Get to know UPP – the company behind the post production of blockbusters and commercials for the world’s biggest brands
We had the chance to take a closer look at one of Europe’s biggest complete post-production service companies – Universal Production Partners (UPP). The company has been offering its services for over 20 years and has recently worked on feature films such as Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman, commercials for Škoda, Gazprom, Sainsbury’s and Samsung, among many others. We spoke to UPP’s Head of Advertising Department, VFX Supervisor & Producer Jan Malir to learn more.
Production Paradise: Who are UPP’s clients?
Jan Malir: We work with clients from all over the world – Los Angeles, London, Zürich, Lebanon, Moscow, Jakarta, Sydney and many other cities worldwide. Different clients have different habits, different expectations, different tastes and different requests and it is important to fully understand their expectations and merge them with our workflow to create an effective and successful result.
We always do everything we can to satisfy client requirements but at the same time we do our best to push it further and do something that we can be extra proud of.
Production Paradise: How effective is it for your clients to send their jobs abroad? Why choose UPP?
Jan Malir: Generally, the small 1-2-day post jobs are usually done at the client’s place of origin. For jobs with a couple of VFX shots, they often look for somewhere else to do the grading and online finishing. For those who make the decision to work beyond their borders, distance is not a limiting factor. Sometimes clients come for the finishing work – not only for the final approvals, but also to enjoy a few days in Prague as well. Some just leave it to us, and we do the job remotely throughout.
There is only one process which makes it harder to get approval remotely, and that is the color grading. Therefore our solution is to send an easy-to-use remote workstation with calibrated monitor unit to the client. They can use it not only for grading but also for the final presentation in full uncompressed quality with exact colors on our calibrated OLED monitor.
Production Paradise: What type of work do you focus on?
Jan Malir: Our primary focus is on photorealistic visual effects: CG cars, crowds, architecture, animals, liquids, matte-painting, motion graphics, whatever you imagine.
Production Paradise: Sounds like you are very efficient. How big is your set up?
Jan Malir: UPP has both a film and an advertising division. The scale of projects in advertising differs greatly, and because we maintain a cohesive connection with the film division, it enables us to work on large scale advertising projects as well. There is often the need to scale quickly, so we are always well prepared.
Currently, we have the ability to handle full UHD workflow and VR projects.
Production Paradise: What are the most exciting experiences you have had? What makes them special or challenging?
Jan Malir: Shooting with celebrities, especially football stars has been both exciting and challenging at the same time. We have several experiences with Lionel Messi, in particular. Working on such projects usually means collaborating with a world-class team of directors, DOPs, and professionals at all levels. There is always time pressure to deal with when the celebrities can only attend the shoot for a few hours. In an ideal scenario, their scenes should be shot over a few days. Our VFX supervisor therefore works closely with the key crew to plan the shots, even rehearse the smallest details using body doubles or stand-ins, so that when the time comes to shoot with the real people, we’ll get it right at the first take. Despite careful planning and rehearsals, no one can actually control the footage we get, so everyone must deal with it as it happens. In these situations, we have to rely on our and the crew’s experience and knowledge. It can be quite surreal.
Production Paradise: Why Prague?
Jan Malir: UPP is ideally located within easy reach of Paris, London, Berlin, or Budapest. We offer the latest equipment and technology to complete top quality features, television series, commercials and videos in one modern, spacious and convenient location. As one of the largest studios in Central Europe, we have access to highly professional and experienced crews because of the long established Czech film making industry. It’s an ideal place to get both production and post production services in one location.