The well-being, health and safety of people is clearly top priority. What measures have you taken to protect your staff and collaborators during this challenging time?
Our focus across the business was to get our teams safely working from home as soon as we possibly could. It was a huge logistical challenge; +2000 people with very specific and complex requirements in two weeks. The teamwork from our global support network was exemplary.
All of our teams globally are operational and pushing projects through, overall it’s been amazing to see how we can operate efficiently under these conditions.
How have you adapted your behavior, practices, policies, approaches, ways of thinking and doing business in response to the pandemic?
More than ever, there is a huge need for new content at the moment. Millions of people are stuck at home and glued to their screens for information. The messaging has to be sensitive to the current situation, but the world must keep moving and creative problem-solving has a vital role to play.
While live action projects have been postponed or canceled, we are fortunate that we can still pivot for clients to full CG solutions, stock footage and motion graphics or design. Also, several of our directors actually have at-home studios where they can shoot tabletop and product shots, and are currently experimenting with other creative workarounds like capturing talent on virtual sets then building on assets during post. Clients are definitely coming to us looking for solutions and inspiration on how to address some of the challenges we currently face.
Were you in the midst of a particular project when the coronavirus outbreak hit and how did you manage to deal with that situation?
We had a few projects that were due to shoot during the first week that everything was beginning to lock down. While the news reports suggested that it would likely be impossible for them to move forward, we had to keep tracking along until they were actually called off. Our job is to make things happen, no matter what is thrown at us, so we were in full crisis mode and strategizing around finding viable solutions.
What’s your biggest takeaway or lessons learned from your experience dealing with coronavirus concerns thus far?
I am incredibly heartened by the way our community has pulled together. We were certainly ahead of the curve in getting our staff working remotely. Our systems and technology teams did a phenomenal job in making that happen in record time while projects were still ongoing and we had deadlines to meet. I have been in dialogue with my peers at other companies and there is definitely a spirit of us all being in this together. This situation is bigger than any competition for work and we all want to help each other get through to the other side.
What advice, if any, would you offer to your counterparts at other companies/agencies, your clients and collaborators?
The world has changed significantly, almost overnight. If we are all to continue making and creating, then the rules have to change just as quickly. Thankfully, our teams have been using technology to solve problems for decades and we have a braintrust of creatives that are standing by to help work out what the new world looks like.
Contingency plans have been prepared by many in light of the situation. Please share any aspects of those plans or tell us how your short and long-term business plans have been affected.
We are keeping a close eye on the developments that seem to be changing daily. First priority was making sure all of our team was safe and healthy. Then making sure that everyone can still carry out their work from home. We have been gearing towards remote options for some time, and that was really only held up by additional hardware and time for physical deployment. Now, we are mostly implementing refined working practices around over-communication.
Long-term, we will be pivoting to clients’ needs as they evolve. Working out how we can capture live action elements and utilize virtual production tools, while still keeping our crew physically distanced.
It’s said that strength emerges from adversity. Do you see any silver lining or positive dynamic emerging for our industry/marketplace from this global health crisis?
We’re fortunate in the postproduction world to have access to a number of viable content creation solutions, so it’s an opportunity to show our community what’s possible with the magic of computers and technology.
I also think we’re already seeing such incredible user generated content coming straight out of people’s living rooms, it’s heartening to know that creativity is one of the most powerful tools getting people through this difficult period.
Have you deployed your company’s creative and communication skills to address the pandemic (PSAs, educational videos, other initiatives)? Please tell us about these efforts.
In order to keep our global teams feeling inspired, informed and connected while physically separated, we’re rolling out a new internal communication channel, called FTV. It is programmed to include video of everything from town hall meetings with our CEO, to guest Q&As, tech and case study talks, career development workshops, pub quizzes, art demonstrations and much more to try and fill that void we’re all experiencing from the lack of personal connection. We can see this initiative living well beyond the current crisis and continuing to unify Framestore as a company globally.
We are also working with many universities and related groups to deliver remote presentations to keep their communities inspired.