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Expertise In Craft & Vision: The Story of Syncreon

How It Began

In January of 2015, the U.S. headquarters marketing director of a German based supply-chain company hired me to direct and produce a time-lapse film about how they as a company transform empty warehouses into order fulfillment centers. From the jump it was envisioned as a stand alone film. Filming began in early February and ended in late April.You can see it here. Note the high view revealing the package conveyor system getting installed. It’s near the end of this film and is pivotal to the rest of this story.

Upon receipt of the film, the marketing director and the VP of sales applauded its’ style and message. I expected this reaction but it’s always great to hear. Shortly thereafter a conversation began about a new film, (part two if you will) depicting the order fulfillment process as Syncreon does it: with a lot of “product touches” that their competition does not. Fast forward to August of 2016 and we’re ready to roll cameras again. I was hoping to have begun this film much sooner but the delays inevitable when working with a large international corporation are numerous. The amount of patience I had to have during this time was enormous. Patience is something I struggle with personally and professionally. The upside to waiting was my skill set for telling stories improved with time.

The Challenge

This wait had its’ own unique stress. I chose to leave some gear in place from the first film. By doing so I created an incredible opportunity to film the sequence of transition from part one to part two. As a time-lapse film maker and story teller, it doesn’t get any better! I just didn’t think it would take as long a wait as it did. (26 months) The gear I left behind: one camera body, three custom built camera platforms, three tripod heads, four safety straps, two power supplies and 300’ of extension cord hung along the rafters. 100′ had to be removed in early 2016 by order of the fire department. It was restrung in August of 2016 right before filming. Oy!

       

       
The first day of part two was chaotic as we were shut down halfway through the day do to a perceived privacy issue with a smaller customer in the building. The concern was that filming the order fulfillment process of this smaller customer would make it easier for the smaller customer’s competition to benefit. This didn’t make sense to me but it wasn’t my call. I felt compelled however to negotiate an increase in the budget on the spot to cover the additional day of filming required and the reworking of the story design and shooting schedule. Part of the business.

My client understood the situation and agreed to the extra funds although obviously they were unhappy about it. After re-editing part one so it made more sense when cut together with part two, I delivered the rough cut. It was rejected for being too time-lapse heavy throughout and we  agreed to do part two as 99% video shoot with the only time-lapse being the section I noted earlier from the high elevation looking down towards the conveyor system. This money shot ties the two films together and it was the big reason I wanted to do a part two. I saw this in my mind and knew it would work. The beautifully slow transition from empty building to bustling order fulfillment center makes the film work for me.

The End

It took a lot of planning, phone calls, site visits, emails and thinking to get this project completed but it was worth it. The film leaves you with a good feeling about Syncreon and I was told in a phone call that is was by far the best video they’ve ever had produced. It was an emotional phone call for both of us as our 26 month journey finally ended with a huge win for all concerned.

The combined films: Syncreon

Thanks for reading…

Michael