Leading London post production facility The Mill is intent on resetting the bar on client-artist experience with a tapeless infrastructure capable of handling ingest, DI and master of resolution at 4K and above. In recent weeks The Mill has also completed a project at 16K resolution, although details about this have been kept under wraps.
It plans to move to a purpose-designed 30,000sqft (2787sqm) studio at Windmill Street, Fitzrovia by next summer. Established 24 years ago at Great Marlborough Street as arguably the capital's first digital video effects facility, The Mill subsequently branched out into New York and LA (and latterly Chicago). Both main US operations have expanded to 140+ staff and been relocated at least once to accommodate growth.
High time then that The Mill, consistently voted the UK's best, refreshed its London HQ.
“A number of things provided us with a new impetus to change the way we work with clients,” said managing director, Darren O'Kelly. “The Mill is still heavily concentrated on VFX for commercials, but it is also experimenting with technology and media across digital, gaming, directed design and animation. We distilled this into Mill+, which is a powerful way for us to originate new types of content but in a manner that lends itself to a different studio working environment.
“Currently, 3D and design are on different floors and the intention is for a complete integration of all departments,” he added.
“We will reset the standard in terms of technology and will take some big steps to change how we use the kit. We intend to build a fully tapeless workflow and to design an infrastructure which will challenge the norms and conventions of how post has worked in the past. The layout will enable us to tailor teams of specialists with great flexibility and truly allow those artists to express themselves on a project.”
The facility is testing a number of systems and will make a decision on its final specifications in about three months. Dark fibre will be run between the two buildings during migration.
“Our aspiration is not simply to find a bigger building, but to continue to do the best creative work possible,” O'Kelly explained.
The Mill currently has a film scanning facility, but O'Kelly says that more than 90% of the material the company takes in is not shot on negative. “Our view is that, though we love film, it is not going to be a significant part of the future,” he said.
“Arguably post is more influential than ever, but the biggest single shift in recent times has been early stage engagement,” he added. “This means boarding projects early on to help creatives realise their vision. We have a whole team of artists, designers and illustrators at Mill+ who can help clients understand a brave idea by producing tests and CG visualisations.”
For Rogue Films' director Sam Brown for example, The Mill designed a CG sequence in order to get an ambitious script for Lexus (pictured) greenlit by the client.
By Adrian Pennington