Archive for the 'london post production company' Category

14
Aug
13

Why is mediocrity such a powerful force?

Ive hit the decade mark!

Yes, Im now in to my second ten years working in Soho’s post production world.  Not only that, I’m ten years working with some great Directors, DoPs, Producers and Exec Producers (not to mention the great people that are hired by these people).

In that time I’ve met all sorts of characters – some geniuses, some nutcases (music promos!), some incompetent, some living on a different planet, and quite a lot of the in-betweeners, a sort of mediocre, they are just, well, getting on with it – making a living.

What’s rather more concerning is I’m still deciding if my work is mediocre.  One thing that has struck me in recent years is that a lot of the people I count as talented (certainly more than me) also aren’t sure if they are mediocre too.  What is surprising is how desperate the really good people are not to be mediocre.  Its almost an obsession, you see it painted on the faces of great creatives, and also, though not as often, on the faces of producers that hire them.

I’ve found myself during the last couple of years sat in meetings, or in the grading suite, or chatting outside a pub with a DP / Director / Producer just saying “we’ve got to be bold with this – punchy”, with Directors and DPs drumming in to me that “we’ve got to push this look, this scene is all about the starkness, it cant look like everything else out there” etc etc.  Yet, by the time shooting starts, and certain execs wade in, the whole project is diluted, re-scripted, and everything that the Director had in their mind is gone.

Then on the flip side, I’ve sat with very gifted DPs and Directors who say very little, but know exactly what they want, its a subtlety to the image, the delicate film-making process, that takes it from mediocrity to that next level.  The directing, lighting, editing, score and the grade can be delicate, slow-burning tension – but the result, anything but mediocre – in its own way very bold.

Interestingly, its this passion that I’ve witnessed over the last few years, and particularly with the shows I’ve worked on this year where the whole team on these projects have tried to be bold, which has propelled these gifted few to such great heights, in a tough market of lowering budgets and mediocre commissions.  Its tough for these more bold creatives and producers to get a job, yet the jobs that could be on offer aren’t the ones they even want to do.  On occasions they have to take them to cover their own personal costs, even though of course the personal cost could be quite great – you are, as they say, only as good as your last job.

Its a stark fact that more than half of producers and exec producers are at odds with these people because what they want is actually mediocrity, an easy life, to get that perfect TV show that gets the ratings and challenges nothing, engages enough, and passes the time and gets a repeat series – hey presto you’ve secured a second home in Devon or even France.  Hopefully it will allow them to make a more dynamic project later for their portfolio, if they have the will to be bold.

For a century of film-making, gifted and bold creatives have pushed back on what is the safe route, and time and again the result has been a more successful final piece.  Mediocrity has seen millions of films, commercials and TV shows end up on the scrap heap, yet when we look at just The Top 10 IMDB Movies (as voted by the users of the site), we see a list of strange choices:

1) Shawshank Redemption: A film set in a prison – Exec Producer “Sounds a bit down – really, another prison break film?”.  Did nothing at the box office, had little P&A budget backing it – then, when people started to see it, well, the rest is history.

2) Godfather: Mob picture, set around a family – 3 hours long, and it was the Exec Producer Robert Evans that made it this length!  It is sloooooow.  But its certainly bold.  Violent, slow burning, an epic movie.

3) Godfather 2: A great follow up to the first, Coppola delivers a tense story of the next generation of the Corleone family.

4) Pulp Fiction: A masterclass in disjointed storytelling, casting and post production – Exec “Why Travolta!?!? All these storylines?” – thankfully the Weinsteins were involved and they have a track record of spotting bold talent

5) The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: not much dialogue, whole lot of on screen tension – then there is the bolder than bold score from the genius of Ennio Morricone (N.b. my fav, Once Upon a Time in the West, which is for me the greatest direction, score, editing and photography I’ve ever seen – shots held for literally eternity – now, editors and execs love a cut).

