link to Grapevine video, multimedia home page
images video_styles contact

Grapevine Communications' producer Michael Smith consults on and creates corporate communications on video and for the web. He has extensive experience in producing effective video programmes for businesses, the public sector and voluntary organisations. While his skills lie primarily in programme creation and production, his direct knowledge of the buyer's side of the process includes a period advising the European Union in Brussels on film and video production issues and on the  commissioning of a number of substantial projects. He first worked in media production in a vacation job for a film company, way back before going to university.

After taking a four-year joint economics and social sciences degree with a maths subsidiary and a strong social psychology component, he worked briefly as a researcher for a youth and community work organisation, assisting in the evaluation of community projects, before following a long-term interest in art, design and photography and joining a film studio as a trainee.

Periods learning the basics of editing and sound led on to three years in the camera department, training on 16 mm and 35 mm movie cameras (and on 6x6cm and 35mm stills), and later on the (then!) newly- introduced BVU video format. He eventually emerged as a lighting cameraman, before transferring to join a leading corporate communications producer as an assistant producer, gaining experience in developing scripts to meet specific customer objectives as well as in programme direction. On further promotion to producer, he took on responsibility for a small permanent core staff as well as for building and managing teams on a project by project basis.

In the early 1980s he was recruited by international TV news agency Visnews to  run a team of 16 people based in Brussels providing news and longer-form coverage of European Union affairs, with in-house facilities including a multi-camera broadcast TV studio, 2 sound studios, 2 news crews and a videotape archive. During this period his role included providing advice to the EU on a range of production-related issues, as well as acting as a conduit to Visnews' video engineering expertise.

Following his return to England to freelance as a script writer and director, he moved to Cambridge in 1990, setting up Grapevine in 1995 to operate as a specialist corporate communications producer, specialising initially in film and video.

As technological advances made interactive and computer based media first possible and then compelling, he became involved in  "interactive video" using laserdiscs and PCs, then in "multimedia" using video on  interactive CDRoms.

Building on this exposure to audience response to computer screens and to programming (first through Multimedia Toolbook), it was a natural progression to carry these through using into web design and the web as a platform for video.  

His various professional memberships have included BAFTA, NPA, PACT, AIP, ACTT, and the  London Screenwriters' Workshop.

Some selected credits:

Community Planning. For Cambridgeshire ACRE. Short video exploring parish plans and their potential significance in the light of the emerging "localism" agenda, demonstrated through a case study of a Cambridgeshire village going through the process.

Dance motion graphics background.  For Yoyodada. Short-turn-around production of animated representations of subatomic particles as a background for dancers for a Cambridge Science Week presentation by this dance and arts troupe.

Colour Blind. For The Inland Revenue. Dramatised video contributing to training workshops aimed at increasing staff awareness of and tolerance towards cultural diversity.

Very large mosaic motion graphics. For Thump advertising agency for Oakland Innovation.  Handling very large composite image files, with long overlapping simulated zooms, for a short corporate promo.

Customer First. For Shell International. A series of short video collections of international business customer responses to different aspects of the oil giant's operations, organisational changes and future plans, developed for and delivered to upper and middle management around the world. 

E-learning - live show script consultancy for The Inland Revenue. Worked with subject experts and volunteer staff "performers" to develop and refine the script and staging of a live, light-hearted drama used as a conference opener.

Taking any Rubbish Today? For The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Staff training DVD, taking a light-hearted look at some of the ways staff and customers can interact, with the serious purpose of improving customer service.  Delivered in English, Russian and Polish versions all on one DVD.

Just A Little Chat. For The Inland Revenue. One of several dramatised training films; this one, for Tax Inspectors in district Tax Offices, covers aspects of investigating fraud including both site investigations and some basic investigative interviewing techniques.

Carry on Cooking. For Age UK and Action with Communities in Rural England. DVD and conference video, reporting on a lottery funded community project, to bring microwave cookery skills and healthier eating  to older people in the East of England.

An interactive, database-driven learning website, built as a training resource for workers in community groups, for the Adept Community Development Agency, a Coventry based national community work agency.

