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Behind the scenes of our creative process

Back in October 2014, Collect a Case started on a journey of digital discovery which had two main objectives; to improve our existing website and to work on our current SEO standing.

With this in mind, I’d like to show you a different side to the Collect a Case team and to boast of our accomplishments.

We spend lots of time learning and improving our knowledge of SEO; writing fresh and exciting content, showcasing current and exciting graphics and discovering new platforms and channels to get our message across in new and unconventional ways.

We’re so lucky at Collect a Case to have a wealth of talent and knowledge within our ranks, not only in the Customer Service and Accounts teams, but within our IT department too.  Everyone is keen to be involved in the creation of blue-chip products and services for our industry.  Simply by perusing our bespoke booking software and our CC-GO! Mobile application, all tested and built in-house, you can appreciate the level of expertise we have on board.

Coming from a design background and working with Simon G.Proudfoot, a Jedi Knight in graphic design, web development and now self-taught Animator, we aim to express and show our brands from a different perspective using all sorts of diverse channels.

Last year we produced posters and magazine adverts, we attended conferences and created our own merchandise for exhibitions. The creation of our own infomercial or animation was to the direction we aspired to, to pursue and educate new audiences.

Video increases consumer attention and understanding of your product or service.  It captures someone’s desire more than any other form of advertisement or by reading a static article.

For Christmas 2014, we decided to create an animated webpage for our annual festive message, using CSS animation (cascading style sheets). This method was a good introduction, but too complex for our vision, so we opted for a different method using Illustrator, Cinema 4D and After Effects.

I’d like to describe to you the stages involved in creating our infomercial.  Whether it be the next Hollywood blockbuster or the shortest of short films, the level of work involved is staggering.

The production pipeline of a typical short can be divided into three stages: pre-production, production and post-production.

So let’s get started:

The most important part to any production is pre-production. It begins with the main concepts which are initially turned into a full story.  Once the story has been finalised, the script, narration, shot sequence and camera angles are worked on.

DSC_0100One of the major components of pre-production is storyboarding.  This provides a visual reminder of the original plan; something that can easily be referred back to throughout the production.

The storyboard helps to finalise the development of the storyline and it’s an essential stage to the animation process. It’s made up of drawings rather like a comic strip, and it’s then used to both help visualise the animation and to communicate ideas clearly.

Once the storyboards have been approved, then comes the exciting task of creating modelling sheets, or character designs. These are precisely drawn groups of pictures that show all of the possible expressions that a character or object can make and all of the many different poses that they could adopt.

The aim is to give as much information as possible to Simon, our Creative Designer. This helps bring a landscape, objects or characters to life. A concept we used in creating the dancing elves for our Christmas animation.

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Next, the project enters the production phase. It’s here where the actual work can start (according to Simon) based on the guidelines established during pre-production. Some major parts of the process are setting the layout, modelling, and texturing. The lighting, rigging and finally the animation finally gets a-look in…at some point!

 

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charactersThe process is tedious and Simon spent many hours working on the movement and timing within our productions. It’s a true testament to Simon’s creative flare how he picked up and developed such a demanding skill and it was truly reflected in the finished product.

Post-production is the third and final step in film creation.  It refers to the tasks that must be completed or executed after the filming or shooting ends. This includes editing the animation scenes together, inserting transitional effects, music, narration and staring endlessly at the screen practising your buffer face whilst waiting for the animation to render.

The results of this hard work can be seen instantly and it was a touching moment for everyone involved when we presented our infomercial at our staff Christmas party.

We hope you enjoyed watching our animations as much as we enjoyed making them.

In true Chuck Jones’s style, I leave you with one thought…

That’s all folks!”

Collect a Case Christmas Video

 

Sprites and Sets

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Just Eco infomercial

Ready, Steady, Bake!

On Friday 25th September, Collect a Case staff wore their elasticated waist bands, dropped their diets for the day and gave support for a truly remarkable and worthy cause.

It was Battle of the Bakers in our offices this year. The Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning was back!

Last year, Abby, our in-house Mary Berry, worked tirelessly to make a range of baked delights for the occasion.  This year Abby has her own bun in the oven and so she asked her work mates to help with the spread, which quickly became the competition of the year to date.

Who would be the baking guru? Whose bottom would get soggy and who would bring along irregular-shaped balls to be presented for our consumption?

We did not realise we have so many closet bakers in our midst! Some stayed quiet and were rising to the challenge behind closed doors, while others decided to egg each other on.

The challenge was set and Friday arrived.  Who would be the baking guru? Whose bottom would get soggy and who would bring along irregular-shaped balls to be presented for our consumption?

The most important question is why?

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Cancer is one of the toughest fights some of us will ever face.  Thankfully, as treatments improve, more and more people are living successfully with cancer in their lives.

