Cheat is run by colourist business partners Toby Tomkins and Joseph Bicknell

The company
East London finishing company Cheat is run by colourist business partners Toby Tomkins and Joseph Bicknell. The company has four large client-attend suites and the bulk of its work is in commercials and feature films, although it does take on short film and music promo projects. 14 of the feature films that Cheat has worked on have received distribution deals, including Plan B’s acclaimed urban drama ‘Ill Manors’ and the sci-fi thrillers ‘The Machine’ and ‘The Call Up’. Commercials projects include work for Mercedes, Audi, Coca Cola, Huawei and Adidas.

The scenario
Both Tomkins and Bicknell have been grading on DaVinci Resolve systems for many years. Up until recently, when using the software-only version of Resolve, which is now owned by Blackmagic Design, they have been using third-party control panels. To enjoy the system’s full functionality they decided to invest in Blackmagic’s own Resolve control surfaces for all three of their suites concurrently. By having the same equipment in each suite, colourists would then be able to move easily from room to room, giving Cheat additional project flexibility.

Ordering three Resolve controls surfaces gives even a modest-sized creative finishing company a degree of buying power, and the two owners were able to negotiate a good price with Blackmagic reseller Jigsaw24. Making use of Black Friday, when there are further deals to be had, the duo were able to negotiate a very favourable deal.

The deal
Azule was brought in to fund the purchase for the simple reason that, even at Black Friday prices, it was still a substantial investment for a company of Cheat’s size. Also, the business was not able to simply buy three outright at the time. The benefits of having the new control surfaces outweighed the cost and justified taking out asset finance. It would allow the business to expand while maintaining the flexibility that project and client requirements demand.

The experience
The purchase was not without its hiccups. A rogue courier driver who had used false documents to get the job, ran off with Cheat’s precious purchases before they could be delivered. Luckily, all the necessary ‘in transit’ insurance policies were in place between distributor Holdan, reseller Jigsaw24 and Jigsaw24’s courier firm. This meant that replacement control panels were delivered within a week of the crime being committed. Tomkins was happy to report that the situation “was resolved, if you forgive the pun, as soon as humanly possible” and that Azule, Jigsaw24 and Holdan all handled the situation very professionally and without any fuss.

VSL is an an event production company...

The company
James Crossley has been operating as a freelancer in the live events industry for the past eighteen months, specialising in video for conferences, corporate events and live music events.

He recently launched VSL, an event production company, and invested in a Sony Z150 camera to capitalise on a rise in demand for video production services from his clients and in order to collaborate with third parties. As well as video equipment the company also owns a small stock of sound and lighting equipment.

The scenario
In July 2016, Crossley was asked by the screen hire company EVENTLED to fly out to San Tropez with his equipment to provide the visual content at an all-night 18th birthday party.

To do this at short notice, Crossley needed to hire a Green Hippo Amba 1RU media server that would be used for VJing and to provide party visuals, feeding a single LED screen. The Amba is a powerful device, despite its size, with the capacity to output unlimited resolution from a single output on DisplayPort. It can also drive two screens, with ease, using a splitter.

For the Monte Carlo birthday party project, Crossley was able to hire the required kit. When EVENTLED asked him to provide similar services at the same client’s Halloween party in October, his luck ran out. Crossley couldn’t find anybody in the UK with an Amba to rent.

He decided to look at alternatives. Most hire companies go for the Boreal and Karst models, but these were too heavy for Crossley’s needs. He also explored Green Hippo’s software-only options but, as they don’t support video capture cards, they were a non-starter, especially as he needed to rent something that could also be used at the Sony World Photography Awards event in April 2017.

In the end he had no choice. He needed to invest in an Amba of his own and find £5,600 to pay for it. As a new company, cash is king, so rather than make things difficult for himself, Crossley decided to use asset finance to make the purchase.

The deal
The sales team at Green Hippo reseller AC Entertainment and Jack Camilatto, “the very helpful chap from Azule,” were able to make the deal happen quickly, which was really important, as Crossley was on a very short deadline. The agreement was put together in two days and Crossley was able to meet his overall deadline: to assemble the kit he needed for the job in just five days.