But is is Art? For Merton Borough Council. Short video for schools, covering attitudes to aspects of environmental crime. Fast snaps of opinion from a number of young people, grouped into themes and packaged with music, fast-cut imagery, even skateboarding  - something to keep snagging even some of the shorter attention spans! Sparked good audience reactions at well-attended press and schools launch event.

The Creative Heart. For the Art, Design and Media School of West Herts College. Introductory overview of the courses, facilities and career and personal development potential offered by this large, energetic and successful art-school-within-an-FE-college.

Long Range Ultrasound. For TWI.  3D graphics sequences illustrating the concepts behind the use of ultrasound for monitoring and testing pipework and their implementation in TWI's LRU Group products.

Monitoring Insolvency. For the Inland Revenue Training Office. Company failures are a fact of life. But a small minority of company directors (and their advisors) make a career out of manipulating company law and creditor ignorance to abuse their creditors, cheating staff, suppliers, customers and the tax man in the process. This half-hour dramatised training video, designed to add sparks to a whole-day training workshop, gives provocative clues to tax experts on how to spot and prevent such abuse. Commissioned from the Manchester training office, the production was based and filmed in Birmingham.

Community Safety. For Government Office of the West Midlands. Public relations DVD reporting on aspects of a pilot project to enhance performance of Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

Advanced Listening Skills. For The Special Compliance Office. This half-hour dramatised training video for the Revenue's  national squad of fraud specialists provides material for study of some of the more advanced elements of investigative interview technique. Commissioned from the SCO's Bristol head office, and run from and filmed in London.

Making a Difference. For GlaxoSmithKline. Graduate recruitment DVD for the Global Manufacturing and Supply division. 

Exhibition video eye-catcher. for Giti Tire Europe, B.V. based in Amsterdam, Holland.  4 minutes of perpetual motion, built from motion graphics and special effects, with a little help from some library stills. Sales promotion for the European HQ of this fast-growing Chinese tyre giant.

Hallmark - the movie. Corporate promo for Hallmark Cards plc. How big a business can greetings cards be? With annual turnover better than 200 million in the UK (and more than a billion pounds p.a globally), Hallmark aims to put the "best" into greetings card "wishes." After a substantial change programme in the UK, Hallmark's top management team wanted a video to capture  the scale and pace of change, and to outline some of their initiatives to boost the creative teams at the heart of their business. Commissioned from and filmed at Hallmark UK's Bradford headquarters.

Making Life Better. For Age Concern. Public relations & staff induction video, bringing out what the organisation stands for and aspires to as well as what it achieves right now.

The Best We Can Be. For West Herts College. DVD review of recent initiatives to ensure continuing improvements in quality and standards at this expanding higher education institution.

Soundscape for artist's exhibition. 12 minutes of atmospheric, layered and varied sound effects, built to the support a visual piece on aspects of art and mental illness, and delivered as a looped sound file on standard audio CD.

A Thousand Years of History - Clare Castle Country Park. For Newnham Design and Suffolk County Council. Exhibition centre DVD, giving a little historical background and context about the land that is now the country park. Made entirely from still images 

AdhFAST. For TWI.  Animated 3D graphics to illustrate new concepts for advanced materials joining techniques in development at this research institute.

Development of XML-driven Flash video player for a (New Zealand based) international graphic design agency. Picked up a graphic skin and list of requirements from the designers and produced the code to turn this into a customisable video jukebox-style player. The customer is able to populate a series of tabbed video selection panels with thumbnail images, programme title, description and other data simply by updating a (provided) xml file and uploading the appropriate assets.

Getting it Right at Height. For the Construction Industry Training Board and Apex Television.  Health and safety training for people in the construction industry, delivered on DVD and interactive CDROM. DVD script and direction and CDROM programming provided by Grapevine. Involved filming in Canary Wharf and across East Anglia.

The Science of Managing Waste. For Cleanaway. Promotional video covering some of the specialist waste management services of the Cleanaway group, including facilities in Essex and London as well as in Ellesmere Port.

Wisbech Waterfront. A community response to the widely welcomed redevelopment of a long-derelict area of the town centre, featuring aspirations and recollections, memories and reminiscences, and some very old photos! Public relations for the Nene Waterfront Regeneration Community Consultation Forum.

