Parklane – Landscaping with a twist
Parklane Nurseries is one of the oldest landscaping companies in Ontario, instrumental in professionalizing the industry in the province.
A consistent winner of top awards in residential landscaping, Parklane designs and develops high-end projects with an emphasis on sustainability. “People were building ‘Taj Mahals’ in their backyards,” says Parklane president, Anna van Maris. “That’s not what we do.”
Ms. Van Maris wanted a marketing video that would promote Parklane by telling its story – one of “giving back to the earth” while rejuvenating and beautifying the natural environment. She wanted to show why the company is an industry leader in environmental innovation.
It was also critical to her that her clients understand the company’s design process – the foundation to creating the kind of landscape that would fulfill their needs and dreams.
We created a mini documentary that explained the nuances of Parklane’s approach to design as well as their talent for ingenious problem solving when faced with complex engineering hurdles, achieving stunning results in almost impossible situations.
We also created a series of one to two-minute online video vignettes to focus on important sidebars such as the company history.
Because the video was immersed in nature, we used natural sound to enhance that feeling, from water lapping on the shore to the thud of a shovel in thick mud; from the call of the crows to the buzz of the bees. (Try miking bees!)
The video was designed to allow the viewer to arrive at his or her own conclusions about the quality of Parklane’s work, in effect selling themselves on why the company was the right choice. Parklane’s “mini documentary” has the ring of authenticity – a “credibility” factor that creates an informed, convinced client who has no doubts about their decision to buy.
Parklane plays the video on a wide screen at its award-winning installation at the yearly Canada Blooms show (Canada’s largest flower and garden festival which attracts media from across North America.) as well as online.
Rocklyn Academy – School transforms troubled teenage girls
Rocklyn Academy was a small private country boarding school near Owen Sound that transformed troubled – and troublesome – high school girls from across North America into confident, responsible young women.
The mandate for the video was to develop a flexible, multi-functional “mini documentary” style production that captured Rocklyn’s spirit and its scholastic excellence in a way that would make it stand out from among the eclectic range of expensive, specialized private schools. Parents needed a convincing reason to make the considerable financial investment required.
We focused on the story of one teen – a girl who had morphed from model child to “teenager from hell” almost overnight. “It was like someone threw the switch on this kid and she was no longer our daughter,” her mother said.
The video is a the story of the dramatic transformation in one girl’s life from a defiant truant teen, tearing her family apart, drinking, doing drugs hanging out with a bad crowd, to a happy, young woman, excelling in sports and winning a scholarship to the college of her choice. Pulled back from the brink of a dangerous downslide, she went on to pursue the career of her dreams.
The moving story created a subtle powerful sell.
Newcourt Credit Group: New Rules. New Worlds. Newcourt.Rewriting the rules in the financial services industry.
The theme of Newcourt’s annual review was the Renaissance – a period of renewal and innovation in the arts and sciences, when new ideas were embraced, and great innovators like Leonardo da Vinci rewrote the rules by which progress would be measured for centuries to come. Great innovators relentlessly pursued new theories and developed new ways of looking at the world – ideas that were ahead of their time and would shape today’s world.
Newcourt was part of a remarkable trend in the financial services industry, a trend that was dramatically transforming how North American enterprises access credit markets. Companies with money and companies who needed money were beginning to deal directly with each other, bypassing third party banks, giving rise to the term, “non-bank lender”.
In just over a decade, Newcourt became the largest non-bank lender in Canada, overseeing multi-billion dollar loan portfolios in both Canada and the U.S. They financed everything from airlines and heavy equipment manufacturers to the telecommunications industry.
Although this is an older video produced in the mid 1990’s (which accounts for some wide ties and big hair!) it’s included here because it’s a timeless piece. It’s a compelling story with strong writing and impressive imagery punctuated by some clever details.
Our challenge was to communicate the Leonardo da Vinci “innovation” metaphor in powerful visual imagery, both historically and in present day terms. It required some innovative thinking on our part as well as a strong script.
We travelled across to B.C., San Francisco, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Georgia and Utah to find out how Newcourt’s key loan customers had benefited from their advisory and funding services for the acquisition of high-valued capital assets – such as airlines and school bus fleets. And we met with funding partners such as First Union Bank.
We decided to animate some da Vinci drawings to establish the innovation metaphor then bridge them visually to the 21st century. We did this with a clever graphic of a 15th century da Vinci drawing of retractable landing gear which morphed into a shot of modern landing gear retracting during take-off.
But it couldn’t be just any plane. It had to be a Skywest plane, the Utah-based regional airline with a fleet of 337 aircraft funded by our client.