6) The Dark Knight – A director that uses (mostly) one camera, 70mm, and lets it run well over 2hours – and Hollywood hates that.  He manages to spend millions, which you actually see on screen, as well as being one of the very few films of the comic genre that succeeds as a great movie.  With Inception as well, he shows that a Director’s bold vision is enough to take over a $1billion.

7) 12 Angry Men – Now this is my favourite in this list because its set for nearly the entire movie in a single room.  Its also in black and white, but its a masterclass in acting, scriptwriting and direction.  You can imagine the screams “this picture is all set in one room, the audience will get bored after fifteen minutes”.  Most execs freak out at a one minute courtroom scene. “Quick more cutting, we need to speed it all up, people will turn off!”

8) Schindler’s List: A true story, adapted very well to the big screen.  I can imagine a few squeaky shoes at that first production meeting.

9) Lord of the Rings: Fair play to Peter Jackson, he managed to get a studio to let him spend millions on adapting a book no one had ever risked to take to the big screen on anything like this scale.  And at 9, he clearly succeeded.

10) Fight Club: a film about people who like to beat each other up for fun.  The oddest premise, with Meat Loaf in a supporting role, and with super bold direction – again, can you imagine the elevator pitch?!

So, despite the fact that so many of us try to be bold, we do lose out to the mediocre.  We for instance are always dealing with producers that just want the cheapest deal, do everything in one big post house, usually with a safe pair of hands / an old drinking mate / or that’s near their office.  Yet, the fact remains, for really great work to be made you have to be bold and pick the team that has the utmost ability to deliver the best.  It doesn’t matter if its TV, commercials, or features or docs, its got to be bold, for me, its like Top Boy, The Wire, to Breaking Bad, to The Fades and on – do not give in to mediocrity, and strive to produce films, whether 5 seconds or 13 hours, that take the audience on a new and exciting journey.

During the next ten years, my motto is “Push it”, and thankfully I’m now working with clients that feel the same – and its fantastic!

If you’re a young filmmaker, whatever your discipline, be bold, be bold, BE BOLD.

Thomas Urbye

MD

The Look

17
Dec
11

2011 wasn’t all that bad for TV & Commercials, was it? So what does 2012 hold?

2011 was pretty depressing, reading the paper or watching the news was a miserable experience, and all in all, those who still have a job, or have a business should apparently be chuffed to bits!

Interestingly, a lot of my clients have actually had a pretty good year, not exactly the best ever for most, but many have told me that when they actually worked out the numbers, their figures were actually very good – both freelancers and production companies.

So if this is the case, and for us we had our best year ever (our fifth), what is it that makes us all feel so uncertain about 2012, despite quite a few of us media based companies having surprisingly good revenue?  The big thing for many is “Do we expand premises, get more people, invest in new technology, or just keep capital in the business just in case it gets bad in 2012?”.  Unfortunately I think the tendancy is to opt for the latter, and I’m inclinned to agree with them, which does nothing for getting the economy going, but most people are just too scared to risk loosing it all when everyone is telling you that 2012 is going to be horrible.

This year we worked on ‘South Riding’ for BBC, ‘Monroe’ for ITV, ‘Top Boy’ for Channel 4, ‘The Fades’ for BBC, ‘Whitechapel 3’ for ITV, ‘The Bodyfarm’ for BBC, ‘Bert & Dickie’ for BBC and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ for BBC.  This adds up to 29 hours of drama for us, and we’re very proud of all of the work.  ‘Top Boy’ and ‘The Fades’ stood out for this year as youth orientated shows which both received critical acclaim.  With ‘Top Boy’, Channel 4 invested thousands in advertising, which meant that it pulled in a large and very diverse audience.  During its transmission week, it was the second most popular thing (trending) talked about on Twitter in London, Manchester and Birmingham.  Its fantastic when a series pushes the boundaries of storytelling and its craft, and produces something which is more than just ‘ok’, and ‘Top Boy’, though difficult for many to watch, received such great reviews that everyone involved is genuinely proud to have worked on it.  To engage with such a diverse age range from all different walks of life, is a testament to what can be achieved to create great, world leading UK drama – any comparisons to ‘The Wire’ can only be gratifying for those involved.