Amcor - Performance Packaging. For Amcor. Promotional video helping this Australian-based multinational to demonstrate the scale of its investment in advanced production technology and the new levels of service it introduced to the UK packaging market. Coverage of facilities in Mold, North Wales and in March, Cambridgeshire.

Construction, Design and Maintenance. For the CITB. DVD. Training programme to support the introduction of new health and safety legislation for the construction industry.

Cost to the Business. For First Group. Short, high-impact conference video designed to shake health and safety and operational managers out of any complacency over the ethical or financial imperatives driving the need for continuous improvement in all aspects of health and safety performance. Created largely from CCTV footage and graphics.

Healthier Homes. For the Huntingdonshire Primary Care Trust. Video / DVD for conference and training uses, designed to stimulate care providers from health and local authorities and the voluntary sector. Features a varied collection of images, impressions, priorities and wishes from service users.

Careers in Construction, for the Watford-based Engineering Construction Industry Training Board.
Video presentation  introducing the various training pathways and entry points to the industry open to school leavers and others. Built from a collection of still images supported by voice, music and graphics, for delivery in DVD-quality mpeg 2 video, as a multimedia file, and in a Flash version for the web.

Koochi club night - graphics roll. Background logo graphics and effects role for this budding Northern super-club night.

Consultancy for ACEVO ( the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations.)  Developed and wrote  a buyers' guide to commissioning video production - one of a series of executive briefings available to members. Go to a condensed version of the video buyers guide is available online.

Hand in Hand. For GlaxoSmithKline. Conference video made to a tight deadline, examining the background to one site's excellent environment, health and safety performance, and demonstrating how that contributes to (rather than conflicts with) excellent business performance. Interview in London and coverage of a  manufacturing facility in the north of England. 

The Toolkit. For the Strategic Forum for Construction. Seven-minute presentation for senior managers in the construction industry, and their clients, outlining the philosophy behind a wholehearted effort to re-imagine and re-engineer the design-and-build process. There's lots of scope for "blue skies" and "green fields" hype here - but this is a real-world initiative with solid foundations in current practice and project experience. Delivered as a streaming Flash presentation for the web, as well as in the form of an executable file for CD-based multimedia use.

Services for older people conference report. For Age Concern and the Black Pig Design Company.  Provided video coverage of a regional conference on improving and better co-ordinating services for older people, editing a series of detailed and lengthy presentations into a series of short "news bites" to form the basis of a half-hour CD ROM conference report.

Adept website. For Adept Community Development Agency. Overall site design, and help with adapting print-based text for web use.

The Bug Stops Here. Hygiene and food safety training video for food handlers, following the Food Safety Act. Chosen as one of the most memorable films of the year by the Health and Safety at Work Journal. Offered for sale to caterers, this well-received training video more than returned its production and distribution costs within six months. Co-funded by Grapevine and The Wellcome Foundation.

Working In Community Organisations. Funded by Coventry City Council and the European Union. Computer-based version of the well-respected introductory community work training course prepared by Adept Community Development Agency in Coventry. This computer version of the course is currently undergoing further refinement to incorporate charges in its syllabus, and may soon emerge as an "e-learning" resource.

Message to Mexico. For GlaxoSmithKline. Brief message to Mexican operating company management from Head Office management in London, recorded as video, subtitled in Spanish and delivered (on a very tight schedule) as a computer file for intranet distribution.

Amcor - World to Wales.  For Amcor International. Short documentary covering the arrival of Australian-based world packaging giant Amcor in North Wales.

Animo Studio. For Cambridge Animation Systems. Short promotional film on how this new cinema-quality cartooning software, featuring automated in-betweening and finishing as well as exceptional effects potential, can fit with conventional cell-animation production techniques. Bought for broadcast by Danish Television for their Computers in Action series. Queen's Award. For Cambridge Animation Systems.

Commercial Excellence. For GlaxoSmithKline.  Conference opener for European managers meeting in Athens. Polished graphics and a motivational top-management message to the troops - and at a sedate enough pace to accommodate those with English as a second or third language.

E-learning to Blended Learning for the Inland Revenue. Short video examining the Department's plans to widen its use of internet technologies for staff development, and how those e-learning technologies will fit into a full, integrated suite of training methods and strategies. Commissioned from the Leeds training office, with filming mainly in Lincoln and Leeds.

