Ten years of content

Just short of 100 years ago, the world entered a decade nicknamed ‘The Roaring Twenties’. It was a time of hope, unforeseen prosperity and change. Advances in industry and technology allowed the average person to purchase automobiles for the first time. Women were newly empowered by gaining the right to vote and people thought that the good times would never end.

Jump ahead 100 years as a new decade looms for us all, we brace ourselves for unprecedented exponential change that may take us all by surprise. Most would argue that change is inevitable, but it seems technology is compounding change in much shorter time frames.

Let’s take a quick look back over the last 10 years. Coca Cola was the biggest brand globally, then in 2013, Apple took the throne. What changed?

Well in 2009 only 3 of the 10 highest value companies were in the tech industry…

Today 6 out of 10 are tech companies, dominate the top 4 positions.

We’ve gone from headphone jack in the 2010’s to wireless earbuds, one-button to no buttons, and now you can stream on-demand video content from any smart device in the world.

Of all the young Australian’s (18-35) that stream on their laptops or televisions weekly, it is estimated more than 75% will watch a piece of other content on their phone… at the same time.

With so much content that you need two devices playing simultaneously, it seems like we’re reaching an overload… but the truth is that while content is being made more frequently, it’s also being watched more specifically.

Here in Australia, we were so eager to get Netflix that many Aussies used VPNs to watch the content overseas before it came into the market legally. The idea of not having to pay $100 for Foxtel seemed too good to be true.

Netflix v Cable

But when you pay month-to-month for these streaming services do you end up saving?

To compete with the rise of Netflix, companies like Disney, Apple, Amazon, and HBO have launched their own exclusive video-on-demand platforms, creating a kind of exclusive content war.

For example, if you wanted to watch the finale of Game of Thrones earlier this year, you would need to have purchased HBO Max (or “Foxtel” in Oz), but if you wanted to watch Stranger Things you would’ve had to purchase Netflix.

Disney now owns the rights to all Fox and National Geographic content, as well as the Marvel and Pixar movies, so anyone who wants to watch that content will need to purchase Disney+.

Consumers are now forced to purchase multiple subscription on-demand services if they want exposure to the full spectrum of content available. Ironically this ends up costing around the same as cable once did, albeit much more convenient.

It costs around AUD $80 a month for you to watch all this content

But do all these new platforms mean that old services such as TV subscriptions, free-to-air and cable are redundant?

Maybe not…

10 years ago, Hugh Chignall described radio as ‘dead’ in his Key Concepts in Radio Studies. In fact today, more young-adults (20-35) listen to radio and podcasts than watch Netflix/HBO or traditional news media.

Audiences are hungrier than ever for quality content. More than 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook, a billion on Youtube, which is the world’s 2nd most used searched engine after Google.
More than 75% of subscribers to Netflix have a 2nd streaming service and more than 50% have a third.

But how can this help your business?

As customers become over-serviced for content, it’s inevitable that traditional campaigns will become less enticing. Particularly when they’re inserted into traditional online platforms.

After all, nobody gets excited about watching a 15-second ad in front of their YouTube video. So what’s the alternative?

Why not make exciting content that can live on your own platform?

A few years back, Fairfax and Domain partnered with a team of filmmakers to create the web-series Avalon Now.

The comedy series was intended to poke fun at the first-world problems of middle-class beach-siders, and it ended up getting more than 2.5 million views, which led to the commission of a 2nd season… exclusively on the Domain.com website. Really, check it out…


Now even though there are properties featured in the show that you can rent or purchase on Domain, it begs the question… why would Domain do this?

Because as Domain editorial and marketing boss Melina Cruickshank stated:

“The series was developed to speak to a new generation of buyers and sellers. We wanted to bring a light-hearted approach to property and the Domain brand to speak to someone beyond the initial target market and capture people who might not have heard of us previously. It’s not a typical marketing campaign, we wanted to get our brand across in a way that wasn’t traditional.”

