And it went swimmingly
And it went swimmingly
It’s important to take time out to reflect
…our new edit suite comes online
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.
To celebrate National Bring Your Dog to Work Day, we thought we’d profile our favourite pooch, Johnny the labradoodle, part of the Leagus Video team who we share an office with.
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.