The experience
Crossley says that he found the process of funding his purchase through Azule “pretty easy” and, overall, it was a pleasantly hassle-free experience. He is looking forward to growing his company over the coming years and is sure that Azule will play a part in the future success of his business.

Sound system upgrade
for live music specialists

The customer
Founded in 1982 by Kevin Mobberley, Midlands-based Stage Audio Services supplies high-quality professional sound systems for live music tours and events including various festivals. This year the company has worked on Glastonbury Festival, Hard Rock Hell and Download, amongst others.

The scenario
As part of a complete overhaul of its inventory, Stage Audio Services is replacing its current L-Acoustics DV-DOSC and V-DOSC systems with L-Acoustics’ K2, a next generation system with the capabilities of the K1 but the form factor of the V-DOSC. The K2 is designed for live shows with audiences of anything up to 20,000 people. 24 K2 systems were ordered originally. The company will be buying another 48 to complete the upgrade. The first batch has already been put to use on the Slam Drunk Festival plus tours for Muse, Tom Odell and Paolo Nutini.

The deal
Azule arranged an asset finance deal to cover the cost of the first batch of speakers. Finance is generally the way to go for Stage Audio Services. “It depends on the product,” says Mobberley. “But generally, for larger items, we will go with finance.” He says there are both cashflow and tax benefits.” “Sometimes we'll lease, sometimes we'll use HP, depending on what government tax allowances are currently available.”

The experience
Stage Audio Services is a long-standing customer of Azule having worked with managing director Gavin for the last 20 years. “We are very happy with their services,” says Mobberley. “They have such a great understanding of the market, of how the industry works and of what the risks are within the industry that it is churlish to look at any of your normal brokers.” Are Azule easy to work? “Extremely easy,” he adds. “They are very accommodating and helpful when it comes to putting deals together.”
MIlk
“I get to talk to real people and have a relationship with them”
PIXIPIXEL
Pixipixel is a high-end lighting and camera rental house that supplies stills and video equipment...
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Pixipixel again turned to asset finance for this latest purchase which was worth in the region of £100,000...

The customer
Pixipixel is a high-end lighting and camera rental house that supplies stills and video equipment to producers of commercials and feature films. Its client list is a who’s who of fashion brands and blue-chip firms that includes Adidas, Nike, Vogue, Marks and Spencer, Apple and Sony.

The scenario
A growing company that is doing more and more video work, Pixipixel’s owners saw an opportunity to go up against some of the larger players in the hire market by buying a set of the much-requested Anamorphic/i lenses from Cooke Optics. “Lenses come and go but at the moment Cooke lenses are very popular,” explains company owner Toby Newman. “Lots of DoPs want to shoot anamorphic. Having those lenses pushes us into a bigger market.”

The deal
Having worked with Azule before, buying both cameras and lenses, including previous sets of S4 and S4 mini Cooke lenses, Pixipixel again turned to asset finance for this latest purchase which was worth in the region of £100,000. “We use asset finance for most of the things we buy,” continues Newman. “It is good for cashflow and, because we don’t have to wait while we find the cash, it enables us to react quickly to opportunities as they arise. “

The experience
Newman is very happy with the service he gets from Azule. “I get to talk to real people and have a relationship with them,” he says. “I can pick up the phone and have a conversation. I feel looked after. It is this personal touch that sets them apart.” Timeliness and market knowledge are also crucial, he adds: “We're out on the road a lot, so being able to ring someone up and have a quick chat about our plans is very useful. Azule understand our time pressures and they make everything easy for us. I have worked with other companies that have been a lot more officious. Azule are not like that. They understand the needs of the industry and my company. They just get on with it.”

Azule helped
Smash to purchase....

The customer
Smash Productions is an innovative visual productions company founded by Alex ‘Junior’ Cerio, a renowned lighting director who has worked with David Guetta and Tim Smith amongst others. The company creates breath-taking live show experiences using a combination of lights and video visuals.

The deal
Azule helped Smash to purchase a Martin Professional M6 lighting control console, the first one to be used in Europe.

