Framestore: Dealing with post traumatic stress

Client demanding a dinosaur in its latest ad? Wondering what to do about a client with a miniscule budget? Framestore CFC offers some advice to those struggling with post problems, common or otherwise. Q: Our client is dead-set on dinosaurs for its next commercial. Is there any chance you could dust off some of the ones you created for the BBC and let us use them?

Dinosaurs? No problem. Although the Beeb owns all the dinosaurs we made for them, we've been able to put what we've learnt to good use - see the Volvic spot with the T-Rex and the cheeky caveman, for example. However, the Framestore CFC bestiary comprises so much more than just giant reptiles.

From mosquitoes to mammoths, we're your one-stop pet shop.

Q: What's all this talk of digital delivery? Should I cancel my order for the new VHS machine that's due to be delivered tomorrow? And while you're at it, do you have any idea how I can convince my agency that it doesn't need to see a tape? I've tried e-mailing mpegs to the agency, but they insist on watching work in progress on TV.

Okay, two things here. First, the larger issue of getting a non-technical client base to embrace new technology.

It's tough, believe us - we know. You could try appealing to their purse - how much do you want to spend biking Umatics 300 yards across Soho; their sense of style - piles of one-use tapes lying around the office are so unattractive, darling; or their sense of historic inevitability - compare videotape with papyrus, hot lead and ... er ... 8-track cartridges.

The bottom line is, it's going to happen - so jump aboard. Front is Framestore CFC's response to the ongoing revolution. It's a suite of production tools that allow you to archive, access and deliver by e-mail all of your work from your computer. You do have a computer, right? Second, if a TV set is essential for your agency's peace of mind, then front has a set-top box that will pipe through DVD-quality images at the flick of a switch.

Q: I need my client to approve pack shot and phone number to meet a tight deadline, but I don't want her to attend my suite booking for the whole afternoon (we are pressed for time and she's very high maintenance and will want the full facility experience). What can I do?

Look, we don't want to labour the point, but this sort of situation is tailormade for front (see previous question). Explain to her that any facility worth its salt these days will stream work-in-progress to her, direct from the operator's desktop. This will not only save her that draining taxi ride across town, but will also enable her to pepper her conversation with terms such as "high-bandwidth full-screen streaming" and "unicast", impressing her colleagues and keeping her (and your) cutting-edge cred intact.

Q: Do we really need a supervisor on the shoot? We don't have an endless budget and it seems like a bit of a luxury ...

Hmm ... would it seem like a luxury after the denim-clad cast of a shoot find their legs vanishing as they walk in front of a blue screen (true story - don't ask)? Quite apart from ensuring your filmmakers are not thwarted by technology, having a VFX supervisor there will often end up saving you money. Our supervisors are actually the results of complex genetic splicing, resulting in a race of beings that are one-third technician, one-third artist, and one-third accountant - a powerful hybrid to have on your team. They spend a lot of their time thinking about smart and elegant (i.e. simple and inexpensive) ways of obtaining great looking shots. Also, they often take their own cameras on shoots to be sure of getting the material they need. With a relaxed director at the helm, this can mean you've got a second unit director in all but name (and fee).

Q: We're booked in for an online session next week, but the numbers are swelling worryingly. The director, the DoP, the producer, the account manager, the head of TV and the client all want to come along, and I know all of them will want to have a say on the finished ad. How can I (a lowly PA) defuse what could be a potentially explosive situation?

Well, personally we love a party, the more the merrier and so forth.

Besides, as one of our senior operators puts it: "In my experience, keeping clients away from the grade means you do it twice." A good operator (and all our operators are, of course, good) is a skillful handler of multiple (and often conflicting) elements -whether they're displayed on his monitor or yelling in his ear.

Q: I was looking at your ratecard, and failed to find any mention of virals. I've got a wicked little idea for a low-end bit of promotional fun, but I'm worried that the costs of taking it to your big guns would be prohibitive ...

We're so glad you asked. Step into this office, please ... Yes, it is a little on the small side, isn't it? Welcome to Framestore CFC Design, the tiny, but perfectly formed division responsible for a wide range of beautiful work on media as diverse as DVDs, TV idents, commercials and - da-dah - virals. We did the APA 50 Awards viral this year, you know - a lovely little bit of cod-Victoriana. With bags of savvy and Framestore CFC's huge technical resources to hand, our four funky miniaturists can put together a plush yet reasonable bit of digitally deliverable marketing in no time flat.

Q: One of my clients loves to bring their work here, but never seems to have much money in his budget. Should I continue the relationship, or just call the whole thing off?

People sometimes assume that a facility like ours only takes on the big stuff. If we've learned one thing over the years, however, it's that there are no such thing as small jobs - only small clients. Just kidding. Regular revenue of any volume is always welcome, and we have always valued repeat custom of whatever size. We will go out of our way to accommodate old friends, and trust that they will grant us some wriggle room in return.

Q: We are shooting a spot in several locations and want to give each scene a look to represent all four seasons.

Can you help us to make this work?

You can bring in the selected shots to our telecine operators, and then in one of our Spirit suites, they can alter colours to represent different seasons ... colour imagery ... secondary correction ... vignetting ... colour-keying ... noise-reduction ... sorry, we nodded off for a moment there. Basically, our award-winning TK team is all over jobs like this, with artistry that's matched only by the very latest and best kit available. So, to answer your question, yes.

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