We are excited to present the GLOBALedit Interview Series! Over the next few months, we will be bringing you behind-the-scenes exclusive interviews with creative and marketing leaders. You'll get the low down on how customers manage their creative production processes as well as learn how they utilize photo and video platforms, such as GLOBALedit, to enhance their workflow.
This week we begin with a look at retouching super-boutique, Impact Digital, featuring Dana Francks, Vice President.
How did Impact Digital get started?
Impact Digital began as a two-person Graphic Design team in 1991, focusing on promotional materials for the Fashion and Photography Industries. In 1996, Impact Digital moved to SoHo, NYC where it expanded to handle high-end retouching, CGI and pre-media. We currently have 35 employees in Impact Digital and over 100 in Industrial Color, our parent production services and software company. In 2006 we moved to our 30,000 sq ft Tribeca location. Today we are one of the top New York City retouching super-boutiques and handle a wide range of clients including photographers, ad agencies, media and entertainment companies and international retail brands.
What is your background in retouching?
I have a very artistic mother who always encouraged me at a young age to use art to express myself. In high school I focused on painting and then received a Bachelor's Degree at The University of Pennsylvania, in Visuals Studies with a concentration in Art Practice and Technology. I took a variety of studio classes such as photography, video editing, painting, and graphic design. Coincidently Penn added Visual Studies as a major my first year of study — perfect timing! I was able to help mold the curriculum for future students, which was very cool. When I started working at Impact Digital in 2008, I realized there was much more to retouching than masks, color correction, and cleaning up blemishes. I started out as a Production Manager, learning the ins and outs of different technical specifications in color profiles and proofing. I then moved on to become a client Account Manager and later Account Director, making sure they were completely satisfied with our work and service. I am currently the Vice President of Impact Digital. I manage the studio, keeping the work-flow streamlined, supervising the creation of beautiful imagery, as well as keeping our team and clientele happy.
What aspects of photo retouching do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of retouching is probably the extremely tight turnaround times. Anything can be done beautifully with enough time. The tricky part is making it beautiful with very little time. Our senior retouchers are used to this challenge—it's very common in our industry. We are able to overcome this challenge with our efficient workflow and internal communication, as well as with the team’s amazing retouching talent. We also have different shifts that overlap throughout the day so our team is delivering on client’s deadlines and can conquer the work without ever burning out.
How much direction do you typically receive from a client?
It depends on the client. Some are very hands-on and will give detailed direction on color, shaping, and clean up. Other clients just let us use our judgment completely. In some cases, we have several different people directing the same image. We always find a happy balance to ensure that all parties love the end result.
How much time do you typically spend on an image? What is the longest amount of time spent?
It depends. A straightforward editorial image could take an hour or less to do some color moves and light clean up. On the other hand, an image with lots of compositing, like a hair campaign beauty shot, could take up to 20 hours before we're ready to show the first round to a client.
What tools if any have helped with your team’s job or retouching workflow?
Over many years of working on high-volume campaigns with complex direction and tight deadlines, we’ve found a workflow that saves us time and keeps everything organized. We developed an internal tracking system that keeps tabs on every image, their instructions, size, usage, schedule, and any other important details. We try to have the same retoucher work on the same image for all rounds whenever possible, but because we do need to pass files around, our file structure is very specifically organized to make that super easy. The clients who use GLOBALedit, the work-in-progress software platform for creative teams and marketing organizations, have a much easier time of providing us images and feedback. It cuts the back-and-forth, and leaves little room for any miscommunication. In the world we live in, everyone expects to be able to share things digitally with no fuss. GLOBALedit gives the photo industry the ability to do exactly that. If we still used hard drives or FTP to transfer files to and from our clients, there would be a substantial amount of wasted time…and I have to admit, I have very little patience for slow technology!
Impact Digital recently worked on the advertising images for Showtime's latest seasons of Californication and House of Lies. How did GLOBALedit fit into the production process?
Showtime used GLOBALedit to make their selects after the shoot. We were able to download their selects to build the composite images in retouching. It also came in handy when we were in need of some extra body parts. Instead of asking the client to find another shot that would fit our very specific retouching needs, we were able to search for one ourselves by scrolling through the shots in the GLOBALedit library quickly and easily.
How does GLOBALedit fit into your workflow with clients and internally amongst your team?
One of our clients, Victoria's Secret, uses GLOBALedit to its full potential, which is extremely helpful and efficient for our retouching workflow. We’ve been able to eliminate verbal communication because we simply receive their lightbox – which contains markups and notes for assets -- and we hit the ground running. The process is so easy with lightboxes and the markup editor feature that the only thing left to discuss is the schedule for rounds of matchprints. Internally, GLOBALedit helps us keep organized. The Victoria’s Secret team worked with our retouching team to create a customized workflow so once we launched it we were set. We can download high-res files in seconds without worrying about time outs, security, or quality of images. GLOBALedit was specifically designed for clients’ demands such as this. By the way, GLOBALedit is part of our Industrial Color Software division.
What is the future of retouching?
Regarding the media industry, there has been a huge shift towards digital. Digital billboards, iPads, smart phones, and computers are all expanding beyond the content once supplied by traditional print media. We are also seeing a ton of our clients who require motion capture and editing along with their print campaigns. Everything is integrated. As far as Photoshop goes, we're loving CS6 and looking forward to all the new tools we'll have to play with in the future.
Whose work inspires you?
The first people who come to mind are my fellow PENN graduates, Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman. We were in film and video classes together in college. I was always amazed with their work then, and even more inspired by their work now. They are filmmakers and have worked on some incredible documentary films in the last few years, including the award-winning film, The Last Survivor, a film that presents the stories of four survivors of genocides (The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo). They've made a difference doing what they love to do, and they inspire me to try and make a positive difference in my own surroundings, even if on a much smaller scale.