BY ED MELLISH
At the end of January, 2020 was progressing nicely for us. We were planning loads of events of different sizes and as always, looking to execute a high quality broadcast for our clients, either on location or in the studio.
We had been tracking the Covid19 outbreak closely as some of our crews were to be involved in the Tokyo Olympic Games, but none of us were prepared for the scale of the impact when the pandemic hit UK shores.
Within the space of two weeks, lockdown was in full effect; events and large scale gatherings were canceled and any studio or on-location productions were halted. Almost overnight, our company’s OB services were no longer viable and our clients’ ability to create dynamic content dried up. I spoke to many friends and clients during this time and there was a real sense of confusion and even impending doom surrounding the industry, with people not knowing which way to turn.
At Flux, we knew priority number one at this stage had to be our team’s wellbeing. Quick action was taken to ensure our staff were safe and everyone could immediately work from home. Of course, this came with its own set of challenges and personally for me, with a young family, it brought new difficulties around providing learning support for my little ones once the schools had shut. Although now it is commonplace to see little heads pop up to say hello in video conferences, to begin with no one really knew how best to handle all this! I will give my wonderful wife great kudos here – she has been a rock for our family throughout and kept us all on the straight and narrow, helping us to adapt really well.
I had a number of calls with team members and clients and although there were a few worries, the most powerful feeling was determination. I think as a small company we are used to fighting hard to keep progressing and moving in a positive direction. In fact, I still remember our first team meeting post lockdown. It was a slightly messy Slack call in which we all decided straight away that shutting our doors was not an option – we wanted to stand up as a team and show what Flux is all about. Then, as Ross, Chris and I outlined our plan to the rest of the team, it became very clear that we were all on the same page. The message from everyone was one of dedication and drive to stick to our company values and use this as another opportunity to show our metal in the face of adversity.
We are extremely fortunate to have such an incredible team at Flux. In times of crisis you get the true measure of people and I know that every member of our organisation is ready to step up and be counted. The success of Flux has always been down to dedication to one another and supporting each other through any challenge.
Well, our challenge at that moment was figuring out how we could continue to operate and support our clients effectively with the industry at a complete standstill and countrywide lockdown restrictions in place.
With no previous experience in delivering remote broadcasting solutions, we needed to innovate and change fast. The task was to transform Flux’s services from on-location, physical OB and streaming setups, into an entirely remote broadcast solution that could create high quality content in these unprecedented times.
After a few iterations and adjustments, we soon had a fully working solution and executed our first event, an NHS charity FIFA 20 match (to raise money for the real heroes) within 3 weeks of first discussing remote broadcasting as a possibility. Within 5 weeks, the solution was fully honed, providing us with the equivalent power of a TV broadcast studio with vision mix, graphics, VT play out, comms, TX & Iso recording and returns, whilst existing entirely remotely. All crew, talent and clients were able to operate and create content from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Our solution, built during lockdown, has since been used for both linear, digital, live and pre-recorded programming, by the BBC, United Nations, Amazon Music, Ministry of Sound, FIFA, Oneplus and many others, all keen to keep delivering great content to hungry audiences.
For me, our response to this crisis will stand up as one of the proudest moments in five and a half years of running Flux and it all comes from the incredible effort and constant striving for excellence by the entire team. Now more than ever, I am extremely thankful to be surrounded by such an incredible group.
But we are never ones to rest on our laurels. As I write this, all our departments are continuing to improve and innovate, to adapt to the ever changing situation and ensure we are ready and able to support any brief or exciting idea that our clients want to develop.
We love to be challenged, so if you have a great concept and would like to discuss how we can help, please do get in touch.