In October 2017 Bloomberg marked the official opening of its new European HQs in the City of London, an office that occupies a 3.2 acre site located between the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral and surrounded by other buildings of historic, architectural and cultural significance.
The opening, a marquee moment not only for Bloomberg but for the City of London, was attended by dignitaries and the press who gathered for the event in what is know in-house as the Pantry - a double-height atrium on the 6th floor with views overlooking St. Paul’s. Speeches were made by Michael Bloomberg, architect Lord Foster of Foster + Partners, and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who hailed the building as a landmark in sustainable office design.
Accompanying the speeches, and shown on the massive digital screen mounted high in the Pantry space, was a video montage depicting the design, construction and fit-out of Bloomberg’s new HQs over the course of 4 years. The video captures the building’s journey from a hole on the ground to the ‘office of the future’. Accompanying the imagery is a voiceover from Michael Bloomberg, explaining how the completed edifice is a physical manifestation of the core values of a business that has openness, transparency and the welfare of its staff at the heart of its mission. It’s a video NextShoot is proud to have made, and that charts our own journey - from the USA via Spain, Italy, and Germany, to Finland, China and Japan - to collect the video materials that document the creation of this extraordinary project.
With a construction budget of £1 billion, Bloomberg’s London HQs was built to provide 1.1 million square feet of sustainable office space. It’s a structure that has engendered superlatives and broken records. Its foundations required the largest single concrete pour in the City of London. The project used more stone than any construction in the capital for more than 100 years. It features over 7000 pieces of steel, 600 tonnes of architectural bronze and took over 500,000 man-hours to fabricate.
The land owned by Bloomberg also contributes to the public domain. There’s a new entrance to Bank Station within the footprint of the building, two new public squares featuring specially commissioned works of art have been created, a reinstated Roman road has been reimagined as a covered food arcade, while the public have free access to London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, home to exhibitions by contemporary artists and one of the UK’s most significant Roman archaeological sites, the restored ancient Temple of Mithras.
Following a successful pitch process NextShoot’s London-based corporate video agency was commissioned to capture the key content relating to the entire design, construction and fit-out process over a four year period - from the piling through to the opening day.
Working under the direction of the Bloomberg Communications Department in New York and the UK Project Director we devised a content strategy for both internal and external comms. We decided on key elements and milestones in the construction story to film in the UK and abroad, we identified interviewees from Bloomberg, the developer Stanhope, the construction company SRM and numerous sub-contractors, and developed themes that represented Bloomberg’s intentions with its new HQs. Of course, the content strategy evolved over the project and our team worked with Bloomberg to uncover new stories and sought out engaging ways to communicate with the internal and external audience including through timelapse, drone and aerial filming.
Short-form films were created on a variety of subjects: the Facade; Sustainability; The Temple of Mithras; the Bloomberg Writing Tablets; Community; The Ramp, ‘Topping Out’; Workplace of the Future’ and the Building Opening press video. We also produced a 40 minute documentary film for Bloomberg TV presented by Caroline Hyde.
Throughout the content we explored a number of pertinent themes and topics: Bloomberg’s values, including transparency and openness, and how these were reflected in the building’s design; a focus on the needs of employees; sustainability; the role of art: the importance of public spaces; and respect for the historical context of the City of London, including the restoration of the Temple of Mithras which sits within the building’s footprint.
The bulk of the footage captured by our video agency in London related to the design and construction process from 2013-2017, and involved shooting with the architects, structural engineers, contractors and subcontractors.
Our camera team filmed regularly onsite in the City of London to gather footage of the ground works, piling, the concrete pour, core construction, assembly of the steel frame, creation of the building envelope (stone, bronze, glass), the instal of interior features (ramp, atrium, ‘breathable’ building elements, energy centre), the fitting out, the installation of the various artworks, and the creation of the public spaces, art gallery and London Mithraeum.
Our crews were also present when the building’s project team travelled the globe seeking out the finest materials and craftsmanship to create this innovative and collaborative workplace, with shoots in the United States, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Japan and China, using our in-house team and sourcing local expertise as required.
When key milestones were reached, including the breakthrough to the London Underground tunnel, the ‘topping-out’ event and the building handover from Sir Robert McAlpine to Bloomberg, NextShoot’s film team was there to capture the moment.
In the process of covering the design and construction processes our video agency conducted numerous on-camera interviews and used a variety of techniques and equipment for the broll, including timelapse, drones, helicopter aerials, dolly & track, jibs and cranes, gimbals/ steadicam and 360 cameras.
Drones and helicopter filming
NextShoot has a great deal of experience in filming from drone and helicopter platforms to capture processes related to the construction industry and to visually enhance our story-telling.
There were a number of locations in the UK and abroad where we were able to use drones within the the local safety regulations, including the Cadeby Stone Quarry (Cumbria, UK), where the stone for the facade was sourced, Grants Precast (Cumbria, UK), where this stone was cut and mounted onto beams and pillars, North Stone (Dallas, USA), where the soffits were produced, and Savema (Pisa, Italy), the location for the shaping of all the complex, curved stone.
Using drones to film aerial shots in the City of London is not practical (it would involve road-closures) and so when it came to capturing aerial shots of the actual building we used a helicopter with a gyro-stabilised nose-mount. We filmed material that showed the building in the context of the City of London and its position in relation to the River Thames and key landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard and Tower Bridge. Helicopter filming in London also has restrictions, but we work in partnership with one of the most experienced aerial platform filming providers in the industry to ensure that our work was both safe and filmic.
Time Lapse filming
Time lapse can add great value to any construction or civil engineering video project.
