for a challenge, Other Brother Studios set to work designing storyboards which we believed would be best presented as animations. Animation would allow movement within these flat images and we were hoping that we could get hold of some of Nissan's technical CAD drawings and bring them to life. We pitched with the following images, which displayed timelines to specify and highlight the 10-year journey, as well as strikingly-bold key images for each milestone Qashqai car model, as well as further smaller images around the outside of the frame, which were highlighted as animated segments. These would be animated in a manner that would indicate the images being sketched out, like a time-lapse of development of each sketch, almost as if you were seeing the artist sketch it out in real life!

We also explored the option of creating a 'blueprint' style background to the piece, in order to relate more closely to the engineer's drawings and sketches that were to be incorporated in the piece. These were images that we pitched this idea within our mood boards:

We also looked at options of bespoke text, related to the overall look of the film, which ultimately were not used but would be great for another Other Brother Studios project:

Other Brother Studios were also asked by Nissan to create a large mosaic incorporating hundreds of images of the Nissan Qashqai over the 10 year period. There are a whopping 896 images within this larger mosaic:

Onto the animation itself; the key animator and editor on this project was the very talented Chloe Rodham and animation assistant Maxine Davies. Chloe did a marvellous job animating all of the segments and made many great suggestions along the way, including adding more movement to the still key images. Over to Chloe, to explain the technical aspects of the project:

'The animation for the Nissan brief utilises a combination of Adobe applications to achieve the visuals. Existing promotional photography is brought to life by splitting it into numerous different layers in Photoshop to replicate depth planes. Foreground elements are separated from background elements with gaps created in the process filled in using a combination of cloning and content-aware filling. This allows the layers to be placed in a 3D environment in After Effects in order to create a parallax when combined with a camera move.'

'The concept sketches are animated with help from a drawing script that converts individual brush strokes into Alpha Track Mattes. Each line was drawn over by hand in AE so that the line work, shading and colouring could be animated to appear over time, making it look like the blueprint sketches, concept art or wireframes are actually being drawn.'

'Getting each mosaic tile to change opacity for the 2016 image made use of expressions and a variety of different colourful layers to create a flickering effect without animating each tile individually.'

All in all, it was a superb project for Other Brother Studios to work on. A challenging brief but one that Other Brother Studios relished. Here's to another 10 years of the Nissan Qashqai! And here is the video, premiered on Nissan Europe's YouTube channel:

Other Brother Studios: Film Fund 2017

In 2011, I was a 2-year post graduate from a BA degree in Architectural studies at Newcastle University. I did well and managed to get a 1st Class Hons degree in a subject that I certainly wasn't naturally gifted at. Whilst my degree in Architecture allowed me a steady income in a full-time job, it wasn't what I ultimately strived for professionally. It wasn't creatively fulfilling enough for me and I was insanely passionate about a well-known 120-year-old medium called film!

To backtrack momentarily; Never let anyone tell you that a part-time or full-time job to fund your real passion is not a good idea or 'giving in'. They're wrong. Personally, it gave me the freedom to take on and make films without having considering whether the job would pay my rent or bills. This freedom allowed me to be creative and at that early stage, make valuable mistakes without it having a long-term impact on my career. 

Back to the story; When I graduated from University I started making music videos. My first music video was for a musician called Fyfe Dangerfield from a popular band called The Guillemots. I asked Fyfe, after one of his gigs If I could make a video for him, as I had been making plasticine sets for a non-determined project, it seemed like a perfect pairing. He said yes (much to my surprise), and therefore I was then faced with the daunting task of creating an animated music video for not only one of musical heroes but in a medium that I had never worked with before. Suffice to say, it was a difficult and time-consuming process. Thankfully I discovered coffee at this point in my life, as if not, I probably wouldn't have finished this music video:

This music video went down a treat and I quickly managed to secure a few music video 'jobs' (I put this in inverted commas because I didn't earn any money out of any of them). I also started putting the word out that I wanted to make adverts for companies for free. This may sound like a ludicrous idea but I needed content to sell my talents properly. I will go into much more detail about these things in future blog posts but here is an example of one of these adverts that I made for free:

After making many small music videos and a couple of free adverts for friends who owned companies, I decided to look into broadening out into the short film format with animation. I had no idea what I wanted to make but I had heard about grants that were given to select filmmakers to make their short films. I had a quick look online and much to my surprise found one straight away! It was available to filmmakers aged 11-25, through the Roundhouse in Camden and supported by the Ex-Animo Foundation. You had to submit a proposal (otherwise known as a pitch) to The Roundhouse and if they liked your proposal then you were invited to come into the Roundhouse for an interview. You would receive £400 to make your film and you had 2 months to make it. Sold! 

