“A magnet for creativity” – inside Canon’s new studios

For an image-driven business, a studio isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. So, when Canon EMEA & UK moved to a new HQ, it was time to raise the game.
A bearded man stands behind a table in a film studio. There are lights and cameras trained on him.

Written by Marie-Anne Leonard

Writer & Editor – Canon VIEW

There’s nothing like the prospect of a new home to inspire all sorts of ideas. A fresh space can be like a blank piece of paper – ready to be made useful and filled with life and vibrancy, a place to reveal the ingenuity in all of us. But for the Canon Creative Services team, moving offices was more than just an exciting new era. It was a golden opportunity to turn a dream into reality.

The Bower, Canon UK and EMEA’s new head office, is a truly impressive 150,000ft2 office space. Bathed in natural light and with impeccable sustainability credentials, it was officially open for business from April last year with a warm welcome to colleagues in a fabulous and fun opening party. As you might imagine, film and photography play a huge part in daily life at Canon, so the sight of creatives at work, camera in hand, is simply business as usual in the office. Studio space, therefore, is not a luxury but a necessity for a business that is image-driven. However, before the move space was at more of a premium and there were limited locations suitable for private filming or photography. “We set up what was, I guess, a temporary studio,” recalls Gonçalo Rodrigues, Senior Photography and Video Specialist. “But the vision was always to have a space where we could produce content at a higher level.” Looking back, he can see that the first studio wasn’t, shall we say, ideal… “it wasn't the most practical. Sometimes when you were filming, you would hear people passing by,” he laughs.

Gonçalo and his manager, Cecilie Harris (Canon EMEA’s Head of Creative Services) daydreamed that when Canon imminently moved premises, they would create in-house studios that could rival anything that Canon customers or creative agencies use. It wasn’t simply a personal pipedream – the demand for their work had risen exponentially and it was becoming increasingly important to be able to accommodate serious levels of photography and filming for events, campaigns, social media and more. The daydream turned into a business case. And the business case made sense. “As well as dedicated in-house studios, one of the big decisions we made was to invest in cinema range equipment,” explains Cecilie. “And broadcasting facilities within the new a conference centre.” As a result, the studio is kitted out with some seriously enviable kit, such as the Canon Cinema EOS C500 Mark II, the C300 MKIII and a C70.

An office table and chair. On the table are several screens, speakers and control panels for editing and managing a studio.

The professional studio and editing suite are used by Canon’s own in-house creative team, as well as agency partners and Canon Ambassadors.

It was, however, pure coincidence that their proposal was received and implemented in parallel with the pandemic. For two years, nearly all location filming and photography was impossible, but it was simply out of the question to stop producing content altogether. While everyone was working from home, video became more important than ever, both from the perspective of staying in touch with our customers, providing educational material and making sure that colleagues could come together for important events, such as broadcasting our annual kick off activities. It proved that having a truly professional set up wasn’t just a ‘nice to have’, but actually ‘mission critical’ and taught the team a great deal about what was needed and the skills they required to make it happen. “Gonçalo had a steep learning curve and had to learn about broadcast on the job, which was fantastic,” recalls Cecilie. “As a team, we can celebrate the fact that we have gained so much knowledge.”

The build itself was also a significant challenge, as the space would not just be used by the internal team, but by Canon’s agency partners, Ambassadors and more. In this respect, having an industry standard tech spec was important, yes, but the studios also needed to be a welcoming place for visitors and home to an editing suite where one might comfortably work for several hours. Cecilie describes this particular area as “the heart of the studio” and for good reason, as it houses all the broadcast equipment and acts as a kind of ‘green room’, where people meet, talk and plan on shoot days. And it is in these aspects where this new space truly reflects Canon’s personality, as Cecilie and Gonçalo took the space from purely functional to having warmth and familiarity. They created a community feel through – what else – images. As you walk into the green area, a gallery of Canon people greets you. Recognisable faces from the Canon EMEA and UK family, colleagues you might bump into at the coffee shop, or on the building’s dramatic staircase.

A man pours resin from a bucket into a sheet of reclaimed wood.

Local artisan, Alan Gates uses reclaimed local wood to create the perfect table for the studio.

A young man sits at a reclaimed wood table, his hand rests on a Bluetooth keyboard and he looks at a computer screen.

The new table receives plenty of compliments and acts as an icebreaker for visitors.

The second unique detail to draw the eye is a table – but not just any table. The team commissioned Alan Gates of Harefield Interior Resin Design to build the perfect desk for the editing suite. It’s a splendid addition to the space, with elegant, curved edges and resin filling the hollows in a way that calls to mind the Japanese art of kintsugi – embracing the beauty of the natural imperfections in the wood by drawing attention to them. Alan visited the studio, explaining to the team that his furniture is made from local trees that have naturally fallen. He was able to show them his studio, where the table would be made from scratch, even his tools and materials.

“I fell in love with it, because Alan is a local maker and working with him, someone in our local community, felt so much in the Canon spirit of Kyosei – living and working together for the common good,” says Cecilie. “As well as the fact that he also works sustainably, using fallen trees, and how personal this felt, Alan’s price was also excellent. Together it all felt so effortless to have one person who could deliver everything we wanted.” Gonçalo calls the table “a magnet for creativity”, as whoever enters the room seems to immediately gravitate towards it. It’s tactile and satisfying to touch and perfect in its imperfections. It also creates a great talking point and is often the studio icebreaker.

Today, everyone has settled into the new building like they’ve never been anywhere else. And the studios are a well-loved, and gloriously busy part of everyday life at Canon. Cecilie’s team has expanded to meet the needs of the business and each day they are busy with projects, pre-recordings for live events, technical how-to videos, campaign and lifestyle shoots, product launches, talking heads and more. “Every day is different,” smiles Gonçalo. “You go from filming the CEO on Monday, to giving a tour of the studio to students from on Tuesday. It’s such a privilege. And to have the support of everyone in the business – it’s been incredible.” Cecilie agrees, “when I walk into the studio, when it's set up and the lights are on. I almost feel like I'm not at work. I'm stepping in somewhere else.”

Studio Build Export_For_View_Article.mp4

Read more articles like this from Canon VIEW