Post-Production: The rising stars of post

Who are the cream of the crop in UK post-production? Lucy Aitken profiles six of the industry's best young talent.

PHIL OLDHAM 22, visual effects artist, Absolute Post

A visual effects artist has the daunting task of manipulating images to realise a director's vision. Phil Oldham is so passionate about his art, he started on a work placement at a post- house in Brisbane, where he often spent free time. With a diploma in Advanced IT and a certificate in film and TV production, he caught a plane to London and started as a runner at The Mill. When David Smith opened Absolute, he joined as his number two.

What is it that he loves about visual effects? "You have the freedom to do whatever you want to do," he says. "There are no real limits to what you can achieve because you can create anything. That's a fun prospect.

Every day is different and presents a new challenge."

His work credits include Hummer "asteroids", Converse "invisible game" and Nike "fast", as well as promos for Radiohead and Editors.

He recently worked on "mayfly", Bartle Bogle Hegarty's spot for Vodafone.

He remembers: "We sat down with the 3-D guys to come up with the shooting concept and then began working with a computer graphics company to put the 3-D mayfly into the background. The shoot was in Thailand, but the mayfly was created in a dark room in Soho."

Frances Royle, the head of TV at BBH, who worked with him on that ad, comments: "He is brilliant - a real perfectionist and a lovely guy. I would use him on every job if I could."

Shortlisted: Max Wright, Lola

LEO KING 26, editor, Cut & Run

At 15, Leo King worked with the feature editor Tony Lawson on a Nicholas Roeg film, The Two Deaths. At Leeds University, where he read Communication, he earned a reputation for enjoying editing much more than his peers.

As he recalls: "That cemented it for me; I knew what I wanted to do."

After university, Lawson recommended King move to Soho to secure commercials work, initially as a stepping stone to feature editing. But for now, King is content with where he is: "I'm happy in the world of ads, partly because you have so many different styles of job: one week it's comedy; the next, it's an obscure music-led piece."

Steve Gandolfi, the owner of Cut & Run, hired King and has mentored him in the arts of editing and client management. King describes Gandolfi as "a massive influence on the way I work".

King's reel includes a recent ad for Bisto through McCann Erickson, three Radio Times spots for Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, and a Kingsmill spot through its former agency, JWT.

Serena Schellenberg, a producer at JWT, worked with him on the Kingsmill ad and comments: "Despite his young age, Leo is totally nonplussed by working with A-list directors such as Who?. He has a natural gift for cutting, but he also has a charming, calm and humble nature. He's honest and straightforward about any changes and always makes you feel you're in very competent hands."

Shortlisted: Art Jones, Speade

SIOBHAN FOWLER 22, CGI artist, Lola

Siobhan Fowler harboured an ambition to work in CGI ever since she saw Beauty and the Beast at the tender age of 11. She then became "a bit obsessed" with computer games, which triggered an interested in CGI. After a year-long foundation course, Fowler studied Computer Animation and Visualisation and was awarded a distinction for her postgraduate diploma in Computer Animation.

In March 2004, she joined Lola and worked on Five Children and It. Last year, she worked on a Royal Mail ad with giant letterboxes for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, directed by Medhi Norowzian, and a Goodyear spot for Leagas Delaney.

She enjoys the fast turnaround of ads, saying: "It's a quick process: you work on them for a short space of time and then you're on to your next job, so you get a lot of variety. By the time you've finished a long project, you're ready to come off it."

She is a girl in the male-dominated world of CGI, which makes working with her "a very refreshing experience", according to Matthew Jones, the former head of TV at Leagas Delaney, who worked with her on Goodyear and is now a producer at The Paul Weiland Film Company.

"Goodyear was a very post-production-intensive job with lots of effects that had to work really well for it to succeed. Shiobhan rose to the challenge eminently well. There is a fab team at Lola; it's very personal and hands-on," Jones adds.

Shortlisted: Andrew Daffy, Finish

JACK SEDGWICK 22, sound designer, Wave

When Jack Sedgwick started tinkling about on the piano at nursery, his parents were urged to invest in music lessons. At six, he took up the cello and at 12, he started DJing. He was all set for a career in music but, thanks to an aunt who worked at TBWA, was advised to investigate sound design instead.

After his A Levels, he moved to London and, as luck would have it, Wave needed a runner. For the past two-and-a-half years, he's worked with Wave's co-founders and top sound designers, Johnnie Burn and Warren Hamilton, who have taught him the tricks of the trade. Sedgwick also believes he has learned from directors such as Jonathan Glazer.

His recent credentials include Honda "impossible dream", which involved using actual engine noises for all the different vehicles used - no mean feat from a sound design point of view.

Andy Gulliman, the head of TV at Saatchi & Saatchi, admires his skill: "Jack as a young talent is someone who's offering the skills that I saw in Warren and Johnnie. In this day and age, music is so important in commercials, and he has the ability to cut music due to his training."

He adds: "The speed he works at is incredibly impressive; his fingers dart across the keyboard. Jack is very quiet and conscientious; he takes a brief on board and delivers very quickly."

Sedgwick harbours a desire to sound-design a feature film and to one day release his own album.

Shortlisted: Alex Joseph, Soundelux

JAMIE WILKINSON 30, colourist, The Mill

Jamie Wilkinson trained in film and media production and had intended to work in the film industry. One day, when working as a runner, he heard a director talking about telecine, a process where a colourist can give each shot a specific look. "As soon as I saw it, it appealed to me. I've always been interested in colour and light," he says.

His brother worked at VTR as a producer, so Wilkinson secured a job there as a runner in 1997. He then started "bugging colourists daily" until they relented. He stayed at VTR for eight years.

His latest work includes the Channel 4 idents that won a gold at last year's D&AD Awards. He says: "I hope people don't get fed up with them - there are some stunning new ones coming out."

Wilkinson works on the Channel 4 films after they have been through the 3-D process. The trick, he says, "is to make the grade hold some form of realism; you can't be too heavy-handed with it".

His client skills are strong, too: "If the client or the agency says that something is not what they want, you have to adapt to keep everyone happy."

Jo Dillon, the executive producer on the Channel 4 rebrand at 4creative, says: "Jamie is upbeat and fun, and he has also been able to make something work well when I've been caught without a director or a producer. He knows what directors want and can work on it in their absence. And he never has a hangover because he doesn't drink."

Shortlisted: Kai Van Beers, VTR

JUSTINE WHITE 30, post- house producer, Finish

Justine White studied Fine Arts in her home city of Sydney before coming to London ten years ago. She started her career in production before moving into post, working as a Flame operator at Soho 601 and Complete.

Three years ago, she co-founded Finish with Jason Watts in 2003.

A post- house producer's role is to co-ordinate jobs through the entire post process and to be the main client contact point. She also manages the company and says: "I've come to like it and do everything from deciding what coffee table we buy to where the Flame is going to be positioned."

She describes the skills required for her job as "a cross between having a technical ability and an understanding of creativity".

Finish's reel includes Norwich Union "heads", Electrolux, five's idents, Saab and BMW.

Sally Lipsius, the deputy head of TV at WCRS, which used Finish on, among others, its 60-second ad for BMW, "it's only a car", and Abbey "house" and "red cube", comments: "I love Finish. Jason is hugely talented - he works miracles - and Justine is fantastic; she works very closely with Jason, anticipates a lot of what he needs and makes sure that everything is there."

She adds: "Justine is unflappable; nothing's a problem. She effortlessly co-ordinates all these different elements without me ever having to chase. She is a nice, hands-on, can-do girl."

Shortlisted: Josh King, Rushes.

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