I went to work straight-away, slaving over a story which I created by writing a rhyming-couplets poem and then an animatic to better explain the short animated film that I was proposing. Here is that animatic:

It was the first animatic that I ever made but proved to be the thing that won me my first ever film grant to make 'Emma'. Don't underestimate the effort required to win a film grant - even a small one! Here is my first short animated film 'Emma':

This was the first time that someone had given me money to make something and that was an incredible thing. It was more pressure than I had been used to, I didn't want to let the Roundhouse or the Ex-Animo Foundation down. It was, for me at that time, a really big deal. It took me two months to make the animated film and the Roundhouse and the Ex-Animo Foundation were very pleased with the result. For me, this film was the most important thing that I had made to date. It gave me the confidence to know that I had made something on time and in-budget, without any hiccups. 

The film did very well, which was a real bonus. To date; it has amassed over 130,000+ views, received 2x nominations ('Shots 2012 New Director of The Year' nominee for Matthew Lawes / 'Best Animated Film' at Phoenix Comicon Film Festival). It also got into the following film festivals: Frames Festival - Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), Baranja Animation Festival - Croatia, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival - US, Golden Kuker Sofia International Animation Film Festival - Bulgaria, Rob Knox Film Festival - UK, N4YP Film Festival - Berlin, Basauri Bizkaia International Animated Film Festival - Spain, Cornwall Film Festival - UK.

As my career has progressed and I have run 2x successful production companies, I realise that Emma and the grant that the Roundhouse and The Ex-Animo Foundation gave to me, was the most important step towards what I have now. And because of that, I would like to provide the same opportunity to someone else, once a year. I want to provide the same support, financial input and opportunity that I was given (with a couple of extra things thrown in for good measure).

So with that in mind, do you have an amazing idea for a short film?

Other Brother Studios is granting one filmmaker per year the opportunity to make their idea a reality. There are no rules about your idea, it can be anything from a live action drama to animation. Just keep it under 5 minutes long. 

What will I get?

How do I enter?

You must send a treatment, an idea for your film, to with the subject header 'Other Brother Studios Film Fund 2017'

Deadline for entries:

The deadline for short film Treatments is, 30th June 2017

Interviews will take place on 3rd July 2017 with the winning treatment selected on 7th July 2017

The winning film must be completed by 4th September 2017


Good luck!

BTS: Reuben Hollebon, 'On & On', Music video

After shooting a short documentary for Reuben Hollebon (pictured below) in the summer of 2016, Other Brother studios were asked by his record label, Bright Antenna Records, to make an official music video for his song 'On & On'. 

Other Brother Studios went to work finding a Director who we thought could bring an epic and meaningful interpretation to the production. James Slater was the perfect fit for the brief, which was loosely based on a robot themed short story that Reuben himself had written many years ago. Not only is James an acclaimed music video director, having made videos for artists such as Kaiser Chiefs, Daughter, Major Lazer to name but a few as well as winning an NME award last year for his 'Zombie' video for Jamie T, but he also had the perfect vision for the video. Other Brother Studios spent some time with James, initially choosing a location in Dungeness, well known for its post-apocalyptic appearance. It's quite an eery environment, with a large nuclear power station, old deserted fisherman huts and abandoned ships. 

After choosing the location, Other Brother Studios went to work finding the crew; it was a tough ask for someone to transform Reuben into a robot and we asked the incredible Natasha Lawes to get involved. Natasha is a creative designer, make-up and hair artist, tech-FX costume & mask maker and special-FX & model maker. She's basically one seriously talented individual capable of putting her hand to anything, no matter the task at hand! Natasha initially did a head cast and arm cast of Reuben (after he shaved his hair and beard off - committed to the cause), and then created a number of moulds and subsequent realistic models and robotic details which we used in the shoot. 

