Agencies are there to help you deliver amazing results. As long as they all get along.
Agencies are there to help you deliver amazing results. As long as they all get along.
We like to think we know our eggs when it comes to shooting video. But guess what? You can too.
Capturing and editing video is a big part of what we do, and now Twitter is making it easier for people to do the same with its latest app update.
The old agency vs in-house debate has been around for years, so as the newest member of the Paradigm Creative family, here are my ramblings about moving to agency life after nearly ten years working in-house. See if you agree.
Variety: Working in-house is an awesome way to become an expert on one brand/organisation, whereas working for an agency gives you exposure to a number of clients across different sectors, all with their own communications challenges that need your support.
Culture: Corporate culture differs greatly depending on the organisation or sector. Some (like my last employer) can be really lovely and encourage things like flexible working. On the flip side, agencies like Paradigm are often small but rapidly growing, and as a result, feel lively and exciting, more like a start-up.
A different way of learning: In-house usually allows more time for things like personal development and training courses. Agency life is fast-paced and you learn on the job, mainly from other members of the team.
It ain’t 9 – 5: One of the big differences in agency life is that every day is different. You may have to work long hours on a proposal, respond to late night client requests or be on your feet at back-to-back events. It’s definitely a work hard, play hard culture.
The thrill of the pitch: One of the best things about any agency is pitching for new business. This is the potential start of a new client relationship where you show you’ve listened to their problem and come up with the best way to help achieve their objectives. And if you win the contract, it’s time to celebrate!
The waiting game: This is the kicker. Once you’ve pitched an idea to a client, it’s out of your hands. Sometimes it’ll get signed off, sometimes it’ll get binned. Sometimes, it’ll get given to another agency for them to deliver. Whatever happens, understand that this is part of agency life. There’ll be plenty more opportunities if you’re good at what you do.
Easier to get stuff done: Usually, when clients ask you to help them, it’s because they’ve already jumped through the relevant internal hoops to get their project prioritised, budget signed off, and initial ideas agreed, so you don’t have to.
Keeping in touch: Once you go agency side, you’re one step further away from the client, so you need to stay connected to them as much as possible. Regularly check in with them over the phone, or better still, over lunch, to understand what’s happening in the business and where you can add value for them.
Staying alert: Agencies are always looking for new clients and opportunities can come from anywhere. Always carry your business cards wherever you go. You never know when a random conversation in the coffee shop could lead to a new contract.
Working in an agency has great benefits, but so does working in-house. At the end of the day, they’re different sides of the same coin. And as a creative comms professional, they’re both great to have on your CV at some point in your career.
Have you made the move from in-house to agency, or the other way round? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.
Iain Lumsden joined Paradigm Creative as Client Services Director earlier in 2015 after heading up O2’s content and channels team. He brings almost 10 years experience working in internal communications and PR across telco and financial services organisations in the UK. He also loves collecting hats.
We love having James Fuller in the Paradigm Creative family (he’s the one in the orange jacket behind the camera). As well as creating top-class video, motion graphics and animation for our lovely clients, he’s also an award-winning film maker. James was the Director of Photography and Editor on ‘Wandering Rose’, a British horror shot in the Scottish Highlands about a young couple trying to fix their relationship.
Following its success in the UK, the movie has just been released stateside under the moniker, ‘Demon Baby’. To celebrate, we caught up with James to find out what the experience was like.
How did working on Wandering Rose come about?
I’ve known Corrie, the director, for years. He originally approached me with a script and wanted a bit of advice. After talking about the project, he asked me to be the Director of Photography and Editor. We spent two weeks shooting the movie in the highlands of Scotland on a budget of £40k, so we had to choose the locations carefully, take a small amount of kit and do a lot of hiking! Once we’d finished, Corrie did a rough cut and then passed it on to me. I did the final cut, grading, special effects, soundtrack, sound mix. Usually that would be several teams’ work. It got to the point where we left both my and Corrie’s names off the credits for certain roles because it started to look a bit silly.
What’s the secret to being a good Director of Photography?
In my personal opinion, when you’re working to a budget like we were, it’s all about versatility, adaptability and being smart in terms of what you’ve got to use. That goes for kit, resources and natural environment. As you can see in the film, we shot most of the scenes outside to make use of the natural light. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got.
What’s your favourite camera to use on set?
