- You ‘do shows’ - what does that mean?
We think shows have great emotional and informative power. They can rivet an audience to their seats, or transform brand messages into memorable stories for people to share. So, the core of our work is making shows, both for the general public (on the stage or at big music and sports occasions) and for brands – which some would call ‘live events’ or experiential marketing. These shows come in many shapes and sizes and use all sorts of traditional techniques as well as state-of-the-art technology. Have a look at [our work] section to find out more.
- Are you a communications agency or a production company?
Both - we design and produce compelling stories and shows, using all kinds of channels and techniques. We also work in collaboration with other kinds of producer. Since we very frequently use the moving image as part of creating shows, we function as a film production company as well as having an in-house post-production and animation facility. We production manage and general manage shows as required. We are also developing some of our own work – watch this space…
- Where is Knifedge?
Our base is in London’s West End. Our teams go all over the world – wherever they’re needed. We are in the process of setting up Shanghai and New York offices.
- You do set design as well?
Those who know us as people that do video, are sometimes surprised to discover that our skills range more broadly. We do set design, costume, lighting, sound and most theatrical disciplines because we think that’s the best way to create elegantly integrated work. We do each of these things independently as well, when required, but our first love is to weave together a seamless visual whole – which we generally describe as Production Design.
- Animation? Sounds all a bit Scooby Doo to me…?
We love animation, and we think it’s just as good at speaking to adults as it is at speaking to kids. In particular, we’ve found it a particularly eloquent medium for talking about difficult subjects. We think animation is best when it suits the story – so we work on 2D and 3D animation. Our animators have worked on all sorts of hits from Harry Potter to Happy Feet.
- What’s a media server?
Media servers are a bit like very, very fancy DVD players. Any show involving video will need some means to ‘play-back’ that video. Media servers do this, and lots more besides. They are especially handy (even vital) when the show is complicated.
- Should I buy a projector?
It depends… If you’re doing a show which will last for a year, then buying projectors may be cheaper than hiring them. If you’re putting on an event for a few days, then hiring is almost always the wisest course.
- What is video design and projection design?
They are both the same thing, and by each we mean the job of integrating video into live performance. There are two key parts to any design: 1) Conceptual thinking and storyboarding (a little like the process used by a set or costume designer but for the moving image); 2) Visual Engineering, which is working out what equipment is required and how it should be deployed (a little like a lighting designer’s process).
- Do you make apps?
Yes – mobile devices can offer novel ways of interacting with shows, and can become miniature stages in their own right.
- Do you make websites?
Yes – the online environment is a great interactive arena for engaging audiences. It’s also an engaging place to start the experience of the show whilst buying the tickets, viewing trailers and buying merchandise.
- You do digital? What does that mean?
It can mean that we develop websites, apps and so forth. It also means we use a host of programming techniques and various sorts of computer system to pull off shows and to provide 21st century cross-platform storytelling. Finally, it means that we are as engaged with how marketing works in non-traditional media.
- What’s video mapping?
These days, video mapping is mostly understood to mean projecting onto a building and making the building look like something else (a ruin, a cloud of butterflies, a sky etc). This is a great example, but of course, all projection, especially when using multiple projectors involves making the image fit the thing the projectors are pointing at, be it a screen or an architectural structure.
- Are you the guys who did Sunday in the Park with George?
We are those guys. Here’s
what it looked like.
- You talk about causes having stories. I work for a charity, what could you do for me?
We’re proud to have worked for many years with a number of 3rd Sector organisations. In this area, we’re often dealing with serious stories and messages that not everyone wants to hear. We believe that campaign success we have achieved together with our 3rd Sector clients is down to embracing the power of entertainment to charm the audience whilst at the same time having them think, react, donate, and even change.
- Do you do marketing and communications campaigns?
Yes, we use shows as the heart of corporate and brand marketing campaigns, to engage people in the most effective way. As well as being expert storytellers for this ‘live’ work, we can offer a full range of complementary film, video, animation and digital services to bring these shows to wider audiences.
- Who are these crazy brains that come up with this stuff?
There are three departments to our operation: A) Creative Team – which looks after the design of shows and other visual activities; B) Visual Engineering Team – which designs technical systems and implements them; C) Production Team – which keeps jobs moving and manages our relationships with clients and collaborators. In addition, our crazy brained company management oversees all operations.
- Did you do video for Josh Groban’s show?
Yes, we also provided the production design. Creating scenic design alongside virtual design and content production meant the look of the show was much more integrated. We also worked in close collaboration with Metalica’s lighting designer and show director John Broderick. Here’s a link to what we did together for Josh.
- Can you make holograms appear on stage?
Yes, but they won’t actually be holograms (unless you’re phoning us from NASA). ‘Holographic projection’ can be made to work, but it’s not a video trick alone, it has to be woven from UN sized collaboration.
- Can you explain Visual Engineering in simple terms?
Our approach to storytelling is to combine sumptuous imagery, lighting, scenery and costume into a show using a combination of traditional and cutting-edge technology. Behind the scenes is a bunch of complex technology which is there to make the magic look simple. Devising such systems and getting them to work is what we call Visual Engineering.
Our visual engineers will typically work out lensing, light intensity, cabling, method of media delivery and much more. Often, we’ll use a media server, which is a bit like a very, very fancy DVD player. Any show involving video will need some means to ‘play-back’ that video. Media servers do this, and lots more besides. They are especially handy (even vital) when the show is complicated.
- What is projection mapping?
These days, projection mapping (also known as video mapping) is mostly understood to mean projecting onto a building and making the building look like something else (a ruin, a cloud of butterflies, a sky etc). This is a great example, but of course, all projection, especially when using multiple projectors, involves making the image fit the thing the projectors are pointing at, be it a screen or an architectural structure.
- What are the requirements for a successful campaign?
These are the three foundation stones of creative work within the charity sector and if you satisfy all of them great fulfilling work will follow.
1) Quality. Always the best it can possibly be.
2) Integrity. An idea that grows from the ground up, that is affected by and responds directly to the needs of the people who will ultimately benefit from the project.
3) Diversity. The work is inclusive and represents an accurate cross section of those who will benefit from the project by age, gender and race.
This process is not a box ticking exercise, it’s about creating work that communicates with people at every level from actor to user, sponsor to manager.
- You talk about causes having stories. I work for a charity, what could you do for me?
We’re proud to have worked for many years with a number of 3rd Sector organisations. In this area, we’re often dealing with serious stories and messages that not everyone wants to hear. We believe that campaign success we have achieved together with our 3rd Sector clients is a result of creating projects that both enlighten and entertain their audience at the same time encouraging them to think, react, donate, and change.
- What is video design?
Video design – also known as projection design - is the art of creating and integrating video into live performance. There are two key parts to any design: 1) Conceptual thinking and storyboarding (a little like the process used by a set or costume designer but for the moving image); 2) Visual Engineering, which is working out what equipment is required and how it should be deployed (a little like a lighting designer’s process).
- Do you do both video design and projection mapping?
Yes. Many of the shows we’ve worked on have used video (animation or film) as an approach to storytelling. Part of the design involves ‘visual engineering’ ie working out how to make images appear where they are required. Mapping – making the content fit - is one key part of ‘visual engineering’.
- What is 4D projection?
4D is adding another element to a film such as smell or movement. A 4D cinema is usually one in which the seats move. Some people refer to projection and video mapping as 4D Projection although just because it is live doesn’t necessarily make it 4D, unless the experience includes other sensory elements.