 ACE in action. For the ECITB.  Flash-based, web-delivered interactive presentation of  endorsements by participants in the pilot for this construction industry skills accreditation scheme.

Amazonas, Brazil; Leprosy Control. For Glaxo. Short public-relations documentary on an outreach project to bring leprosy screening and treatment to remote, isolated communities in the Amazonas rainforest.

What is a Champion? For Age Concern and the Black Pig Design Company. Short video featuring a series of interviews on aspects of care of and services for older people. This proved successful in its intended purpose of stimulating thought and discussion at a regional conference of managers from health, social service and the voluntary sector, and strong demand from this specialist audience led to the video's wider distribution. Selected for broadcast by the Community Channel.

Worldwide Operations for GlaxoSmithKline. A brief video overview, concentrating on recent changes and future plans at research and development sites, for internal and external audiences. Delivered on CD ROM.

Java Supergrid. For Balfour Beatty. A half-hour sponsored promotional documentary film made on behalf of the Indonesian national energy authority, which put a power supply project into the context of overall national economic development strategy. This won a Creative Excellence Award at the US Industrial Film Festival, Chicago.

Europe's Own Dollar? For the EU. Half-hour educational documentary on the emergence of a single currency for the European Union.

Dulux Woodsheen. For ICI Dulux. This simple product introduction for architects and commercial specifiers received an Architectural Newsreel industry effectiveness award.

D2S. For Glaxo. Internal video putting flesh onto the paper record of the particularly successful initiative, which was a system-wide transformation of the drug development process. The video made a contribution to ensuring that the project was well understood and received proper credit.  The D2S team emerged with a prestigious internal Chairman's Award for innovation.

The BAA: Taking Off From Here. For JWT. Promotional film used by BAA board in financial presentations.

Bupa News report. For Bupa. 15-minute staff information video as part of the current Bupa change programme, featuring management interviews linked from a Thames-side studio set. From initial brief through scripting to delivery in 5 working days.

Releasing the Potential. For Glaxo. The company's main board directors present and explain current business strategy to group staff internationally.

Rover Commercial. For Dorlands. Low-budget film commercial for screening in the Gulf States.

Creative conference. For Hallmark Cards plc. A hundred or so of your key people - some of the creative and marketing talent  from around the world, on this occasion - come together to share ideas, mull over best practice and spark some fresh initiatives. How can you extract the most value from the day, and help some of those who couldn't make it to benefit? For this "creative conference", six hours of talk, examples and workshops here cut down into a ten-minute, high-energy video document. An alternative to the conference CD ROM.

Animo VNR Video News Release for Cambridge Animation Systems, covering their Queen's Award for Export Achievement. Turned round in a week, and gained coverage on BBC Breakfast News, BBC local news early-evening and at 9.30, and Sky News.

Molecule to Marketplace. For Glaxo SmithKline. A series of short video clips to enhance a computer-based training course, which this research and medicines giant uses to keep its substantial and widely-dispersed staff up to date on the latest developments in its drug development processes.

Dartford Knowledge Transfer. For Glaxo SmithKline. Short video produced to tight deadline to help to capture specific technical expertise and make it available to other manufacturing sites about to face new production challenges.

Safe and Well.  For BP.  Video and interactive CD-ROM. Health and safety briefings for staff and visitors to BP Oil facilities. The video element was encoded to MPEG 2 standard and delivered on CD for hard disc playback

Smaller Companies Unit trust. For the Prudential. Promotional film for use with and by the Prudential's sales force, promoting a specialist unit trust. 

Right First Time. For Fujitsu ICL. Graduate recruitment video, featuring undergraduate, staff, company directors, career pathways and the importance to this technology giant of recruiting, developing and retaining excellent people with diverse skills and backgrounds.

Customer Safety - Whose Liability? For Gateway. John Craven spells out the implications for retailers of the Consumer Protection Act, assisted by two actors playing cameo scenes.

Meeting the Duty of Care. For Cleanaway. Promotional video explaining to potential customers how the sponsor's services are designed to fulfil obligations introduced by the Environmental Protection Act.

Thames Barge Operations. For Cleanaway. Public-relations film covering the company's river transport of waste to landfill: used with city council audiences, contributed to renewal of two long-term contracts and the winning of a third.