Macmillan Cancer Support aims to support those living with cancer and offers comfort and advice to help patients and their families make tough choices and take control during a difficult and frightening time.

The money we raised at our coffee morning will help with the worldwide campaign to make sure no one has to face cancer alone.

The day was a great success. Everyone donated and voted for their best cake.  It was a close (bun) fight but Abby wiped the plate clean with her vast selection of cakes with Cat slightly missing out with her delicious Banoffee Pie.

More importantly we raised an impressive £123.00. The support of the Collect a Case staff and everyone who participated was truly amazing.

Thank you for indulging and supporting a truly worthy cause.

The latest financial mis-selling disgrace

Specialists are warning that the latest financial mis-selling disgrace could lead to even higher pay outs of up to £33billion.

As the demand for PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) compensation finally starts to fade out, an even larger mis-selling scandal threatens to shock and engulf the banking industry.

 

So, I hear you say…What have the banks done wrong now?

When consumers were sold PPI policies, they may have unknowingly been charged large commissions by their branches or brokers who sold them the products.

If decided that this is unfair practice, PPI compensation claims that were earlier over-ruled could now be lawful and due for a pay-out.

If applied, products like loans, insurance, store cards and car finance could lead to a whole new wave of consumer claims otherwise fairly sold could now be deemed mis-sold with a bill that could be even higher than the PPI tally.

How has this materialised?

It all centres on a court case that went as high as the Supreme Court when Mrs Plevin, a college lecturer, bought payment protection insurance after taking out a personal loan.

The PPI premium of £5,780 was added to the loan. From this, the client was told that part of this sum would be considered commission to the lending company.

Conversely, what she wasn’t told is that of the £5,780 charge to the loan, 71.8% was the commission. She also wasn’t told who would be receiving the commission…hope you’re keeping up!

In November 2014, the court ruled that by not telling Mrs Plevin the level of commission she was paying, or where the commission was going to, the 1974 Consumer Credit Act had been breached.

Bearing in mind, if the ruling is applied across the industry, the bill could come in at a staggering £33billion in expected compensation pay-out.

However, now it gets interesting! The decision does not comment on whether or not PPI was mis-sold – instead it addresses the commission payments and the breach of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act.

In theory, millions of bank customers who have had PPI claims rejected because their PPI was not mis-sold could now be owed compensation.

 

if the ruling is applied across the industry, the bill could come in at a staggering £33billion in expected compensation pay-out.

 

What will happen next?

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) is reviewing the case and deciding how to act on the matter. We are expected to hear the results of the decision early next month (September 2015)

It will be nail biting times within the industry as we’ll get to know whether or not the banks will have to pay out more compensation and start the tedious reviews of previously rejected claims.

 

Sounds like this is good news, right?

Well it completely depends on the side you bat for! If banks are told to pay out more compensation on commission payments that were not disclosed to customers, then millions of households across the UK could be set for an early Christmas present.

But remember, it won’t just be our UK households cashing in on this windfall. You’ll see Claims Management companies also looking for their share of the pie by encouraging their clients to seek compensation that there in entitled to.

No doubt another pay out would be damaging to our banks, but households that receive PPI windfalls often spend their compensation on new luxury items all of which contribute to the UK economy.

 

What’s the difference from PPI mis-selling?

PPI policies were sold between 1990 and 2010 to millions of customers who took out loans or credit cards. This, in hindsight was supposed to be a good thing as it acted as a safety net for those who struggled or couldn’t repay their loan, or credit card.

Yet, millions of policies were mis-sold to customers, in some cases PPI was sold with loans without the customer even being told.

Remember…This latest court case does not centre on whether PPI was mis-sold.

Instead, the case looks at whether it was fair that Mrs Plevin ended up paying out so much in commission without realising.

So watch this space. The FCA will be making a decision next month – and depending on the outcome the floodgates could be open for more compensation claims.

Noise induced hearing loss

The Civil Justice Council has been asked by the Government to investigate the cost of claims for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

NIHL is a permanent hearing impairment triggered by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise, caused by loud sounds that result in the over-stimulation of the hearing cells, which can lead to cell death.

There are two types of hearing loss; intense noise incident, or gradually over time due to prolonged exposure to noise. One in 10 of us has a hearing loss that affects our ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

 

The Association of British Insurers said that there has been a clear rise in NIHL claims, describing deafness claims as the new whiplash claim.

 

Why is the Government involved?

The Government believes that the investigation will build on recent civil justice reforms. It has been designed to control costs and discourage needless lawsuits and bring access to justice for each worthy case.

The Association of British Insurers said that there has been a clear rise in NIHL claims, describing deafness claims as the new whiplash claim.

Recent figures suggest that there have been 200,000 industrial deafness claims since 2012. These figures also show that claimant lawyers have received, on average, three times as much in legal fees as their successful claimants secure in compensation.