Hours on a cold, windy tarmac in Salt Lake City, waiting for Skywest flights, shooting take-off after take-off trying to get the right plane at the right angle to match the da Vinci sketch finally yielded the perfect shot. Check it out in the opening montage. A half day’s work for a few seconds of footage. Now that’s an example of no detail to small when it comes to creating just the right image. We shot footage in manufacturing plants, offices and banks.
The video successfully demonstrated how Newcourt forged critical links between its commercial and corporate borrowers and its funding partners and captured the breadth and depth of its markets. Newcourt’s loan customers’ passion for the wealth of creative and innovative expertise that enabled them to grow their businesses is clearly palpable. The video vividly proved to shareholders how Newcourt’s powerful innovation metaphor, “New Rules, New Worlds”, was more than just a slogan. The video demonstrated how these are the words that drive the company’s success.
One is One Too Many – What nurses ought to know about patient abuse
Everyone knows that it is wrong to strike, yell, swear at, or have a sexual relationship with a patient. But often there are grey areas not always recognizable as abuse. The College of Nurses of Ontario establishes guidelines for, and regulates standards of practice, in the nursing profession in Ontario.
The College asked us to design a video that would increase awareness among nurses about patient abuse and how to deal with it.
We proposed creating dramatized scenarios based on real life incidents to illustrate some of the more subtle forms of abuse – even in situations where abuse is unintentional. The abuse could be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual and involve areas such as neglect or withholding information or treatment – anything that exploits the power of the nurse over the patient.
At a time when nurses were under duress because of cutbacks and increasing workloads, as well as often finding themselves at the receiving end of abuse on the part of some patients, we knew we would have a challenging task of creating “buy-in” to the “do’s and don’ts” we had to deliver.
We suggested that we create an on-camera round-table discussion of nurses describing the challenges they faced, often understaffed and with not enough time to deliver the kind of patient care they wished. The idea was to give context to the extreme pressures and stress which are often a factor in how a nurse’s actions might be perceived by a patient. We felt that giving nurses a voice would make them more receptive to the difficult message in the video.
Not all nurses were eager to participate in such a discussion, especially in a video commissioned by their professional regulatory and disciplinary body. We also faced the challenge of finding a hospital that would allow us to film the requisite dramatized scenes as patient and staff disruption was a concern.
Working closely with the College we selected a series of actual incidents then created dramatized vignettes around each, working with actors along with hospital and nursing home staff. Adding to the power of each scenario were the comments of the original patients whose stories we dramatized, describing how they were affected by the inappropriate treatment they had experienced. Some scenes are so emotionally searing, they moved viewers to tears.
The video has been a key component in the College’s Abuse Prevention Program since 1994 when we first produced it.
Two years later, we also produced an equally challenging documentary style video for the College explaining the complexities of a Quality Assurance program mandated by the Regulated Health Professions Act of Ontario.
“The videos you produced were outstanding, far beyond anything we could have imagined.”
Lynette Fortune – Formerly Communications Coordinator, College of Nurses of Ontario, now Associate Producer, the fifth estate, CBC
Discipline Hearing – What happens when a patient accuses a doctor of misconduct
We are all familiar with the notorious headline-making cases of patients abused by their physicians. But most cases of improper treatment don’t make the news.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the licensing and disciplinary body that regulates doctors’ standards of practise and conduct in Ontario, has a responsibility to investigate all patient complaints of poor or improper treatment.
Many patient complaints can be resolved through dispute resolution but more serious cases are referred to a discipline hearing which is usually open to the public and to the media and is much like a court hearing or trial. For the patient it’s a very stressful and intimidating process.
To better prepare a person taking a complaint before the College and to ease the stress by demystifying the process, the College asked us to produce a drama re-creating a typical discipline hearing.
We worked with the College and their legal advisors on a script. The patient and the doctor under investigation were played by actors. All the other key players portrayed themselves. This included the lawyer representing the doctor; the College’s lawyer who acts as a prosecutor investigating the case; the five person Discipline Hearing panel that listens to the evidence and acts as judge and jury; the court reporter, legal assistants and so on.
We needed to show how the onus is on the College to establish the case – it is the College who is prosecuting the doctor. The patient is merely a witness for the College who will be questioned and cross-examined.
With meticulous research and planning we were able to shoot the 19 minute drama in one day with a two-person crew. With no re-takes!
The result was a realistic production that could easily be mistaken for an actual hearing. We interspersed the drama with brief explanatory interview segments with the legal team.
The video had an impressive 15 year life span, easing the stress and anxiety of countless patients preparing for the rigours of a Discipline Hearing.
It Can’t Happen to Me – The terrible impact of one drunk driver
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) commissioned this video to drive home the dangers of impaired driving to teens. Yearly deaths due to drunk driving totaled close to 1300 in Canada that year. Injuries numbered close to 114,000.
