Rick & Joe

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Rick and Joe provide a bespoke service for many of our moving picture productions using their extensive experience in all departments of film making, standing alongside ourselves and taking the process through pre-production and shoot into edit and whatever the post-production requires. Sometimes they provide direction too, making one complete unit.

Joe as DoP / Director, organises the camera and lighting department with, crew and equipment tailored to each individual project and budget.

Meanwhile, as film editor, Rick produces and manages the post-production through to finish and delivery based at his studio in Hackney.

They’re old hands at delivery requirements for TVCs but the digital landscape can be a tricky one to negotiate and particularly is where we’re able to help our clients.  

Delivery for different platforms is so much more than pixel count.  They deal with this all the time, knowing how to optimise file sizes versus compression in a world where media costs by the Mb.

The short message is that between us, we’re able to make a complex thing simple for you. If that message is itself too simple, the case study below illustrates some of the issues we often face and solve. 

Case Study - how a complicated thing remains complicated, but hey, don’t worry, that’s our problem!

We were recently involved with an international campaign of TVCs and social media films that turned out to be a more complex challenge than you might expect.

First off we had the challenge of making something work for 9:16 and then 16:9. In terms of framing, fitting, say, a 16.9 wide shot of 4 people sitting on a sofa into a 9.16 space isn’t easily going to happen, and requires planning so that the necessary assets are shot on the day. This however is the tip of a titanic iceberg.

Our brief was to create deliverables from 4 x TVC executions,  in 5 lengths (30, 20, 15, and 6 secs) and in 3 shapes (16.9, 9.16, 1.1).

So far so good. That means we require 60 masters as a starting point.

Unfortunately, one film had contentious content that not all markets would accept, so we created alternative versions in all lengths and shapes, which took the deliverables to 75.

Then we found that one country could not show people eating food sitting on the couch (the same couch that didn’t fit in the 9.16 box), so that was another 15 masters. Bringing the total deliverables to 90.

So after a week or so we were in a good place with all edits and cut downs with format

adjustments approved by agency and client. Fitting the shots into 9.16, in particular, was difficult but fortunately we had planned that the film be captured on an enormous sensor providing all the additional area we needed to aid the repositioning of the shots.

The wide shot sofa was duly changed into 2 x 2 shots in medium size, reframed from the same wide shot. We also used digital panning to move around the file, when the elements that needed to be seen were beyond the 9.16 constraints.

Now we were ready for the real work. There were 10 countries to supply. All with unique Terms and Conditions, titles and corporate branding. In addition, we had a voice-over to mix for each territory.

And just when you thought it was safe to take a breath, each film would be rolled out with 3

different offers. This would add up to just short of 2000 films.

As the drip-feed of approval would come in, often having already accommodated a particular spec., adjusting type size and changing title wordings, deliverables multiplied yet further.

The reason for this last surge in the number of films was down to the fact that not all social media advertising has the same delivery spec. and now we move into the esoteric world of codecs and wrappers, megabyte and bitrate restrictions.

So...  we built codec parameters for all the permutations and restrictions. The workflow incidentally moved at this point from Adobe Premiere to DaVinci Resolve which has a very efficient delivery system once we have created the codec parameters.

The only real issue we came across here, was in preserving the quality of the picture across many varied platforms. Having sweated blood to get this far, we all wanted the work to look its best, but often optimised delivery within very specific parameters gets overlooked. Happily, our clients can come to our studio and see the trade-offs of size versus quality on our colour calibrated screens where we can playback and compare QuickTime vs. VLC, etc, etc, and get into compression!

The Video On Demand spots were restricted to a max weight of 10Mbs, but a 30 sec ad in 16.9 at 10Mbs is a big ask. However, we managed to tweak the settings for each film to maximise the quality and still come in under 10Mb. And looking really good

Great!  The masters are mastered and the deliverables delivered and we‘re ready to archive. Again, a little more complex than we thought, and we ended up creating 200 clean masters to sit in a folder next to the 600 titled versions. In six months’ time, there’s every chance that someone is going to be real grateful for fastidious storage!

Us...

Be More Than Content

We want to make you more than content. Our award-winning photographers over the road at Horton-Stephens, transformed long ago into award-winning directors, whether for broadcast commercials or online campaigns. 

Stills and Motion?

Film-making is as much a part of our lives as shooting stills but our experience leaves us ideally placed to offer both. Sometimes we shoot film alongside stills, sometimes it’s the other way around. It’s a very cost-effective way to add value for clients whilst we have all the crew, location, models and other resources together. We do a lot of this.

Expensive?

Reassuringly Inexpensive, actually. From the outset we have a lean mean attitude to production, although we don’t skimp on production values.  If we can shoot on a DSLR with a crew of two that’s fine. When we’re shooting broadcast TVC we’ll ramp that up as far as necessary. It’s horses for courses and a recognition that projects come in all shapes and sizes.

Who do you work with?

We love working with creative agencies and their own motion production departments, but we work with clients direct too offering a full production and project management service.

And who exactly do we get to work with?

First off you get us, and we’re very well known for project management and having produced just about every shoot imaginable. We're about solving problems rather than creating them... team players!  Second, you get a team of award-winning image creators with proven track records. When it gets to post-production,  we have an enormously experienced team in the form of Rick + Joe, who create films with us in their own right, but they’re also our go to team for film edit and grade with marrying of sound, VFX, music and delivery with line production all the way. Broadcast delivery, not a problem. Online specification needs and multiple format deliverables no problem. Sometimes our clients prefer to complete their own post... that’s fine too.

Does It Work?

Have a look at the work and see what you think. Recently we were proud to win a Gold and two Silver DMA Awards for nine PayPal films, shot and post-produced by us all the way to final delivery. We shot stills on the same shoot and one image won the Sony 2018 World Photography Award for portraiture! Oh, and one of our directors picked up a Cannes Bronze in 2019.

Will we End up Hugging and Being Friends?

Advertising and production can be a combative exercise with tighter and tighter schedules and budgets, with the whole process in danger of stressing to breaking point.  Sometimes we’re all looking for reassurance, advice, somebody that’ll stand next to you and say “I am Spartacus”.  Someone that’s going to support through the difficult bits and high-five when it’s all over. That’s us! Lunch afterwards helps too, we are told.