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Charbon Studio: moving to the next level

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“People often ask why Charbon,” says Eric Pecher, Studio Manager at Charbon Studio based in La Hulpe, Wallonia, in Belgium. “The name actually defines us in so many ways: Charbon (coal in French) is rooted in Wallonia’s past, its economic development and defines our industrial heritage.  Charbon is also a shade of black vital to colour grading work because it enhances images, highlights details, which is very important in films. And it’s also the name of the cat of our founder, Michael Cinquin. If you look carefully, he appears on many of our communication visuals in one way or another.”

Charbon Studio specialises in film post-production, offering expertise in image calibration, definition, colour grading and mastering to producers all over Belgium. The business started in Michael’s living room, but by 2012 moved to larger premises.  “The new studio was a much better space than what we had been used to before. We first started with small budget films, short movies, documentaries but we soon began working with ambitious young Belgian production companies like Frakas Productions, Tarantula, Neon Rouge Production. They became our historic clients and as they grew so did the size of our projects. We started editing longer feature films sometimes involving 3-4 different countries.” Naturally, bigger jobs and larger clients and co-productions meant that more space and greater capacity were needed again.  

“Space is important because basically we work in a cinema room,” explains Eric. “We have to recreate an environment and experience similar to that of the audience. Our previous studio was fitted with a 3m base screen, only 6-10 people could work round it. That was quite tight. So we decided to open a new studio in Liège at the Pôle Image. It is a hub for creative industries, a big facility harbouring over 50 companies working in the picture, sound, special effects, gaming - everything to do with picture and communications technologies - the perfect environment for us.”

For the purpose of this expansion, Charbon turned to Wallimage for an EU-backed loan backed by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe. “They understand our business, the environment, the industry,” Eric says. “They knew what we were doing. At a bank we’d have difficulty explaining why we need this and the opportunities it creates.” The financing allowed the company to acquire a state of the art projector. “Now we have a real 20-50 person cinema room and a 7m base screen but for us the biggest impact is on the feel of our final product. The quality of our screening is now like the best cinemas in the world. The new facilities have now opened the door to working with larger co-productions from all over Europe.”

Location: Liège, Wallonia, Belgium

Financial Intermediary: Wallimage

SME: Charbon studio

Sector: audiovisual

Number of employees: 3

Financing purpose: new facilities & equipment

EIF financing: Cultural & Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility (CCS); EFSI

 

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