From Editor to Ed Sheeran
Peter Reeve has spent over 10 years working in the media industry covering a wide range of genres and styles. He was one of our fabulous freelancers for almost 6 years before he decided to take the plunge and set up his own production company, RMV Productions. His creative drive has seen him move from a director and video editor into motion design and animation. Now he works as Creative Director across all studio projects including animation, live events, corporate video and music promos. Peter was recently tasked with providing the graphics on the lyric videos for Divide, the new album from Ed Sheeran. He speaks to us about the process and how he feels about the final result.
What influenced you to become a freelance editor?
From 2005-2008 I was working as an editor and motion designer for computer games company Electronic Arts. In 2008 I was made redundant as they reduced the size of the UK studio. After that I went to work for a games company in Brighton but I wasn’t happy there – it just didn’t quite click. This was the catalyst that made me make the jump into the freelance world. When I first became a freelancer, my old company EA offered me a long-term contract, which made the move a little less scary!
How did you find life as a freelancer?
I loved being a freelancer. The variety of projects was really exciting and inspired me to be more creative. Working on new things with new people meant I always had to be at the top of my game, which kept me driven. The plethora of super talented creatives in the industry was a great source of knowledge and support; many of whom I still work with today.
As a freelancer I always tried to be as friendly as possible with everyone I worked with, even if it was just for a day. It’s still a relatively small industry and keeping good relationships is crucial to maintain your reputation and can often lead to recommendations for future jobs.
What made you transition from freelancing to RMV Productions?
I’d love to say that I set up RMV Productions with some great plan and grand vision for how to run the best creative agency in the world! The truth is it became a natural progression from what I was doing as a freelancer. I’ve always been quite varied; I’m not solely an editor, but also enjoy directing, animating and sometimes even picking up a camera. As I took on bigger and bigger projects I was using more fellow freelancers to help out, or sub-contracting when I was busy elsewhere. This naturally morphed in to becoming a production company, which was when RMV Productions was born.
After the switch, which pros/cons did you experience?
I love being in charge of the type of projects we take on and the direction I want to steer things. I’m a very creative person and at times found it frustrating not being able to execute my own creative idea but only implement someone else’s. (Now I get to hand that frustration on to the talented creatives I boss around!)
I also really enjoy putting a team together, stoking the creative fires, and then standing back and watching as they deliver really innovative projects. I’m very proud of the local team we’ve built, especially as we’re based outside of London – sometimes you encounter an attitude that creativity doesn’t exist outside the M25!
The cons are the responsibilities of running a company: it’s no longer just you to think about. Also there is the pressure of constantly chasing that next job regardless of how busy you are. So far we have been very busy but you can never afford to rest on your laurels.
Another challenge is connecting with the right people such as video commissioners or marketing professionals who might want videos. You also have to deal with the digital side of advertising and ensure you’re on the first page of search engines so that those who want your service know you exist.
Ed Sheeran’s Divide album
How did the work on the new Ed Sheeran album, Divide, come about?
As I touched on earlier, a large part your success in this industry is down to your relationships with other people. If they enjoy working with you and are happy with your work then they will come back for more. The work for Ed’s album came about because I had made contact with someone at Warner Music’s internal creative department who we had pitched to several times. They had a big campaign to get out for Ed Sheeran and I offered a hand with the workload. One week later we were full steam ahead creating 3 lyric videos for the new album – Dive, Perfect and Barcelona.
Were you happy with the final animations?
We are really happy to have played a part in producing content for one of the most successful music releases ever! The week we finished the animations, Ed’s songs took up 9 spots of the official Top 10 chart. We only had 8 days to complete all 3 animations, so given a little more time, I’m sure they could have been even better than they are. The first to be released on YouTube has over 6 million views in the first 3 days alone.
Was it a collaborative effort throughout, or were you given more freedom to present your own ideas?
I always try and work as collaboratively as possible, both within the team and with the client. I’m not afraid to admit that someone else might have a better creative idea than me, so it’s important for me to hear everyone’s ideas. I also know what it’s like as a freelancer to have an idea that no one wants to hear! When working with a music artist, brand, or business they usually have a certain style or genre which you need to fall in with. A certain amount of collaboration and understanding has to happen for you to meet the expectations.
For the Ed Sheeran lyric videos, the style was already set by the Castle on The Hill lyric video. Our job was to produce 3 more, which matched it. I began by going through the lyrics and making notes for an illustration for each key line. Then our illustrator James got to work drawing those in the sketchy style. On the track Barcelona, I was able to get quite creative and produce an animation that feels a bit more colourful and different to the others.
Peter Reeve (second from right) working on the Ed Sheeran lyric videos
What’s next for RMV?
We have more lyric video projects on the horizon and another year creating the stage visuals for Capital Summertime Ball. We’ve also been nominated for two Sussex Digital Awards, which we’re very pleased about. We’ll find out at the start of April if we’re winners.
RMV Productions has also launched #FilmFriday; a monthly video production day, that offers the opportunity to share the cost of producing a high quality 60-120 second marketing video with other local businesses. I’d like to do some big budget animation and higher profile music videos and also I’d like to get into broadcast branding/motion design, particularly sports branding. If you look at the VT’s and graphics they use for NBA and American Football, and some of the things Formula E are creating, it’s this dynamic content that I’d love to create for UK sports broadcasting.
Watch more animation, motion graphics and VFX work from our freelancers in our showreel gallery.