A video and animation company set up by two University of Wolverhampton graduates has continued to innovate while delivering three of the University’s biggest celebrations at some Wolverhampton landmarks.
Wolverhampton-based Stone’s Throw Media broadcast the University’s 2020 staff “virtual” awards to colleagues and their families watching from home before livestreaming the official opening of a £45 million campus for construction excellence situated on the site of a former Wolverhampton brewery.
As well as producing the eye-catching promotional video for the construction centre, they also produced a commemorative film as part of separate celebrations to mark 25 years of the University’s science park.
The work for the University builds upon a longstanding connection with founders Mike Chinn and Matt Weston, who set up Stone’s Throw in 2011 after they met as undergraduates on a University of Wolverhampton media course. They have continued to work for the University on a regular basis, culminating in their involvement in three of Wolverhampton’s biggest events of the autumn.
The University of Wolverhampton formally opened its £45 million School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Springfield super campus as part of its £120 million regeneration of the former brewery site.
Offering specialist teaching and social learning spaces, as well as design studios, specialist labs and a host of facilities, it will provide space for nearly 1,100 existing students and 65 staff, with the number of students projected to grow over time to 1,600.
With Covid restrictions limiting the number of people allowed on site for the unveiling, the virtual celebration was livestreamed by Stone’s Throw Media culminating in a live link-up to an official ribbon cutting ceremony by the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Claire Darke, a fellow graduate of the University.
The event included a virtual tour of the new building, filmed by the Stone’s Throw Media team using steadicams, drone technology and scenic shots taken at night.
To add to the technical challenges, the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Wolverhampton Council leader Councillor Ian Brookfield and Tom Westley, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board, took part on the day with a mix of live appearances and messages of support.
Stone’s Throw Media director Mike Chinn said the team were “really pleased” with the results of their work. He said:
“When you see how much work has gone into realising the plans for the Springfield brewery a live event to celebrate its opening remained important, despite the restrictions of Covid.
“If people could not get together in one place, it was a great opportunity for us to work with colleagues at the University to put together a virtual version to show how a previously dead piece of land has been brought to life.
“As well as producing the livestreamed ceremony, we enjoyed putting together the video tour of the building which showed the contrast between the old exposed brickwork to the modern new architecture. The building is a big statement, so we were pleased to help them launch the centre in a high-profile way.”
To watch the Springfield opening ceremony on YouTube click here:
For the 2020 staff awards for the University of Wolverhampton, also held in October, the Stone’s Throw team created a full 100-minute live awards broadcast, including pre-recorded videos, titles, multiple cameras, music and live phone calls.
With 20 categories and 25 videos to include, as well as key speakers such as Vice Chancellor Prof Geoff Layer, it was among the most complex events to be staged by Stone’s Throw Media, so they were delighted when around 400 people watched the livestream.
The awards show allowed the team to make use of advanced equipment purchased last year as part of a Wolverhampton Council-backed Aim For Gold business programme, including robotic cameras.
Mike added: “The Covid restrictions meant it wasn’t possible for the event to happen in the flesh, so the University came to us for inspiration on what we could do to make sure the event happened but virtually, utilising live streaming video technology.
“Long before Covid disrupted live events we had recognised the need to get more sophisticated kit such as vision mixers, so we had the tools to put on a very enjoyable show to celebrate staff success.”
Having worked with Stone’s Throw Media on both events, University of Wolverhampton events manager Michelle White said their partner had helped to achieve the goals set despite the impact of Covid. She said:
“Working with Stone’s Throw Media is always a pleasure and their hard work paid off to produce two excellent live-streamed events.
“The official opening of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Springfield super campus is one of the University’s most significant recent achievements, providing a state-of-the-art centre for future generations to use and thrive.
“With the Covid restrictions limiting our ability to open the doors to celebrate the achievement, being able to livestream the event and showcase the buildings through the Stone’s Throw video, we could share with pride the progress that has been made.
“By livestreaming our staff awards we were able to reach more people than ever before as we were not restricted by the size of rooms. It was great to see so many colleagues join us as we recognised staff achievements in such a difficult year.
“We value Stone’s Throw Media not just for the high level of service they have provided over many years, but because of their story as Wolverhampton graduates who have succeeded in growing a business.”
While new successes are being celebrated, the University also took time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of Wolverhampton Science Park. The joint venture, between the University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Council, first opened in 1995.
Stone’s Throw Media put together a film on the site’s history beginning in 1862 when a balloon trip from the site sent two explorers five miles into the air before a death-defying plunge to earth.
The video, now available on YouTube, marked how the site had developed from planning to completion. The park is now home to more than 100 businesses working across technological, scientific and creative sectors. To watch the video, go to:
Stone’s Throw are part of the success story as their offices are on the Science Park, in Glaisher Drive. Director Matt Weston said: “Our business has grown from meeting at the University to employing a team at the science park, so it was fantastic for us to produce together a video about the site’s success.”
Now employing seven staff, Stone’s Throw Media provide services for clients across a broad spectrum of sectors, both in the West Midlands and further afield. They bill the business as being for clients “looking to grow with video and animation.”
Stone’s Throw Media have been producing videos for a range of commercial and academic clients for nearly 10 years. With eight staff, they have received recognition for their success including winning the 2018 Express & Star micro business of the year award.