Working on Set

Facebook reminded me that today is the 4 year anniversary of my first day of work at Schluter-Systems. It was my first job in Montreal and I was very excited to have found any kind of work after the nightmare of work visas. I wore so many hats there it was hard to nail down a name for my position.

The company is based in Germany and are the exclusive producers of a tiling systems based on the same principles that allowed the tilework in cathedrals hundreds of years to look beautiful today when your kitchen floor will need to be redone in 5 years. Their products make so much sense it’s hard not to be as passionate as they are. Please don’t ever let me start a conversation about tile because I have an embarrassing amount to say on the subject, I’m infected for life.

One of the most interesting aspects of this job was the brand new film studio that took up half their beautiful (and fully tiled) building. I’ve heard it was actually the second largest private studio in the province of Quebec. A key part of Schluters success is the detailed video tutorials they film on how to use their products. The videos are so high quality that they are used by professionals as a standard reference and training tool.

Filming tile installation comes with a lot of unique set, shot, and lighting challenges. My two-person e-Marketing team (we convinced them to call it Digital Services right as I was leaving) were in charge of the equipment and use of the space, the hiring of independent contractors, and did a lot of groundwork during production season. I sat in meetings with our R&D team and sketched out set layouts that accommodate all the techniques we were to cover in a video. Those sketches were later cleaned up and used as blueprints for the construction crew.

Once the filming began I acquired the duty of logging the time codes of our takes, monitoring continuity, and generally making sure we filmed everything we were supposed to as the hour grew late and the coffee got cold. The studio had a brand new tricaster that I worked out the basic operations for and used to display different camera views to those around the studio who needed them.

Our big test run of the studio was a live broadcast training seminar that went out to our salesmen and workshop leaders around the country. I was stationed in the control room to supervise the use of video graphics I had prepared and field questions from the viewers. Relevant ones were rephrased to be read quickly and messaged to an ipad used by the host.

Looking back over all of this it’s a pretty far stretch for a graphic designer, or even the broad label of “e-Marketing Coordinator” as was my official title. Still, my experience with the dynamics of a live set and full production is something I feel has given me a definite edge when designing for the end result or planning stages of a video. I got to work with a lot of people at the top of their respective games and it was a treat to learn from their workflow.

And ok but seriously if you have any plans to redo your bathroom I should really talk to you about your underlayment options.

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