Remote working existed in VFX Production long before the pandemic but MPC London & Amsterdam’s MD Jonathan Davies says a new trend is emerging with in-studio sessions off limits to clients

VFX production studios have for a long time been using remote working as a way of connecting the best talent with directors and clients all over the world. At MPC we have been doing remote grading for almost a decade, as have others. But big VFX studios have always been a huge draw for directors, agency and brand clients. Pre-pandemic they would, where possible, like to physically attend sessions which meant, in most instances, it made sense to use the talent available in their nearest location.

Since the pandemic, I have recorded a rising number of international clients looking to use our talent in the UK. People in other countries who have always wanted to be able to work directly with London talent (or talent anywhere in the world) are now feeling even more unrestricted by boundaries. With creatives and clients no longer having to physically be in the same room with the artists, we are able to work with any studio, and any talent, anywhere in the world – time difference permitting.

The shoot took place in an existing two-story saloon bar in Bulgaria with a limited crew and MPC’s Michael Gregory directing remotely. In addition, MPC remotely handled the animation and VFX.

Remote working has allowed talent to transcend borders and underlining this is perhaps an even more important trend – that sustainability in production will be driven by a demand for top talent.

Of course it’s nice to go to beautiful studios and visit people you’re collaborating with in person, but I also wonder whether remote working and access to the best talent worldwide will set a new trend that will continue after the pandemic. Will agencies and brands potentially see that creative output can be twinned with a cost benefit, a carbon footprint benefit, a productivity benefit and a more holistic work / life balance for all employees as a driving factor in continuing to work this way?

“If the industry snaps back to where it was before, in truth, I’d be really disappointed.”

If the industry snaps back to where it was before, in truth, I’d be really disappointed. People were flying on a regular basis, leaving behind an outrageous carbon footprint. As an industry we were acutely aware of this, yet we weren’t doing much about it that quickly. Add to the fact that there is an ever-increasing demand for content on a quick turnaround, and it’s never been more essential to use every second more efficiently and wisely. Travelling long distances now seems such a low priority when you can just log in remotely, collaborate safely and have all the hours that would have been spent on travel back in your hands; and at the same time, you’re helping the planet in a meaningful way.

Our teams faced the inevitable and universal challenges of producing and delivering an immensely CGI-heavy campaign during COVID. However, industry-leading technology and innovation meant that the process was smooth and often in real-time. The result is captivating, future-facing work that delivers in all respects.

If 2020, taught us anything, it is that sustainable remote production is possible without sacrificing creative quality. This shift in how we work could be the best thing that’s happened since the death of the standard audio conference call…

First published on LBB Online