Philly Creative Guide

Creative Firm

Bill Haley

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company
by Bill Haley, 1 Mar 2008

Bill Haley is President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (www.AlliedPixel.com), an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He is also an evangelist for PhillyCreativeGuide.com. He can be reached at bill.haley@alliedpixel.com.


It's no secret that the worlds of video, web and interactivity are rapidly converging. High-speed Internet access, improved compression technologies and new interactive tools have come into alignment, bringing new media into the mainstream. We see the results all around us, in the form of web video, podcasts, webcasts, interactive television, rich Internet applications and mobile video. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Flash back to January 2007. My friend Brian Connor and I are "taking a meeting" at Iron Hill in Media. Brian is the owner of RSVP, a video production and rental company that I have worked with for many years and have a lot of respect for. Somewhere between our second and third lagers, Brian redirects the conversation from motorcycles to media. (Media with a small "m," not "M.") He had noticed a trend over the past couple years of clients asking for an increasingly complex mix of deliverables for their video projects.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

In the old days, video was distributed on tape and you only had to deal with two or three formats. Maybe it was Beta SP, maybe it was VHS... but it was analog tape, plain and simple. The basic production model was "from one to one" – one acquisition format to one release format. Then along came CD-ROMs. Things started to get more complicated. Soon after that came interactive DVD, followed (in increasingly quick succession) by streaming video, iPod video, mobile video and high definition DVDs.

More and more, video was becoming part of a larger, interactive deliverable package. And the skill set required to deliver that package was crossing over into the realm of IT. It included web development, multimedia production, backend programming and, often, database development. The interplay of these new technologies was changing the model "from one to one" to "from many to many."

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

On my end, things had gotten complicated as well, but for a different reason. Haley Productions has always worked at the intersection of web, multimedia and video. But our resources in the video arena were limited. Back in the day, we shot most everything on Beta SP. But now we are in a far more complex world of multiple standards. The list today includes standard and Hi Def formats like HDCam, DVCPro 100, 50 and 25, DigiBeta, DVCam, HDV and, every once in a while, those old school analog formats.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

And our clients are asking for increasingly complicated productions. We have gotten into motion tracking, complex compositing, motion graphics, virtual sets and 2D and 3D animation – plus a lot of jib and crane work. Those kinds of things require a team of specialists and a boatload of exotic equipment... neither of which we had in house.

While Haley Productions had been exploring the frontiers of web and interactive technologies, RSVP had been doing pioneering work in the world of high definition. Now we were at a point where they could all meet on equal terms. For the first time, web and interactive technologies could handle Hi Def video. Things were about to get really interesting.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

By our fourth lagers, the outlines of a plan began to emerge. It was like the old Reese's "you got your chocolate in my peanut butter" thing. It was obvious these two tastes not only tasted good together, but actually belonged together. The combination of our two sets of skills and resources could provide real synergy for our clients.

So we began to talk about merging the two companies.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

Change is scary. RSVP had a distinguished 25-year history serving the Philadelphia video market. Haley Productions has been doing our thing, with more than a little success, for 15 years. These were two established, well-known companies. Nonetheless, we decided to merge them into an entirely new company. We wanted to make it clear to the world that this was not a case of two companies partnering in some sort of strategic alliance. It was, instead, the blending of talent and resources to create something entirely new and different. Change is also exciting.

My first instinct was to retain our names in some sort of concatenated Frankenstein creation like RSVP | Haley Interactive. And though it would possibly leverage the goodwill of our two brands, it wouldn't reflect the unity of the new firm. So after much soul searching, we arrived at a new name. The new company would be called Allied Pixel.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

We spent the rest of 2007 planning for a January 2008 launch. There was much to be done... beginning with establishing our mission. We considered but rejected numerous buzzwords like interactive, digital and new media because we felt they were too limiting. Ultimately we agreed on "Integrated Media Production" to describe this new creature.

The company would be located at Haley Productions' 8,000 square foot facility in Media. With easy access to downtown Philly, the Blue Route, I-95 and the PA Turnpike, it's an ideal suburban location. But it would require a substantial build out to accommodate RSVP's staff and gear.

We decided to engineer the new facility from the ground up. We didn't want to be two separate "divisions" occupying the same building. Instead, we designed the technical facility as a unified whole. It would have three Hi Def edit suites, including Smoke and Final Cut Pro, plus a digital audio project studio. Each of these hubs would be fully networked with our web and interactive workstations. This would allow for an extremely efficient workflow when undertaking complex digital projects. The video, web and interactive teams could work simultaneously and collaboratively, using shared resources.

We now had an arsenal of video equipment valued at well north of a million dollars, including the region's largest selection of HD cameras. We designed a larger camera checkout facility and built a two bay industrial garage to allow rapid deployment of crew and gear. And we set up our rental department to be more convenient than ever for our rental customers.

In short, we designed a production facility for the twenty-first century.

Allied Pixel: A New Breed of Production Company

We knew, though, that our clients need more than just tools and talent. They need advice. They need help navigating the technology jungle, with its ever-evolving formats and delivery options. And so, our collective expertise is available on every project, no matter how large or small. We are willing and happy to listen, to explain and to make suggestions. We are a production ally for our clients.

Allied Pixel is now open for business. Visit us in Media (capital M) or at www.AlliedPixel.com. We're excited to be a new kind of resource for the Philadelphia production community.

Print Article Brought to you by: Bill Haley | President, Interactive of Allied Pixel

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