Here’s another example of a brand featuring stories rather than their services…

How Much Can Your Eyes Take?

We are overwhelmed with content.

People watching video content comprises more than a third of all online activity. By 2020 it’ll be more than half.

With companies fighting to win the most eyeballs, commercials and video content have become increasingly fast-paced and dramatic.

Psychologist James Cutting has been researching the ways people perceive motion picture for several decades.

What he has found is that people’s ability to perceive visual information has greatly increased.

Not only that, but an expectation of most audience members today is that of a fast, moving image, rather than a static distant one.

How dramatically have things changed?

Take this commercial for Mercedes Benz from 1990

The shots hold long (the opening shot lasts a full 10 seconds) with tranquil rhythmic music as a calming background.

An older English narrator describes the car in the same tone as David Attenborough describing lions.

The camera moves in only a handful of shots, and no hero character is visible. The only focus is the car itself.


Take a look at this recent Mercedes Benz commercial for comparison.

The first shot doesn’t even last a full second. We’re already rushing, racing through the video.

The camera always moves, not a single shot is static.

The growth of rapid, fast cutting, constant camera movement is evident. The question becomes, at what point does content become too intense for a viewer to take?

Screentide’s example

For our recent OnePath commercial we used a technique known as split screen to create a sense of energy, without overwhelming the audience.

This technique is often labelled as “distracting” and “incoherent” and we understood it would be a challenge from a filmmaking perspective.

The reason split screen is usually considered distracting is because… well it is distracting. Your eyes are forced to race around the screen to catch all the information.

This commercial is all about the feeling of life overwhelming us. So we let the audience feel that intensity as well.

The key to making sure it didn’t become too overwhelming was to rely on a few simple techniques…

1) The focus on story.

Our director wanted to create a sense of people who are connected, even in their seperate lives. The multiple screens allowed this.

Even so, he knew that an audience will always find it easier to follow a story if they have a central personality to focus on.

It’s why those All Spice commercials are so memorable. And with a commercial as fast paced as this one, it’s even more important.

That’s why through the video we always come back to our hero character, to ground us in the situation.

2) Cutting on the beat.

Every single motion and movement is cut on the beat. The alarms being switched off happens in perfect sync, the blinds opening happens on the beat.

Rather than the two commercial’s above, the music is actively driving the edit. While this could make the editor’s job less interesting, you’ll notice it actually makes the project more complicated.

Multiple screens are happening at once, so the editor needs to make sure each of those cues is not only on beat, but isn’t clashing with another screen.

This leads into another important discovery

3) Less movement, faster edit.

A key creative decision was to have the camera only move when our hero moves. Even though the camera is handheld at times, having our character leading the movement helps the eye adjust.

But at the end of the day the main thing to remember is that every job is different, this technique worked for this video but it wouldn’t for many others.

The important thing is to know when a technique will work to help you tell a story.

Screentide is a video production agency based in Fox Studios, Sydney. If you have an idea for a video, get in touch via hello@screentide.com.au.

An actor for a day


It’s true, we live in the age of insta-fame and selfie-promotion. On average, a parent will take more than 1300 photos of their child before they turn 12!

Yet even the most camera happy person can wind up feeling like a deer in the headlights when a director yells “action!’ As a producer, casting real people will always run the risk of the old ‘Cindy Brady’ syndrome!

Last year Screentide produced a successful documentary series on the driest topic imaginable: Life Insurance, which was led by the talented James Mathison. The series used real people, real humour and real practical knowledge to provide insights into the wonderful world of getting the right cover.


And you thought insurance was boring? ANZ put Screentide to the test once again, only this time they upped the ante. The challenge was to break down barriers, change hearts, minds and address the most hard-hitting issue of our time…


We know. We’ve lost you already. But wait! There’s more…

To educate, inspire and drive engagement with our audience, it was essential to use a key ingredient that made the Insurance series successful: authenticity. So we decided…

It had to be real people!

