Company Profiles in association withLBB Pro

From Pups to Stone Dogs - Five Years Old & Raring to Go

Post Production
London, UK
LBB’s Tará McKerr speaks to Brian Carbin and Dave Kiddie, the founding team of Stone Dogs, about the VFX & finishing house turning five years old

These two lads bounce off of one another in a way that only a 14 year working relationship could explain. Watching them answer questions is like observing a well-oiled machine; versed in the inner-workings of the purpose for which it was built. They are a true team. Although if you closed your eyes and listened, their accents would soon set them apart. Dave speaks in the melodic tone singular to a Scotsman. Brian on the other hand is a real New Yorker. 

Nestled in London's Holborn is the Stone Dogs studio; home to a growing squad of problem solvers and now, colour graders. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. All too often life happens in a series of flashes, and when it gets busy, we just sail on down the river without taking the time to see the view. Sitting in a few moments of retrospect with Brian and Dave allowed for some contemplation of the wins, lessons and challenges of the past five years. 

Stand Outs 

When asked about some of the stand out projects of the past half decade, it was difficult to limit them to three. Reminiscing about work with McLaren party casino, the guys describe overcoming challenges in order to produce something they were truly proud of. Animation work has also been a strong contender for pedestalled projects. Perhaps the most prominent of all however, comes in the form of a US beauty brand that has just landed in the UK.

The Sephora - Express All of You campaign marked the brand's British launch; a pretty big feat in and of itself. In this bid to communicate the message that being British means being a variety of different versions of oneself, Stone Dogs worked on the campaign from the very beginning - offloading, grading and taking this through to completion. Not only did it deliver spots for TV & Digital, but also the famous billboard that towers over Piccadilly circus. The result is images which look intentional, with the finished product looking confident and assertive.

Adapt & Overcome

At only two years old, the crew faced the obstacle of working from home when the world descended into lockdown. They remember how it felt closing their office on St. Patricks day of 2020, “we went to the bar and were asking one-another ‘is this real?’” says Brian, knowing that they needed to ensure business still ran. Having just built a new suite, they had fortunately been testing some of the new technology - Brian continues, “essentially, our roadmap to being fully remote went hyper. We went from testing and then suddenly we were all islands. So everything had to be accelerated within those months.” He remembers there being a lot of panic at the beginning, “but we figured it out. We got through it.” 

Not only did the business survive lockdown, it actually grew during that time. The expedited rate at which they had to transition is one of the reasons why they are now proud to say they can work fully remotely in all areas of the business - opening up many opportunities for international production. 

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better 

For Dave, reflecting on lessons from the past five years, says the most important thing of all is to take some time for yourself outside of the business. He muses about how running provides him with a clear headspace, whilst Brian confesses his cognitive-cleanse comes in the form of skateboarding. They run the company with meaningful considerations of family and homelife; making Stone Dogs a place not only great to work with, but for. 

Brian reckons that for now, the team of eight is a pretty good size; explaining that it allows him and Dave to continue to do the work they love to do — “if we got quite big, we’d just be managing the company.” Their “expand and contract" model, however, allows them to take on more muscle when needed in the form of Flame artists and the likes for grander projects.

Once Starters, Now Finishers - Expanded Offerings 

Back in August, Stone Dogs welcomed talented colourist Holly Grieg to the team. Holly arrived with her own impressive client list, glimmering with names like Channel 4, Virgin Atlantic and Nike, to name a few. Since joining Stone Dogs, Holly has worked on a range of projects, including spots for The Transpennine Route Upgrade, and the aforementioned Sephora Campaign. Another addition to the colour grading arm of the company is Mark Meadows, who joined the studio this month. Mark brings with him 15 years of experience and a pretty formidable portfolio. His clients have included Rolls-Royce, Apple and L'Oreal, amongst others.

These additions have meant an exciting expansion of offerings for the boutique studio, who are not only working on grade and VFX, but following right through to online. “This is the first time that we are now able to say, hey look! We’re kind of doing it all now” beams Brian. Colour is able to close the circle on what Stone Dogs is able to provide for its clients. Being able to serve clients CG needs is beginning to change the game for the company; but it’s especially nice to be able to do so for long standing clients such as who have been on Dave and Brian's books for almost 20 years. 

With their new colour studio boasting a shining state-of-the-art monitor, there is little this studio won't be able to achieve. Having recently completed colour grading for Irish Telecom in Dublin, their remote capabilities continue to impress. “We use technology that gives someone in another remote location, a fairly accurate colour representation of what you're looking at on the screen. So we are still bricks and mortar in the sense we still have our flames and our grading suite in Holborn, but you know just as we've adapted in other areas we can also be more flexible here.” 

As we watch the creative industry take a collective step back, to recognise and remedy the environmental impact of the industry by taking different elements down a remote route, it will be interesting to see how remote grading will be able to contribute here too. 

What’s Next

If the Stone Dogs 2023 showreel is anything to go off of, one can only imagine what’s next in store for the team as they take on another year, filled to the brim with possibilities, and now, even more capacity. 

We suspect Stone Dogs will become known as a one-stop-shop for all of your post-production and VFX needs. And most importantly, you’ll be working with two of the most genuine blokes in the industry. As their fifth year in business begins, we look forward to seeing what pawprints they make on the latter half of the decade.