We were delighted to work on some wonderful TV drama this year, and I genuinely feel like the standard of UK drama is increasing, despite the year on year reduction in budgets from some broadcasters.  Although more drama is being commisioned next year from nearly all the broadcasters, the chances are there will be more drama series but a little bit more money spread across quite a few more of them.  This does have the unfortunate effect that UK drama has: too few shooting days and prep, too few extras and atmosphere, too few truly realistic locations, and too few decent wide shots if anything other than contemporary UK is the subject – all this hinders UK drama when compared to what the US can produce.  The directing, acting and technical craft is so high in the UK, that its a shame that sometimes the budget and subject matter is often so, well, safe.  For UK drama to really get to a world stage then broadcasters need to increase budgets to capture the aforementioned, give writers more time to finesse their work, and increase budgets on those dramas that really need it, only then can we hope to create true ‘brilliance’ for a world stage on more regular occasions.

2011 continued to be a very poor year for independent British films, with many directors not able to find funding to bring their film to the screen.  Despite successes like ‘The King’s Speech’, and despite post production companies becoming investors, it wasn’t enough for many to get their film off the ground.  I cant see this changing in the short-term, but we will continue to actively look out for great scripts and directors for potential investment, if not move in to Production ourselves in 2012.  We have to hope that other investors can return to the industry with the support of EIS schemes and tax benefits for those investors.

3D Stereoscopic has been huge for Hollywood, with nearly all children’s movies being in 3D.  Here in the UK though, Sky are left to fly the 3D flag for us with sports and natural history programming.  Sky are commited to 3D and I’m sure we’ll be hearing of some big commisions in 2012.  However, a recent survey discovered over half of people who own 3D televisions don’t actually know they have 3D built in!  Viewing 3D in a cinema is one thing, but wearing glasses at home is another.  However, the Olympics and Euro 2012 along with transmitting Hollywood 3D movies could be what Sky and also BBC (if they commit to 3D) need to push the audience into the third dimension, and its not going to be quick – but we cant give up now.  Fingers crossed Sky and BBC increase the momentum.

Finally, I’d like to thank all those that have supported The Look and the team that work here during 2011, we’ve worked with some of the best UK talent and some really lovely people, and we are very grateful to be chosen to work on some great projects this year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you

Thomas Urbye

MD

The Look

12
Jun
11

Post production company Pepper finally closes?

After a break in recent ‘bad news’ stories, it was with surprise that Soho learnt on Friday of, what seems to be, just maybe, the final closure of post production company Pepper as it has been put in to liquidation by Future Film Group.

http://www.pepperpost.com/

Its terrible for the staff, who may already have endured rough times with the company before, find themselves again in an all to familiar state.  Knowing some of the people there myself, they were shocked that out of nowhere the doors were locked and they were out, for those dry hiring rooms it must have been a scary arrival at Greek St on Friday 10th June.

Demand most of the year outweighs supply in our industry, and Future have looked at the business and made the right decision in this regard.  When companies continually go in to administration (see http://secure.duedil.com/business#/b/pepper%20post) and on occasion leave their creditors with large outstanding debts it not only hits its creditors and freelancers (if they are left unpaid), but when companies do this, they should, in my opinion, close, and stay closed unless major restructuring and redundancies take place.  By conducting and disposing of debts and liabilities in this way it only increases the cost of credit to other production/post/rental companies as the market becomes more high risk for lenders, which in turn leads to smaller profit margins for the rest of us trying to run a business.  The argument of course is saving jobs, but very long-term I’m not sure it results in this as the industry as a whole suffers through excessive undercutting to increase turnover rather than profit.

Hopefully with demand in TV drama increasing, perhaps some of the other international names that have continued to run their post production services at a loss will now start to  charge proper rates for their services, although their clients may find that a bit of a shock!

I hope all the team at Pepper, who included some talented and friendly people, find work quickly, and that Future Films Group continue their success in film finance, an area which has also struggled in recent years in this recession.