MADD required a video that was powerful but not sensational, that could be used for both broadcast and for presentations in schools, service clubs, and church and community groups.
Members of MADD who had lost loved ones often spoke to groups but the pain of repeatedly having to re-live their story was proving to be too draining. The video would relieve them of that burden while preserving their stories and allowing them to focus on questions once the video had primed its audience.
Drawing on my experience producing television documentaries for teens, we decided the most effective approach would be to focus on real stories. I combed through news archives to see what I could find. The challenge was finding the right story and the right timing. Stories that were too recent would be too raw while those too distant might lose some of their impact.
I discovered a story that occurred two years previously, about five young people on their way to an out-of-town barbecue and sleepover, struck head-on by a five ton cube van driven by a drunk driver. Two of the young people were killed and two left with permanent injuries. The young driver of the car, although he escaped injury, was severely traumatized. He tells the story of that night. I read another story about a woman who lost her father and her son, ten years apart to the day, because of a drunk driver.
I decided to pursue the stories of the ripple effect of the loss of each person – the permanent impact on parents, siblings, other family members and friends. As difficult as it was, all agreed to tell their stories.
We re-created several dramatized events including the cube van accident on the same portion of road where the actual accident had taken place two years back.
We also re-enacted difficult scenes such as police (actual officers) coming to the door to deliver the terrible news to the family. We worked with a family who had once lived through the experience. They described how their emotions were just as raw years later. We also talked to the officers about the impact on them of having to go through the ordeal of telling a parent their child has died.
To provide relief from the searing intensity of these scenes we filmed sequences with teens discussing their views about drinking and driving and the mixed messages they often received from parents.
MADD used the video for seven years.
“It had a tremendous impact and became the genesis for the other awareness programs we went on to produce. It was very instrumental in what we do.”
Dawn Regan – Chief Operating Officer MADD
For Jackie Grittani, sister of young man killed by the cube van driver, the video was a powerful statement that she described as “giving meaning” to her brother’s life.
Boilermakers of Ontario – “Getting it right” in a dangerous industry
Boilermakers are the welders, riggers and fitters who build, erect and maintain all types of large boilers, tanks and ductwork that hold or conduct steam, water, oil, air or dust in industrial operations. This could be nuclear power plants, oil refineries, steel plants and shipbuilding facilities. Boilermakers often work with dangerous gases, at great heights and in confined spaces in conditions of extreme heat or cold.
The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities which oversees all trades in Ontario needed a video as part of a computer based training project to teach the principles of rigging and hoisting to the boilermakers who do the rigging.
We worked with a team of subject matter experts assembled by the project manager, an independent instructional designer, to learn the latest techniques in rigging and what would be required in an instructional video. Part of the information-gathering included a trip to the B.C. Institute of Technology in Burnaby B.C. to observe a training course for boilermaker apprentices.
In describing what he would like to see in a training video, one journeyman said, “You cannot do baptism by fire in the boilermaker trade. You can get hurt any day. You can die on the job and you have to live with that every day. There is no margin for error. The training has to keep you alive.”
To that end the video was designed to clearly demonstrate the components and principles for the safe planning, preparation and execution stages of a complex lift. Riggers lift, hoist and move heavy complex objects such as heavy industry ductwork or nuclear reactor water walls through often awkward and confined spaces such as an elevator shaft.
We shot the video over a series of 3 days at the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario near Cornwall. Directing a two-camera crew we designed and followed a step-by-step detailed storyboard and script that served as our blueprint. Given the complexity of the operation there would be no opportunity for retakes.
Even though it is an industrial video, we still went the extra mile to give it a rich look. The better a complex training video looks, the more engaging it will be for its audience. Notice the big porthole-like windows of the location. We went so far as to gel these large windows to get exactly the right quality of light.
The two cameras enabled us to get multiple as well as dramatic perspectives of the two-man rigging team’s actions. The shoot had strict timelines that had to be met because of the availability of the personnel and access to the location. There were some tense moments when the lift hit a snag during the operation but it served to heighten the reality aspect of the job. We delivered on time and on budget.
“You brought to our complex training video a range of skills rarely found in one person. I appreciate how you advocated for us throughout the process and made sure every detail was perfect, how you always met deadlines and gave more than was asked.”
Jacques Renaud – Senior Instructional Designer, On Course Training Design
The Right Foundation – Building hurricane-proof homes with Styrofoam
This training/marketing video had a “natural” for a host, Richie Scott, the manager of training and in-field technical support. He was at ease on camera and knew the intricacies of working with the company’s product – an insulated stacking and interlocking wall-molding system consisting of polystyrene (Styrofoam) molds into which concrete is poured to form flame and hurricane resistant walls for high-end homes and condos.
