‘How the Other Half Live’, ‘Dispatches’, ‘The Charlotte Show’. You may have seen, or at least have heard of these programmes aired on the likes of ITV, Channel 4 and MTV respectively.
What you may not have heard are the team behind the finishing touches for editing, visuals and music before the TV air date. Directors Cut, conveniently based in the heart of London’s media and production hub, is one such team working behind numerous high-profile titles on behalf of major broadcasters.
I met with their managing director, Mark Manning, for a tour around their Great Portland Street office, whilst learning more behind the scenes.
Our first stop was up to the 5th floor, home of Directors Cut Sound Ltd. Exclusively dedicated to sound mixing and voice-overs, this floor was kitted with sound-proof and blacked-out dubbing theatre, housing a projector screen as wide as the wall; an imposingly multi-coloured lit mixer desk, with just enough room to squeeze an additional monitor, sat adjacent. A Dubbing Mixer was working on syncing the audio with the visuals for an upcoming documentary.
‘I would dread ever watching one of the show’s I’ve worked on and spot a mistake! It may be the most minuscule detail nobody else would notice, but I’d cringe.’
Down to the 2nd Floor, we quietly intrude into Colourist Andy’s room where he was in the process of colour grading the shoots from ITV’s ‘Evil Monkeys’ (airing 2nd August). Fiddling away with yet another mixing desk [less lit, although more buttons], he was meticulously re-colouring each frame at an autonomous speed. The frames in their raw form flash from appearing dark and undersaturated, to getting an instant injection of colour.
‘So this software is like photoshop, but for video?’ I sheepishly ask.
‘Spot on, that’s pretty much it! That’s the best way to describe it I guess.’
With several debrief exchanges with the boss, we leave Andy and head to Mark’s office to find out more about the company and the ins and outs of post-production.
See more projects Directors Cut have worked on along with the different technicals and specialisms they offer at http://directorscutfilms.com/
Want to join Noho’s media crowd? Find an office available to let on http://www.langhamestate.com
| 'Noho has a village-community feel about it, and I find other tenants and restaurant owners are very friendly. We of course also benefit from being so central'
Directors Cut receive a new project to work on- what is the typical timeline to create a new programme, from the client’s instruction to the air date?
For an average one-hour show, it takes 6 weeks of offline work [editing the broadcaster’s raw media into a production fit for TV]. Then there is usually a day spent for each of the finishing stages; conformity of production, online work, image colour grades, track-line and mixing with a few hours of voice-overs between.
Following that there’ll be a quality control process before it is delivered to the broadcaster. Typically, it would take around seven weeks altogether depending on the complexity of the project.
How involved do you get with the initial creation of the TV shows?
We mainly do post-production, however, there’ll be many instances where clients will approach us before filming and to pre-shoot advice. We would advise them on things like what camera would be best to use, shooting in 4K, the frame rates and so on. There are plenty of variables which are important to discuss at the beginning. Our clients really appreciate the advice we give up front from camera to delivery.
What's your story in this industry?
I’ve been doing editing for most of my working life. I started editing online and offline for 30 years before going into management- mainly with the BBC and some freelance work. I then joined Directors Cut 12 years ago as managing director.
Occasionally I get involved with a programme, namely the South Bank Show over the years. It’s the longest running TV show we’ve taken on and it’s been a privilege to continue with the project.
For me personally, I like Arts documentaries. As a whole, we’re currently working on a 4K-shot drama which is exciting for us as we don’t often do drama projects. We’re looking forward to the finished product.
How well placed is Directors Cut to serve the company’s needs?
The company’s been here for 19 years and Market Place back then wasn’t quite as fashionable as it is now. Now it’s a mecca of café’s, bars and restaurants.
Compared to other areas, it has a village-community feel about it, and I find the other tenants and restaurant owners very friendly. We of course also benefit from being so central- no one has a problem finding Oxford Circus station, it’s perfect for our clients and staff!
There's a fair amount of production and media companies on Great Portland Street, Berners and Newman Street. Historically Soho was a media area, however, Noho is not as crushed and claustrophobic.