Thomas Urbye

MD

The Look

07
May
11

“Who needs an agency/production company/post house anyway?”

What is the biggest single change of the fast moving media world in the last two years?

The dissolving of the traditional structure:

CLIENT > AGENCY > PRODUCTION COMPANY > POST PRODUCTION COMPANY > BROADCASTER / PUBLISHER


And why not?  For so long the traditional route seems so cumbersome and expensive, cutting out one of the processes surely means more money to those left, as technology has moved on, seems only sensible to streamline the process.

Many of the clients we work with, and those that I grade with, have made that decision.  Agencies have bought their own editing systems and installed their own After Effects software, they’ve found good Directors to work with, as Production Companies have shed their own, and with a couple of freelancers in the mix they can take the initiative and remove the Production Companies from the equation, sometimes they don’t even see the need for a Post Production Company for some of the jobs.

Production Companies have become an Agency too.  Makes sense, handling the client can’t be that difficult, and if the Agencies are not going to bring them the work, then it makes sense to seek out the clients and produce the work themselves, they too have got their Final Cut Pros, and more importantly they have the roster of great Directors and Producers.

Finally, there is the Post Production Companies, who see work drying up from both their main suppliers, so they set up their own production arm, approaching new and existing clients and offering to cut out the Production Company, and maybe even the Agency.  The client is winning, the campaign is cheaper, and there is more money for those left in the food chain.

But there are problems.

A short clip from Mad Men demonstrates the fantastic character of Don Draper at work, pitching to Eastman Kodak for a new product, in a time (1960s) when things were done the old way, and have been done that way since now.  Don is a master.  Who then, takes on this role, in a Production Company or Post Production Company?

Here then is the rub.

For those Production Companies that have become Agencies, the shock, the true shock, is the hand holding that clients need.  For years, an Agency has taken all the responsibility for feedback, explaining to the client that now that they’re in the grade that its not possible to put a new pack shot in because it was never shot, the client is educated by their longstanding Agency Manager.  Production Companies now have to handle all of this, chasing down the key people, understanding the client’s brand, what they are doing in their other media campaigns – suddenly, the Production Company instead of just executing the best possible work for the Agency, and taking their guidance, are waiting on emails, Marketing Directors are in meetings, the CEO doesn’t like the edit, but isn’t sure why, the Creative Director thinks the music is wrong but can’t explain what he/she really wants, and no one can get them all in a room or on a conference call at the same time, that was the job of the Agency bigwig, they knew them all and could ‘make the call’ – enter Don Draper.  The end result, a final product that the client isn’t that happy with, the Production Company has wasted literally hours waiting for feedback when they could be looking for new work, they end up reluctantly doing the audio and grade in-house because they have run out of time, even though they had to confirm bookings on audio and pictures suites in Post Production Companies and incur cancellation fees from all angles.  All because the client wasn’t sure if they liked it or not, or if it was what they wanted in the first place.  That then, is what Don Draper and the Agency does.

Agencies then surely don’t need Production Companies.  They can hire in the staff that know about Production.  They can buy the editing and graphics kit – it is after all as cheap as chips.  Sometimes though, the freelance Line Producer you like to work with isn’t available.  Unfortunately, the in-house Director you have isn’t really cutting the mustard for the client, the work is, a little substandard.  The Agency needs a bit more creative edge, a fresh look, but how can we ask for ideas from Production Companies and their experts because we’ve cut them out of the equation, we need to make the right markup on the job.  Well, the Agency know the brand well enough, and the clients, so surely its not that difficult.  Only problem is, the quality of content goes down, the edit goes wrong because the rushes weren’t supplied right, the Agency Junior Production Manager hired the wrong drives and none of the monitors in the whole building seem to be calibrated right – why does it looks so dark?!  Now everything has been encoded wrong – its not her fault, what does she know about film shoots and camera equipment?  In the end, they fix it, don’t really make any money on the job, but its done, and if a Production Company and Post House had been involved surely they would have made a loss?

