Full Frame Signs and Scenic Art invests in Esko Kongsberg V cutting table to expand its billing in the film industry
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Miamisburg, OH – The first Kongsberg V table installed in Ontario deserves star billing, helping Toronto-based Full Frame Signs and Scenic Art create a wide range of items that appear on screen for the company's film industry clients—as well as materials for their business clients.
Producing a wide range of materials for film
Sean Vizsy, Full Frame executive director, came from the niche industry that he serves: the film industry. He wanted to be a service supplier on a different scale, so he hung up a shingle and developed a relationship with Cinespace Film Studios.
Full Frame Signs and Scenic Art prides itself with state-of-the-art technologies for sign manufacturing and scenic art production. They cater directly to the film and television industry, as well as the corporate business world. Full Frame Signs and Scenic Art aims to be a one-stop-shop for both the film industry and growing businesses—conveniently located in two of Cinespace Film’s properties at the East and West Ends of Toronto. Their headquarters are located with their sister company, The Custom Apparel Shoppe, in Paris, Ontario Full Frame products are used on screen, seen anywhere from taxi cab decals to coffee shop store fronts—even posters hidden in the background of a bedroom. They have made everything from flooring and car decals to apparel, posters, large and small signs, and paint stencils—among many more.
"Unfortunately, until recently we were basically cutting everything by hand and were very limited to the designs we could offer. They could only be square cut. We would try using a belt sander to get rounded corners, but they are tough because it adds to the risk of introducing imperfections to the product," admits Vizsy. "We were also limited to the materials we could work with. We didn't even bother with MDF or Dibond. We stuck with substrates that could be knife cut."
Beyond substrate limitations, what ultimately pushed them to look for a different solution was that customers begged them to invest in a cutting table. Full Frame's largest customer had access to a cutter, but it was offsite. They wanted a machine nearby so that Full Frame could offer the same swiftness, efficiency and quality as they did for they other products.
"We were looking for a table that could accelerate file setup, and do so easily—a table on which we could train someone in hours, not weeks, and which did not require advanced CNC software experience to program files. It's difficult to find a graphic designer who can also program a CNC machine," says Viszy. "The Kongsberg table set-up is simplistic for super things. Using Esko i-cut Layout, we can step and repeat a number of pieces. The best part is that the interface feels and acts like Adobe Illustrator, because it's a plug-in for Illustrator."
Vizsy shopped for a table for almost two years. For most tables, integration with design software was a limitation. Then at Print Canada in October 2014 he saw a Kongsberg table priced competitively, built extremely well, and backed by a dedicated support team in Canada. They operated the first Kongsberg V table located in Ontario after the installation in November.
A piece of equipment that helped the company change its name
"Obviously, it is much more efficient using a table rather than being tied up standing by a table cutting multiple signs by hand, one at a time, every 15 minutes," remarks Vizsy. "The Kongsberg V has allowed us to expand our marketing approach, well beyond signage. In fact, it has allowed us to change our name from Full Frame Signs to Full Frame Signs and Scenic Art. With a new set of tools, we have gone beyond signs to costumes and set pieces.
"There is a great opportunity with digital scenic art or set pieces because most cannot be cut by hand without investing in a lot of people to spend a lot of time carving items. There are a lot of diverse opportunities for us," marvels Vizsy. "For example, we cut a horse for a camera test. Instead of using a live horse while a director experimented with a scene, they used a graphic horse as a stand in for the live horse. It was life size, cut from gator board and seamed together. When the scene was ready, they called in the real horse."
Another example is set pieces—motifs made from MDF material to fill in for accents on the edge of a roof for a period piece production. Full Frame could not have feasibly created them on time and the cost would have been prohibitive by hand.
Vizsy purchased the Kongsberg roto tool attachment that allowed him to even cut leather and neoprene. "Leather is not easy to cut, and neoprene frays when you cut it by hand. We offer a cleaner and more consistent product. Our clients bring them to us," comments Vizsy. "With help from The Custom Apparel Shoppe, we can screen print small pieces of neoprene, cut and send them to our customer's facilities to build costumes."
The Kongsberg table is also much more productive. "When we bought the table, we had five people and were struggling to find staff. We were sweating to get work done late at night. Then we lost someone in January," remembers Vizsy. "Ironically, with our four people and the Kongsberg table, sales have increased 30-40%, but we're not hiring! The table has replaced a person or two just because we no longer rely on someone to stand at a table manually cutting signs. The Kongsberg table has become vital, automatic part of our workflow."
Recently, Full Frame received a job requiring them to cut two thousand 3"x6" white stripes out of vinyl. Normally they would have cut them by hand on a vinyl cutter. With the Kongsberg table, they just set up a cutting file, fed the vinyl, and left it alone to do its job. It would have taken them much more time by hand.
"If a shop is looking for a piece of equipment to expand their business and gain an edge while saving time training staff, the Kongsberg table is a great fit," wraps up Vizsy. “It has expanded our projects, while offering us the ability to complete more work. It has been a success for us."