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To list commercials and music videos that have been milestones in the evolution of Final Cut is no simple task – especially so, when the work has been so rich and varied. 

Sure, there is a trophy cabinet bursting with silverware, representing 25 years of work, but the work itself is not always the important thing – it’s the collaboration of people that came together to create it; and the time and place in which they were created that matter.

Levi's – Project Planet

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1995

The hallways of FC were not so hallowed in the early days, being a backroom of post-production house “facilities ‘r’ us”, but the quality of much of the work already shone through. Levi’s Planet, edited by Final Cut founder Rick Russell and directed by Vaughan and Anthea, was an early marker. It featured Russian model Kristina Semenovskaia as the first 501 heroine and had a needle-drop from one-hit wonders Babylon Zoo.

It won some awards, but more importantly it caught the zeitgeist – a thing that ads so often want to do, but fail. Alongside Smirnoff Through the Glass, and a brace of spots for Stella Artois, (Good Samaritan and Red Shoes) it confirmed the arrival of Rick as a serious creative talent on the London editing scene.

We were lucky enough to work on some of the most iconic vids of the 90s onwards. 

It’s telling that many of the relationships formed at this time were initially born out of the music video industry. It was the heyday of music videos and we were lucky enough to work on some of the most iconic vids of the 90s onwards. 

A recent straw poll confirmed that between us, we have edited sixteen videos for Robbie Williams alone.

1996 - 2000

It was not unusual, as a runner, to be tasked with fetching Marmite and Hummus bagels for Paul McCartney, only to return to serve a cup of tea for one of the Spice Girls. The encounters were commonplace but in hindsight often surreal - like the time George Michael stood in reception watching a news report on his arrest for performing a Lewd Act in an LA Toilet, only to comment “That’s not how it happened”, before returning to Avid 1 for another afternoon’s fame fiddling.

George Michael stood in reception watching a news report on his arrest for performing a Lewd Act in an LA Toilet, only to comment “That’s not how it happened”.

From 1995 onwards, the editor roster grew rapidly: we trained from within and hired like-minded people . Only occasionally did we hire editors from outside, but when we did, we made sure they were cut from the same cloth. 

Editors Gary Knight and Joe Guest were natural fits for the expanding roster. They ensured that for many years we were ever present in the editorial category at the MVAs.

Bjork – All Is Full Of Love

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2001

By the year 2000, it seemed like a natural evolution to expand the business to New York. At the time, European directors like Frederick Bond, Traktor and Nicolai Fusilig were making a big splash in the States. We hung onto their coat-tails, partnered with Stephanie Apt who we knew from JWT and found our way in. By the following year, we felt ready to open the doors to our own office. 

We opened on 10th  September 2001– by the following day the world had changed irrevocably.

At the time Rick was editing Chris Milk’s first European work from the London office. As the news story spread across the world, our thoughts turned to our colleagues in New York. In Chelsea, the TVs were barely on the wall, so Rick gave running commentary on the unfolding terrorist attacks from the safety of his Soho edit suite. The aftermath for our staff and business alike were palpable, but the resolution to stand firm paid off.

We opened on 10th  September 2001– by the following day the world had changed irrevocably.

By the early-noughties, our editorial offering was well-established, and in some semblance of its current form. We cut ads – the likes of which we are unlikely to see again. Guinness Tipping Point, directed by Nicolai Fusilig at the eye-watering budget of £10m; Cadbury’s Gorilla and no end of corkers by our Scandinavian friends Traktor.

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Guinness – Tipping Point

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Cadbury – Gorilla Drummer

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PlayStation – Mountain

2003

One of the most notable in this purple patch was our first Grand Prix winner - 2003’s Mountain for Playstation 2 directed by Frank Budgen. 

Mountain was one of the first ads to use crowd replication. The spot was also significant for the choice of music sync. Spotify has since democratised this fickle art, but at the time, using Shirley Temple’s saccharine vocals to play against the gritty imagery was audacious and heralded a new approach to the marriage of music and picture in advertising.

2005

In 2005, we were ready to grow once more. The late Eric Zumbrunnen and JD Smyth were natural choices of editors to head up our LA office. JD sprouted from the same Soho basement as Gary Knight, cutting music videos and commercials for RSA and Black Dog. Eric, worked with Spike Jonze amongst others and straddled the world of features and advertising.

