From Rocks to Riches

Green Rock has grown from being a one guy, one Mac in a shoebox, to a 10 team, six studio post production powerhouse! This is the story of how they did it!

Green Rock began in the summer of 2008, just as the financial world was being brought to its knees. Simon Green, managing director of Green Rock was working off a single Dual Core MacPro with G-Tech drives in a shoebox in Brixton.

Green Rock is a post production facility based in the heart of London’s West End. They’re a one-stop shop, delivering high quality programming for broadcast, film and branded content. They have grown from being a one guy, one Mac in a shoebox, to a 10 team, six studio post production powerhouse! This is the story of how they did it!

Green Rock began in the summer of 2008, just as the financial world was being brought to its knees. Simon Green, managing director of Green Rock was working off a single Dual Core MacPro with G-Tech drives in a shoebox in Brixton.

“At the time I was jumping from project to project, so the downturn in the economy was a major source of stress”. I realised I could strip out a lot of costs for producers without compromising on standards and the world of Television production was quickly understanding this.”

During this time, Simon [Green] was working on Sofa Surfers with Walsh Bros which was very well received by the BBC and critics alike and so Simon confirmed that quality shows could be made without going to the big facilities in Soho.

“At the time I was jumping from project to project, so the downturn in the economy was a major source of stress”

Whilst continuing to work with clients like Walsh Bros and without wanting to break the bank, Green Rock wanted to relocate and made the decision to move to a serviced office in Kings Cross.

It was during this time they had nurtured a relationship with 3DD productions who were also choosing to grow during the downturn. It was a good fit, but Green Rock realised they needed to really think where the company was going. They looked at the industry and realised that the post world was very often over priced and thought what if we could tailor our business to give clients access to the best possible equipment, editors and technicians for their productions.

Although they had enjoyed some recent wins, money was still a consideration;

“The overhead was still fairly minimal at this stage and in an effort to continue to be frugal,  I spoke to James Dancer at MediaPros and asked  what he would recommend I do given the current climate.

My main concern was getting the most value and making sure it was future-proof. He [James] set me up with a XSAN RAID with Sonnett drives on a 8Gb fibre switch as well as new 8 Core Mac Pro with the maximum amount of RAM and monitors, along with the computers, they also bought a standalone vocal booth so they were properly set up as a one-stop shop. I used Photolease to fund the purchases and they have been fundamental in enabling my growth.

With Green Rock being so technically fearless…we decided to go for something a little different”

James Dancer, Business Manager at MediaPros commented

“Working with Simon has been fantastic – he’s one of the most open minded clients we have to date, willing to experiment and try anything new that will help his workflow, increase productivity and turnaround time with a completely fearless attitude towards new technology”

Green Rock began with a single Final Cut Studio 3 suite in King’s Cross, which was quickly upgraded to a multi-suite environment with grading capabilities (using Apple’s Color) over Sonnet’s 8Gb RX1600Fibre system and XSAN SAN file system to allow enough bandwidth for multi-cam editing on Green Rock’s many music projects.

This was the real turning point. The ability to turn work around faster with a cost effective solution worked great, and soon they rented a second and then a third room in the office building.

“MediaPros were once again crucial in making sure I bought wisely – more server space and Grade one monitors. My clients could now pop in and get a real sense of the edits and the beauty of it alI was, I didn’t have to outsource anything”

Green Rock Studio

Green Rock continued to grow from strength to strength, fast turn arounds, personal service and being that they were running such a lean operation they had the ability to offer great deals, especially at a time when production budgets were shrinking. This in turn was a double edged sword, although unfortunate, the recession had forced some of Soho’s great talent out of work, again, Green Rock was able to hire editors at below the ‘usual’ daily rate. They could offer affordable and extended payment plans to their clients, which encouraged more business through the door.

“James also recommended we stay clear of investing in VTRs despite my instinct to invest. The industry has moved to tapeless so quickly it was good advise. Our workflow is completely digital and decks although still important, are hired ad-hoc from Video Europe and our play outs are done at IBF. Good partnerships during this time have been absolutely key in keeping costs down, and understanding my own boundaries

Oh no, it’s looking like we’re going to have to move again!

As with everything else, rents on property could be negotiated, so with that in mind, we packed our bags (again) and moved to a bigger premises in London’s West End in 2011.

I found a property in Soho where an old production company had sadly gone bust which needed to be filled asap and so it was another opportunity that the recession presented – I took it”. It meant having 6 suites, a VO studio a server room, once again our friends at MediaPros were on hand to deliver the most cost effective workflow solution. “Having MediaPros as part of the move enabled me to dedicate my time more to the logistics of the move, as well as project scheduling to give the clients as little disruption to the production process as possible – they’ve been a great help in taking the technical worry completely out of the move process.

With Green Rock being so technically fearless…we decided to go for something a little different”

On the hardware side, HD-SDI switching to allow video reference playback from any suite to the VO booth is accomplished using a Kramer VS-81HD that allows any operator to “take control” of the HD-SDI feed via a simple web interface over Ethernet. Live Audio monitoring is accomplished utilizing the SDI feed and headphone breakout socket on the Datavideo artist viewing monitor in the VO booth. XLR Switching for the Voiceover mic is the only part of the workflow that’s accomplished in the “old skool” way of a simple machine-room based patch bay.

The most interesting part is how line-of-sight to the VO booth from each suite is accomplished – Apple’s FaceTime has been employed in each suite via the use of iPad, with an iPad mounted in the VO booth for the artist’s use, as well as roaming iPads for directors and producers to either “look in” on the artist, or communicate with any suite at any time. This allows “any room, any time” communication without the need to have a static talkback system.

Green Rock Booth

In addition, proper Media Stems audio export via the use of Roles tags, GPU-accelerated support and with Lion – full screen view have also been included. As a result, Green Rock’s XSAN storage has now grown to 64Tb of online storage to handle the influx of new projects, with Object Matrix’s MatrixStore system providing a seamless and secure nearline backup copy.

“We have been here for nearly a year and have taken on a fantastic team of staff which has made all the difference and the business is still growing”. The recession made it hard but Green Rock have grown from a culture of not wasting money and investing only in the equipment that will service their client’s needs.  “I’m proud of what we have achieved in these tough times, but I could not have done it without the team around me, and partnerships with MediaPros and Photolease”

With 2013 seeing new NLE systems, namely Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere CS6 on the horizon, Green Rock continues to make fantastic television as well as producing branded content for online channels, an area that is still very much uncharted territory which keeps them on their toes –

“I don’t really know any different!”

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