When SEOULVISION opened for business in Shanghai in February of this year, it became the first Korean commercial postproduction house to establish a facility in China. They bring with them ambitious plans for the market.
SHP+来到了该公司位于宜山路轻轨站边的上海办公室，与营销经理Richard Kim和后期助理Min-Sung Kang深入了解有关SEOULVISION的详情。
SHP+ joined marketing manager Richard Kim and post assistant Min-Sung Kang at the company’s Shanghai studio, a whole floor in a block set beneath the raised railway lines at Yishan Road, to learn more.
SEOULVISION was founded in Seoul in 1986, subsequently growing to become the largest commercial postproduction company in Korea, with more than 200 staff occupying an eight-storey building in the capital.
The company is renowned for its quality commercial producers, editing expertise and an enviable client list that includes leaders from the lucrative cosmetics market, many of the biggest Korean brands and various global giants.
Seoul Vision与21世纪福克斯合作拍摄起亚KX5广告 | KX5. A collaboration between SEOULVISION and 21st Century Fox.
The offering is “total postproduction”, meaning every possible resource under one roof. The Shanghai studio boasts two offline and six online rooms, an art room, a 3D room, two grading suites and one audio studio with top of the line equipment and the full gamut of artists from compositors, CG, motion graphics, 2D and 3D animators, to editors, composers and colourists. If anything is still missing, the Seoul studio is on hand to pick up the slack. They believe such an all-encompassing service does not exist anywhere else in China.
The Shanghai studio is focused entirely on postproduction services for TVCs and longer commercial videos. The Seoul headquarters has its own production company, Value Korea, though there are currently no plans to extend that offering to Shanghai.
SEOULVISION位于首尔江南区的总部 | Headquarter of SEOULVISION, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
The Shanghai studio is working exclusively for locally based clients. An already lengthy list includes agencies JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi and Ogilvy & Mather and jobs for F&B brands McDonald’s, Halls and Snickers, cosmetics Estee Lauder, Olay and Shu Uemura and a range of car work from international names Volkswagon, Ford and Honda, Nissan to Korean brands Hyundai and Kia. At any one time they estimate they are working on five to ten projects, though there is no China reel as yet.
Barring a smattering of local Chinese Korean-speaking hires, the 50-strong team is comprised entirely of Koreans brought over in phases from the Seoul headquarters.
SEOULVISION上海作品：吉利博瑞 | Geely, by SEOULVISION Shanghai
SEOULVISION CEO Sang-Jin Lee had planned to explore the China market for more than 15 years, but paused until he felt the company was large enough, and the artists sufficiently skilled, to take on the challenge. That moment arrived earlier this year, following a five-year period of growth in which the company doubled in size to 200 people.
The rationale behind transplanting an entirely Korean workforce from Seoul to Shanghai, rather than employ local Chinese artists, was maintaining a tried and tested company culture. Kim and Kang frequently reference the “synergy” created by a shared language and established working methods.
SEOULVISION上海作品：驴妈妈 | Lvmama, by SEOULVISION Shanghai
“Our synergy, how we work together, is what gives us our unique benefit compared to other post production companies,” they explain, stressing that it’s not about nationality, “What matters is that you have no problems with communication, that you can fit in with the system that we’ve brought over to China. It’s not about Korean identity.”
Kang translates for Kim, who elaborates, “Back in the 80s, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Our perseverance and our energetic attitude have gotten us to [our current] economic standing. This culture that we’ve been brought up with helps us to stick together. It’s not that we don’t like Chinese, or that Chinese don’t have talent, it’s that Koreans working together with other Koreans gives us the benefit of working long hours and getting that great end product.”
味全优酸乳广告：片中生动的3D背景由SEOULVISION 3D团队一手打造 | Weiquan Yoghurt. The make believe scenes were created entirely by SEOULVISION’s 3D team
The Shanghai studio is thus pretty much indistinguishable from the Seoul HQ, only smaller. The day-to-day language in the office is Korean and efforts are made to foster a family dynamic, inside and outside of work.
跟中国客户打交道也能感受到这样的协同效果吗？就紧张的项目时间安排来说，我们可以达成共识。实际上，Kim解释说，“韩国其实日程更为紧张。先拍摄，第二天就开始剪辑，第三天就开始调色，一般线上是两周的时间，之后就是音效，然后就是交付成果 – 一共就三周左右。而在中国，一般都有一个月左右的后期制作。”
Do they find the same synergy when engaging with Chinese clients? There is certainly a shared understanding over grueling project timelines. In fact, Kim explains, “It’s even tighter in Korea. Shooting first, next day editing, next day colour, two weeks online usually, then sound, then delivery – around three weeks total. Here it’s more around a one month postproduction period.”
Seoul Vision上海作品：起亚KX3 | Kia KX3, by Seoul Vision Shanghai
Timelines may be relatable, but Kang dispels any notion that Korean and Chinese cultures are the same, “It’s closer than the west, but it’s like the Spanish and Italian culture. People might think it’s similar, but it’s not if you go deeper.”
SEOULVISION is enduring the same learning curve as any foreign post house entering the unique Chinese market, but the international nature of Shanghai has meant that cultural and language barriers, the company’s “Achilles heel” in Kang’s words, have been less testing than they had anticipated.
博朗广告 | Braun
Client interaction is conducted in either Chinese or English, and sometimes Korean if there is a compatriot within an agency. A recent job for Olay featuring Chinese performer Victoria Song, encapsulated the linguistic melee, with a con-call between Value Korea and BBDO Guangzhou conducted in all three languages.
Kim explains that the budgets in China are better than Korea, but “not as good as we thought they might be.” Nonetheless, he sees benefits in the relatively fresh Chinese market, “Everything is standardised in Korea. There is an average quote, an average budget that everyone works from. But in China there are the high- and low end markets, which brings opportunities.”
SEOULVISION上海成员工作中 | SEOULVISION Shanghai’s team member at work
Chinese clients are not known to be the easiest to deal with, with late payments and unrealistic expectations among the challenges. The company has come into the market with their eyes open though. “We already did many jobs in the Korea market, where they ask for so much and the budget is really bad. We knew that payments might be late. Realistically, it’s very hard, but it’s all part of the experience,” says Kim.
SEOULVISION is targeting the high-end market but is currently setting prices lower than the competition as it seeks to establish itself and win market share. That is a risky strategy in a market with high staff turnover among clients. Seoul Vision hopes the quality of its work will be sufficiently compelling to maintain its client base, and to attract new clients.
SEOULVISION上海成员工作中 | SEOULVISION Shanghai’s team member at work
The short term target is simple, says Kim, “Our first year our goal is to show the power of what a total postproduction company can do, and for us to experience the local industry.”
All being well, he outlines a cautious but ambitious future, “[Sang-Jin Lee] envisioned, and still envisions, the Shanghai branch being as big as the Seoul branch. It all depends on supply and demand… on how this market sustains itself. The market is unstable, it might not be as healthy tomorrow. But if it keeps on growing, we’ll continue to grow too.”