News  November 10 2021

Green Rock takes Sustainable production to Web Summit 2021, Lisbon

Al Berry

Executive Strategy and Innovation Director

Hands hold up a white sign with the web summit logo on. The background is a pink tech style wall.


At Green Rock, it is vital that we are always addressing a more sustainable future which we took with us to the Web Summit 2021. Our VCS products are designed to allow global talent to collaborate without the need for further CO2 production via commuting or flying people to attend a dark edit suite. We work to change hiring and increase the possibilities of agencies and organisations to work with anyone, anywhere from Oscar winners, to brand new talent and increase the possibilities of a virtual and borderless world. This means we also get to be innovative partners with incredible organisations like Adobe in order to push industry boundaries. All of this is not only great for the planet but it means we get to work with some of the most brilliant Future First Storytellers, the people and organisations who can see past the need for stats now and toward sustainability and excellence in the coming decades.

As these beliefs are so thoroughly baked into our DNA, we were delighted to be asked to talk about the Future of Collaborative Creativity at the 2021 Web Summit in Lisbon. Our CEO Simon Green was in discussion, moderated by Martin Coulter of Business Insider, with Pippa Hogg, Head of Studio at Ravensbourne University (Where we have an amazing initiative to work with new creatives!) and of course the brilliant triple-Oscar winning editor, Walter Murch – who worked on The Godfather and Apocalypse Now among many other highlights – made an appearance to bring a bit of Hollywood to Lisbon.

On the day, Simon explained how we were lucky enough to find ourselves working with an impressive director and editor in Walter Murch. Walter was working on his first feature film using Adobe software. When it came to finishing the movie, Adobe recommended Green Rock. “The fan boy in me was really excited”, Simon said, “I had been a fan of Walter since I was at film school.”

Walter at the Web Summit

Together, Walter and Green Rock worked on ‘Coup 53’ a cinematic experience that tells an explosive story behind the Iranian coup of 1953. It was Walter’s first feature using Adobe Premiere, and the software giant recommended he work with Green Rock as Adobe experts, as we were changing in terms of our vision and values to be more sustainable. We had just launched our virtual VCS system and so we offered it to him and he loved it. 

Walter himself talked about his career experience of editing and production for the Web Summit via a recorded video. In it, the Hollywood legend described working all over the world from Argentina to Romania and having to physically send tapes to labs and SFX houses in many different countries. 

His observation on what remote working used to be is laborious to say the least. 

“I was directing a film in London, back in 1984/85, ‘Return to Oz’ and we were working remotely back then, but it was a very kindergarten block kind of remote because it involved FedEx, fax machines and telephones…it was very cumbersome but at the same time very efficient and we here we are today almost 40 years later with all of the instantaneous elements we have at our disposal.”

Walter praised the openness of access to more sophisticated tools and provided a warning, “There has been a trend toward democratisation,” he said. “So you have more access but you also have more competition. The trick is to try and find a way around that to get yourself noticed. So to speak. Everyone has more accessibility to these fantastic tools than was even imaginable back in the 1960s.”

Walter also provided a thoughtful reaction to being able to use today’s tools.

“It’s moving so fast now,” he said. “In Coup 53, which we did with Green Rock, subsequent to the release of the film, we went through a hellish period where a whole series of technical decisions which I made on my laptop – and if you asked me five years ago, could you do this without an assistant? Just by yourself on a laptop using Premiere, I would have said, Are you Crazy?  But it worked.”

Walter Murch

Increasing access and raising voices

Picking up themes from Walter’s presentation, Martin of Business Insider opened up the subject of access and competition. Simon pointed out that the industry has always been competitive and somewhat chaotic – in the past tapes were a concern, how many were needed in terms of film or digibeta? Even now, hard drives and storage can be a problem, downloading huge files and making them secure. “It’s not sustainable in every sense of the word,” he said.  “Democratisation is great, everyone can access tools, but with competition also, this just makes sure that greater stories will come through.”

The conversation turned to the wonderful partnership between Green Rock and Ravensbourne University. Pippa Hogg pointed out that helping students work with tools like Green Rock VCS means they can enter into the industry on a more sustainable footing. More importantly on the topic of access she said, “It’s really important when we talk about this that we understand that it’s a continuum that we are democratizing rather than ever reaching a truly democratic system because the reality is that a lot of people in the world live in digital poverty. Our university is in South East London and a lot of our students don’t have access to a computer or share a computer with a lot of people or don’t have the internet at home and it’s important that we understand that it’s those people’s stories that need telling.

That’s why the work that Green Rock are doing with their VCS is so important.”

Continuing the sustainable theme, Simon revealed that in just a month of releasing Green Rock VCS, it was clear that they had no need for brick and mortar facilities that become a commuter destination, increasing CO2 production and that creatives from around the world started to discover the system – from Portugal, Italy, America and the Middle East. 

“These were creatives that couldn’t move at that time through lockdown but also they never thought they could have the chance to work in London. So we were like great, we can bring the work to you and they didn’t need to have a powerful laptop using the VCS. We’ve created very powerful edit suites that you can work off with a 12-year-old MacBook on a domestic internet connection and edit. We’re really excited about how that’s already starting to take the story making tools to those creatives, rather than there being these historical barriers to access that were set on who you know and where you are based.”

Martin followed a point that Walter made in his presentation about having people in the same room, can that be recreated in a virtual space? “There’s still a place for being in a room, sometimes you want to be creative together and other times you need to be efficient and work alone. Technology enables you to make those decisions.” 

We had a great time at the Web Summit and we are thankful to Walter, Pippa and Martin for making it such a fun and lively session. This year we turned the business around to be more sustainable and provide access to so many more people. Imagine what we can bring to the Web Summit next year.

Set up a demo for Green Rock VCS today.

Pippa, Martin and Simon stand in front of the crowd at the Web Summit 2021.

Al Berry

Executive Strategy and Innovation Director

With a track record of award-winning marketing communications and content innovation, Al brings over 20 years of brand and marketing expertise to his role at Green Rock as Executive Strategy and Innovation Director.

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