Having just passed the two year anniversary of the UK going into lockdown , we caught up with Steph Bruning (Global Marketing Director) and Mike McGee (Founder and CCO) at Framestore to chat about how the business has adapted to a flexible working pattern and what we can expect to see in creative production in the next couple of years.
Throughout the pandemic, much of the industry’s attention and concern was directed at the studios and production companies that saw shoots ground to a halt. Over in the VFX world, companies were able to pivot and come up with new techniques and solutions to get around not being able to shoot.
Mike comments: “VFX companies are, by nature, innovative businesses. We quickly learned that the strong established relationships with our clients played a key part in us finding our feet as they allowed us to pivot production plans where needed. In turn, that allowed us to create some phenomenal work that wouldn't have been created that way in previous years.”
A great example of this exceptional work is Hope Reef, created with AMV BBDO on behalf of luxury cat food brand, Sheba. The marine conservation project saw Framestore create a fully CG undersea world that mimics the reef set off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia any filming was out of the question. The campaign recently scooped up two VES Awards at the 2022 show proving its success. Another example includes their most recent work for Cadillac for the ‘Restless’ campaign, in which the team developed an AR-Visualizer that placed a scale-accurate virtual version of the car in the room. The iPad-based tool not only influenced the camera placement and identified the best angles, but also provided all relevant data so that the camera position could be faithfully reproduced during post, as necessary.
Mike comments: “It's been fantastic to see our teams producing outstanding work to this level remotely. It forced us to revisit the office model and we’ve seen how productive our people can be with hybrid work patterns. It allows people to design a working model that works for them. We have seen that this flexibility can be more efficient and more rewarding for our people. We’re known for our strong people culture so we’ve had to look at how we can maintain that culture when everyone is working remotely. This starts by utilising the office for what it's good at - sitting in a room with a team bouncing ideas or showing work to a client in person. That physical reaction of body language is so important.”
Steph adds: “Being in the office helps hugely in terms of learning. It's a critical part of people’s artistic development to work alongside more experienced creatives. Side by side they can troubleshoot through micro conversations; it is a much bigger ask if you have to book in a Zoom call for feedback. We had to get creative over lockdown with how we communicated with people and kept the culture alive. We launched an internal TV platform created to share company news, host masterclasses, interview clients, and introduce new colleagues globally - the content was available on catch up.
“It's something we’ll definitely keep going.. It leans into our flexible model - people can tune in and watch at a time that's convenient to them” says Steph. “It casts a broader perspective of the business to our teams, and been a great way for everyone to feel the company culture beyond the work.
Our phased return started just before Christmas and for many, it's been their first time in the office. We’re ensuring that our flexible working practices carry to those coming into the office too. We’ve had several internal events and hosted external speakers, and it's great to reunite with our people again, some of whom we haven’t met in person! Those face-to-face moments are so important and we’re confident that our flexibility means we get a great turnout when we do run in person events.”
So what’s coming up for Framestore in 2022?
“We have some exciting theme park projects coming up which mix the metaverse with real-world experiences. Everything we do at Framestore has positioned us so we’re ready for whatever that next generation of content is – a blend of immersive, interactive, and physical – not just a seated experience. There hasn’t been a more exciting time to work in creative production. The new world of immersive content is coming.”
Framestore is a proud supporter of British Arrows and this year hosted the judging at their Chancery Lane studio. Framestore values the Arrows as they focus on both the craft and creativity, with Mike adding that the awards are judged by people who are well respected within the industry so you know whatever wins will be genuinely worthy.
To find out more about the Oscar and BAFTA award-winning company, visit: www.framestore.com