Brotherston.tv creates a “silly little film” with Belong Communications to make Channel 4’s new hybrid work environment less daunting
The London-based production company wanted to help Channel 4 welcome its 50/50 manifesto, allowing employees the flexibility to work either from home or the office through a reassuring animation.
- 14 October 2021
- Dalia Al-Dujaili
These days, some of us work from home and some of us have returned to working in the office. Post-pandemic, many people are enjoying the flexibility that some of our jobs now allow us, but a return to the office can be intimidating after a year and a half of remote or at-home working. Channel 4 was keen to keep its employees comfortable enough during this transitional period, whilst ringing in a new age of hybrid working.
Brotherston.tv, alongside Belong Comms, was tasked by the broadcaster with the brief of making this as welcoming as possible. This was following Channel 4’s 50/50 manifesto, which makes it possible for staff to choose whether they want to go back to the office or stay at home if they need to.
“Visually,” says Ryan Brotherston, animator and designer, “we really wanted the film to feel a bit home-made and not too polished,” an effect that is accentuated by the simple and effective sound design of Travis Hefferen. Brotherston’s team strove for a simplicity of design that also included enough appeal to engage the audience for the duration. “As the film was aimed at the Channel 4 workforce,” he says, “we felt that the featured characters would be key to driving the film forwards and connecting with the audience. As such, they had to be dynamic and energetic, as well as realistic and relatable. And of course just a bit silly!”
It was important for Brotherston to reflect in the film, written by Glyn Williams, the diversity of the Channel 4 team whilst also expressing that Channel 4 had recognised the different experiences people had during lockdown. “We wanted to make people laugh,” the animator continues, “but we needed to be sensitive to what had been a difficult time for some, and also to different feelings people have about returning to the office.”
A limited timeline made the amount of character animation a challenge. Brotherston.tv decided the solution was to create a “loopable” animation for each character that could play out indefinitely until the team needed to adapt them to a specific action. “This way, we could have our characters on screen indefinitely while only having to animate between 1-2 seconds for each character.”
The style and feel of the film, explains the eponymous founder of the studio, took their cue directly from a short film made by Brotherston.tv during the first Covid lockdown called Stay at Home: A Little Film. Whilst inspiration for the content of the scenes came from Brotherston.tv’s actual collective office experiences. “We put our heads together and journeyed back through the years – all the characters and events we have witnessed – the good, the bad and the downright weird!” For example, Brotherston says that the pogo sticks in the office scene really did happen. And the battle reenactment and skydiver scenes are also based on former colleagues and their extra-curricular activities, he says, adding: “There were also quite a few David Brent-style moments that didn’t make the cut!”
Brotherston.tv film for Channel 4 (Copyright © Brotherston.tv, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.