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The Craft of Cuisine

In an exclusive news piece for LBB online Our very own table-top magician Damian Groves explains how the studio has earned its reputation for specialising in tabletop projects.

Q: Damian, Studioset have been specialising in Tabletop productions for a few years now… what would you say sets Studioset apart?

“Unlike other servicing companies, Studioset has its own home-grown talent; a team of professionals from directors, food stylists to bolt operators. We have developed our unique style and work process together, so we’re a tight knit team – a small family if you will. In our work, we’ve covered food and beverages to cosmetics, including brands from Nivea, Pizza Hut and Heinz to Nestle, Coca-Cola and KFC to name a few. Also, I think there’s something to be said about starting out as underdogs on the local market – having to work with less to produce more has enabled our team to compete and grow rapidly, and perhaps most importantly, know how to creatively squeeze the most production value out of what were previously limited means. As we’ve risen to the top of the local market, we’re aiming at the UK market as we believe we can offer tremendous value and unparalleled cost-savings without sacrificing quality in the end product.”

Q: How do you approach tabletop shoots from other live-action or animation projects?

“I personally think that tabletop shares many aspects with animation and live action, in fact you could say it’s a bit like a combination of the two. Patience and meticulous attention to detail is a common trait shared by both tabletop and stop-frame animation, while editing tabletop and live action requires a similar approach when thinking about time and rhythm.”

Q: How do you keep abreast of the very latest visual trends and technology and how are you equipped to create relevant and effective tabletop content?

“Tabletop is a dynamic, fast-developing area and very much linked to the latest advances in technology. Whether it’s a new slow-motion camera that captures a higher frame rate at better resolution or a faster more accurate robot arm, keeping up with the latest technology is paramount. We are always trying to invent new ways to use the tech, and in doing so you automatically create new visual styles and push the boundaries. I think the robot arms in particular still haven’t reached their full potential, so for sure there’ll be some hidden gems yet to discover. Technology really has helped the process of capturing food in all its glory…It’s all about getting up close and personal to the food – whether it be a probe lens or capturing something you only see with slow motion – it’s all about discovering new perspectives and placing the product in its best light.”

Q: How important is it that the cameraman and director are as skilled and experienced as the tech they are working with?

“It’s extremely important since the technology is only useful if you know how to push it. The ideas on how to use that technology to get the best out of the product should come principally from the director and DOP.

We pride ourselves on our technical know-how in relation to tabletop, macro beauty shots and liquid styling.”

Q: Why are you looking now to break out into other territories including the UK Market?

“We have worked tirelessly honing our craft and are creatively respected in the field of tabletop nationally, so we think it’s time to break out and look for opportunities beyond our borders. Some of the most exciting tabletop projects in recent years have come from UK agencies and brands like Lurpak and M&S – so it feels natural to aspire to and join such a market. There is also a clear financial difference when looking at studio time, equipment rentals and crew while the quality of what we can deliver has increased rapidly, fast approaching what clients in other territories including the UK, are accustomed to seeing. This is why we feel confident that not only can we deliver fantastic results but do so in a friendly and competent environment we’ve built over more than a decade.”

Q: What sets Romania apart as a tabletop shoot destination compared to other European and Eastern European locations?

“We combine the talent with the technology at unbeatable prices – often offering international clients upwards of 30% savings. With our in-house team that second-guess each other and the latest toys, we can guarantee quality without bank-breaking budgets – and Bucharest itself has changed rapidly, becoming a dynamic city with lots to offer only a three hour flight away.”

Q: Clients and brands regularly push tighter schedules and budgets, how do you navigate this without compromising on quality?

“Creativity and improvisation is always the remedy for this age-old problem, and tabletop is no different to live action in this respect. We have even developed our own simple rigs that do the same job as the robot but at cut-rate prices, so these challenges sometimes force us into innovation and invention.”

Q: So as we enter a new decade, where do you see Studioset on the international tabletop landscape?

“Our tabletop rise has been quick and in the space of 3 years we have become market leaders. We hope to match this entrance and quick ascension on the UK market as well and it’s with this in mind that we’re now collaborating with Kelly Cook Jackman for UK representation as we look forward to work with UK brands, agencies and production companies in 2020.”