Depends on the project. On Wandering Rose we initially looked at the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but we also knew that size would be a key factor as we’d have to lug it around. We ended up going with a £600 Lumix GH2, which we hacked to get the most out of it. We liked it because it produced an earthy feel to the footage and it packed into a backpack. There’s no perfect camera out there. Use what your budget allows, but also what will work best for that particular project.
What was the best thing about working on Wandering Rose?
Shooting a movie is something a lot of the crew had always wanted to do, and the level of camaraderie on set made it a really fun experience. We all had multiple roles. I was Director of Photography, Editor and did a bit of directing with Corrie. We lived in a wooden lodge for two weeks near Aviemore. It’s an experience we’ll all remember for a long time.
What’s the feedback been like?
The British Horror Society said some lovely things about it. Corrie took it out to Cannes in 2014 to speak to a few distributers during the festival. It’s quite a niche market but Corrie’s a horror nerd so he sent it to a lot of blog sites and the reaction has been great. Someone put it in their top ten movies of 2014. It even picked up a three awards at Zed Fest in LA. We never thought it would take off so for it to be released in the States is amazing.
Why should people go and watch this movie?
Because it looks nice! Seriously though, a lot of the praise we’ve had is down to the way it looks, the landscapes and the shot choices. Which is good to hear. It definitely looks more expensive that it was.
In terms of cinematography, what film would you have loved to work on?
Wow. There’s a few. The ones that are springing to mind have a common theme, really good art directions. Alien, with the stuff from H.R. Giger. None of it’s CGI. That was a golden era for building stuff on set. John Carpenter’s’ The Thing’ still blows me away. The latest Mad Max movie is great too, some of the stuff they’ve built is amazing. There’s CGI in there, but it’s to compliment the real stuff in the movie.
Can we expect to see a movie from James Fuller in the next couple of years?
We have our eyes on a couple of scripts. So hopefully! Watch this space.
At Paradigm Creative, data often means video and design files. Lots of them. Sometimes several terabytes per project. It’s the same in most creative agencies, so with all that data, we thought we’d share what we’ve learned about storage, to make sure your client’s work always stays secure.
When we started out, we used external hard drives and soon realised how terribly inconvenient drive failure can be. So we quickly moved to using desktop two bay RAID drives configured as RAID 1, which basically meant we had two drives making copies so if one drive failed, we weren’t scuppered.
(Don’t worry, there’s a glossary at the end to explain the more techy terms in this blog.)
While this prevented drive failures, we began to notice a few issues as we took on more work:
It was clear we needed a networked solution, with quick access for the whole team, redundancy for data security, and something scaleable as we took on more work.
Not much to ask, right?
It’s worth noting at this point that we do creative comms, not IT, so understanding the relative merits of fibre channel networks, Ethernet and switches was a very steep (and useful) learning curve for us all.
The (technical) solution
After weighing up our options we chose a 16 bay RAID chassis (an Evo SNS solution if you’re up on this type of thing) which is basically a monster of a hard drive which runs on an extremely fast network, allowing everyone to work on it at the same time.
Then the work started piling in and we needed a decent back up system. We went for a Linear Tape-Open 6 drive as a single tape kept in the right conditions, is good for up to 30 years. We started making two copies of every tape – one for the office and one stored offsite. We also backed up the stack of external drives we’d got in storage, giving us a lovely set of labelled and catalogued tape that wouldn’t look out of place in an IKEA showroom.
With the pile of empty drives, we added the third and final tier of our backup solution – recycling the old drives into a new RAID chassis, and set up copy software to backup our active projects every night.
It took us a few attempts at various data storage solutions but this is the one that works for us and makes sure all client projects are backed up and secure, whatever happens.
Have you had a similar experience in your agency? Or are you looking for ideas for your own data storage solution? Let us know in the comments below.
Glossary of terms
RAID: Stands for ‘redundant array of independent disks’. Basically, it turns several individual hard drives into a single drive, making into a much more effective and secure way to back up.
RAID 1: Writes and reads the same data to pairs of drives. Also referred to as mirroring. The drives are equal partners—should either fail, you can continue working with the good one until you can replace the bad one. RAID 1 is the simplest, easiest method to create failover disk storage.
Redundancy: Is a system design in which a component is duplicated so if it fails there will be a backup.
