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In Conversation with The Mill

We talk with The Mill about their recent work.

19 March 2021

It’s been a while since we last published an In Conversation piece, but with the British Arrows 2020 awards show only days away we sat down (over video call of course!) with The Mill to talk about the work they’ve been doing over the last year and the randomiser they’ve created for the show…

The Mill is a global creative partner for agencies, production companies and brands, working across multiple media channels and platforms. They are trusted specialists in visual effects, creative technologies and content production. Their projects include the creation of digital products and virtual experiences, as well as world class visual effects and video production. One of the digital products that they have created is the British Arrows randomiser.

“A randomiser is an augmented reality face filter,” says Annie Keogh, Senior Designer at The Mill. “It’s a fun, gamified experience. You tap and hold to record, then it goes through various awards before landing on one at random.”

Asked about how they came up with the idea of a randomiser, Annie said “at the time, randomisers were a new trend and becoming popular on Instagram, and they work really well for an awards ceremony, as you can give people their own virtual award.”

Just a week before the British Arrows show was meant to take place, the UK went into a national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the show was postponed in hope of being able to be held later down the track. As we now proceed with what is set to be a fantastic virtual event, the randomiser will help to bring something different to the evening as we celebrate in our homes.

When the decision was made to go ahead with a virtual event, it allowed the team at The Mill to make some changes that made the randomiser even better suited to being used at home. Rather than being used in an otherwise loud event, the team were able to add sound and some other special touches. To use the randomiser, which will be available from 22nd March, open Instagram (or click here if you’re reading on mobile), click add to your story, browse effects, search ‘BritishArrowsFortune’, hold the record button down and to see which award you are presented with.

Thinking about the creative process for something such as a randomiser, Annie said “usually there would be a bigger conception phase,” but the idea of a randomiser came quite quickly to the team. “Coming up with the awards took time, but we worked together and brainstormed then were ready to go into the visuals then the effects. We’ve added 3D arrows, lighting, sound design, and animations when your award is revealed,” Annie adds.

When asked if a year of working from home had changed the team’s creative process, Annie says everyone has worked together really well, using digital tools to support the creative process and making sure they take the time to come together as a team to bounce ideas off one another. Josh Moore, New Business Producer, says that the lockdown actually hurried things that they’ve been trying to do along, and working virtually had almost made things easier. “We’ve all been forced to think in a more nimble way. It’s made us more collaborative,” he says.

Josh says that collaboration has still been key to all they’ve done, even if the results of that collaboration have had to shift during lockdown. “We’ve had to change physical events to digital, and with not being able to shoot there’s been a shift towards CG. The shape of the briefs have had to change too.”

With all the virtual events they’ve done for clients over the last year, they’ve now been inspired to host their own event – The Mill & Co. Presents: The Future of Creative Technology. The free, virtual event is open to everyone will take place live on YouTube from March 22nd – 26th 2021. You can sign up here.

“Talking about presenting stuff virtually to people has got us quite excited about doing it ourselves,” says Josh. “Attendees can dial into different talks about things that are going on in the digital tech world, get inspired and find how out how to apply the different technologies available to their own brands.”

If anything has stood out from the year spent living with a pandemic, it’s been the importance of creating spaces for people to connect in different ways, and Annie reflects on this with some of her favourite projects from the past year. “HBO Lovecraft was a virtual event with loads of influencers. It was a challenge as it was very different to what we were used to, but it was well suited to lockdown and was a really cool event. There was music, poetry, and guests could talk to one another.”

The Mill & Co. Presents: The Future of Creative Technology will be an extension of creating these spaces for connection, with Josh adding “we want to create an online community to talk about the stuff we’re doing, we want to talk about things from a creative leadership as well as a business point of view. This will be a good event to start those conversations.”

To read more about The Mill click here. To sign up to The Mill & Co. Presents click here. To use the randomiser, from 22nd March open Instagram (or if you’re reading on mobile, click here), click add to your story, browse effects, search BritishArrowsFortune, hold the record button down and wait for your award.

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