David Reviews

 "You're not an artist, Peggy. You solve problems." Don Draper.

NICE BISCUITS EXPLORE THE CUTTING-EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY.
14 October 2019

Nice Biscuits founder Russell Shaw loves a challenge, and is never more excited than when he's sat at the foot of a learning curve. It's a restlessness which serves his company's clients well as it places Nice Biscuits at the forefront of any emerging technology. A little while ago, DAVID caught up with Shaw in front of a plate of nice biscuits, and found out what makes him tick.

Having studied engineering at university, film production was not an obvious next move for Russell Shaw, but when he fielded a phone call asking whether his absent flatmate was available for work as a 2nd assistant director, Shaw cheekily secured the gig for himself. His flatmate was unimpressed when he learned about this development, telling him: "You're an absolute idiot. You're going to make yourself look like a fool."

And so it proved… he was found out in minutes, but the producer liked him and admired his chutzpah. Her admiration went through the roof when he managed to get a malfunctioning lighting rig to do what it was supposed to do.


You're an absolute idiot. You're going to make yourself look like a fool.

 ”

Shaw could see immediately that he'd found his vocation. The fun of the film set combined with the need to quickly master new techniques and technology created a working environment that he loved.

It's a love which has been sustained throughout his career and he still considers it a privilege to work in an industry which allows him to constantly challenge himself: "A lot of the jobs that we pick up and work on and keen to get involved with are usually ones that would initially scare you. I mean, purely because it's a learning curve."

Shaw wistfully recalls a job for Canon from a few years earlier. It had been the first time the Japanese company had worked with HDR. It was sure to be challenging, and that got Shaw excited: "They brought their HDR monitor in, which was the size of a house, just so that we could play in it and learn with it. And they sent a guy over from Japan to fiddle around and calibrate it, get it all set up. It's just taking it to another level and it's certainly an experience because it pushes the technology to the limit."

You can tell from the way he lights up as he describes this experience just how much Shaw loves immersing himself in these challenges. He goes into considerable detail about the depth and breadth of the images he and his team are working with. The computer power required to work with this much data is, in itself, a massive challenge and it clearly appeals to his inner geek.



Shaw acknowledges that it's a tricky balancing act to continually pursue cutting-edge projects but he clearly can't help being drawn to them. Tamsin Corrie, who is working with Nice Biscuits on business development explains that it's "part of the ethos of the company... because we're a boutique post house. We can keep up to date with all of the latest equipment, and utilise that and offer it and make people aware of it."

Russell Shaw describes how being aware of the latest developments can be serendipitous... Nice Biscuits had been able to win a project because they were aware of a new enhancement introduced by Flame which was a perfect match for a client whose budget wouldn't have covered the normal cost of what they wanted to achieve. A rival had quoted four weeks to carry out the work but, by taking advantage of the new technology, Nice Biscuits had been able to complete it in just three days.



it isn't just agility when it comes to new technology that differentiates a smaller company like Nice Biscuits from its bigger rivals. Shaw feels that he can be much more pragmatic when it comes to judging whether a particular project will be worthwhile: "It's not just about the numbers. It's a personal thing. You ask yourself 'Is this going to be a really good opportunity? Is this going to open some doors?' It comes down to a gut feeling and I'm not sure the bigger companies are really able to look at it that way."

Nice Biscuits are starting to get opportunities in long-form… they did a few bits of work on Bohemian Rhapsody – the Queen bio pic – and Shaw is excited by the prospect of doing more work along these lines.


It's not just about the numbers. It's a personal thing. You ask yourself 'Is this going to be a really good opportunity? Is this going to open some doors?'

 ”

Russell Shaw is sanguine about the challenge posed by in-house post facilities at advertising agencies, happy to accept the competition as a fact of life. Unlike many, he doesn't gripe about the unfairness of this scenario, but he does identify problems. Specifically, he feels that clients aren't always getting good value for money when they accept in-house solutions from the agency. Rather than a cost advantage to the client, Shaw feels that it's often more expensive than using specialist companies like Nice Biscuits.

He broadly welcomes the way the market has opened up for companies like Nice Biscuits to work directly with clients… though that's not without its pitfalls. Like a lot of companies that have ventured on this path, he certainly appreciates the role played by agencies in certain difficult scenarios. He describes being "piggy in the middle" in a dispute between a client and Clearcast as a prime example.



On the whole though, life is clearly good at Nice Biscuits. they've carved a niche as a boutique company capable of delivering cutting edge technology, and this keeps Shaw and his team busy... and - just as importantly - interested in whatever comes next. Oh, and the biscuits are every bit as nice as promised.

Contact Tamsin Corrie for more on 020 7123 5555 or via email using tamsin@nicebiscuits.co.uk.

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David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.