Eric [Zumbrunnen], worked with Spike Jonze amongst others and straddled the world of features and advertising.

It may seem counterintuitive to hire a features editor to work for a commercial cutting room but it actually turned out to be a turning point in our development, as one after another of our roster took hiatus of their own to edit longform projects, outside of advertising. One look at the roster today tells you all you need to know about our approach, with people from every discipline and genre of editorial represented.

2010

2010 saw the next stage in Final Cut London’s development – a relocation from our Soho heartland to Fitzrovia. At the time, the move seemed to portend the slow erosion of our tight-knit Soho post-production community – in hindsight it signalled no such thing. We left the place of legendary roof parties (we once got a noise abatement order for setting off fireworks too close to our residential neighbours) moved 500 yards down the road and never looked back.

In 2018, having won the shots Awards Edit House of the Year four years running, we doubted we could win it for a fifth year in a row. And so it proved to be true - we were side-swiped by Final Cut LA.

Apple – Welcome Home

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2018

In retrospect, it was a shoo-in for LA – they had Apple Welcome Home edited by Jeff Buchanan. A spot so good that a number of our UK competitors had congratulated us on it during an APA edit group call.

It’s hubristic to suggest that this ad signalled a shift in the creative cultural jet stream, but it kind of felt that way to us. 

Our US colleagues were stealing a march on us. And so it continued…

The New York Times – The Truth Is Worth It: Fearlessness

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2019

In 2019, Editor Jim Helton, cut a series of spots out of our NY office that transcended advertising and told multi-layered human stories. The New York Times was especially gratifying because it used our full post capabilities and was a creative collaboration with Droga5, Furlined and our VFX facility Significant Others who did all of the post and graphics work.

That’s not to say The UK roster had run out of steam. In recent years Joe Guest’s output in particular has rendered anyone else’s hopes of awards’ success virtually impossible. Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner was particularly vexing – this spot was so very much in Joe’s cultural wheelhouse that our camo-wearing, Nike-shod colleague couldn’t wipe the smile off his face for weeks. Joe recalls the shoot as a veritable sneakerfest of competitive swoosh-buckling, with its prolonged schedule allowing plenty of opportunity for competitive ’gramming of kicks. For weeks, hollers of ‘Where d’you get your sneakers, Bruv?’ rang out across London.

The success of an ad can sometimes be judged by the number of rip-offs that follow it.

The success of an ad can sometimes be judged by the number of rip-offs that follow it. By that measure alone, Nike Londoner was a triumph, with lesser versions of its braggadocious ‘fourth wall-breaking’ delivery being used by no end of pretenders.

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Nike – Nothing Beats a Londoner

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Kano – Trouble

Also of note was a brace of awards for one of our New Blood editors Lucy Berry. The silverware this time came courtesy of Kano’s Trouble directed by Aneil Karia. The win represented not only a turning point in Lucy’s career but a culmination of years of development within the company. 

Lucy was editing on the recommendation of editor Amanda James, who supported her through the creative process. Confidence is a mercurial thing, but it is best channelled when you know someone has your back. 

She smashed it.

2020

Which pretty much brings us up to now. 

We’re coming in and out of lockdown, the most incomprehensible and challenging period of our existence. We did all the things everyone else did to keep sane: we Zoomed; we ’grammed; we cooked inedible sourdough bread and ordered far too much IPA from our local breweries. It was an absolute turdburger of a thing to stomach – Covid, not the IPA, but the Final Cut glue (liberté, égalité and fraternité as the French have so neatly put it) kept us together. 

The roll call of amazing clients that have worked with us throughout our 25 years are working with us now. Traktor kicked us off with a spot shot in Ukraine, directed from Stockholm and edited in London; a certain fruit-based tech manufacturer kept Joe as busy as ever and Vaughan managed to knock out a music video from a Peckham car park.

We did all the things everyone else did to keep sane: we Zoomed; we ’grammed; we cooked inedible sourdough bread and ordered far too much IPA from our local breweries.

We don’t know yet which spot will mark the transcendence from this enforced hiatus, but we’re sure glad to be getting calls for proper ads with shoot days and scripts and all the normal stuff we were so used to – we’ll forego the sushi and flat whites for now and concentrate on the creative. 

Will the work be good? Will it win awards? Nobody knows and we’re not sure we care. 

But we’ll go at it as if it deserves to and keep doing what we do best: editing the hell out of stuff!

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