That’s why using actors or a host just wouldn’t cut it this time (Sorry James).

These days we can all smell a “sell” from a mile away but without the training or experience it can be difficult to get non-actors comfortable in front of a camera. I mean, how do you even begin to find the right people?

The answer… street casting. The subtle art of unearthing raw talent by using open-invitations, sometimes through Social Media campaigns or the old tried and tested street vox-pop interviews. 

Our mission was to find a representative from each generation – a millennial, a Gen-X’er, and a baby-boomer. Spokespeople who would effortlessly personify generational concerns around superannuation without being a walking cliché.

Easy right?

What we discovered was that there are some brilliant agencies and individuals who are specialists in casting real talent. It’s kind of a weird underground skill that’s blossomed in recent times, perhaps due to the golden age of reality TV and influencer bloggers.

These highly specialised professionals go out armed with a microphone and camera to interview dozens of pedestrians. Like finding a needle in a haystack, they don’t stop until they have a solid list of potential candidates who are then called back for a screen test.

At the screen test we find out the real truth – do they have what it takes to deliver in front of a real crew under pressure.

Here’s one of our talent we tested, Clare


Because the series was designed around the concept of real stories, we listened to Clare’s experiences, and thought she would be perfect for the job.

We then did several interviews to create scripts tailored around each of the candidate’s experiences, to help them know what they’d be asked, and how they’d be presented.

That way, on the day, we could focus on getting the interviews done with our new talent, helping them to deliver confident authentic responses to questions that were on point and in their own words.


Once you get talent in front of the cameras there are a few more things to consider

1. Make sure only one voice is talking at any given time. It can be hard for someone to feel confident with six or ten people in their ear giving different suggestions. If someone else has a note or idea, it’s worth passing it on to the director first rather than throwing it out there. This builds a safety net between the actor and director.

2. Don’t give result-based direction. Never tell a non-actor to ‘be happy.’ Unless you’re going for the most uncomfortable grin ever captured on video. Rather give them a situation they can understand. “Just treat the camera like it’s a friend you’ve been waiting to see for a long time.” Easy, everyday scenarios that everyone can relate to.

But the best part of making interview-based documentaries in this decade is…you can guide them through it…

…thanks to innovations like the interrotron. It’s a camera system that works like a teleprompter. Only instead of words it shows the face of the person you’re speaking to. It allows a person to speak directly into the camera with less intimidation, since there’s a friendly face (hopefully) to engage with.

Having a real conversation is one of the best ways to get genuine moments. You can ask questions, give prompts, and get someone talking for hours because they’re not talking to a camera lens. They’re talking to you.

(Fun fact: The interrotron was created by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris for his interviews with Robert McNamara. Upon seeing the setup McNamara said: “I don’t like it.” He then sat down for over twenty hours of interviews in front of the interrotron. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary)

So, how did our Superannuation series turn out?

With talent who’ve never been in front of a camera you need to establish trust, give them clear direction and reassure them that just because you call action, it doesn’t mean they have to do anything.

Next time you’re looking to create content for your business, think about what a proper casting process may help you with. Are real authentic voices important to your brand?

Screentide is a video production agency based in Fox Studios, Sydney. We love creating content. If you have an idea for a video, get in touch via hello@screentide.com.au.

Your Market Can Smell Your Ad From A Mile Away

2019 audiences are more digitally connected than ever. Children through to baby boomers are using technology in unprecedented numbers, with over 2.5 billion global smart phone users (and that number is expected to blow past the 5 billion mark by next year).

In response, digital advertising is becoming more and more invasive.

As marketing becomes more interruptive, audiences become not only more switched-on, but also more resentful of forced advertising. YouTube pre-roll has progressed to FaceBook in-stream. Every other ‘Social Influencer’ is spruiking teeth whitener. And as for native advertising/advertorial, a 2014 study found that two-thirds of users have felt deceived upon realising that an article or video was sponsored by a brand, and 54 percent of users don’t trust sponsored content.