Ah, but is producing average content, really the big loss?  Does a good campaign breed another?  Does a failed campaign encourage or discourage further investment for the next?

If Post Production Companies are to try the same ideas, do they not come up against all the same problems as the other two, if not worse?  If, as a Post House, you find yourself winning a job over one of your regular Agency clients, you can’t be surprised if you suddenly loose their whole contract – why hire a competitor?  If a Production Company steals a client away from an Agency or vice versa, don’t expect to have them booking you for work in the future.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you just to get a nibble on something else.

Sometimes in life, things have been the way they have been since the beginning for a reason.  Sometimes the chain is there because that meant everything got done properly.  Yes there was cost wastages, yes, sometimes the process was over complicated, but most of the time, the process worked because everyone was able to focus on their core abilities.

My predictions?  In a few years, things will start to return to the older route, CLIENT, AGENCY, PRODUCTION COMPANY, POST PRODUCTION COMPANY.  The ‘content’, which to me always sounds a bit like ‘web filler’ will be done by everyone, but great work, great work which clients really see value in, still needs all the right people involved.

Thomas Urbye

MD

The Look

20
Dec
09

Goodbye to the Noughties – Hello the Teenies. Looking back, and forward to the next decade of media production and post….

The year 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago – and what’s for certain is that as you get older ten years is a very short space of time.

A decade is a long time in technology though.

In 1999 most people didn’t have a mobile phone and weren’t even on the internet at home, painfully slow dial-up was the only option for most.  A decade on, the internet is at the core of personal and business transactions – whether it be by email or via some kind of social networking site, and most are using a pretty fast connection at home and certainly at the office.

One thing we can all agree on is that things change faster now than ever before as technology follows Moore’s Law.  So where will we be by 2019, other than ten years older?

How we consume media will be the biggest change, with deals being struck with YouTube and the like for streaming of television series, Spotify, LOVEFILM.com, Virgin and Sky offering music and movies on demand, and in the latter case in HD – it seems natural to assume by the end of the decade the act of buying music and films in a disk form will only apply to a minority of the public.

With the removal of the actual ‘media’ it opens up the chance of ever higher quality content being viewed on laptop screens and LCD’s in the home (a lot of TV’s already ship with internet built-in) as the only limit is the pipe you can send it down rather than the manufacture of goods.  iPlayer and its HD offering has shown that image quality matters yet again – and the argument for DV being good enough does not carry in this HD digital age.  For certain, one thing this decade has shown is that audiences do crave high-quality movies and drama (The Dark Knight, Heroes, Lost, 24, Mad Men, The Wire etc.) and will flock to it in their millions.  Within a short amount of time streaming to mobile phones (iPhone etc) will be a real reality – wherever you are, via wi-fi or 3G.

The big change in cinema will be 3D Stereoscopic.  2010 will see the next big leap since the introduction of colour in the 1940s and 50s.  ‘Avatar’ and ‘Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland’ will mark the first big change in live action movie production, and Sky’s 3D summer of sport will be the catalyst to the slow process of getting 3D to people in pubs and in their homes.  Expect ‘3D at home’ in the latter half of this decade.

It is the 3D Stereoscopic and digital projection standards which will drive film and programme makers to produce high-quality material – and it could mark a wholesale change as the industry shrinks as consumers demand better and switch off if their attention isn’t kept.  If the internet has shown us one thing, its that people will not just watch anything when you can quickly click a link to something better – the sooner companies realise this and start spending money with agencies again to create unique content for internet users the sooner this industry will begin to get back to work.  2009 has been a year of people leaving the industry, its wholesale shrinkage has meant the removing of wheat from the chaff.  Many will not be able to return, and I doubt advertising will ever return to the rates and demand it enjoyed up till the middle of this decade.  While the internet killed live transmitted advertising, it will resurface in a new online form.  While advertisers have already woken up to social networking sites and the power they now control (X-Factor vs. Rage against the machine for example) can only be exploited with content worth watching, and worth forwarding or ‘sharing’.

