How a multi-discipline approach can help you win clients

CEO Adam Luckwell explains how Unit squares specialism with full-service, in the seventh of our series of articles sponsored by HP.

When we set up Unit, we wanted to be one of the few facilities to offer end-to-end post production services. We offer editing, audio, VFX and finishing all under one roof, in London's Soho. But at the same time we didn't want to be seen as a Jack of all trades.

So we decided to create a company that's actually divided up into three separate companies - The Cut (editing), The Mix (audio post) and The Finish (VFX and finishing).

Unit created this epic live action/VFX trailer for Xbox, PS3 and PC game Defiance

Why did we do this? Because we didn't want to say to clients: "Come to us, we do a bit of everything." We wanted to say: "Come to us, we are experts in those three separate disciplines." But the bonus is that you're going to have one producer, because each of these companies is part of one overall company.

Avoiding blame culture

In other words, our clients get one producer, one bill, one person to go to with the headache. What they don't get is a blame culture where you have two facilities pointing and shouting "It's their fault" when there's a problem: you've just got one person to go to.

Unit worked with Luma London to create these beautiful characters for tissue brand Embrace

If a client's session overruns, we just rebook them. They don't have to worry about fitting in with two different firms' schedules; we fit everything into theirs. All of that is very much taken care of by the producer. So from an administrative point of view, it's much less of a headache, and it's much much faster.

We also decided to focus on commercials; we don't do longform because that requires umpteem hundred suites of offline. Instead, we keep things relatively small and lean - we have around 60 employees. And that means we're agile, and can do things very quickly, to very tight deadlines that some bigger companies would struggle to meet.

Budget saving

That's important at a time when budgets for the kind of work we do have been decreasing. I think they've bottomed out - I don't think they can decrease any more. But they certainly have been decreasing in the last five years.

Volvo’s sponsorship campaign for Sky Atlantic HD centred on Volvo’s campaign strapline of “Quality productions are made up of many parts”

A budget is essentially time multiplied by rate. So there's only so much you can do with the rate before you start impacting on the time. And the more time you take away from a project, the less creative flexibility you have and the worst the end product becomes.

If you can do things more efficiently by having everything under one roof, that gives you more creative days on the project and you get a better creative output.

Holistic approach

And that's not just good for the client, it's good for us too. One of the tenets of Unit is we believe you get a much better creative end product where you have everyone working in concert.

Unit's 2012 Audi A1 commercial celebrated the Audi perfection by showing all the efforts Audi puts in just one millimeter of a LED rear light.

So for example if you're halfway through the 3D work then you'll have already the sound starting to happen. All of the parts of the business operating together; that's a big thing for us - it's a holistic approach to creating. And you get a much better end product because everyone is used to working with each other.

We don't want to be a Jack of all trades, we want to be a master of one. And it's a strategy that's succeeded. Things have gone hell's bells for us ever since: we've just opened a further two audio suites, are about to add another Baselight, and the future's looking very bright indeed.

Unit is a creative full service post production facility in the heart of London. The Finish boasts a 28 bay VFX studio offering Nuke, Maya, After Effects and Cinema 4D, reversioning on Final Cut Pro, eight Flame/Smoke finishing suites and Filmlight’s Baselight for grading. ‘The Cut’ boasts 12 new high-end Final Cut Pro edit suites and ‘The Mix’ has five White Mark designed audio suites.

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