Wide format digital output is highly visible—it is seen everywhere from billboards to buildings and buses. The pressure is on print service providers (PSPs) to produce the highest quality and best product possible, particularly when that output is to appear in front of millions as part of a television set or film production.
This level of pressure does not stop companies like 1 Hour Signs & More of Sudbury from catering successfully to high-profile clients. The shop offers a range of services and quick turnaround times while taking on the added pressure of tight deadlines and small budgets to produce quality images for the big screen.
Fast and Furious
Located in ON, Canada, 1 Hour Signs & More offers high-resolution digital imaging on a variety of materials such as vinyl, banner, fabric, mylar, and paper. “Basically, if we can lay ink to it, we will,” says Jodie Parnell, owner, 1 Hour Signs & More.
The shop opened in 1997 and runs out of a 4,200 square foot facility, which staffs four full-time employees. Parnell admits its niche in television and film signage is more a result of the company’s name and capabilities rather than an outward marketing effort. “People tend to see the name 1 Hour Signs in the phonebook and think we get products out quickly, so they contact us. Luckily, we have the equipment and capability to handle the quick turnaround they require,” he adds.
With a mixed client base, the PSP caters to large volume of repeat clients, small clients, and walk-in traffic. “The broader your customer base, the less likely you are to fail when times get tough,” shares Parnell. 1 Hour Signs & More is committed to being versatile, offering everything from big business national campaigns to small decals. “Our equipment allows us the flexibility to pump out large jobs or small label one offs. This helped us survive during challenging economic times,” he adds. The ability to take on odd jobs with a quick turnaround appeals to the fast-paced production world.
The shop’s first film-related job was in 2002 when they produced a sign for the locally filmed romantic comedy Men with Brooms. Since 2007, the print provider has catered to the television and film industry on various local productions. Though the shop produces a large volume of work—such as vehicle and wall decals—for other clientele, the number of television/film related output is increasing. “These vary from year to year depending on what productions are in town,” explains Parnell. “It’s grown as more production companies learn about shooting in Northern ON.” The shop’s main film and television clients tend to be artistic directors and set designers for production companies and local television. They expect the product to look great, be delivered on time, and remain on budget.
According to Parnell, timing and price are the main challenges associated with output created for this industry. “In our experience, most productions require the goods a few hours after the order is placed, and usually on a tight budget,” he notes. He advises PSPs interested in offering services to the film industry to know their product and capabilities. “The key is to have solutions ready when a client asks the question, ‘how can I do this?’”
Equipped for the Job
After trying out different brands of printers, 1 Hour Signs & More found that Roland DGA Corporation equipment offered the ease of use and reliability required to complete print jobs with satisfaction. The shop currently runs a VersaArt RS-640, VersaCAMM SP-300, and VersaCAMM VS-640.
For film and television signage, the shop generally uses Oracal USA’s ORAJET 3651 Intermediate Grade Calendered PVC with ORAGUARD 210 PVC Laminating Film and Roland’s eco-solvent metallic inks. “We get great color accuracy and product durability with this combination,” states Parnell, and it is not just for background sets and signs. Decals are a common product requested by art departments for advertising and marketing purposes. “They want to have the ability to customize a product seen on camera,” he adds. “The Roland VersaCAMM VS-640 gives us the ability to create realistic looking packaging labels and badges in small quantities at a fair price.”
Made for the Big Screen
Because film and television productions employ their own staff and crew, a PSP’s responsibilities play a small part in the final look of the product. “Normally all aspects of design and installation are taken care of by the production staff,” explains Parnell. “The reality of this world is that artwork turnaround times are too tight for a shop to produce and wait for approval. People who work in this industry are very talented and do not typically require assistance with installation and design.”
Several years ago, 1 Hour Signs & More made a sign that read, Welcome to Long Bay for the production of Men with Brooms, taking extra care to ensure the sign was perfect in every detail. “For us it was an honor to make the sign. We were a bit nervous as it was our first sign for a big production,” shares Parnell. “When the sign was picked up, the crew said ‘looks great’ and asked if they could borrow our rear gravel lot to put on a few ‘finishing touches.’ Two guys carried the sign outside and started to give the sign a weathered look by throwing rocks and mud at it. Obviously, our vision of the product and theirs differed,” jokes Parnell.
Digital printing allows shops such as 1 Hour Signs & More to better cater to the film and TV industry. “It allows us to add fine details in a much quicker timeframe,” notes Parnell. “When we first started, it would take us days and extra staff to output signs for large events, but now we can do the same volume of work in a few hours without the expense of temporary workers.” In a business like show business, time and money are the most important factors.
The next part of the series highlights a PSP that produces a high volume of film and television set signage for clients near Los Angeles, CA.