Cutting Corners

The other day I went back to my home town and noticed with the lapse of time certain changes on things that funny enough are fully relevant to what we do, post-production, in fact it extends to everything in life really.

I woke up after a long dinner with my girlfriend’s family and decided to go down to a coffee shop we used to go, really nice place, they do also “bocadillos” which is a kind of sandwich with french style bread, salty breakfast with Serrano ham, chorizo, cheese and what not… all in all, a great place to start the day, meet your friends, buy some food for later and read the newspaper.

And there you go, sitting down I can’t but notice some tiles have cracked and nobody seems to care of fixing them, after all is just a little crack, and the lamps are a bit bent, and there is a disconnected machine in one little corner, and the seams between the marble tabletop and the glass wall that makes a nice lit background is kind of left to die, and yes, the wines are great, the “bocadillos” are brilliant, but now instead of having three nice and well trained waitresses they have hired one over-worked peruvian girl which I must say does not have her heart at it as you may understand given that she is being taken advantage clearly.

Totally overworked & unexperienced staff, the place left to decay slightly, the lights turned half-on/off to save some pennies, well, is no longer the place I want to spend too much money, I don’t want to chase the girl to bring a glass of water, suddenly is not the place it was and next morning we tried another coffee shop around the corner, this time it was not glaring good but the service was fast and keen, the place was clean too and although it was kind of like a smoking den by the door it was much better feeling, all in all the place was correct and since we have changed from one to the other, something I though would not be possible.

To my surprise the analogy is obvious and works particularly well in the case of post-production, innovation (and this does not mean only R+D), to care for the very little-tiniest detail, commitment, differentiation which in turn does mean only one thing, people. And yes, it is very easy to sing along and say “yes we do care about people” or “people is our main asset”, but how many places do really mean it is what really counts.

With the coffee shop, competitors have appeared, they have taken a share of their customers that feel is no longer worth it, surely soon they will start cutting corners yet again and follow the downhill path which ultimately will end up forcing them to shut down. And if you look at the competitors these are in some cases people that setup a “1 Euro shop”, now they have moved up the ladder to a coffee shop business, then probably will grow further to a restaurant business and as a very clever friend of mine told me once “Get big, get niche or get lost”.

In any case excellence is the only way of competing nowadays for us westeners, and if you consider our post-production business is not a commodity then you, as I do, need to fight for the differentiation factor that ultimately is the only reason you have those clients and those projects in the first place.

That kind of competition I love.

Jordi Bares Written by:

Jordi Bares is a Creative Director/VFX Supervisor working for Framestore on some amazing projects.