Portable Keyboards. For Yamaha. One of a series of training programmes featuring broadcast presenters and sponsoring company representatives demonstrating products in studio, recorded multi-camera .

Interactive Sales Training. For Johnson and Johnson. Interactive training materials for the J and J sales force, covering the background to and features of a number the company's products.

Maintaining the Standards. For Extel. Promotional video for national hardware maintenance offshoot of major services group.

Pitfalls in Practice. For Hoechst Pharmaceuticals. Dramatised video outlining some legal issues facing doctors in general practice.

Floating Production, Storage and Offloading. For Single Buoy Moorings Inc. Sales aid aimed at offshore oil-field development company managers; an introduction to the concept and history of using moored ships instead of platforms on jackets to carry oilfield facilities offshore. Distributed on 16mm.

Acne. For Lederle. Short documentary for general practitioners showing some of the effects of chronic acne on teenage and other sufferers, and discussing possible treatments.

Creating Our Future. For Glaxo Wellcome. Staff communications video carrying current management philosophy to operating companies internationally.

One Bad Apple. Sponsored by the Wellcome Foundation. Food safety training for shop-floor factory workers in food the processing industry.

The Peterborough Effect; History in the Making. For the Peterborough Development Corporation. Informative promotional video for businesses and individuals considering relocating to Peterborough.

It's Your Move. For pension specialists Clay Charles Barker. Donald MacKormick and Dominik Harrod compare and contrast the features of personal pension schemes and staff schemes. Recorded multi-camera in studio.

Accept No Substitute. For The Wellcome Foundation. Management information video bringing home to staff internationally the ethical & legal bases of trade mark rights, and the importance of protecting those rights from competitors and counterfeiters.

Living Proof. For Cleanaway. Sales documentary covering aspects of the environmental impact of the disposal of domestic waste on the landfill site at Pitsea.

Heart of England. For Oxford Academy school of English. Short promotional video outlining the key features of the school's residential language courses; for potential customers overseas.

A Tradition of Excellence. For Berkeley Homes. Financial information video on behalf of construction group,  to reassure City investors.

Global Citizen. For Glaxo Wellcome. Public relations video covering a number of GW's charitable activities internationally, delivered both on video and as a computer video file, and in use the the company's Heritage Centre in Greenford

Animo Siggraph Promo. For Cambridge Animation Systems. Promotional video making extensive use of material filmed from computer screens, outlining how this new cartooning software fits into conventional cell-animation production techniques. Bought for broadcast by Danish TV.

Magic Marker Workshop. For Magic Markers. Half-hour promotional documentary demonstration of basic and advanced marker techniques, featuring Dick Powell and Richard Seymour before they became TV stars. This video  was so well received by its target audience of designers and design students that the sponsor subsequently decided to offer it for sale through art supplies outlets, recovering all video production and promotional costs within a year while greatly enhancing designer appreciation of and sales of the product.

Management information & training. For Shell International. A series of promotional staff information videos introducing and selling new software systems and management operations concepts to Shell operating companies worldwide, involving filming in several countries in Western Europe.

Home Fires. For British Gas. Promotional video aimed at potential customers overseas for BG's international consultancy services, and featuring a number of technical advances achieved by the organization's research and development teams.

The Queen in the Gulf.  Production manager. Travelled with and organised multi-crew team covering the Queen's tour of the Gulf states, using extra cameras to gain more depth than daily news schedules allowed. Resulted in a 50-minute documentary strong enough to gain a Boxing Day broadcast screening on BBC1.  

The Invisible Earth. Production manager. For Home Box Office. Television documentary on the subject of earthquakes and volcanoes, involving location shooting in mainland Europe, Greenland and Iceland as well as the assembly of library material from a number of international sources to a tight broadcast schedule.

World Business Summit series. Director, For Visnews (now known as Reuters TV). 17 half hour episodes of the business series broadcast on CBC in Canada, filmed mainly in Brussels and including interview profiles of leading EC politicians. 

Century. For Visnews. 2 half-hour broadcast documentaries on historical subjects, co-produced by Visnews and a New-York based programme syndicator.

Grapevine Communications Cambridge UK
 Grapevine has closed its door