Founded in Munich in 1917, ARRI is a leading designer and manufacturer of camera systems and lighting equipment for the motion picture and broadcast industries. Today, ARRI has 1,400 employees across the continents of Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. In addition to manufacturing equipment to sell, ARRI also provides rental services and has a presence in the post-production segment of the film industry.
The importance of video conferencing at ARRI
- Sharing visual references in internal meetings, such as notes on a whiteboard, show reels, drafts and drawings, and still photographs
- Internal meetings across distant locations to discuss project feasibility and economics
- All-hands meetings, where the board members address the rest of the employees
- Training modules for customers, including a webinar series called Tech Talks where managers walk clients through various product features in real time
- A recent three-day global meeting
“Video is essential for us. After all, we are in the media industry and production business. A lot of our work needs visual references. Audio alone is limiting, whereas video is much more powerful.”Steffen Scheid, Project Manager, ARRI Global IT
With ARRI doing business in locations across the globe, including Beijing, Hong Kong
Sydney, Munich, London, Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Sao Paulo, and Dubai, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the company’s 1,400 colleagues needed to quickly be able to collaborate from home—as well as reach ARRI’s global customers.
While coordinating across countries and time zones was already very much a part of the daily routines at ARRI, Covid-19 introduced several new challenges:
- Everyone was suddenly out of the office and working remotely, yet needed to stay in touch with customers and colleagues at their usual pace
- Without the benefit of the company’s in-office video conferencing infrastructure, employees needed a way to securely continue collaborating on files and projects and discuss confidential information over video from their personal computers
- A total breakdown of schedules in the film industry caused an environment of considerable uncertainty, with film shootings being postponed or even cancelled. With rental companies as key customers, ARRI needed a reliable platform to offer reassurance both to staff and clients.
Choosing the Pexip gateway
Previously, ARRI used the U.S.-based technology Lifesize for its video conferencing needs. With employees suddenly needing secure and reliable solutions at home, the video conferencing infrastructure needed to integrate with Microsoft Teams, ARRI’s chosen platform for internal collaboration. That’s where Pexip came in.
“We wanted a solution that was reliable and easy," says Steffen Scheid, Project Manager, ARRI Global IT. "And of course in our line of work, good audio and video quality are imperative.”
The ARRI IT department researched and approached three vendors for gateway services. The Pexip team requested information on the use cases at ARRI and quickly designed a proposal for a trial. “We found the team very customer- and solutions-oriented during the trial process,” says Steffen.
The key reason for choosing Pexip was its interoperability with Microsoft Teams, which ARRI had recently adopted. This solution had to be set up in a matter of weeks—and it was. At a time when travel had come to a halt, Pexip’s interoperability capabilities were reassuring for ARRI’s employees and collaborators around the globe. Regardless of the video service being used by various contacts, everyone was able to easily join and collaborate in virtual meetings.
ARRI, like so many other organizations during these times, is moving to a hybrid workforce, with some employees in office conference rooms and some at home. Pexip’s one-touch join feature makes it possible to bring everyone together in an easy and flexible way. Pexip is also fully GDPR-compliant, which is important for ARRI as an EU-based company.
Seamless integration, smooth implementation
ARRI began with a trial environment set up by Pexip, and tested the service rigorously with intercontinental meetings across China, the United States, and Australia. The company tried out different scenarios, and found they needed very little support.
“We asked everybody to test it, including the R&D department, our executives, our security officer, and our in-house software developers who work on our own camera systems,” says Steffen. All subsidiaries were asked to evaluate Pexip, with emphasis on audio and video quality as well as ease of use. The feedback that came back was all positive, so rollout was quick— "just like turning on a switch,” says Steffen.
“Our timeline began with initial contact in May, moved quickly to immediate trials by mid-May, continued with evaluations in June, and a full rollout in July. It was a very quick process of frictionless sign-on with seamless integration. The entire undertaking took less than three months. Now, we can dial into a meeting and just click the ‘join’ button—it’s that simple.”
— Steffen Scheid, Project Manager, ARRI Global IT
Looking to the future
“Yes, some people are a little overwhelmed already with the increased use of virtual meetings—but for many of us, this already feels like the new normal. Greater integration and more collaborative tools are here to stay,” Steffen says.
With uncertainty around if or when the film industry—and so many other industries—will go back to “business as usual,” companies like ARRI will continue to use video communications to bridge distances and keep connections strong.
“We expect the relationship with Pexip to be long term,” says Steffen.
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