Most ad content isn’t as sneaky nor subtle as it thinks it is, and the brands pay the price in lost credibility.

So in a time when cutting through the noise also means leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of your market, what’s a brand to do?


Introducing gifted content. If you’re not already familiar with the concept, you’ve surely noticed that every food industry retailer from here to Timbuktu has jumped on the magic-hands cooking video bandwagon. The idea is simple – give your audiences something they WANT to put their eyes on, whether it’s a recipe, a tutorial or a how-to video, the options are endless. So you’re a dog food company? Make a montage of cute puppy moments caught on video, and slap your logo and website on the end of it. You make garbage compactors? Top ten trashiest characters in film, brought to you by… You catch our drift.


Start being the shareable content, rather than interrupting it; your audiences will appreciate it, and the results will speak for themselves.


Screentide is a video production agency based in Fox Studios, Sydney. We love creating content, especially gifted and unique content. If you have an idea for a video, get in touch via hello@screentide.com.au.

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Case Study: HButler’s Orbit

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Putting Humour and Humanity Back Into Modern Technology

It’s mid-way through 2017. As we grow closer to our robot overlords taking over deeper into the information age, the technological rat race feels more pervasive than ever.

Every day there’s new technology on the market, and every new product is faster and more capable than the last (vibrating yoga pants anyone?*).


Last year, we were approached by H Butler to create a campaign for their product Orbit – a device which helps you find your keys with your phone and vice versa (you don’t need to be a parent or a boozer to know how handy that can be). Key objectives were brand awareness and lead generation.

Naturally we were incredibly excited to be working with an Australian startup company, but our first challenge quickly became apparent: how do we make the Orbit stand out in a sea of upcoming Bluetooth technology?


Concept and creative development are key in any campaign. We researched competitor products and their accompanying media; we watched ads, instructionals, kickstarter videos and more, and were decidedly underwhelmed.

It became clear that in order to stand out from overseas competitors who focus on their device’s functionality we had to humanize the product.

fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts). Furthermore, advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy than the ad’s content. (Damasio, 1995)

A recent survey from Adobe and Edelman Berland also reported that 79% of respondents preferred humorous ads over any other type.*

Although humour and likeability in advertising might seem obvious, technology advertising overwhelmingly focuses on sleek, polished and high-functioning capability. So we decided to shake things up.

The Screentide creative team put their heads down and devised a number of creative themes ranging from family morning pandemonium, disposophobia (fear of losing things), right through to a cheeky 007 nod. The common denominator emerged, contained in every creative option: an everyday, relatable human story, which naturally transcends cultures and borders. Our client then picked a favourite, and pre-production went into full swing.


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We open on an enormous pregnant belly. We cut to the poised husband, who is putting the final items into a hospital bag and sipping a piccolo. He seemingly couldn’t be more ready for the beauty of childbirth… until it happens. Contractions start. Wife is groaning. Husband can’t find his phone to call the hospital. The shit has hit the fan. Cue Orbit, who rides in on a shiny waterproof aluminium horse and saves the day. More hilarity ensues, but let’s not give it all away.

The comic farce provided us with an opportunity to underscore the product benefit in a humorous way. After all, is there a worse time one could lose their phone and keys?

Above and beyond simply listing the features of the device, we put a real, human face on the campaign, and put those faces into a chaotic situation many are already familiar with.


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Two brilliant actors, one silicone pregnant belly, and many hours of work from the Screentide team brought this concept to life.

We nailed the shoot in one day, despite car troubles, unprecedented roadworks, and working with a hungry toddler.


We had a lot of fun working on this project. The final result gives the viewer an insight into the product’s utility, while the actors and timing of our talented editor provide the comedy. Does it stand out? We think so, and our robot overlords agree.

