Making of the MCV Awards 2010 video

Ben Parfitt
Making of the MCV Awards 2010 video

Now in its third year, the MCV Awards video has become an industry tradition.

It’s the chance for UK execs to leave their sensible, business thinking to one side and let loose – all for the comedic benefit of attendees packed into The Brewery, London to see the awards.

And the giggles that emanated through the room on April 22nd confirmed that our video partner PMA had produced yet another hit.

This year’s production saw the likes of EA’s Keith Ramsdale, 505’s Ralph Pitt-Stanley, Activision’s Andrew Brown, Ubisoft’s Mark Slaughter, Future’s James Binns, Sega’s John Clark and Nintendo’s Dawn Paine sing and dance along to The Buggle’s ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. All of them were put through their paces by the talented folk at PMA. 

“The stars of the video were great fun to work with and it was good to see some faces from last year’s video,” says video director Lauren Pushkin.

“You must understand, to stand up in a studio, wearing a slightly unflattering costume and mime to song in-front of a film crew with me shouting directions, can be especially daunting for people who are more used to an office. They all did exceptionally well and threw themselves into it with enthusiasm. I hope they enjoyed the results.”

The video itself was shot in a green screen studio, allowing PMA to create all the environments in post-production. The crew had to make sure they get all the footage they needed in one go, and ensure everything was lit properly before spending a month editing it all together.

“Everything is shot in high definition and the ‘rushes’ are transferred to a PC and checked immediately in the studio,” explains PMA CEO Mark Cluer.

“The next stage is to create a first draft edit in Avid of the whole video, with the green backgrounds still in place. It’s very important at this stage to get the lip-sync as good as possible and hide any issues with another shot or cut-away.

“We will now have a full video with music that requires all the environments to be put in place. For this we use a variety of tools to create the motion graphics including After Effects, StudioMax 3D and BorisFX. Then the last stage is to layer in the external games footage onto the various screens in the environments and render out the final version in high-res HD.

“The video is then graded, sound mixed and produced in a Quicktime format ready for the first showing at the MCV Awards.”

Post-production took a month to complete, but the shoot itself was no walk in the park either. The crew worked from 6am to 8pm, and had to deal with their fair share of technical issues and wardrobe malfunctions.

“The day itself was great fun and there were a few stand-out moments including the period when the song playback decided to break; Keith Ramsdale had to do all his rehearsals to the song being played on an iPhone and rebroadcast over a bunch of the crew’s walki-talkies strategically placed around him,” continues Cluelr.

“We also had a wardrobe failure; one of the cast members forgot to give his measurements to Jess the sylist the before the shoot. Jess guessed, guessed wrong and we had to take a pair of scissors to the costume so we could squeeze our nameless star into it.”

Pushkin adds: “With any filming the key challenge is normally time – there is never enough. Also, any problems through the day such as a missing cast member, someone taking too long in make-up, waiting for a prop to be delivered or too many takes can have a huge effect and potentially spoil the entire shoot.

“Thankfully, we did not have any of these problems on the day – everyone turned up on time and had learnt     their lines.”

The video premiere took place at the MCV Awards 2010 in London on April 22nd, and the end result silenced any critics. The cast was in fine form, the direction was spot-on and the entire production was, as  one commenter on put it, ‘Excellent. They get better every year!’

Check out the video yourself:


Mark Hennessey, Ubisoft
As my musical talent didn’t extend much past a quick game of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I decided a new strategy was needed to realise my life-long dream to be in a band. And my constant nagging to [MCV publisher] Stuart Dinsey at the MCV/Xbox Quizzes finally paid dividends and he let me in – mainly to shut me up, but that’s not the point.
So the actual day of the shoot came and I was quite nervous as we hadn’t been told too much about the theme – and I’d seen the way you’d stitched people up in previous years. Anyway, my fears were unfounded and I was offered a rather fetching silver shirt/trouser combo. I’m not sure the glasses helped the overall look but I did enjoy wearing make up again.
The shoot itself was not quite as glamorous as I thought it’d be and there was lots of stop-starting. And the fact that I couldn’t play the drums to save my life didn’t help either. Everyone on set was very encouraging but I could tell they were laughing or crying inside.
Thankfully, the wonders of technology were put to good use for the final video – and f**k me if I didn’t look like a drummer in the final video. More importantly I didn’t look as stupid as some others.
Overall I had a great time and next year I’m going to ask Stuart if I can sing.

