#UNITATHOME: Q&A with UNIT Flame Artist Ben Mcllveen

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The third of the UNITATHOME series delves into flame with artist Ben Mcllveen
#UNITATHOME: Q&A with UNIT Flame Artist Ben Mcllveen

As we continue daily life in lockdown the UNIT talent are set up working remotely from home to ensure the safety of everyone, whilst still being able to collaborate on all client projects . 

We are looking to shine a spotlight on some of their key talent to hear more from each. We’ll be taking a look at what creative work they are busy with, how they are handling and mastering remote working, how they are approaching collaborating in different ways, how they are learning to navigate the world of virtual events and relationships, what measures they are taking to stay sane, and how they are learning new creative pastimes or hobbies that can even improve their creative output.

The third of the #UNITATHOME series is a Q&A with UNIT flame artist, Ben Mcllveen.


Q> Tell us about your at home remote working set up Ben? 

Ben> I have set my Flame up on my dining table in the front room of my flat as it’s the only surface big enough to house it all! It’s also probably the best place to have it, as it’s a nice airy space with plenty of light and I also have two sofas like my suite at UNIT. The only downside is my chair but that’s a work in progress. So my front room is now my Flame suite, which is fine by me, as all my dinner parties and evening soirees are currently on hold at the moment…!


Q> How does Flame at home work?

Ben> I’m basically using a connection to remote into my actual Flame machine at work over the internet, with input functions such as keyboard and pen / tablet going down the line and pictures and audio coming back to me. I have my monitor, keyboard, pen and tablet from work, and use a Terradici box to connect all my peripherals via an Ethernet cable to my router, that then goes through the internet to my machine at work. There were a few teething issues to begin with, as is to be expected, but we’ve managed to iron the issues out and I’m now working perfectly. It’s really productive as I can just jump on my Flame when needed - which is especially handy in these unprecedented times. It means I can generally accommodate client briefs and changes at pretty much anytime.


Q> What are the vibes in the UNIT Flame team right now? 

Ben> The whole team is comfortable with their WFH setups and have adapted amazingly well to the day to day running. We have a WhatsApp group which has ended up being for banter just as much as work, so all artists are still in everyday contact. Speaking for myself, I do miss coming into work, I think advertising and post production involves a lot of socialising both in work hours and out of them. I am definitely looking forward to returning to work as soon as possible.


Q> You’ve only just joined UNIT - tell us where you were working at before? And your interesting journey to Flame?

Ben> I got into features as I actually originally trained as a colourist, but after being a junior for a few years realised that it wasn’t for me. From grading, working with film, doing dailies, I learnt Baselight and moved across into doing DI work on feature films and then became an online editor. I came up in the industry in an age (not that long ago) where everything was still tape and film and had a more old school traditional path of runner, mcr junior, tape op, linear suit assistant, before I got into grading. So I have experience in many aspects of post production, which I think has definitely been beneficial to my career. I was even a producer for a few months!

I worked at Technicolor and Prime Focus doing online editing and VFX work on feature films, which was great as I got to work on some really big studio films and some great independent films. Some of my favourite films included: Man From Uncle, Jupiter Ascending, King Arthur Legend of the Sword, Heart of the Sea and the independents 45 years and Daphne.

After working feature film side for many years, I needed a new challenge so moved across to commercials, working with McCann’s ad agency on such brands as Vauxhall, Nestle, Adidas, Just Eat, Diet Coke and more. When I joined they didn’t do finishing in house, so I built up a Flame department there to try to keep as much work in house as possible. It was great to build somewhere from just taking on versioning work to supervising and leading jobs from shoot to finish working with creatives and directors.

Recent McCann work I was involved in included: Just Eat ‘Did Somebody Say Just Eat + Love Island Idents for Summer 2019 and a bunch of car work - Vauxhall ‘Keeps Calm Carries On’, Vauxhall ‘Griffin’ and ‘Combo’ and the recent Hey Car campaign


Q> You’ve already been busy since joining - what new work have you been involved in so far?

Ben> Unfortunately I had only been at UNIT three weeks before the lockdown so I was literally just finding my feet and getting to know everyone. 

One of my first jobs for UNIT has been Next 'Make Yourself at Home' campaign, including Bedroom, Dining Room and Living Room - which has just launched. We collaborated with You Are Here, and Directors The Apiary carrying out all 2D VFX, on set supervision and the colour grade.

I’m also really excited to help further grow the key auto capability which UNIT has built over the years having been involved in so many big auto brand campaigns.  


Q> What technology / apps / new software / systems are you using most right now and which ones do you recommend?

Ben> Since joining UNIT I've become a massive fan of the Neat Video degrading tool in Flame which gives amazing results. I also use Mocha a lot with Flame. I’ve actually got a great little trick to use the planar track from Mocha to stabilize pictures in Flame. UNIT also has a full set of Sapphire sparks that I have been re familiarizing myself with.


Q> What are your isolation top creative / innovation / staying sane tips? And tips for personal survival?

Ben> I live on my own so I am really missing my friends, social life, family and the buzz of working in Fitzrovia. For me it’s been crucial to get some kind of routine back into your life. I’ve been waking up and going out on my bike for an hour and a half before I start work. It’s great to get out and about first thing as the roads are less congested and the weather has been so good recently. For socialising I’ve been doing loads of quizzes with friends and family online, and was recently Quiz Master for the UNIT team too

I’m also quite green fingered and as the weather has been so good I’ve been on my roof terrace, planting sunflowers, tomatoes and strawberries ready for the summer. 

And I am big into my music so have been digging out loads of old records and me and my friends have been making and sharing mixes.


Check out all other recent UNIT news here.


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UNIT Studios, 4 months ago