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Screentide Creative Content is a video production agency based in Fox Studios, Sydney. We love telling stories, especially when there’s a challenge involved. If you have a story to tell or a message to send, get in touch via hello@screentide.com.au.



*Damasio, A. (1995), Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, New York: Penguin Books



Smartphone Relevance in the World of Video Production

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Is the modern smartphone taking over the world,
and what does it mean for video industry professionals?


Welcome to 2016, the one we will forever remember as the year Donald Trump ran for president.

Technologically speaking, we now have needle-free insulin patches, Wi-Fi-enabled footpaths, and yet still not one hover board.



We’re in an unprecedented era of information accessibility and oversaturated media content platforms, so what does this mean for those who have spent their lives in the industry?

Let’s look at smartphones. Every man and his dog now own one. It’s easier than ever to capture moments; there are even companies who specialize in camera lens kits for smartphones.

There are film festivals, such as the Toronto Smartphone Film Festival, dedicated to smartphone films and photography. There are feature length smartphone films (Tangerine, 2015). Even the man Robert Rodriguez himself was paid to create an 11-minute short on a BlackBerry 10.

While this is incredible for history’s sake (millions around the world experienced the horror of 9/11 with the help of spectators and camera phones), it can be concerning for filmmakers with professional rigs.


With the high-resolution filming capability available (4K in most new models), why wouldn’t companies simply begin shooting their own campaigns on their own devices?

Short answer: because they know better.

A high-pixel camera does not a good photographer make; a first year AFTRS student with an ARRI Alexa is not automatically going to transform into a cinematographer for the ages. On the flip side, a good DOP or photographer can make art with just about anything.

For example, check out Paranmanjang (Night Fishing), a 30 minute horror film shot on a iPhone 4 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, 2003), which won Best Short at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival.

Like putting Mark Webber in a Yaris, it’s all about who’s behind the wheel.

Additionally, for anyone unfamiliar with the process involved with any kind of video content it would be easy to underestimate the time required in pre-production, or the value of having a good creative team.

Crafting the look, feel and story of a video comes down to the people behind the lens. So whether it’s a Red Epic, a DSLR, an iPhone or your childhood polaroid, the difference between an average video and a great one is the people who plan it.


Going beyond that, while having 4K on your smartphone is nice and all, anyone worth his salt knows that you’ll still need lighting, sound design, and a whole host of extras that, with a good production studio, you’ll never need to think about.

A client could spend time and money researching and hiring all of the additional elements, but without a solid director, producer and cinematographer the chances of producing good content are slim regardless.

In summary: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should (looking at you, Trump).

Video is arguably the most powerful marketing tool on the web (and without television imagine all those undiscovered amateur chefs, renovators, and farmers without wives).

The influence of video is undeniable; according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research the information retained in one minute worth of video is the equivalent of 1.8 million words (by his reasoning I could have summed this article up in a 0.00000494444 second video).


So as long as there are any kinds of marketplaces, consumers and clients, there will be a place in the world for video.

And while there’s nothing wrong with shooting on a smartphone, as long as there are companies who understand the value of high-quality, well-planned video content there will always be a place in the world for production companies and agencies, all the way down to camera operators.



Screentide Creative Content are a video production agency based in Fox Studios, Sydney. We love telling stories, regardless of the capturing method. If you have a story to tell or an idea to bring to life, get in touch via hello@screentide.com.au.

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Behind the Scenes – Fun Crew

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“If it’s not fun, why do it?” – Ben and Jerry.

We believe in thorough pre-production planning so that on shoot day we can get the job done efficiently and still have a good time doing it.

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Behind the Scenes – Crew On-Set

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Ambitious ideas. Early starts. Too much caffeine. Morning light. “Roll up.” Magic hour. Entire days planned down to the minute. Resets. Relocations. Pickups. Thinking on our feet. “Wrapping.”… Our crew live and breathe and thrive on set.