Case study: showing off the facilities at Birmingham City University
Sam Willet gravatar avitar

Case study: showing off the facilities at Birmingham City University

Author: Sam Willet | Posted on: 2 November 2018

When your business depends on informing and persuading students across the world that you should be their destination of choice, a high quality video is a must. For many organisations, allowing potential customers to see what you offer, without needing to travel, can make all the difference when it comes to their purchase decision. But how can you show your organisation in the best possible light?

That’s one of the key questions we were wrestling with in our recent project with Birmingham City University.



Our brief was to showcase the facilities of the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences at their new building at the City South Campus, a new development costing £41 million. The project demanded a more cinematic style of film than the majority of projects we’ve done for BCU, and it was something we were eager to do, so we were grateful that our client backed us with a suitable budget.

The benefits of the films are clear - prospective students can quickly and conveniently get a detailed look at the facilities that BCU has to offer, and the quality of those facilities is reflected in the films.



If having watched these you think your organisation could benefit from something similar, here would be my tips:

Pay for the right crew with the right gear

This project wouldn’t have been possible without two different gimbal rigs, cinema-quality lenses and a crew including a producer, cinematographer, drone operator, production assistant, and several runners.

The specialist grip equipment enabled the camera to move with speed and stability, giving us great looking footage, but also making a wider range of shots possible.



If your video quote indicates a larger, more expensive crew than you expected, remember there is, to an extent, a trade-off between the size of the crew and the number of filming days required. In this case, whilst we could have potentially achieved the same result with a smaller crew, it would have taken much longer.

Volunteers can save time and money 

For this project, many of the runners were student volunteers working for the experience. They were a massive help (thank you guys!) and if you have willing helpers available, you should probably use them.

Also, everyone featured in the film was either a student or a tutor at the university. The alternative would have been to use actors, which come at a cost - as well as their payment, they also have to be cast, which takes a lot of pre-production time.

Finally on this point, just make sure that before filming, you know how many extras you need and that everyone has a defined role, as you may not be able to use the same people for different scenes. Also, if some equipment is being demonstrated it goes without saying that you need someone that’s used it before - so for example, we had midwifery students using the ultrasound equipment. If you can’t do this, it can lead to unconvincing performances, but it can also be dangerous if someone doesn’t know what they’re doing.


bcu bts


Insist on a recce

A recce is especially important for a video which aims to showcase different spaces and facilities. A member of the production team needs to visit the locations in advance of filming in order to assess different considerations such as safety and lighting, but also to inform their shot list, which saves a lot of time on the filming day.

Ideally, present at the recce should be a representative from the location, and a representative for the client (if these are not the same).


bcu bts


The person in charge of the location will need to speak to the production team about the set up, what props can be provided, and what is normal in terms of sound and light at different times of day, as well as any other obstacles - for example, in a university, there are likely to be classes on and students around, unless you film during the holidays.

The client should be there in case any new considerations may come to light which may require a change in expectation or budget - for example, a certain room might not be suitable for filming, or may benefit from the use of an additional piece of equipment, like a drone or raised platform.

These types of projects are always enjoyable, as they involve creating a sense of excitement, opportunity, and potential. It’s always a pleasure for us as content producers to learn more about what our clients provide, so we can be as enthusiastic about it as they are, and communicate that to the viewer.

Related content 

Case study: A day on set at BCU’s Jazz Department

What happens in pre-production and why do I need to pay for it?

Five top tips for nailing your video interview

Author: Sam Willet

Sam Willet gravatar avitar
Sam is a Producer and Client Manager at Ember Television. He has worked in online media since graduating with an MA in Film and TV from the University of Birmingham, and loves a good human interest story. You can contact him at [email protected]
Case study: showing off the facilities at Birmingham City University



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