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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 4 Weeks into Isolation at GCRS



Head of production Sarah King on how the Grand Central Recording Studios team have been managing during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 4 Weeks into Isolation at GCRS

It's now week four of lockdown in the UK, and as the ad industry is finding ways to adapt to the 'new norm', the team at Grand Central Recording Studios have been trucking on from their own home studios. 

There is no room for sugar coating - head of production, Sarah King, shares an honest take on how the GC team have been managing during the pandemic.

Processes have become more complex alongside demands to deliver more quickly

We are assisting many clients with their Covid-related comms. On any given day this can mean we can mix a radio script by 12pm for airing at 3pm. Then we’ll repeat the process for the same client two days later with a new round of messaging. It’s never been this quick. Despite this, we’re finding decision-making at the client’s end more involved. Therefore, lining up the various ducks to keep to such tight schedules has been incredibly challenging. We were asked to turn around a voiceover casting in 24 hours over a weekend, all over Zoom. We like to think we are usually quick off the mark so this situation plays to our strengths. 

We’ve become the only remaining creative link on commercials

The crisis has meant that a great deal of expertise and knowledge has been wiped out on existing projects. With many agency teams being furloughed we’ve found our team becoming the only creative link. Our sound designers have been briefing the creative ideas to the new producers put on the job and they have also been directing the sessions, completely flipping things it on its head. It shows how vital our role is on a project, and ultimately this is a good thing.

The industry is rising to the challenge

We are seeing in new briefs with interesting work-arounds – self filming using mobiles, for example. We’ve worked on a couple of spots with some great stock footage. 

Our sound designers are getting some rare time in rooms with windows

In many ways we were pandemic-ready with us already having home studio setups. Whilst there are big pressures on our production team, it has given our sound designers a change of pace with a window to the wider world that they don’t usually have 8-10 hours a day. A time to pause and reflect. A time to develop sound skills previously on the backburner. Appreciating the sound of birds replacing the din of airplanes. 

Nothing beats face to face interaction

Our morning company-wide video calls are vital to keep the banter alive, but this can only be temporary. Nothing can replace being able to put your head around the studio door to chat about how to solve a challenge or catching up with what a colleague did at the weekend. As for the creative process, every sound space has a different vibe. Some of our designers may choose one of our studios at our usual base in Soho over another – at home they don’t have this luxury. Whilst clients are not able to visit in person, we’ve kept everyone involved and connected to sessions via Zoom. It’s been a little harder to re-create the 5-star experience virtually – no flat whites, chocolates, or Soho lunches for the time being!

The grim reality 

One of our dearly loved clients passed away and it brought it home for all of us. We are forever grateful for staying healthy.

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Grand Central Recording Studios, Wed, 15 Apr 2020 10:50:30 GMT