How Flare Chicago Nails Production Amid Covid-19

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Energy BBDO’s internal studio explains how working from home isn't stopping production and process
How Flare Chicago Nails Production Amid Covid-19

The rise of Covid-19 has triggered the advertising industry into adapting new ways of working, as everything from timelines to budgets has been impacted. In particular production shoots, which arguably needed to be shot on location and with larger crews just months before, have been challenged in this new reality. Flare Chicago, Energy BBDO’s internal studio, serves as an example for remaining nimble and effective while following all social distancing protocols.  

Last month Uncle Ben’s released an emotional spot titled ‘Special Guests.’ The spot underscored the meaningful moments that can come from cooking and the lasting impact of enjoying mealtimes together. Developed by creative agency Energy BBDO, it follows a dad and daughter’s routine at home, navigating a new normal and showing how food and the emotional connections we make during dinner can bridge the physical distance all families are experiencing. In this case, the daughter reaches out to her grandmother through technology so they can all share a meal together.

With stay at home orders in place, producing the film created a unique challenge. The film was shot by Connor Martin of Society using his own apartment as the location and his neighbours as the actors. The need to work quickly and without a crew meant that there was no time for a formal review of things like wardrobe or props. During the shoot, Martin would send stills back to the agency for approval. “We were able to create the spot quickly and effectively because of the immense trust between the team members,” says Jeff Davis, executive producer for Energy BBDO. “Our creative team told the director what they wanted to achieve and trusted his process.” 

Once the shoot was over, the footage was uploaded overnight and sent to Flare Chicago for post-production. Flare Chicago began working from home in early March. Editors, motion designers, audio engineers and VFX artists were all transitioned to remote setups and continued their work on a number of projects for the agency’s brands. Soon after the transition, clients began requesting work in response to the crisis. “We quickly realised there would be a need for work to be produced much faster than normal,” says Jenny McDonald, executive producer at Flare Chicago. “Our clients expected us to turn around projects in hours, not days.” 

In order to do this, Flare turned to new software solutions that could facilitate real-time collaboration. One such solution was Evercast, an online live streaming platform built specifically for video production. “When we first discussed working from home, the thought of doing remote edit sessions seemed really time-consuming” says Casey Cobler, managing editor at Flare. “The reality has been that we are just as fast, if not faster than when everyone was at the agency. The technology allows us to involve everyone in the process from creative to account to strategy without having to send cuts around the office awaiting a response.” 

Flare was able to go through the entire creative review process in less than 12 hours from start of edit to client review. Once the spot was approved it was then sent to the rest of Flare’s team for finishing and release. While this new production environment has created a unique set of challenges, Flare is optimistic that it will create a faster, more nimble approach to content creation. “For years the industry has been moving towards producing more content in less time” says Casey. “This crisis has showed us that not only can we produce work faster, but that we can do it without any loss in quality.”


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Energy BBDO, 23 days ago