The gulf we’ve seen between high quality and airwave fillers will get greater, as more focused channels come to air.  As more channels will be introduced, quality will continue to drop across the network of 100s of channels, traditional live advertising revenue will continue to drop with the exception of ad breaks in ‘X-Factor’ and the like, the only advertisers left on TV will be supermarkets and ‘under-the-sink’ brands.  What will replace it is the insertion of ads at the start of on-demand programmes which will help to keep the market from slipping quite so fast – but I predict by the end of this new decade television advertising will not exist in the form it does now.  Content will be viewed online and on-demand – and subscription or pay-per-view will grow for movies and high quality HBO type series, advertising will feature in the form of product placement, ad’s over-layed at the bottom of your YouTube stream, and forced-in commercials which are still used to ‘break’ up long shows.

What was, and what will be, the big change in the art of movie and programme making?  Well in the late 1980s and early 1990s Avid was the big advancement in the world of post-production, along with other digital non-linear systems such as the Quantel Paintbox and Henry, and later the discreet Flame.  Non-linear would have summed up the big change of the 90s, but shooting on film was still the only real option for medium to high-end production.

This decade?  Well its been the advancement of High Definition pictures and digital cameras, and their over-taking of film in general use.  Certainly most high-end commercials are still shot on 35mm, and the same goes for feature films – but its obvious by 2015 the majority of production at the high-end will be digitally acquired as the cameras surpass film quality.

The other big change was Final Cut Pro.  Now available with a comprehensive editing and post production toolset for only £700 it smashes the price of HD post production, along with Adobe it has changed the landscape for good.  Talent will be the only thing left in this industry, without it you’ll find yourself looking for alternative work.  ‘Edit Hire’ rates for Avids and suites is over, unless you’re posting Stereoscopic work at 4k resolution or have a suite which meets the demands of high-end clients, expect your rates to continue to drop unless you’ve got the best creative talent.  The shrinkage is set to continue.

So, how will us creatives make it through to 2020 and make a decent living?  The same two things as always:

If its not on the script its not on the screen.

Be the best, work with the best, make the best.


Happy New Year!

Thomas Urbye

MD, The Look

Soho, London

www.thelooklondon.com

01
Mar
09

Why Oscars winners don’t use film & how about all these resurrections?

Who’d have thought it?  The two biggest winners at the Oscars in 2009 would be films shot on, well, digital.

‘Benjamin Button’, shot by legendary director David Fincher, on the Viper HD camera, and the brilliant Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, with 65% of it being shot on digital (the rest was S16mm).  Whose DPs end up with the nominations (and ultimately a win)?  Mr Anthony Dod Mantle BSC and Claudio Miranda.

What more can you say really?  Two Directors and their DPs using the technology in two very differing ways but ultimately achieving in both cases, visually stunning pieces.  For Fincher, the ability to have a smaller crew, a tighter control over the edit (for more info see March’s HD mag) as well as a proven record from Zodiac.  With Boyle, a need to be able to record high quality images while not drawing attention to the cameras (in most cases using the tiny SI-2K camera with recording backpack).

Could this moment be where the balance tipped to Digital capture?

I believe so.

RED Epic, Sony F35s, SI-2K, Genesis, D21 and Phantom HD vs. 35mm Vision 3 (and Fuji of course)

Lets see where we are with the nominations next year – a slate of RED movies perhaps?

So this week has seen a number of post houses go into administration, or change of ownership.

There are many companies that have been resurrected almost immediately, I won’t put them down here as not all of them make it into the public eye and its not my intention to damage anyone’s reputation thats for sure.  You can search any of the phoenix’s via this website though, if you go into administration it’ll end up here:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/issues/recent/10/corp-insolvency-administration/appointments/start=1

I’m a little confused by how it all works though.  I always thought going bankrupt was disastrous, and yet I am surrounded by other post houses, who seem to go bust one day, to then re-open the next day (sometimes with a change in management) and carry on with the same trading name.  In recent months a number of high profile facilities have done a phoenix (or management buyout) with MD’s previously from other bankrupt ventures taking over.  Unfortunately its not always victimless, in some cases, creditors are left out of pocket permanently which doesn’t seem fair to me (that impacts on my business for a start) – but of course it does keep people in jobs which is important in this current climate.

