- Friday, Nov. 10, 2000
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Some revolutions explode on the scene, instantly changing everything that follows. Then there are more quiet revolutions—those that just sort of happen while your attention is off somewhere else.
For many of us, the expectations about modern technology's impact on commercial production tend to the explosive: No more film! No more need to leave the office for production! CG sets! Digital thespians! Flying jet rental cars! (OK, maybe that's getting a bit carried away.)
But at JWT Chicago, our production department's experienced this much-hyped digital revolution as less a big bang than a stealthy evolution based on need and utility: a Digital Darwinism, if you will. In less than three years, we've gone from cutting everything on non-linear systems to finishing all spots on DVD, with our partners over at Zuma Digital ensuring execution quality. For us, the results of the many changes ushered in by all of this intimidating progress have been a better reel and significant economies in production time and money.
We never consciously set out to revolutionize the way our teams keep in contact with various projects as they happen literally around the world. Instead, we just needed solutions that brought together our often far-flung people, and the Internet provided them. Now, as simply as they retrieve their e-mail from the office or the road, all of our creatives have access to a Virtual Pre-Pro site on the Web. This site provides a comprehensive list of every television spot in production, along with a wealth of specific details. Producers keep each job assignment current, posting information critical to the team.
This JWT Virtual Pre-Pro lists scripts, script revisions, photos of casting selects, props, locations, agency storyboards and director shooting boards—even sample bits of video and animation. Making all of this information available to the brand teams saves time and confusion. And it would be impossible without the net.
The Web doesn't just change the way we shoot; it's radically altered the way we finish. Clients rarely cut into front-end time frames for production, but they regularly crush the back end. Combine this with both spiraling agency travel costs for post, and limited time for editors to work alone or with the director, and the overall creative product really suffers.
These concerns led JWT to dedicate an FTP drop site to handle large files like rough cuts and audio tracks. Now creative approvals at the highest creative levels happen in real time, literally compressing that process from days to hours. A recent Miller Genuine Draft job that would have traditionally needed three days took only three hours.
Not only can our ECD and GCDs suggest ideas while the creative team edits. Our producers now schedule the entire process so that the creative editors we hire can have time alone to work and experiment independently. Music houses use the net to post demo tracks for their jobs, writers upload radio demos so that their creative directors can review the spots in real-time streaming audio. And real-time streaming video is not far behind.
Some call all of this multi-tasking, but in reality it's actually just getting things done—paying the bills in today's speed-obsessed, needed-it-yesterday world. Quite unintentionally, we've integrated digital technology and commercial production, using advanced technologies for advanced productivity. Quite by accident, digital technology has become the standard vocabulary spoken here. It is Digital Darwinism.
And it's just another day at JWT.