Left to right: Matt Wright, Director of Video Production, Brendan Coogan, DHL EV TV Host, Richard Collinson, Project Director and Producer, Alex Warner, Videographer

DHL EV TV: What was it like filming during COVID-19?

With the announcement on Monday that new homes and buildings in England will be required by law to install electric vehicle charging points from next year, the official release of DHL’s brand new series EV TV could not have come at a better time. This series that we produced for DHL delves into the future and covers what is evolving in the world of electric vehicles – from EV technology, to common myths, and of course, logistics.

While there is no doubt that the future is electric, the past year filming EV TV during COVID-19, has certainly been fully-charged for us. Going in and out of national and international lockdowns (which as you can imagine caused many frowns), amongst other things, has meant that it’s been no easy ride!

There has been a fair share of challenges that we have had to overcome but finally we can proudly announce the launch of episode one, released last week – Our Environment: The Impact of Electric & Hybrid Vehicles. To film this, we had originally planned to fly out to Bonn in Germany last March, but when the third national lockdown was announced in both the UK and Germany on January 6, this looked very unlikely.

So, what did this mean exactly? Firstly, it obviously ruled out flying to Germany to film. This meant that we had to re-think the whole structure of the episode as interviews of DHL experts were planned to take place in the DHL Innovation Centre in Bonn. Now, we had to do everything from the UK, and finding filming locations here was in itself a challenge. After asking numerous centres, universities and venues, we finally found a solar and wind farm which agreed. We decided we would use more of our host, Brendan, who drove down from Scotland in his electric car… to present EV TV from this location. After taking PCR tests beforehand and regular lateral flow tests, we could finally start filming. Well, Brendan at least… the rest of the contributors who were based abroad was a slight issue.

As an alternative to filming in person, we had to think of the best way of doing the interviews via conference call.  Especially as everyone was used to the Zoom call by then and the novelty of the lockdown video calls was starting to wear off, the last place they would want to feel sat on another one was on a programme about electric vehicles. Rather than just filming the screen, we filmed over the shoulder shots, combined with shots of Brendan in the studio and the screen feed. This essentially made it a more interesting way of filming the conversation between Brendan and Celine.

However, Adrian’s shots were not a conversation, so how do we make him talking to the camera more interesting without being on set? I’ll give you a clue… it’s big and green. We sent Adrien who was based in Belgium, a portable green screen, lights and a box that allows you to put a high quality video camera feed in that comes back to us in the studio in the UK. This mean that we could see the camera that he was seeing, and be able to direct the shot from 400 miles away! Thanks to our graphic design team, we could fill the background with DHL themed graphics to look professional.

So, filming during COVID-19 definitely showed us that nothing is impossible and in fact it worked out quite nicely in the context of what we were filming. We reduced our carbon footprint by not flying a crew out to Germany and back, and got to feature Brendan’s impressive BMW i3 instead. Not to mention the beautiful shots of the Wiltshire countryside we captured by drone – which was quite fitting seen as the first episode is all about our environment.

And it doesn’t stop there! Thanks to our tech savvy Director of Video Production, Matt, we decided that we would go a step further and run as much as we could on lithium-iron battery packs, which we recharged on site with solar panels. So, contrary to the sky on the day of filming, it wasn’t all doom and gloom and was definitely a positive experience to remember. 

The world seems to be moving on from COVID-19 as the more pressing issue of climate change is taking precedent. The need for electric vehicles is becoming clearer and it looks like the wheels to a greener future are beginning to finally be set in motion. To find out more, watch DHL EV TV here if you haven’t already, and if you already have, Episode two – EV Battery Life Span & Lifecycles: The Power to Drive is out next month, so watch out!