Dawn Paine, Nintendo
Shooting my second MCV Awards video was a daunting task and one where I took my method acting to new levels. Always good stuff and a reminder in these tough days of what a fun industry we are in the UK.

John Clark, Sega

Bright lights, big city. Broadway to the West End. Stars of the silver screen. None of these are relevant, it was more like putting your head in the stocks at the school fair and being pelted with wet sponges. But we all like to share the spotlight even if we look a bit silly – all for fun of course.
It used to be that the camera would visit the offices and we’d pretend to work while we were filmed for a production representing the hardworking but, fun games industry.
Nowadays it’s different; the fun has gone and been replaced with scripts, make up, choreography, call sheets, the heat from the studio lights, the demanding director, the cold bacon sandwiches on set, the re-takes. And then there are the critics after the premiere.

Mark Slaughter, Ubisoft
Have to say I was a bit worried when I walked in and saw Ralph Pitt-Stanley kitted out in a lovely one-piece silver suit. Apart from that moment of fear it was a good laugh, especially the wardrobe call. 
The video looked very polished, especially considering I had no idea what I was doing playing that keyboard.

Andrew Brown, Activision
When I reached the set I was worried. The location was a dump, and there was nothing in the studio-cum-shed other than green walls and a chair.
Then I noticed other big companies were there making big commercials and I started to recognise a few people from TV, so I realised it can’t be that bad.
Then I saw Keith Ramsdale strutting his stuff. 150 takes just to get the flick of his head right – so obviously they pay real attention to detail.
When I saw my make up and clothing I thought you must be joking – and then I saw with Ralph was going to wear and I felt smart and fashionable again.
The production crew was awesome – they controlled everything down to     the millimetre.
One take was enough for me: the extra ones were clearly just for the crew to justify their artistic credentials
At the end of the day I didn’t see how all of this was going to be patched together but the video is awesome and I’m amazed.

Keith Ramsdale, EA
I arrived at this warehouse at 8.30am to be sent for make up, a new hairdo and an outfit I wore 25 years ago.
I was then told to rock out, which isn’t something I’m really used to at that time of the morning, especially without alcohol.
If you get asked to do it next year then ask for an afternoon slot and get to the pub first or have a big night before and don’t go to bed.
So without the benefit of a few sherbets, I spent the first hour feeling like a complete berk until the inner drama queen kicked in and there was no stopping me.
Once you lose your inhibitions it really is a great way to spend a morning.
It’s also very funny to see your industry colleagues file in one by one with a look of absolute fear. Well done to the crew for turning our efforts into something quite passable. The work of pure genius.

Rachael Grant, Ubisoft
Filming the MCV Awards video was definitely an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Although it took a while to feign that I had ever had a guitar in my hands before, I seemed to just about get the hang of it as we were wrapping up.
Obviously having to work with amateurs like Mark Slaughter and Mark Hennessey was difficult, but by the end of the day I had taught them everything I know. I loved the song and the 1980s gear that we got given to dress up in – particularly my lovely, shiny zebra     print jacket.
The hair and make-up girls were superb – making my hair look very There’s Something About Mary-esque, and since watching the final video people have even speculated I was wearing a wig.
My highlights of the day were the very tight trousers the boys were forced wear, the sexy glasses, and being told by Stuart Dinsey that he had never before seen three people more uncomfortable holding a musical instrument.

PMA Digital – Where Ideas Work

PMA are an award winning digital creative agency based in London’s Primrose Hill, who work with some of the world’s largest consumer brands. They specialise in digital advertising, video production, digital CRM, web site & e-commerce production, all with a focus on exceptional design and providing the best user experience. As an agency PMA are always pushing technical and creative boundaries to deliver campaigns that really work hard and deliver proven results.


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