Linear Tape-Open: Is a high-capacity tape storage technology that is open format, giving users access to compatible products from many suppliers.
LTO 6: This provides a maximum native storage capacity of 2.5 TB and a maximum compressed capacity of 6.25 TB.
“It’s the closest thing to teleportation”. That’s how the folks at Periscope described their app when it launched for iOS earlier this year, and today it went live for Android users, with a few added extras.
For those that missed the memo, Periscope is twitter’s live-streaming app which enables smartphone users to live-stream whatever is happening in front of them over twitter for anyone to see. You can ‘follow’ other people’s live-streams, and leave real-time comments and ‘hearts’ of appreciation, similar to ‘likes’ on facebook.
At Paradigm, we’re big fans of live-streaming technology, and we love working with clients to live-stream corporate events for their employees to watch over the web, wherever they are. With the launch of more DIY style live-stream apps like Periscope (and rival Meerkat), we’re seeing more and more people getting on board with this type of technology to communicate real-time events with others. And now Periscope is on Android, it may be the tipping point needed to make the live-stream, mainstream.
Tech publications like Mashable and the BBC have already been making good use of the app, as well as sports personalities, musicians and celebs to give fans exclusive content and a level of interaction not seen before by allowing users to comment during the broadcast. Personally, we like Dan Snow’s periscopes (@thehistoryguy), but that’s mainly because we loved Horrible History books when we were growing up.
Whether you’re a fan of Periscope or not, there’s no doubt that it offers endless possibilities to connect with people from around the world. Or just to show the contents of your fridge to whoever’s interested.
Have you tried Periscope yet? What do you think to live-streaming technology? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
And if you like these ramblings, follow us on twitter @paradigmcrtv.
Paradigm is still a young whippersnapper in the big wide world of creative, but in the short time we’ve been around, we’ve learned a few things about running an agency that we’d like to share. Cos we’re nice like that.
1. There’s never a right time to start
If you’re considering starting an agency, don’t wait for the magic moment. There isn’t one. The best time to start is now. Of course, have a rough idea of your business plan. Make sure you know what you’ll be doing on the first day and who your clients are going to be. But it’s more important to seize the moment. You’ll figure out the rest pretty quickly.
2. Look after your clients
An obvious one, right? Relationships are key to the success of any agency. Always be nice, even when you’re having a rubbish day. Do favours for your clients. Meet up for lunch from time to time rather than relying on email and phone calls. Treat them how you’d want to be treated. They’ll remember you in the future.
3. Be prepared for long hours
Especially at the start. And then later on. Ok, so the first few years are definitely hard graft – they’re also very rewarding. Oh, and if you have a partner, make sure they’re aware of the late nights and travelling involved in your new business venture. Trust us, a well-timed ‘spontaneous’ dinner date goes a long way.
4. Be nice to your people
The world doesn’t need ‘just another creative agency’, it needs special places to work. Make sure yours is one that people want to be a part of and treat them with respect. In turn, they’ll help you when you most need it.
5. Embrace your inner geek
A successful agency is just as much about IT and data as it is about creativity. A good workflow system and infrastructure is vital to service clients effectively. Test out new processes and ways of doing things, from archiving projects to sorting out holiday requests. Learn from what works and evolve. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people that have been there before.
6. Make lots of industry friends
It goes without saying, collaboration is crucial. No small business is an island, especially in the creative industry. Establish a strong network early on and it will lead to more opportunities, especially if you know other agencies that offer complimentary services to yours.
7. Take time off
Running an agency can feel all-consuming but it’s important to take time off when you can, otherwise you’ll burn out quickly. Book a holiday abroad, go to a spa, visit family and friends, hike a mountain or go on a yoga retreat. It’ll give you give you a fresh perspective on things, which is usually when you get the best ideas.
8. Stay alert
Opportunities can come from anywhere, sometimes when you least expect it. The clients you thought were sure to give you work may never come to fruition whereas a random conversation in the coffee queue could lead to huge long-term contracts.
Above all, never lose the passion for why you started this in the first place. That’s why clients will choose you over other agencies out there.
Have you got any tips to share from your own experience in agency life? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you liked this, you can stay up to date with our ramblings by following @paradigmcrtv on twitter.
Paradigm rated by Recommended Agencies Register as a leading Corporate Video provider.