The experience
“As a start up it is difficult to get funding,” acknowledges Alex Cerio, the founder of Smash Prodouctions. “Azule Finance helped us get a Martin M6 console, which was crucial for our business. They took into consideration our reputation in the industry and projects that we had in the pipeline, and did the best they could to turn the deal around quickly.”
“I was particularly impressed with Azule's transparency”
London Film Academy (LFA)
LFA produces multi-skilled, world-class filmmakers through intensive...
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LFA produces multi-skilled, world-class filmmakers through intensive...

The company
Daisy Gill and Anna MacDonald founded the London Film Academy (LFA) in 2001 when they were unable to find a film training course that met their requirements.

Today, LFA produces multi-skilled, world-class filmmakers through intensive, hands-on training from practicing industry professionals in a collaborative and nurturing environment. Many of its graduates have gone on to be award-winners, working on projects such as 'The Martian' and 'Tarzan' among others.

The scenario
With LFA being a fully immersive film school, student projects are always in the works as part of their training. They shoot either on Super 16 film or digital, using the Arri Alexa and the latest RED cameras, and editing on either Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut.

The deal
Gili and MacDonald turned to Azule when they wanted LFA to graduate from the expense of hiring in top-end cameras to what they consider to be a more cost-effective method of owning them. The purchase included a Sony FS7 with full accessory kit and a full set of Zeiss lenses, bought from Visual Impact, and an Arri Alexa supplied by Video Europe.

The finance package that Azule was able to put together allows LFA to have cameras in- house, on site, whenever they're needed while retaining the flexibility to hire in as required, especially when new cameras arrive on the market.

“We're now effectively transferring the same money to buying cameras that we were spending on hiring them in”, says Gill. Of the transition to buying, she says. “It was so easy, I wish I'd done it five years ago.”

The experience
“I was particularly impressed with Azule's transparency,” says Gill. “They explained very clearly that this is what we were borrowing, this is what we're securing it against, this is how much money they are making, these are the terms and this is what you pay to keep the kit at the end. It was all on one page.”

Has the deal changed her attitude to asset finance? “Spreading the cost over a period of time is worth the cost of paying to finance it” she says. “It allows you to get on with developing your business in other ways rather than tying money up in equipment. It's allowed us to invest in business development, which is harder to finance, and have kit, rather than doing one or the other.”

Having its own kit has proved extremely beneficial for LFA, she adds. “Not only did we want to give the current students the best experience possible, we wanted to use it to attract new students who know they're coming to a top-class establishment that owns top-class equipment. This summer we successfully ran our first Young Filmmakers’ Academy. They worked on state-of-the-art kit, just like the adults, it didn’t matter that they were only sixteen or seventeen.”
Newham College
“What set Azule apart from the competition was their genuine interest in our business"
NEWHAM COLLEGE
Newham College of Further Education is the largest educational facility of its kind in East London. With over 20,000 students...
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"The new IT facility cost £600,000 to build"

who
Newham College of Further Education is the largest educational facility of its kind in East London. With over 20,000 students, the college aims ‘to better serve the needs of the people of Newham’ and has an international reputation for developing innovative training and inspiring regeneration of people and the local economy throughout the East End.

The scenario
The college was awarded a contract from New Horizons Computer Learning Centre, a US-based IT training company that has 300 centres in 70 countries and trains more than 1.5m IT technicians and engineers a year for companies such as Microsoft and Cisco. The contract required a significant investment in IT infrastructure and equipment in order for the college to open New Horizons’ Computer Learning Centre in London, a state-of-the-art IT training facility based in Stratford on the edge of the Government’s ‘Tech City’. The new IT facility cost £600,000 to build. Installation of the new equipment took six months.

The deal
Azule provided the College with a pre-lease facility whereby Azule cash-flowed the project costs over the six-month period. At the end of that period Azule then consolidated the £600,000 expenditure into a single lease, on behalf of the College.

Splice is an independent full post-production company based in London.

The company
Splice is an independent full post-production company based in London. Across two facilities it offers offline and online editing, grading, audio, VFX, asset management and content repurposing services to television producers working in factual, drama, comedy and many other programme genres. Recent credits include Welcome to the Mosque (BBC), Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away (Channel 5), Terry & Mason’s Great Food Trip (BBC) and Playhouse Presents (Sky Arts).