With the market supposedly so saturated (and actually, to be fair it is), it looks set to stay that way as a phoenix from the ashes seems to be an real alternative in some form or other for MDs.  From a business financing point of view, which finance company would want a bunch of broadcast equipment back at their lockup – how can you sell it on?!  Probably best to let the new phoenix companies just keep it and hope you can get at least something for it all.

I finish up by referring to an article last year from Broadcast Editor Lisa Campbel, I think she thought that we’d see a lot of facilities go under – well we have, but only for a day……:

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt times are tough in Soho – and about to get tougher, according to one seasoned facility chief who expects to see another 10 casualties before the current shake-out is over.

In some ways a period of belt tightening could be beneficial. Those that survive are likely to be the businesses with the most cast-iron business plans rather than those with a reputation for doing deals at the bar. The best placed are those which have the right profile to appeal to all, from cheaper, high volume jobs to high end creative finishing services, or who add value by developing additional services.

Some have been hit harder than others. The turmoil is particularly tough on mid-market facilities which are not as fleet of foot as smaller boutiques but can’t offer the economies of scale of the larger players.

There’s no doubt that the industry has to face some hard economic facts of life. The falling cost of kit has meant it’s never been easier to launch a facility and many have – it’s an oversupplied market.

Sources include:

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/technology/indepth/2008/12/production_facilities_in_2008.html

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2009/02/the_club_is_saved_from_closure_by_its_owners.html

http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/multimedia/opinion/2008/07/post_traumatic.html

21
Jun
08

Summer 2008 – The Look, Cannes, and the wider industry

It is that time again for an update of whats been happening here at The Look, as well as a brief barometer of the wider industry.

Cannes Lions first off. What a four day ride that was, with all the lunches, meetings and parties its absolutely exhausting. But, it was great to see clients and friends all getting together to enjoy some nice French weather, and to be out of Soho for once!

On the beach at Cannes, left to right, Me, Paul Evans DoP, Andrew Naylor from United Agents & Alexis Haggar from DEAD
On the beach at Cannes, left to right, Me, Paul Evans DoP, Alexis Haggar Visual Effects Supervisor & Andrew Naylor from United Agents

Work wise? To sum up the last three months: DIGITAL

Over 50% of our revenue is coming from working with agencies (both traditional, and digital) finishing their video content for the web. Clients have included Mercedes, Guiness, HP, Barclays & Nivea.

My predictions for the RED ONE camera are also coming true. We’ve been getting a lot of calls about handling the workflow, often in collaboration with 4kLondon who supply their own RED ONE, on-set gear and editing systems. On a previous blog, I talked about the fact that shooting on RED ONE was unlikely to mean more money for other areas of production, this premonition is also coming true. There is one thing that the RED does not do cheaply, and that is proper post production, so while some clients have embraced the change, and understand the cost of finishing it properly, some underestimate/underbudget what it takes to post RED material – which mean that they grade it in FCP on their laptop.

On a side note, here in ‘post world’ the demise of The Sanctuary, M2 and redundancies across the post industry, is due to squeezed budgets, market saturation & and too much undercutting. Major facilities are currently charging out their hero grading and vfx suites for barely 20% of their ratecard during daylight hours. As with all these things, a highly saturated market, with price driven clients will enviably lead to further businesses (production and post production) going into administration.

Its not all doom and gloom though, here at The Look we’re working with our regular clients and have a fully booked Summer which will see us working on commercials, features & television drama – it doesn’t get more wide ranging, and that’s what keeps everything fresh. If we were just working in one area of the industry things wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting.

So, lets see where the industry is when the Autumn comes, quite possibly a few more casualties of the credit and budget crunch.

Enjoy the grey British Summer! Am booking next year’s Cannes right now……..

Thomas Urbye
MD, The Look