Chop and Hue sets up cinematic shop in Grand Rapids


Dan Wiltshire, left, and Dustin Foster hope to move into Chop & Hue’s office space in the Ledyard Building in August. Photo by Matt Radick

“Corporate film does not have to be boring,” said Dustin Foster.

Foster, along with business partner Daniel Wiltshire, launched creative broadcasting and media production boutique Chop & Hue in Grand Rapids May 1.

The startup specializes in post-production work, and offers services including direction, creative editorial, motion design, illustration and animation, production facilitation and color grading services.

Chop & Hue plans to collaborate with content makers, creative thinkers and innovative brands to produce high-profile video for both the corporate realm and film industry.

Foster, who was raised in Edwardsburg, Mich., has a background in commercial editing and is an editor, colorist and director. He graduated from Grand Valley State University and then spent more than a decade working in the Chicago market. He recently relocated to Grand Rapids.

Wiltshire comes from Charlotte, Mich., and is a motion designer, illustrator and animator. He currently resides in Grand Ledge.

The pair met while working at a creative boutique in Lansing and decided to take the plunge and open their own firm, choosing Grand Rapids because they loved the community and believe it has great potential.

Foster said Chop & Hue would develop the caliber of work that typically has originated from larger markets like Chicago or Detroit. He said with the tools available today in smaller markets like Grand Rapids, firms can compete and create the same quality videos as in the larger markets.

“A big reason we are doing what we are doing is because the Grand Rapids production community, from what I’ve seen and know, is a good community,” Foster said.

“It’s a growing community, and some of the pitfalls that have been there haven’t been resources like Chop & Hue. There are a lot of all-in-one shops and there are great creatives, but we want to be a resource for people so if you don’t know how to do a video for your company, we can facilitate that for you.

“We really want to be another feather in Grand Rapids’ cap as far as the caliber of the work that we do. Our main mission is to change how people view and think of corporate film and change the view of what people think of work being done outside of a major market.”

Foster said he hopes to bring a cinematic quality to corporate video coming out of Grand Rapids.

The Chop & Hue model is unique, according to Foster, because of the level of collaboration the partners will undertake on projects. Working mostly with contractors and freelancers, they can pull together the right team for any project.

“We partner with everybody,” he said. “We bring in contractors and freelancers, which allows our overhead to stay low and keeps us flexible.”

Foster said money is often the biggest deterrent to making quality video, but he argued it shouldn’t be.

“Clients come in saying, ‘We’d like to do a video, a teaser for a social media page, but it costs too much to light and edit,’” Foster said. “Instead of them saying, ‘We don’t want to do this video anymore,’ we say, ‘Have you thought about animation or typography?’”

With the Chop & Hue model, a company might find they can, in fact, produce a high-quality piece within a doable budget.

Use of videos continues to grow, with people’s appetite for content seemingly insatiable.

“Studies are showing people are consuming and craving content at a fast level,” Foster said. “It’s no longer about the 30-second or 60-second spot. It’s about digital content. There’s so many other delivery platforms now as far as how people consume it.”

He noted Google’s newest algorithm, Hummingbird, which was launched this past fall, is likely to impact online video in the near future, offering a level playing field in searches. Hummingbird was designed to focus on the intent behind the search to help bring up better search results.

“You can see it in action now when you start to type something,” Foster said. “You can ask it a question and see the questions start to be answered for you. … The next step that is coming is words being connected phonetically inside the video.”

Foster said the marketing, public relations and advertising industries should be thinking about how they label client videos when uploading them on YouTube or other content-sharing sites. Companies need to consider a searcher’s intent.

Foster pointed to hospitals as one industry that could benefit greatly from video links showing up at the top of search results. He said if someone were to type “My child got stung by a bee,” there might be a video from Spectrum Health or Mercy Health or another local hospital at the top of the results list.

In addition to corporate video, Chop & Hue hopes to work with filmmakers on short and feature-length films.

“We want to be an open door for filmmakers,” Foster said.

The company also has plans to produce its own animated short film and a live action narrative short film, both of which are in the concept stages right now.

Foster said for the time being, Chop & Hue will have a 75-25 split between corporate projects and filmmaking, but in the future he’d like to see it be more like 50-50.

Chop & Hue is opening its office at 125 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 237, in the Ledyard building.

Foster said he and Wiltshire are investing heavily in the infrastructure and design of the space. It will have servers capable of playing back 4K-footage and be a welcoming atmosphere for collaborators to get work done.

“We are going to be a cool hangout for clients to come and sit,” he said. “It will really be that boutique experience for someone to finish their film.”

Chop & Hue plans to host an open house once the office space is completed, likely in August.

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