Background

Arc'teryx

Retouching Technical Fabrics

The production, the amount of work, the volume work—for us Pixelz has been a good solution, absolutely.
Ana Pedrero
Ana Pedrero

Product Photographer & Digital Imaging

Located in the Canadian Coast Mountain wilderness, Arc’teryx is built on the principle of obsessive, precise design and production. Our unique in-house manufacturing and design centres allow us to constantly evolve and build products the right way. Timeless quality, intuitive design and simplicity result in unrivaled performance at the point of extreme need.

Arc’teryx Equipment Inc
What’s your studio setup like?

Fotografica is an independent studio. We have our own studio space and facilities and as part of Fotografica, under contract I also manage the Arc’teryx in-house studio.

What was your post-production like before you were using Pixelz?

My workflow was in-house shooting, in-house retouching and wait until they’re done, basically. We had first an in-house retoucher, a full-time person and it was just overwhelming. It was too much work and we had to look for a bigger setup, something with more capability.

My concern with that, when you go into an offshore service where you have so many retouchers, is the consistency of the images. Once you finish with 10 jackets, they all have to look like they were shot same day and done by the same retoucher, basically. That was my big concern.

Arc’teryx Equipment Inc
The hard shell jackets take at least 40 minutes and you have to be really good at it. The level of our retouching is not easy.
How long was it taking you to retouch an image?

The very hard images take about 45 minutes. You could not do these images in 10 minutes.

The hard shell jackets take at least 40 minutes and you have to be really good at it. The level of our retouching is not easy.

Did you have experience with outsourcing before Pixelz?

No, not really. I had another experience with another company at the same time as Pixelz; I tried two companies for the same season. Then I decided to stay with Pixelz because it was easier for me to manage just one source and train one source to do what I wanted, basically.

It’s sharing that control, which I appreciate from Pixelz. I’m very happy.
Why did you select Pixelz?

There’s many factors. It was a fair price. Also flexibility and being willing to provide us with the service that we request, instead of what they wanted to give us.

The reason I chose Pixelz over the other company is because the final product that the other company sent me were a nightmare. Raggedy edges and double colors, it was just scary. So the samples were done by somebody very, very good and once I sent the bulk of stuff, I don’t know who was doing it because it was not the same person.

Has Pixelz been responsive to your needs?

It’s good. I can tell Pixelz I have a big deadline, a big project coming up and most of the time there’s no problem in accommodating my schedule. There’s always somebody that I can talk to.

It’s been a process. At the beginning, I needed to learn to work remotely and transmit my process, because I used to do it all myself. I tried to come up with a document that would tell exactly what we’re looking for.

There was a time that Pixelz was not sure they could accomplish the process on one jacket in the time that I was saying. So I sent them a video on screen of me doing it within the time. They adapted, and they’ve been getting exceptionally good.

There’s always somebody that I can talk to.
It sounds like your biggest pain points were consistency and then scale?

Yeah, I’m always concerned when you have so many hands doing the same thing and at the end you want to make it look consistent. You want to be sure things are treated the same way, so they look consistent once you put them all together. To me that’s the challenge.

How challenging is the retouching Pixelz is doing for you?

Very.

Because we work with fabrics that are mostly GORE-TEX, which is laminated, it creates a lot of not real attractive wrinkles and the garment just moves in a different way. It doesn’t look aesthetically beautiful if we would just leave it like that.

Because we shoot with samples, the samples are sometimes not color correct, so there’s a lot of logo changes and that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of patterns that get in the way of the retouching because I like to preserve the fabric as much as possible.

That’s why I ask for working files, because I have the back-end all lined up and I can bring back some of the fabric, but that’s personal taste. I go through every image at the end when I receive them.

They do a really good job and they let me know when there’s a problem with schedules, which I like. Once I start a season, I need to know that whoever I’m using is going to follow through to the end.

Before After
I’m going to have about 1,600 images and I’m going to need them all back within a week
What is the turnaround time on your images?

It varies. Sometimes I give Pixelz a hundred images, sometimes I give them three. I normally expect to get images back to me in a week, but sometimes I’ve had one week for 1,000 images. Right now, I’m working on a project that is going to be like that. I’m going to have about 1,600 images and I’m going to need them all back within a week, so I warn Pixelz this is coming. Sometimes I need it the next day, but it would be very few images.

How does Pixelz fit into your workflow?

This morning for example, I received a notice that everything was ready for download. I review each one of them and I make my comments. Once everything’s done, I download everything. I use Bridge for that. Then I check each image: because we have a lot of samples, we have sample changes. I want to make sure that they’ve been addressed.

I get TIFs. So most of the time it’s pretty good, I get my merged layer at the very top and all my working files at the bottom. They’re big files, and I have everything there, so if I have to make a tweak I don’t have to rebuild the whole job.

Arc’teryx Equipment Inc
Would you recommend Pixelz?

I’m happy and it’s good. I’ve come to learn the limitations of distance and the communication, and I’m trying to learn to communicate better. But the production, the amount of work, the volume work—for us Pixelz has been a good solution, absolutely.

You need to wrap your head around that it’s all out there somewhere in space, and the communication has to be very good, because there’s so much at stake if something goes wrong.

Pixelz is open to talk to us, so that’s what I like. It’s a unique workflow; maybe I’m complicated. I like to have my files and I want to be able to deal with them if I have to, because sometimes I have to fix it in the middle of the night. So it’s sharing that control, which I appreciate from Pixelz. I’m very happy.

What are you happiest about with Pixelz?

I think it’s reliability and it’s flexibility. Sometimes I may have something very strange and we find a way to make it work. I like the templates. I had to learn how it works, but I think it’s fine because then I know what to expect.

There’s a lot of flexibility and the price is fair and Pixelz is there for me.

There’s a lot of flexibility and the price is fair and Pixelz is there for me.”

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