Here at Collect a Case we understand this frustration and we work with highly reputable companies who continue to provide clear and honest cases. We expect and trust that the cases we are dealing with convey precise and authentic information.

Smart Phones In Business

Smartphones are quickly changing the way millions of people around the world are conducting business.

No longer just a large, brick-shaped paperweight used simply to make phone calls and send text messages, not forgetting the added feature of the highly addictive Snake game, mobile phones now have the potential to augment nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

Mobile revolutions are leading us to new levels of connectivity, productivity, and discovery.

Here are five ways Smartphones are changing the business landscape:

Streamlined Communication

Since their creation, the key feature of mobile phones has been their capability to send and receive calls from across the world.   Smartphone technology has built on this, adding efficiencies that make business communications more refined than ever before.

Using a voice only conversation seems a thing of the past, we can now send various forms of media eg; text messages, emails and cloud services across social media platforms. We live in a space age era where Smartphones allow us to have face-to-face video communication with anyone around the world with just a few taps of our fingers.

More Possibilities in More Places

Smartphones give us the freedom to do many things in many places. With Smartphones you can check your email, do your taxes, shop, read the news, consult the stock market, and check important financial information from any location where there is service.

Using a Smartphone during the morning commute on public transport gives you the opportunity to catch up on business memos, plan your day, and ultimately prepare for work ahead.

Our bespoke CC-GO! mobile application and digital signatures platform takes document collection and digital signatures to new levels

 

Personal Organisation Made Simple

It once was a massive chore to effectively manage business documents and files, but modern-day Smartphones provide the ability to neatly organise everything for you.

Whether you’re searching for a specific email from months back, or you would like to remind yourself of the last time you spoke with a client, Smartphones make browsing and retrieving your personal information simple.

Smartphone technology also acts as a personal assistant, allowing users to set up reminders about forthcoming business meetings, bill payment dates, and future deadlines.

Networking

Building and upholding business relationships is key in today’s fast-paced world, especially with the arrival of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Being able to access information about acquaintances and clients whilst you are on-the-go makes a huge difference to daily business interactions. For example, if you’re going to a business meeting with someone you’ve only met once, you can go to Facebook or LinkedIn to find out more about them.

 

And finally, On-Demand Stress Relief

At times we all feel stressed by the pressures of our business. Now workers have access to high-quality games directly on their phones. Play time is sometimes just what is needed after a stressful meeting or dealing with a difficult client.

 

Smartphones are revolutionising the way we conduct our business, interact with those around us, and keep track of an ever-changing social landscape. At Collect a Case we understand this concept. Smartphone technology has helped vastly improve the service we provide to our clients.

Our bespoke CC-GO! mobile application and digital signatures platform takes document collection and digital signatures to new levels. It allows the hands on approach to every aspect of document collection in the digital world, whether it be an instant document upload or application of digital signatures.

Our CC-GO! mobile application enables our Collect a Case field agents and DEA’s to react instantly to accept jobs, update cases and access a step-by-step digital document check list.

Smartphone technology – we salute you.

 

The Pension Freedom strategy 100 days on

The new Pension Freedom strategy is 100 days old. So how is the policy working out?

Early findings show that people with small pension pots are rushing to cash them in and those with larger pots seem more likely to choose an annuity.

This may be seen as an encouraging sign that the Over-55s are taking more care with substantial pension plans which really could provide an income for life.

The trend has strengthened since the new pension freedoms came into force 100 days ago, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave current savers the right to do what they wanted with their pension once they reach the age of 55.

According to the Treasury, more than 85,000 people have dipped into their pension plans so far, cashing in a total of £1.3bn.

You might notice these people around and about; celebrating with a dream holiday or buying a new car or ordering a kitchen extension. Others, more sensibly, have paid off mortgages and other debts.

In the first two months, 65,000 people exercised their new right to withdraw cash – taking out more than £1bn, the ABI (Association of British Insurers) said.

Pension freedoms in numbers (Source: HM Treasury/ABI):

  • Launched 6 April 2015
  • £85,000 cashed in pensions
  • £1.3bn cash withdrawn
  • £15,300 average cash taken out
  • £720m invested in income drawdown
  • £69,900 average drawdown pot
  • £630m spent on annuities

Many have discovered that exercising their freedoms is a frustrating process fraught with delays, as not all pensions providers are allowing their customers to withdraw partial cash sums, as the Government intended.
According to the Treasury, more than 85,000 people have dipped into their pension plans so far, cashing in a total of £1.3bn.

Concern is mounting that people now have to be wary about higher charges and scam merchants, but more importantly tax charges.

The first 25% withdrawn is tax-free, but after that you pay normal amount of income tax. Some who cash in large sums could find they are pushed into the 40% tax bracket.

Read more about the The Pension Freedom Strategy in our previous article HERE



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