Who are you? (about yourself and Sequence)
My name is Ben Foakes,29 years old and founder/ majority owner of Sequence. I work as an editor and post-supervisor as well as jointly running Sequence with my co-manager Kevin Chapman and our fantastic team of staff. The company was setup in June 2004, starting as a single home FCP suite and rapidly growing into a pioneering Apple based facility and agency. We've operated numerous sites over the years from Pinewood Studios, Chiswick Park and Soho and in 2010 we consolidated our operation into 1-site in central London. We are about to open our 'dream home' facility, a converted Muse town house property, just off Oxford St, which will house a 4-floor all-Apple post facility, our Sequence Talent crew hire agency, training arm and creative design division.
Tell me a little about your previous experience, what you've worked on and with up to your current position?
I have personally worked in Post for 10-years. I've been editing for 13 years as I started running my own business aged 17, producing and editing BMX extreme sports videos for distribution around Europe. I studied at Bournemouth University, specialising in TV/Editing and was lucky enough to start working as an Avid offline & online editor aged 20 for a range of factual output for ITV Merdian. During this period I trained in Quantel and became a Quantel trainer and freelance op. Then went on to freelance, whilst working as a lecturer for 1-year teaching FCP, Avid, EditBox and Q-Edit Pro. From around 2003 Sequence Post began to take shape, but in the form of a sole trader-ship. I worked on a variety of sports shows, mainly outside broadcast all over the world, also producing a large amount of marketing material for corporate clients including Braun. From June 2004 Sequence Post-Production Ltd was officially formed and went from strength to strength, working across a massive range of programs, films and short-form content. The team grew progressively and as we re-invested profit to keep building the company, we found ourselves with a solid business within only a few years of trading. 2010/2011 do feel like the most exiting yet, with too many new opportunities to mention.
What do you do? What does Sequence do?
Many people will know us from our award-winning work in sports broadcasting, including 3 x BAFTA winning ITV F1 series, 2 x RTS Awards for creative innovation in sports, multiple Broadcast listings and awards and notably our full production and design of idents and titles for BBC's Royal Ascot, World Freerun Championships, Grand National and 2020 Cricket. Sports were the roots of where we came from but over the 6 years since we opened, Sequence has truly diversified into light entertainment, music video, feature film, factual documentary and brand design. We now service an enviable client list including: RDF, Talk Back Thames, Fremantle, Mentorn, Sunset & Vine, Eurosport, IMG, BBH, Prism/JWT, Film Nova, Disney and more. Our team are all creatives at heart and we've diversified quickly because of our reputation for top quality work and great customer service. We don't just do TV. Over the last few years we have serviced numerous feature films, including designing and building the end titles sequence for James Bond Quantum of Solace, entirely on a Mac using After Effects Cs4.
What specific project(s) do you have in the works?
We just wrapped a set of sponsorship idents for the Channel 5 'Great North Run' coverage and 'Take To The Streets' campaign, produced by Film Nova. We are working with Red Bull Racing (Formula One) on shoots at Silverstone race circuit this month and also producing and posting the entire Haymarket Publishing Autosports Awards ready for a big live event in early December. Our short-form creative team just wrapped the new single release music video for The Epstein rock band and are in pre-production on a number of branding contracts for our existing client base. Throughout October and November we have edits booked in with RDF Media and we are also supplying FCP editors through our agency (Sequence Talent) for the new Talk Back Thames produced 'Escape To The Country' series. It's very busy indeed!
What new technology are you working with?
We're constantly pushing new technology and experimenting with it before it becomes fashionable! We've been doing professional RED camera work flows, from set to delivery since the first generation RED One camera was released. More recently we have found a huge influx of Digital SLR camera work coming through the door and have been developing tight workflows for dealing with this material using FCP and HD native codecs. We've posted some mirror rig 3D RED material this summer, mostly as an experiment in-house to see how to deal with the files. 3D is a real buzz word at the moment but in honesty, 99% of our clients are still getting comfortable with words like 'High Definition' and 'Tapeless' so we are preparing ourselves for when it becomes part of our everyday output.
What new products/technology are you looking forward to the most?
We're obviously very interested to see how and when Apple push FCP 8/ FCS 4. There have been all sorts of rumours about dumbing down the software for the prosumer market etc, but I expect we'll see a tight package, containing many of the currently disparate tools from the secondary apps that come with FCP, all built in to the one common interface. I also expect 64-bit awareness, utilising the insanely fast new 12-core Macs and more of a focus on GPU communication with devices such as RED Rocket cards. Only Apple really know, but hopefully they won't keep us hanging on too much longer.
In addition, we are looking to go down the Da Vinci Resolve route in our brand new Fitzrovia facility. Sequence wrote and produced the latest Color course for Apple (Making The Grade) back in January and as a company we have used the OSX adapted system in a very heavy way for a couple of years. It's held up well and we've pretty much pushed it to the limits, but it's always suffered from lack of true realtime performance and also from the fact it only displays Proxy, rather than true raw/full res playback. We are exited about the prospect of implementing Da Vinci Resolve into our facility and keeping our high-end clients happy at lower cost.
Overall as a company we are developing more fluid multi-seat, Xsan/fibre based practices to keep projects more efficient, less expensive and with more time being spent on creative flair. I think that pretty much sets us apart from all other traditional 'non-Apple' facilities across London. Our combined experience of working across multiple sports OB programs on very tight deadlines has helped us translate really efficient practices into our creative post house.
During your career in post what was the biggest “turning point” into new technology?
Undeniably the launch of FCP Mac based systems. I started out as a non-linear editor using Media 100 and Avid and was also a Quantel Edit Box and early Generation Q operator about 10-years ago. When FCP hit the scene I could see the huge advantages of all tools on one machine, native editing capabilities and multi-formats in one project. That's what inspired me to setup Sequence in 2004 and it became a strong thread to our business model.
As the package has continued to gain traction and win various larger companies over, we have inherently grown with it. The best thing is that my team were using it before it became commonplace so we are widely regarded as the 'go-to' people for any FCP post work or advice. We now supply members of our staff and freelance team to consult for large organisations venturing into the world of FCP. We were intrinsic in the crewing and training of the team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and that is just one of many examples of where we've helped put FCP on the map.
The next big thing, in my opinion, will be all about high-speed connectivity, editing wherever you want to and doing everything with data, not a tape in sight. We're already there at our place, but in the new year we'll be making a pretty big wave around London! Watch this space!
What is your favourite/least favourite things about working in post?
My favourite thing is the satisfaction of creating something from scratch. Taking reams of material and crafting something beautiful, which not only tells a story or communicates an idea but also excites and inspires the viewer. That was what got all of our team here into TV and Film in the first place and it remains at the heart of Sequence. The thing I hate the most....
there isn't much but I would say 'narrow-mindedness' of individuals in the industry who are firmly stuck in the mud of old ideas and cannot see how there are so many amazing ways of doing things these days. It's our job to make a difference and lead the way so I cannot really complain.
What gets you out of bed in the morning to go to work?
Pride in what we do, a genuine love of the team I work with and a desire to make a difference. And Bourbon biscuits.