End to End vs. à La Carte: The Battle for the Best Creative

Rethinking the full-service approach for today's industry

Generations of commercial advertising experts have built their prestige by relying on a complex network of best-in-class vendors, each putting their special touch on a project to create award-winning spots. Agencies have always used their Rolodex of niche specialists that bring a set of boards to life via production company, editorial company, sound and mix house, VFX shop, online experts, and the list goes on. As a collective of craft-obsessed filmmakers, our team has always been enamored and inspired by those who came before and built this incredible ecosystem. 

Over the past 10 years, our team has immersed themselves in the world of advertising, hoping to contribute to the evolution of the industry along the way. We watched as our agency and brand partners grew an appetite for new solutions, especially in the challenging times over the past few years. Our biggest goal was to deepen our relationship with the creative process, from beginning to end, without feeling tied to doing things as they've always been done.

What would a world look like where sound designers and editors are working together in the same room at the same time? If rough cuts included VFX, color and sound, giving all parties a clear vision of where the project was headed? Was there a process that would speed up the workflow, and elevate the creative collaboration along the way? Enter our full-service approach.  

Traditionally, a full-service approach has been perceived as affordable and faster, yet less valuable, due to the expertise of specialists at specialized vendors. We decided to break the mold and enlist the same A-list talent, but house them all under one roof, so they could work together. We began recruiting the specialists that our directors and producers aspired to collaborate with and build teams that could see projects from end to end.

While the results still achieve the same benefits of increased speed and reduced costs, both of which are paramount in a digital-first landscape, the true value has nothing to do with either. We have found this new model actually achieves elevated creative results for our clients by removing the game of telephone that so often cripples creative integrity. We love getting everyone in one room, brainstorming unexpected ideas and watching them come to life. 

Stept's founders were directors themselves, and would often watch a project being passed among countless vendors, and with each step their vision was diminished. Our directors now gain access to valuable resources from VFX and sound teams during their treatment writing phase, so they can leverage their expertise to dream up bigger and better visions. Experts who were traditionally down funnel now contribute from day one.

The majority of Stept's work is still commercial projects executed for creative teams at ad agencies, but we have also applied this approach to our branded entertainment, film and television divisions. Across commercial, documentary and scripted projects, our teams have enjoyed having their fingerprint remain on their films from start to finish. Our partners have also enjoyed the opportunity to utilize our individual divisions for post and VFX specific needs, independent of our involvement in production.

While we continue to grow our internal teams, we still enlist external partners often. When we do, we try our best to immerse them into our workflow as though they are part of our team. At the end of the day, we want the best people for the job on the project, regardless if they are on our team or not. 

Our process will continue to evolve alongside the ever-changing advertising and entertainment world. We look forward to reinventing ourselves once again in the near future. 

Profile picture for user Nick Martini
Nick Martini
Nick Martini is CEO of Stept Studios.

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