THE UNCOMMON VIDEO PRODUCTION COMPANY
CLAI ARE A film and VIDEO PRODUCTION COMPANY IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA WHO HAVE BEEN MAKING CREATIVE, INNOVATIVE AND VERY EFFECTIVE VIDEOS, FILMS, BROADCAST TV AND INTERNET VIDEOS SINCE WE WERE FOUNDED IN LONDON IN 1984.
Of course, every agency says this. Each claims to be the best film and video production company in town. But in reality we are far from being the same. Skill, experience, raw creativity, the ability to listen and understand, equipment capabilities, and the quality of the contract personnel we all rely on varies as enormously as final budgets and client satisfaction.
But CLAi are… well, we are just a little strange. We view the business side of production a little uniquely and we do things a little differently from the other guys – in a good way. We choose to operate at the highest end of the production company spectrum in terms of quality and creativity but to remain extremely affordable… putting profit a distant second to making great films and videos that excite and motivate on behalf of our clientele in San Francisco, San Jose and around the US and Europe.
We suffer from a strange desire to be honest and transparent to our clients and partners.
Part of that is what you are reading… this site hasn’t come from an agency or a design company template, filled with snappy marketing phrases.
Hi, I’m Chris Layhe, founder of CLAi, and I’ve put fingers to keys to write everything you will read here. The goal is to give you lots of useful background information about ourselves, the industry and the roles and techniques that are needed to create great videos and film projects… for better or worse! Current marketing opinion in our field says “just sell the product”, but that’s not our way. I like to believe that it doesn’t matter what you say about your work, it’s the final programs that walk the walk and how your clients feel afterwards that talks the talk. So we’ve put some of our portfolio right here on the first page, letting you quickly decide if you like what we do or move on. We’ve also included a bunch of our client’s testimonials, so you can see the reality of how we do things.
The other side of this transparency is being straight about who and what we are. Like 99% of production and facilities companies we are a small boutique agency not a 50 employee giant. But unlike most, we take this position for a solid business reason, so we have both a physical production studio and a mass of top flight equipment to support it – which we explain in the about us section,
IF I HAD TO PICK CLAi's BEST TWO QUALITIES? THE COMMITMENT AND AND THE PASSION WE BRING TO EVERY PROJECT.
It’s being prepared to put every project and it’s success ahead of earnings and egos. Doing whatever it takes to make it work, with an insatiable desire for storytelling through images and sound that burns as strongly after decades in the business as it did when an eighteen year old Chris Layhe picked up his first camera back in England. It’s sitting in front of an edit system at 4am to get everything just so – one more time, without ever missing a deadline or going over an agreed budget.
(More information about CLAi, the production company, and our specialist Editor and Colorist Services can be found on our more specialist post site at Post-Production-San-Francisco.com)
SOME OF OUR WORK
It’s easy to talk the talk, but at the end of the day it is only what is seen on the screen that tells the story.
These are a few of the film and video projects that CLAi have created or worked on… and there are lots more selected from the thousands we have completed on our portfolio page.
And these are our little show reels: production, color grading and cinematography…
So what makes CLAi so unique?
It comes down to just five elements that we bring to the table - EXPERIENCE, EXCELLENCE, CREATIVITY, EXPERTISE and COMMON SENSE...
REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE, there is no substitute for it. We are eclectic and accomplished. We come from the worlds of broadcast documentary, corporate video, commercials, indie film, music and the arts – on both sides of the camera and microphone.
We are bound by a common commitment to creativity, quality and accepting nothing short of excellence. Our three decades of film and video production experience allow us a depth of expertise that takes the risk out of the film and video production equation. Large or small, ultra-low budgets or mega-funded, we’ve pretty much seen and done it all before… and I’m always happy to talk about any potential project and bring that experience to bear when suggesting the right solution.
JUST AHEAD OF THE CURVE, we are creatives who suffer from a touch of tech geekiness, using the latest film and video production technologies well before they become mainstream is a given. CLAi have always been early adopters of software and technologies, but only when it will boost quality, increase flexibility, open up new possibilities for the projects we work on, or simply give clients a better deal. We were Bay Area leaders in using 4k, 6k and then 8k RED camera digital cinema systems as both shooters and as one of the first post-production specialists to design and operate a viable camera to screen workflow. This was just one of many technical and creative firsts for the company.
But expertise doesn’t stop with knowing the technology inside out. It demands a mastery of the disciplines needed to get the most out of the hardware and software and best apply it to the story you are telling. We achieve this by practice, of course, and by taking on small “test” projects. These give time to play without high expectations – and we can involve industry newbies in making them so they get a chance to learn on the job too. I also pass on my own expertise, as a mentor to a large tribe of assistants, by staging hands-on workshops for other industry professionals and as a guest lecturer at Colleges across the Bay… helping to grow the next generation of filmmakers.
CREATIVITY is so critical to turning any idea into a wickedly good final program. But it’s not something that you can easily put into words without sounding totally full of yourself – and, of course, the very English one in the company would faint at the prospect of talking about his personal accomplishments… it’s just not done!
That’s one of the reasons we put quite a number of both film and video client testimonials into this web site. They provide the reality of working with us. We also include just a few of the awards that our peers have given in recognizing our work, and feature a bunch of programs and films that we have produced as CLAi or that I have helped to create as an independent specialist… that way you get to make your own informed decision!
CLAi don’t actually accept that words like “COMPROMISE”, “GOOD ENOUGH”, “LATE” and “OVER BUDGET” exist. It’s not word blindness, just a belief that if it is worth doing something then it is worth doing it as well as humanly possible. Cutting corners is fine on a Ducati hitting a fast bend at 100mph but it’s never acceptable on a video or film production. It’s why we believe excellence should never be a goal to work towards, it should be the reason to do the work.
Of course, real life sometimes has other ideas, and then it’s acceptable to bend the rules a little and aim to make the best lemonade possible out of those lemons!
It’s a philosophy that wins lots of praise for the projects CLAi touch, from our peers and our clients’ clients – and that translates into films that win award after award, and corporate programs that get the job, sell the service and raise the funds. Which makes us all very happy!
EXPERIENCE, EXCELLENCE, CREATIVITY and EXPERTISE all sound very cool and trendy/ But they don’t account for what is perhaps the most important aspect in making any film or video project a success… common sense. One of my personal favorite film quotes is “A man’s gotta know his limitations” from Dirty Harry. It’s such a simple phrase that we all too often forget when it comes to film and video production, budget and time.
It takes common sense, confidence and street smarts to realize that there is a problem on a project or a shoot, identify the cause and be able to come up with a solution on the spot and put it into action. So CLAi spend a lot of pre-production time – even on purely post-production projects – designing the right workflows to avoid potential disasters, save money and give the best quality well before anyone gets too far in to change direction…
It’s part of the service CLAi provide to clients. One of the reasons why we try to never say “No” to any request, even on the craziest phone call, is that we try to evolve an answer that will work. Sometimes that means finding and then passing the job on to someone else, or making a budget work for a project by cutting our rates, or sticking to a quote or deadline promise regardless of what might change. I guess it’s a Santa Cruz hippy thing, but I’ve always had a lot of help from a lot of people in achieving my goals and so giving back just makes sense…
You can contact Chris Layhe and CLAi in several ways, on any day of the week:
Use this automated email form and please do give us as much detail as possible so we can get back to you quickly and make some sort of sense!
Or get to enjoy Chris’ beautiful Manchester accent and call