The scenario
Having landed a contract to post-produce all of the different UK series within the long-running Masterchef franchise (produced by Shine TV and Ziji Productions for the BBC), Splice needed to quickly upgrade some of its in-house technology, including its archive and remote editing capabilities.

The deal
Azule provided £250,000 in asset finance for the addition of a Spectra Logic T380 tape library and a second Interplay | Production Facility package that allows for cloud-based editing. The money was applied for and approved within a working week. “

The experience
The relationship between the two companies goes back several years with Azule having funded a large amount of kit for Splice including Avid Media Composer offline and Symphony online systems as well as ISIS storage. When it comes to asset finance, "we only use Azule now,” says Duncan Western, creative director and co-founder. “We dabbled with someone else once but it wasn't a great experience."

Azule has even helped Splice to purchase the chattels of an entire company. “Azule looked at the assets and decided they could buy them all,” explains Western. "We have such a good relationship with them, and they know the industry so well, you can just throw them a spread sheet, tell them who the company is and, if it adds up, they will lend you the money. They are pretty flexible."

Western is very aware of the benefits of asset finance, especially when using Azule. “The yearly tax implications are beneficial and the cost of money is very reasonable at the moment,” he says. “The other advantage is speed. I can get big sums of money very quickly. Gavin is our relationship manager. He has great market knowledge, is very personable and always picks his phone up. I wouldn't look anywhere else.”

“For a theatre everything is about creating a great experience for our visitors"

The customer
Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) is the largest arts organisation in the north of Scotland. One of its venues is His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, a playhouse with a rich heritage that puts on a range of different types of production from opera, ballet and pantomime to big comedy names like Jason Manford and large-scale musicals such as Ghost and Shrek.

The scenario
APA wanted to upgrade a creaking sound system that was more than 20 years old

The deal
Azule helped APA to install a D&B Q series speaker system and D12 amplifiers, worth more than £100,000. Warehouse Sound Services in Edinburgh supplied the equipment.

The experience
Alan Campbell, the head of operations at Aberdeen Performing Arts, says: “For a theatre everything is about creating a great experience for our visitors. It was great to see that finance people care about their clients as much as we do. The Azule team was very attentive and helpful, fast and efficient. It was all very stress free.”
"Azule know our business and we know we can rely on them"
AURORA LIGHTING HIRE
Long-term partnership
with TV lighting rental company...
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Long-term partnership
with TV lighting rental company

The customer
Aurora Lighting Hire are equipment specialists for the television, broadcast and entertainment media production industries. The company’s core business is the provision of automated lighting systems, LED and control equipment to TV studios across the UK, however it also services outside broadcast and location work, providing both crew and equipment to various productions. Recent programme credits include Prized Apart (BBC), Alan Carr Chatty Man (C4) and Big Brother (Channel 5).

The scenario
As a fast evolving company, managing director Nick Edwards and his team are constantly adding to their inventory. Their first deal with Azule, for the purchase of 26 Martin Viper Profile lights, was back in December 2012. The two companies have enjoyed a close partnership ever since.

The deal
Following the initial Martin Viper Profile purchase, Aurora have used asset finance provided by Azule to invest in a raft of different lighting equipment. The most recent purchase was in May 2015 when a deal was agreed for 24 SGM P-5s, a pair of Robert Julliat Alex and Victor follow spots and 14 Clay Paky Mythos beams. In total, over the past three years, Aurora has purchased almost 300 new fixtures, plus cables, clamps and flightcases, using finance from Azule. “Asset-based finance is a great fit for a growing company like ours,” says Edwards. “Our capital equipment requirement can be quite high; we do of course buy gear using our own funds however, if a production has an instant requirement, asset-based finance can enable us to respond quickly."

The experience
“We enjoy a strong relationship, with Azule,” he adds. “We had previously used typical bank asset types who, when told that we wanted to invest in specialist lighting equipment, would look at us blankly! When we discuss lighting with Gavin he not only understands exactly what we are talking about, he already has relationships with the manufacturers - and this is what sets Azule apart." Are Azule easy to deal with? "As simple as making a phone call,” concludes Edwards. “Sometimes a decision is given instantly. Azule know our business and we know we can rely on them."

