Nashville-based production company gear seven push the boundaries of creativity, technology, and possibility, and innovate like nobody’s business. Along with a non-exclusive list of directors and production capabilities, Gear Seven offers hardware, LED volume studios and virtual production through its sister companies Shift Dynamics and Arc Studios.
Gear Seven has partnered with LBB to speak with agency production leaders about innovations in production technology and how it is revolutionizing commercial production. This series investigates the importance of education in this area for agencies and brands and offers a fun opportunity to learn all things technical, while sharing memories of your most inspiring and unforgettable moments on set.
The latest interview is with Rachel Geringer, director of production at UPBrand, a creative and strategy agency based in St. Louis. With more than 10 years of experience, she has managed a variety of photo and video productions for a diverse portfolio of clients, including Dos Primos Tequila, the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins, and BJC HealthCare.
Speaking with LBB’s Ben Conway, Rachel celebrates new technology that balances affordability and quality, innovations that help streamline production, and discusses how to cultivate relationships with production partners to expand the UPBrand experience.
LBB> Throughout your career, what has been the most exciting or innovative piece of equipment or technology that has come your way and why?
Rachel> In 2015, I had the privilege of working on set with a RED camera that allowed us to take our work to a new level. While the camera made its Hollywood debut in the early 2000s, this was the first time I had seen the technology in action and it made a lasting impression on me. Our agency and production partners were on a multi-city tour to capture musical performances by the School of Rock AllStars, and the production required a single DP to shoot all of the content by hand. Thanks to the RED camera’s affordable price and size, we were able to capture film-quality images on a limited budget.
LBB> And what are the technologies you have your eye on right now that are having a big impact on the way production is done or have the potential to change things in a big way?
Rachel> The DJI Ronan 4D camera has a lot of potential. It’s exciting to see the kit embrace new technology that requires less equipment and fewer crew members on set. It’s incredibly efficient and still delivers cinematic images expected by the customer and 8K resolution. Not to mention that it would help make projects more affordable. We hope to bring this camera to one of our commercial productions soon.
LBB> What piece of kit (big or small and mighty) still makes you feel in awe when you’re on set?
Rachel> I like to think of the team as a whole, as an ecosystem that works together to take productions from storyboards to finished commercials. I am always amazed at the thoughtfulness that goes into determining what equipment is needed, where, and when and how it all fits together. When arms, cranes, sliders, etc. they work together in unison to get the perfect shot, it’s a beautiful thing to experience.
LBB> Can you tell us about one of the most exciting recent productions you’ve been involved with that you think has a really interesting innovation or technological aspect?
Rachel> We recently had the privilege of producing a commercial for a national non-profit organization called ‘Parents as Teachers’. This was the largest production they had ever budgeted for, so it was imperative that we keep the client informed of our progress. While he couldn’t be there physically, we harnessed the power of Zoom to allow him to be virtually present and see all the action behind the scenes. This approval simplified and allowed us to collaborate across thousands of miles.
LBB> How long in your career have you been on set and particularly in awe of what the production team was accomplishing?
Rachel> Working for a small agency with fairly modest clients, we don’t always have the luxury of large-scale productions. However, every time I’m on set I’m amazed at how much technology and equipment have evolved, because we continue to produce very high quality content on tight budgets. It’s inspiring to see how creative we get on set to achieve a beautiful final product. I also love seeing everyone do their part and rise to the occasion to do something we can all be proud of.
LBB> Virtual production is growing in popularity in film and television, what is your opinion about its potential in advertising space?
Rachel> The flexibility of virtual production is opening countless doors for those of us in advertising. While we’ve only just started testing it, it’s exciting to learn that virtual production is revolutionizing the entire process by making it non-linear. Teams can come together and see the results in real time and reach conclusions even before going to post-production, which is a great advantage for collaboration. Theoretically, it would also make locations and settings available to us that would otherwise be out of reach.
LBB> It may involve quite a different workflow/process – is it something you think agencies and brands need to educate themselves on, or does it fall to the production company? Why?
Rachel> The world of advertising moves fast. Technology, equipment, and ideas are constantly evolving, and as an agency committed to producing quality work, we want to stay ahead of the curve. It is crucial to understand these updates and the future impact they will have on the process. That said, coming from the agency side, my approach spans across many different services, so I would look to our production partners to take the lead in establishing virtual production workflows.
LBB> With so many platforms to produce, what is your preference, maximizing assets across all platforms, or producing content that best suits each content, or some kind of balance?
Rachel> We start by looking at the big picture. What is the goal we are trying to achieve? Who are we talking to? How do we get them to listen to us? We dove deep into these questions during conception and collaborated to develop a wide range of ideas that can be executed across multiple platforms. All of these ideas have to stretch across multiple runs and cuts to tell every possible version of the story, from long form to sandwich size.
LBB> Very often, production involves trying to solve a problem that has never been tried before, and that can mean hacking existing technology or trying to find new technology. When you have a project that has such technological challenges, how do you and your team like to tackle them?
Rachel> One of the things I like most about my job is that it requires critical thinking. When looking to solve a production problem, we start with extensive research to get a good look at all of our possible options, paying close attention to the latest and greatest technology. We are also fortunate to have trusted partner resources who can lend their expertise in areas with which we are less familiar. It takes a great team to fit all the puzzle pieces together, and seeing the final image is one of the best parts of my role.