Editor’s Note: The world changed right before our very eyes. We now work, live, exercise and entertain ourselves in our homes. This is the new normal. In this new on-going series, we check in on ad agencies, production companies, post-houses, and anyone else who wants to talk about their personal experiences during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
11 Dollar Bill is an innovative post-production studio specializing in creative design, editorial and finishing with offices in Chicago and Boulder.
Our adaptation to the current environment actually began back in 2016.
After opening an office in Boulder that year in response to growing client demand, we quickly started figuring out how to collaborate while being geographically separated. The first step was to relocate our CCO, Christian Robins from Chicago to Boulder in order to partner with our new Managing Director, Lisa Effress. That initiated our deep dive into solving remote working problems. Obviously, communication was key. We have long used online doc-sharing platforms to work collaboratively on creative decks which kept the whole team on the same page from each projects’ outset. But that was only skimming the surface.
Soon, we were able to streamline workflow between editors, animators and designers in both Boulder and Chicago by improving our ability to anticipate upload speeds and overnight delivery options for hard drive handoffs. We also put a lot of time and energy into perfecting remote color correction sessions. Having a color-suite in both offices allowed Clark Jackson, our post-production supervisor and color lead, the chance to iron out the kinks of having agency creatives in one city and the colorist in another during live color sessions.
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This opened up the possibility for live remote offline edit sessions as well. In 2017, one of our lead editors (Jess Weber) headed to LA to open a satellite 11DB office. From there, she began to collaborate with numerous creatives across the country. Most recently, in January of 2020, Jess remoted in from LA to do a full edit session with creatives in Chicago for a national television campaign.
As time went on, we always knew that clients would be wanting more and more flexibility and greater options in talent and scheduling. So we’ve been fortunate that we were already preparing for a future that has been unleashed faster than anyone imagined. Clients would want an “in suite” feel across great distances and we were determined to give it to them.
So by Friday, March 13th (of all days!) on the eve of the Stay-at-home order, circumstances caused us to ramp up our preparations for a full team remote situation. By the following Monday, everyone was safely in their homes with edit stations and all the necessary hardware to continue work on existing projects and even kick off several new ones.
Right now, every producer, editor and designer at 11DB, and several of our trusted freelancers and partners like FloodGates Audio, are busy with various projects and we’re prepping for what’s next. Since it’s unclear how long this lockdown will continue, we’re ready to move forward with multiple projects, including some long term perennials, like post-production on season 7 of Garage Squad that shoots locally in Chicago.
Obviously, our entire industry (like many others) is at the mercy of COVID 19. But we are absolutely positioned to go on offering every single creative service we offered prior to the pandemic. And in many cases, better, faster and more efficiently.
We are just excited to get our team back together safely around the 11DB bar but only after the Mayor says it’s OK.
Happily, we’ve gotten some terrific feedback recently from a few of our favorite clients…
“A few weeks ago, we all woke up to a changed world. Among many things that changed is our ability to work in person, pushing our work as we sit side by side and feeding ideas off the connective energy of being in the same room. Now, we have to rely on trust and the relationships we’ve built to maintain that same connective energy from a distance. Remote editing with the team at 11 Dollar Bill has been an extraordinary experience that has produced the same level of work as we have been able to achieve in person, thanks to their amazing and dedicated team and a little internet magic.”
—Jeremie Dunning, Senior Brand Creative Director of Finish Line.
“I wrapped a shoot literally one day before the Stay-at-Home order hit in Colorado and was scheduled to start offline the day after. When the word came that there was no way Chris Robins and I could get in a room together, my first reaction was apprehension. I’m a very hands-on Director. So, I’ve never been a big fan of working separately via email notes and phone calls and sacrificing the ability to have real-time conversations with my editor. Thankfully, Chris worked out a brilliant process of working through Slack where we could conduct an extremely collaborative offline session from our two homes in real-time. The whole thing went off seamlessly and saved TONS of time. It even allowed both of our daughters’ to stick their heads in the room and offer some fresh eyeballs, a couple of surprisingly useful suggestions, believe it or not. Huge kudos to the 11DB team for that.”
—Tim Roper, Writer-Director of F. Yeah & Associates, Boulder
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