The company, AAB Building Systems, positioned as the industry leader in insulated concrete forms, needed to both introduce and promote its product to North American consumers, contractors, architects, developers and engineers – as well as instruct them in how to use it. The secondary audience consisted of prospective investors for the company’s Initial Public Offering. We produced both a training and a marketing video.
To produce the 20 minute “how to” video, shot in New Mexico, we started with a plan and a streamlined script. We then mapped out a shot list to establish continuity and to determine what types of shots we would need to demonstrate detail as well as the big picture.
Even though it was shot outdoors we achieved a two camera “made-for-TV” look with only one camera by planning and editing the shots to create a natural flow of action that helps the viewers clearly understand the instruction.
We filmed in short segments to enable Mr. Scott to deliver his lines flawlessly. And we (client and crew) worked collaboratively to create a fun atmosphere on site so that he would feel and look relaxed.
Natural sound also plays a key role. Live sound, the clang of a hammer and the whir of machinery, especially in training videos, grabs attention and gives the viewer the sense of actually being part of the action.
The video is broadcast quality. It shows buyers and users of the wall-molding system exactly how to work with it in clear step-by-step fashion – while reinforcing the idea that they have bought the best product possible. Here is what the sales manager said about the training and marketing videos we produced:
“After seeing the dynamic videos you produced for us I was amazed. They are unlike anything I had ever seen in our industry. They are extremely polished, they tell a great story and they hold your attention. Our motto is “a grade above” and you video reinforces that.”
Chris Earl – Sales Support Manager, AAB Building Systems Inc.
Newcourt – The Winners’ Career Choice – The challenges of explosive corporate growth
Launched as an ambitious start-up in the mid 1980’s, Newcourt Credit Group morphed into a financial giant spanning 26 countries within a few short years, originating multi-million dollar loans to finance big ticket items like regional airlines, railway equipment, provincial highways, hydro projects and international office towers.
Newcourt became the world’s largest non-bank financing company specializing in loan origination, loan sales and loan management. A handful of employees grew to 140 in the early years – then leapt to 6000 in five short years between 1994 and 1999.
In 1996, when we came on board, the company had originated $5.8 billion in new loans with U.S. and international markets.
As a result of its meteoric growth, Newcourt felt it was losing its personal touch with its employees. It was no longer possible to informally take new people around and introduce them to their new colleagues. Nor was there time to bring new hires up to speed on company culture. They had to hit the ground running. Newcourt needed an effective, efficient way to achieve those goals.
Our challenge as a video production company was to capture the energy and innovative structure of Newcourt and reflect its vision, values and culture to employees worldwide in a compelling video that would stimulate staff to a common purpose and loyalty to an idea. The mandate, which was detailed and multi-faceted, was to create the feeling that the employee is part of something exciting and unique in a dynamic and specialized environment.
Television broadcast techniques created a powerful and compelling video, produced in both English and French that more than delivered on the company’s expectations.
The result was an effective motivational and educational “movie” which employees enjoyed and remembered – and took to heart. And most of all they gained insight into how they fit into the overall big picture, as individuals and as team players.
“This is a truly elegant piece.”
John Sadler – Senior VP of Corporate Affairs
To see how we accomplished Newcourt’s multi-layered mandate see the full case study here. We produced three additional videos for Newcourt.
Here is a list of additional videos we produced, organized by sector.
Additional Corporate Videos by Sector
- Arthritis Society – Four part series: Faces of Arthritis:
- Part 1 – Managing Your Arthritis
- Part 2 – Arthritis Remedies
- Part 3 – Arthritis and its Treatment
- Part 4 – Major Types of Arthritis
- Canadian Diabetes Association
- Emotions – an Understanding of Diabetes
- Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, introductory video:
- Removing the Clouds from Disabilities
- Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy – Four part series: Lifelong Journey
- Understanding Cerebral Palsy
- Infancy and Early Childhood
- The Adolescent and Young Adult
- The Middle Years and Growing Older
- Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy – Five part series: Planning: The Choice is Yours
- Quality of Life
- Individual Life Planning – Short and Long Term
- Individualized Service Plan and Funding
- Long Term Planning
- St. Leonard’s Society – A Chance to Change
- Holy Trinity School – marketing documentary
- AAB Building Systems
- Building Your Dreams with Blue Max
- Options for Homes – 3 marketing videos
- Own for Less
- The Key to Home Ownership
- Breaking New Ground
- Newcourt Credit Group
- Armada IPO Video (metaphor for ingenuity and new strategies)
- Innovate: Leonardo da Vinci innovation theme
- Newcourt, Non-Bank Lender