Long-term time lapse (ie when a camera is mounted in an environment-proof casing to run for a long period of time) not only succinctly shows the progress of a build and the changing patterns of weather, but brings visual interest and a contrast to the interview and standard broll shots in the final edit. On the Bloomberg London project we managed multiple long-term timelapse shots, with up to six cameras running simultaneously, on both the interior and exterior of the building. Some exterior cameras were in position for 4 years.
NextShoot worked with SRM, the construction company, to understand installation sequences and scheduling to help us choose the best timelapse camera positions, while taking into account the sun and shadows across multiple seasons. We managed the permissions to mount cameras on surrounding buildings, such as Wren’s Church of St. Mary Aldermary, and then worked with the industry’s top timelapse suppliers to install the camera units and manage the footage capture. All the film from each unit was automatically uploaded to the cloud so that we could review the progress of every shot via our supplier’s online portal.
We also filmed short-term, motion-control time lapse using Sony A7S MkII cameras with 4K capability on a slider with a three-axis rig (tilt, roll, pan). With this approach our operator could set a shot to run for, say, 2 hours. The camera could move along the track and tilt, roll and pan, leading to a really dynamic product. These cameras needed monitoring, but one operator and an assistant could run two cameras at a time and so over the course of a day capture ten really strong shots.
As ever with corporate video production and filmmaking in general all shots - however tricksy - need to be considered in the context of the final edit. One sequence of timelapse shots we knew would be highly symbolic and add great value to a number of videos was the etching and cutting of the Bloomberg sign. Shot with 3 cameras on 3-axis motion-control rigs, it was the sequence that kept on giving and was used in a number of the videos produced about the building.
For examples of the time lapse produced for the Bloomberg London project see our time lapse reel here
Health & Safety
Filming on construction sites requires a really sound approach to Health & Safety.
Our film teams have a knowledge of construction standards and the best practices for working on live sites and all our in-house camera operators, sound recordists, directors and producers hold the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.
Preparation for each shoot involved a detailed Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS) signed off by the senior team and shared with the site safety managers. Ahead of any filming all team members were site inducted.
Happily, our team were accident free over the course of 4 years of filming on site.
A project of this longevity and complexity requires clear lines of communication. Bloomberg arranged bi-weekly calls to discuss all matters relating to the research, production, filming and editing of all video content. These calls were attended by Bloomberg, the architects, the construction company, and relevant contractors and subcontractors. Two senior project managers from NextShoot acted as the points of contact for all video production matters. This streamlined communication approach meant we could react quickly to ad hoc filming requests.
NextShoot was supported throughout the whole process by the Bloomberg Communications team in the New York office who led all the video content creation, as well as the overall Project Director based in London, who ensured we got access to the right people and the key moments so as to capture the very best material.
Whilst this may be a case study about our own contribution, we want to flag up the highly collaborative nature of a project of this length and intensity. It was a very successful and highly enjoyable working relationship due to the high levels of collaboration and while all of us were delighted when the building was completed and finally opened there was on our part a great sadness that we’d come to the end of a hugely rewarding journey on an exceptional project with an ambitious yet truly supportive and appreciative client.
The video content was distributed by Bloomberg across various channels and microsites (including Bloomberg London
and London Mithraeum
), Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, serving as both internal communications within the Bloomberg organisation and as external communications for the wider public. To date it has clocked up over one million views, providing a very good ROI for the video content creation.
While ostensibly the various short-form videos and the 40 minute documentary film chart the construction of a beautifully designed office, they also tell another story - namely how a forward-thinking business has chosen to meet the needs of its employees and to contribute to its local community through a building. In this way the material carefully captured and thoughtfully shaped over the course of four years becomes an exceptional communications piece for Bloomberg, that simultaneously demonstrates the value it places on the welfare of its staff while broadcasting its values to the public, potential customers and future employees.
The video shown to the dignitaries and the press gathered at Bloomberg London for its opening day says a great deal about the business and the vision of its founder. For NextShoot, it represents four years of filming the construction of this extraordinary building, demonstrates our ability to shape visual stories with emotion and impact, and cements our reputation as one of the best corporate video production companies in London.
Capturing video of a construction project of this size and complexity over four years...has been a massive undertaking. It has required a reliable, skilled and well-led production company to oversee the process, and we are delighted that the production company we chose to work with is NextShoot.
NextShoot has been able to respond to the input of various stakeholders in communications and marketing and the senior management team, including Michael Bloomberg, adapting our projects and edits as has been required.
It has been crucial to Bloomberg that NextShoot demonstrated the ability to work in a safe manner, which they have done in line with all the safety protocols set out by SRM. The safety record on site has been exemplary (Accident Frequency Rate of just 0.07, and 4,755,386 hours as the longest period without a RIDDOR accident), and we have been impressed with NextShoot’s contribution to this excellent performance working in often challenging conditions in a safe manner, while capturing quality material.
The account management of this evolving project has been exemplary as has the management of a complex and evolving budget, overseen by my Bloomberg colleagues in London.
Bloomberg Communications, New York
Bloomberg commissioned NextShoot in 2013 to film the construction of our new European HQ in London. We’ve been delighted with the work they’ve produced.
Filming in challenging locations around the world, NextShoot have always created beautifully filmed and thoughtfully conceived material. They’ve worked closely with our construction team at Sir Robert McAlpine, engaging with key stakeholders and suppliers across a range of trades to capture the development of the building, and with our architects Foster + Partners.
They’ve managed the project and budget very effectively and met the demands of Bloomberg’s internal communications and press team with a range of engaging films covering the history of the site, community engagement and of course, the story of the building’s construction.
I’m so glad we have NextShoot on the team. They’ve shown tenacity, professionalism, consideration and an ability to get to grips with large scale projects and significant challenges. I have no hesitation in recommending them.
Bloomberg London Project Director