(Left to right, inside Natasha Lawes' studio) Reuben Hollebon, Natasha Lawes, Reuben Hollebon's robot, James Slater

(Left to right, inside Natasha Lawes' studio) Reuben Hollebon, Natasha Lawes, Reuben Hollebon's robot, James Slater

In terms of rigs, Other Brother Studios did a few tests with the Sony FS7 attached to the Shape shoulder rig. We needed a Directors monitor for James so we used the Odyssey 7Q+ (a firm favourite at Other Brother Studios), which sat atop the camera via a magic arm connected to a Shape top plate. This gave us a freeness to the shooting style but James wanted a bit more control so we ended up using a Vario 5 Easy Rig from Feral Equipment hire, which allowed quasi handheld / steadicam feel to the shot.

(Left to right) Director James Slater, Reuben Hollebon, DOP Matthew Lawes, 1st AC Gregory Nice

(Left to right) Director James Slater, Reuben Hollebon, DOP Matthew Lawes, 1st AC Gregory Nice

Lenses wise Other Brother Studios used the excellent Cooke S4i lens set from Feral Equipment hire (14mm / 21mm / 28mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm), which were simply superb. As the Sony FS7 has a super 35mm sensor there is a crop to the image, as it's not full frame, so we had to bare that in mind. At times we would have liked to go even wider, but in hindsight that was probably down to James and I having watched and loved the Revenant prior to this shoot! The lenses are really fast, meaning that we had to stop down with the inbuilt ND filters most of the time at 1/64. At times, mainly at midday when the sun was really high, it would have helped to have a matte box with additional ND filters - a couple of times we had to keep the aperture at f/4. Although mostly these were landscape wide shots, so mostly suited to what we were shooting. 

The shoot day itself was a long one. A 04:00 start for Other Brother Studios in Brixton then travel to Woolwich for 05:00 where Reuben had most of his make-up applied. We arrived at Dungeness at 06:00 and set-up our gazebo and Natasha Lawes and Ruth Pease finished the make-up. We started shooting at around 20:00 and finished around 21:00. All in Other Brother Studios got back at midnight, so a nice 20 hour day.

Rather than explain every detail of the day at length, here is a BTS (behind-the-scenes) video shot by Jenny Broad of the day:

The edit was completed with James Slater and Reuben Hollebon at Other Brother Studios studio in Brixton. It was edited on FCPX with a Koji Advanced grade applied. The Cooke S4i lenses were beautiful to grade with. Here are some images from the grade and finally the video itself:

Staring - Reuben Hollebon
Director - James Slater 
DOP - Matthew Lawes
Production - Other Brother Studios
Camera Assistant - Gregory Nice
Editor and Grader - Matthew Lawes
Makeup and Tech-FX - Natasha Lawes
Makeup assistant - Ruth Pease
Runner - Joe Bulmer
Production Assistant - Jenny Broad
Audio mix - Ben Hillier




Other Brother Studios - 2016 in review

Everything I read on the internet at the moment is doom and gloom… so screw that, I’m going to blow a big fat celebratory trumpet (in the key of Emaj7)! What a year 2016 has been for Other Brother Studios!

Technically speaking, our London based production company officially launched in March 2016, but before that we were wrapping up post-production on our short animated film The Song of Wandering Aengus. After an intense 6 months working on a 4-minute film, it was time to think about the film festivals we thought could love our little short. Thanks to the Ex-Animo Foundation, run by Marlena Hellebø, we were able to submit to a huge number of festivals. More about that in another blog post but needless to say 38 official selections, 15 award nominations, and 8 award wins, across 12 different countries, has been a fantastic start, and we still have 6 months of the international film festival run to go! Before the public release of The Song of Wandering Aengus in 2017 you can view the trailer, which features narration by Liam Cunningham and original music by David Holmes & Keefus Ciancia:

Other Brother Studios' first official film was with Lenny George, an old pal who wanted us to film a piece by well-known Cornish comedian The Kernow King for their event 'Kernow in the City'. We also made the promo film for the night, which you can see here:

We then embarked on an incredible job for Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Art Links, in collaboration with Director / Producer Lewis Wickwar, to make a charity film ‘Talking Care’. The film focused on carers in Norfolk and aimed to raise awareness of the Carers Assessment that all carers are entitled to, which can help to support them. Meeting these brave and extraordinary people was a real honour. They all spoke candidly about their experiences and what benefits had arisen from the Carers Assessment. The full 10-minute film can be seen here:

We then launched straight into production on a couple of really interesting architecture films for Cullinan Studios, in partnership with Warrick Manufacturing Group, Innovate UKHolovis and The Hyde Group. We used a mix of live action and animation for the first film to explain BIMspace, an idea developed by Cullinan Studios for clients, architects and contractors to collaborate effectively on projects within a space designed specifically to accommodate for BIM and everything it offers. We incorporated talking heads into the BIMspace, along with drawings, flythroughs and pixilated animation silhouettes of people to illustrate the use of the space.

For the second film we interviewed four individuals from various stages of the construction process and added in supplementary b-roll to the footage to explain 'Immersive Visualisation in Construction'. Initially, the film looks at what WMG's history is in immersive visualisation, then how the IVIC project came into being, then we look at how immersive visualisation is used in construction and at the next 10 years for immersive visualisation! VR is the future, embrace it! 

Around this time I heard from a friend, musician Reuben Hollebon (in photo below), who told me all about his new album 'Terminal Nostalgia'. We decided to travel to his hometown in Norfolk to make a short documentary about his upbringing; where his album had essentially come from. This was a really unique experience, at times often very revealing and sad but ultimately it was a chance to capture someone at an early stage of their career who I think is going to have a lot of success. The documentary is not available online just yet but will be out very soon. 

The documentary was met with such a warm response from Reuben's label, Bright Antenna Records, that we were asked to produce the music video for his track 'On & On'. We put together a bit of a super team; including NME award winning Director James Slater and creative designer and make-up artist Natasha Lawes. The video was shot in Dungeness on our Sony FS7 with Cooke S4i lenses. We will cover the video in full in another blog post, the video is available to view here: 

There was a first this summer: we shot a wedding film. There was an air of trepidation, but if there is one thing that we love it's a challenge! Filming on Alex and Sami's big day went flawlessly in the end and the edit was great fun. One happy bride and one happy groom later, do keep us in mind as your wedding videographers as we loved making this! You can view the wedding trailer below to get an idea of our style:

We got another call in August from Director/ Producer Lewis Wickwar who asked us to be involved in producing a new film with him in conjunction with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester and Ipswich museums, Gainsborough's House and the Museum of East Anglian Life. The film highlights a course called 'Creative Heritage in Mind', taught by artists at galleries and museums in Suffolk, which allows adults with mental health issues to explore therapy through art. Lewis always offers great filming opportunities and this project was a real honour to be a part of. You can view the edited film below:

In October we started working with Andrew Mills of School Reel, who make promotional films for private and comprehensive schools around the UK. With our experience of teaching in schools, this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We ended up making two films with Andrew this year, both of which we are very proud of: 

Two very exciting commissions came to us in December, one for Nissan (which we can't show you yet) and one for Volkswagen, who were launching their new brand Moia at TechCrunch London. A 5am start and a midday turnaround the next day for a highlights video was quite a challenge and it was a great film to make. We love the idea and can't wait to see what happens next!

If you've made it this far, then you've either scrolled to the bottom (fair enough) or you have watched all of these films (well done)! It's been quite a year for Other Brother Studios and we couldn't have had a better start to our new venture. In total, we have made 32 films this year, not all of which are shown here, and we've worked with some incredible clients, agencies, brands, schools, charities and individuals who we would like to thank very much for these opportunities! 

We'd also like to thank our tirelessly, talented crew who have worked their socks off to contribute to all the content you see here at Other Brother Studios.

Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling 2017! We can't wait to see what happens!