The National Gallery


After the success of the Angel Trail video series for Christmas 2015, the National Gallery approached us about a new video campaign for 2016, this time on the theme of stars: The Art Star Trail.

A four-part YouTube video series, The Art Star Trail explored themes from the changing depictions of the night sky, to the influence and understanding of astronomy at different points in European history, the story of the Nativity, and techniques used by artists to create stars in their paintings.
The aim of the video campaign was to encourage people to rediscover old favourites, and to find paintings in the permanent collection that they may not have come across before.

The tone of the campaign was to be celebratory, warm and welcoming with a Christmas sparkle.
The National Gallery Art Star Trail The National Gallery Art Star Trail
The National Gallery Art Star Trail The National Gallery Art Star Trail
During the pre-production phase we worked closely with The National Gallery Social Media video team to structure the content for each of the four episodes. Painting Stars looked at changing depictions of the night sky, and techniques used by artists to create stars. It included Camille Pissaro’s ‘The Boulevard Montmartre at Night’ and J.M.W. Turner’s ‘The Evening Star’.

In Stargazing we explored the influence and understanding of astronomy at different points in European history. At the heart of this video was Hans Holbein the Younger’s ‘The Ambassadors’, in which Jean de Dinteville, the French Ambassador to the court of King Henry VIII, and Geroge de Selve, the Bishop of Lavaur pose with a number of scientific and astronomical instruments.

Myth-making stars explored how stars feature in the stories of gods, as depicted by great artists such as Titian, and how mythology influenced the naming of many objects in the night sky· Titian’s ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ and Tintoretto’s ‘The Origin of the Milky Way’ were featured.

With Guiding Stars the series flowed into the Nativity theme, with the story of Christmas paintings showing the Star of Bethlehem followed by Magi and Shepherds.
A key component of our four filming days was interviews with The National Gallery curators, shot against a starry background. On these interview filming days we explored the historical context of each featured painting, its internal narrative and the techniques used by the artist. The aim was to draw out surprising and delightful information to engage the viewer.

With Stargazing we included contributions from the Curator of Royal Observatory Greenwich and the Curator of Cartography, Royal Museums Greenwich who provided fascinating insights into the astronomical instruments depicted in Holbein’s painting.

The remaining filming time was spent in the galleries capturing broll of curators interacting with the paintings and details of the paintings themselves. While we knew we had hi-resolution imagery of the artworks to fall back on we are aware that there is a great value to the viewer in seeing the artworks framed and in situ in the gallery, and oblique shots of the paintings that show the details, colour and application of the paint. As ever, one of the challenges with creating video for art galleries is working out of hours. However, one of the greatest privileges imaginable is standing in front of a painting by Turner at 11.30 at night in an empty gallery accompanied only by the DoP and a security guard, pondering how best to show the simplicity of the artist’s mark on the canvas.

With our filming of the curators in the gallery our aim was to introduce movement into the shots, often using a gimbal, and to include these experts in a way that conveyed the scale of the paintings to the video audience.
The National Gallery Art Star Trail The National Gallery Art Star Trail
The National Gallery Art Star Trail The National Gallery Art Star Trail
In order to promote the video series we created a 15 second trailer, which was put out on all Social Media channels and sent directly to gallery members. A 4 minute version of each topic was created, which was uploaded to Youtube, one at a time over four weeks, and which was trailed by 30 second Social Media edits.

SRT subtitle files were created for all the videos - with careful attention paid to the correct naming of the artists and paintings - with versions in a number of languages including French and Portuguese.

We developed a graphic front card and caption card that reflected the brilliant theme of stars and, of course, added music that caught the tone of each video’s theme and that nodded to the festivity of Christmas also.

The video campaign ran from late November up to Christmas in tandem with offline activities. In December a range of events were hosted in the Gallery, and visitors were encouraged to discover hidden stars featured in paintings, floor mosaics and even the building itself. A designated microsite was also created, so that online visitors could also interact and engage with the campaign.

These evergreen videos were extremely well received by the Gallery and the public and continue to attract views on the Gallery’s Youtube channel.

There are few other video agencies in London fortunate enough to have worked on such a high volume of video content for art galleries. We feel our expertise in art video production and video for Social Media gives us an invaluable insight into how to engage an audience interested in arts and culture. In fact, we were invited back in 2017 to create another Christmas video advertising campaign for the Gallery - Gold!


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