The EU referendum: 10 points on my mind…

I avoid politics like the plague, but the very real prospect of Brexit has stirred me to set down some of my thoughts.

  1. Working with clients within the EU is straightforward and hassle free. More than half of my business is with overseas companies, so you could argue that I am dependent on exports. I don’t encounter any of the buraucratic red tape that we hear so much about. Working with non-EU clients is always more protracted and time consuming.
  2. If it’s easier for me to work with clients in the rest of the EU, then it’s easier for them to commission me if we are still in the EU. That’s good for business.
  3. Immigration cuts both ways. It is guaranteed that there will be recessions in the U.K. that don’t affect other parts of the E.U. and many of us will be glad of the opportunity to travel and work abroad. I’m 46 and studied as an architect. In the early 1990’s there was a recession that decimated the U.K. construction sector almost overnight. The willing, and the able travelled abroad in search of work. One of those major destinations was Germany, where we worked hard, learned new skills, earned money that we could bring back to the U.K. and didn’t take any money out of the benefits system back home. Many of the skills so essential to my business today, had their origins in my time spent working in Germany.  Baby boomers and their seniors won’t be able to tell you about this, because they had “never had it so good” and really haven’t got a clue about how the modern jobs market works.
  4. Being part of the EU in it’s various forms over the past decades has given us the metric system. Metric and digital were meant for each other. It’s a neat, interconnected and thorough units system. Standards and standardisation are good for business, trade and science. The Imperial system…that’s an antiquated and positively medieval system in comparison, and really should be consigned to the scrapheap.
  5. Although I would describe myself as British first, I am also European, and quite proud of that. I am secure enough with my own sense of nationality to understand that I can be both, at the same time.
  6. 59 years without a war, positives don’t come much bigger than that! There has never been a war or coup within a country that has been a member of the EU, or it’s predecessors. We are talking as far back as the Treaty of Rome, 1957. If you have even a fleeting grasp of European history, you will be aware that there was quite a bit of conflict before then. All evidence would appear to suggest that we are safer IN than out.
  7. We get legally protected human rights within the EU. We always hear about those really bad, excruciatingly frustrating cases, but there’s more positive stuff that we don’t hear about. Does anybody seriously believe we are going to get a robust British constition post Brexit?
  8. I hear lots of complaints that the EU is undemocratic, yet we have a power of VETO. And yet here in the U.K. we have monarchy, House of Lords, Quangos, Civil servants…I don’t recall ever voting for these?
  9. If Brexit happens, I think we can pretty much guarantee that Scotland will vote to leave the U.K. I think that would be bad for us collectively, and really don’t want it to happen, but who could blame them?
  10. In life, the more you put in, the more you get out. We should remain part of the EU, but we should be getting more involved. It’s not a perfect institution, but we can only re-shape the EU from the inside, by getting stuck in, getting our hands dirty and moulding it into something better. The EU isn’t going to just go away if we leave. It’ll be right there, on our doorstep, and we won’t be able to do a thing to influence it’s future direction from the outside.


Designing the World of The Night Manager

There’s an engrossing Creative Review article on the graphics and prop design for the equally engrossing The Night Manager, that appeared on BBC recently.

Proving that the Devil really is in the details, the design work of Julian Nix and Sarah Bradley covered items such as passports, business documents and a iPhone retinal scanner app. As the article states, “The cumulative effect is the creation of a world that the audience accepts without question – and only adds to the power of the story.”


Read the Creative Review article here…

Some very massive digital backdrops designed for Bloomberg Go


My latest designs, for a set of digital backdrops for Bloomberg TV’s new, New York studios went live yesterday. The architectural scene in the backdrops is based upon Bloomberg’s own headquarters building in New York and is displayed in a set of massive LED screens. Often, with such large screens I tend to find that the pitch of the LED’s is coarse, but these have a luxurious 1.9mm pitch – by way of comparison, the screen we prepared at Lightwell, for TV4 News in Sweden is of a similar size, but has a 12mm pitch.


The finer pitch resolution has meant that we’ve had to adjust our approach in a number of ways. Previously, we would avoid fine detail and focus on lighting across large areas, and establishing strong contrast within the imagery to counteract the effect of the diffusion screens that would be required in front of the LED’s. The superior resolution of the Bloomberg installation means that no diffusion screen is required, and so we now need to focus on finer details, particularly within the mid-shots, in a way that would have been a wasted effort on previous projects. The absence of a diffusion screen also means that we get better colour fidelity. LED screens tend to be excellent at re-producing colour anyway, but by removing the diffusion layer in the project, we have been able to achieve better blacks, and can be confident that what the viewer will see upon their screens, is the closest to what we see here in the studio that we have experienced.


Another factor that we have had to adapt to on this project, like no other, is that extra pixels mean much larger file sizes. We’ve had to adapt to working with 12k composites, and the logistics of delivering and playing 8k video. This is a challenge that will be ongoing for the foreseeable future, but is one that I welcome, not least because it makes my work look infinitely better with each new technological advance.

This is a bold investment in technology by Bloomberg, one that I applaud. They have been a fantastic client.