Azule Finance organised a finance lease worth more than £500,000 ...

The customer
Colour Sound Experiment is a specialist lighting and sound designer that works with festivals, theatres, concerts, corporate galas and other events. Glastonbury, Latitude, We are FSTVL, Creamfields, Leeds and Fieldday are among the events that the company has supplied part or full speaker and AV systems to.

The deal
Azule Finance organised a finance lease worth more than £500,000 to cover new sound, lighting and AV equipment, including 26 Clay Paky Sharpy lights, 26 Robe Robin 1200 LED washes, and a bespoke 100 square metre LED video wall.

The experience
“What set Azule apart from the competition was their genuine interest in our business and their willingness to make it as hassle-free for us as possible,” says Haydn Cruickshank, the chief executive of Colour Sound Experiment. “How many times did your bank representative call you to ask how it is going without trying to sell you something? They do. I would definitely recommend them.”
“Thanks to the competitive leasing solution and Azule's proactivity and efficiency...
“Thanks to the competitive leasing solution and Azule's proactivity and efficiency..."
MILK
London-based boutique visual effects company set up by a BAFTA-award winning team of creatives...
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Providing a swift leasing deal

The customer
Milk is a London-based boutique visual effects company set up by a BAFTA-award winning team of creatives. Working on both TV and film, its credits include Sherlock, Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Thunderbirds are Go, 47 Ronin and Hercules.

The deal

Azule Finance provided a swift leasing deal for a range of specialist hardware and software solutions including Autodesk Maya 3D animation software, Nuke X from the Foundry, Arnold render licenses, CandIT Warp hard disk storage and Fat Twin render nodes.

The experience

Will Cohen, the chief executive of Milk, says: “Thanks to the competitive leasing solution and Azule Finance’s proactivity and efficiency, we’ve been able to complete our initial technical roll-out extremely swiftly. That has allowed us to focus on delivering the creative projects we’re passionate about and ensured that we’re well positioned to meet the demands of this evolving industry.”
“Azule were a key partner"
CONFETTI
Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT)
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“They 'get' the kind of equipment we need to invest in

The company

25 years ago, Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT) opened its doors in Nottingham as a music technology training provider. Today, as well as its original area of expertise, this progressive education facility, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nottingham Trent University, runs courses in games development, TV, film and technical events as well as acting & performance.

Offshoots from the main business include Constellations, a bespoke furniture and interior design and manufacturing company, a film and TV post production company called Spool and the record label Denizen. The onsite business centre, Antenna, is the hub of Nottingham's creative quarter, a magnet for both startups and established businesses. With Nottingham Trent University, the Confetti Media Group is also a joint partner in Notts TV, the city's first dedicated local television station.

The scenario

“Having the commercial organisations alongside the educational facility, under the same roof, allows us to create a lot more opportunities in education, which more traditional education providers couldn't do”, says Joe Duckhouse, Confetti's Head of IT.

“Our students have a lot of industry engagement. They go off and they work on commercial jobs, alongside our commercial organisations. The big difference here is that they will finish their course with a fairly hefty CV, whereas in a more traditional educational facility, you wouldn't have that level of opportunity.” To be able to deliver the commercial jobs it undertakes and to ensure the students are always using equipment, perfecting techniques and adopting methodologies they will find in the world of work, the company invests heavily in technology – something like £200,000 to £300,000 annually.

“Launching Notts TV and going into broadcast television was a huge undertaking. There was a very, very large investment in equipment there”, says Duckhouse.

The music suites house vintage recording desks, including an AMS Neve VR60, which sound great, but don't come cheap.

The experience

As it is now under the wing of the university, Confetti no longer uses asset finance for purchases but the business is grateful for the support it received from Azule when more traditional sources of finance we less keen to lend.

Duckhouse says: “Without having the ability to finance the equipment that we needed to deliver what we do, we'd have never got to where we are today. Getting to the point where we are now, Azule were a key partner of ours.

“They 'get' the kind of equipment we need to invest in and they 'get' the kind of high investment, high return nature of this equipment.”

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