Back when the pandemic first plunged us all into the shock of living in ‘unprecedented’ times, one of the areas of the advertising industry that had the most to adapt to was the post production and editing part. A business that was used to being based in suites and at banks of powerful machines, plugged into the best internet connections money could buy, suddenly had to work out how to function from people’s home offices, bedrooms and dining tables. Back then it was a shock.
As we enter a third year of the Covid-19 story arc, we’re comfortable with doing pretty much anything that can be done remotely, remotely. And post and editing are changed for good.
That’s just one theme that this area of the business is grappling with. We discussed this, along with other subjects like talent, technology and cultural tastes, with a selection of experts from post and editing.
Partner/editor, Whitehouse Post
The changes in technology in our industry over the last 15 years have been monumental. We have come a long way since Umatics and machine rooms, and are light years away from Steenbecks, but thankfully I’m not quite old enough to remember those. If you had told me as a young assistant that we would soon be storing dailies and sharing media with post houses from a big old cloud in the sky from the comfort of our own homes I would have scoffed and asked if we would be using hoverboards too. But here we are. And the benefits for both clients and editors are pretty amazing.
Our sister company Carbon is now a Cloud based company and the intention is for Whitehouse to follow suit in 2022. All media and projects for all the offices will be stored on the Cloud, or ‘a gigantic hard drive!’ It will allow us to work on any given project from anywhere in the world. It will mean I can live stream my edit from my bedroom in NYC, complete with graded picture, minutes after the TK had been finished in LA. As the FX team’s polished comps are updated to the cloud in Chicago, I can quickly swap out my Avid comps with theirs. During the working day the clients (wherever they are) can see their spots getting better and better. And who wouldn’t love that, after all, it’s almost as good as a hoverboard!
Co-founder and executive creative director, VFX, Untold Studios
The past couple of years have been a rollercoaster. The pandemic brought a great deal of uncertainty with many cycles of drought and abundance. We’ve all had to adapt to deal with shifts in schedules, cancellations and last-minute changes due to the uncertain nature of the global market.
However, the upside is huge. It’s extremely rare to experience a whole industry striving to innovate all at once. The result is a colossal shift in how work gets made. It really is amazing to see what can be achieved using cutting-edge remote workflows and a few hundred Zoom calls.
As for this year, I certainly don’t expect (or even want) normality to resume. As clients become more comfortable with modern filmmaking techniques I believe that agencies and filmmakers will enjoy a significant upsurge in creative output.
The obvious example of changes we’ve been through is the wider adoption of cloud based technologies.
When we launched Untold Studios in October 2018 we were the first studio in the world to be fully cloud-based. By design our cloud technology infrastructure has meant that even when working in the studio, everyone is effectively working remotely. This proved to be a huge advantage when the pandemic bit. At a time when other studios were scampering to rapidly reinvent their workflows – it was business as usual for us. Without doubt the biggest advantage of going cloud based is being able to work with talent seamlessly from anywhere in the world.
Another area of growth is virtual production – many film studios are investing in giant LED volumes allowing the actors and cinematographers to make decisions in context. The days of shooting blind against a green screen are numbered and I am here for it!
We need to address the diversity imbalance in the industry. It is vital that we engage with underrepresented groups as a priority, building pathways where they don’t currently exist.
We are seeing positive changes thanks to initiatives like ACCESS:VFX and We are Stripes, but we still have a long way to go. We have to do better, and the time is now.
At Untold we’re constantly reviewing our practices and policies to make sure we’re doing the best we can. We are transparent about our stats – they are published live on our website. Although stats don’t tell the full story, I think it’s a step in the right direction. It keeps us honest.
SVP of post-production, DEFINITION 6
What made me fall in love with our industry is the speed at which it moves and, wow, has it changed since the start of 2021.
For one, the talent boundaries have been lifted. Geographic location is no longer such a factor in landing talent. No more hour-long train commutes to a post facility where your biggest operational challenge is running out of rooms. We are now editing projects at home.
And if there is one thing the Great Resignation has taught us as employers, it’s that we need to be flexible to keep our talent. So, I believe strict schedules and forcing employees into offices is a thing of the past. The output should always take precedence over how and when we do the work.
Of course, increased flexibility means you need better communication and collaboration tools. Zoom has clearly become a tool I cannot live without. But what’s next? Cloud editing solutions are becoming more common, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, a cloud-based shared storage system with local hardware for monitoring is what I would like to see.
Lastly, as more and more content providers get into streaming, post-production work will continue to skyrocket. Two genres to watch for disruptors will be children’s and sports. In the world of marketing and promotion, we have also seen a huge increase in deliverables, as we need to make the content fit on all types of platforms.
So, there you have it. Flexibility, collaboration, and volume. All of this makes me optimistic and excited about what the next 12 months hold.
Managing director, Uppercut
2022 is the year we come together.
I’m proud of how good we’ve gotten at mastering the workflow and mechanics of how to work remotely, so what I’m gonna say next may seem surprising: I’m really looking forward to being able to work in offices and with teams again. Humans interacting in physical space!
Building and preserving a strong company culture is so important, both with our internal team as well as with our clients. It adds a level of trust and cohesion that you see in the work. We also recognise the importance of mentorship, which is far more effective in-person. So yes, I can’t wait for those interactions to happen again.
A modern 2022 roster.
The pandemic brought so many opportunities for young creatives to rise to the occasion and show what they can do. There’s a real openness to out of the box thinking. Finding ongoing opportunities to allow them to keep growing and flourishing is key.
For our more established editors, we are excited for them to continue to grow their relationships with their directors, DPs, and creative clients, to reconnect on a deeper level than remote sessions have allowed. We also know that each editor’s market has expanded thanks to working remotely and want to ensure we keep all those new channels open.
Creative director/owner, Artjail
As we enter yet another year with Covid lingering, we are feeling extremely lucky to be in an industry that can pivot and continue to safely function with a high level of productivity.
With the continued remote workflows, we have really focused on growing our staff team. Within the last year we have almost doubled in size at our NYC studio. Having a consistent team that is familiar with our clients, our style of work, and our custom pipeline has been extremely important in order to have projects continue to run smoothly. It’s just inherently harder for freelancers to have this second hand as compared to the core team at least.
As an artist-owned boutique we’ve always strived for a better balance of work versus life, and these days, that mindset has really risen to the top. One of the recent cultural changes we’ve noticed is that studios, clients, agencies and our industry in general are collectively moving to be more respectful of people’s time and wellbeing. Traditionally this objective has felt like a bit of an oasis, but it’s great to see this move in the right direction.
Talent has never been so tight, so we need to continue to be flexible in order to retain and attract the best people. There is a lot of work out there, and not always enough top tier talent to accommodate everything. At Artjail we have always been a talent first shop and cared about our team with a healthy work life balance. We’ve made a point of being as flexible as we can with our team, so they feel rewarded and considered. We hold everyone accountable to get the job done at a high standard, and when people can take the foot off the gas pedal, and get some R&R we make certain that happens. We’ve built out a system to allow our team more flexibility over these times, and intend to continue that company ethos into the future. Another advantage we’ve enjoyed is the ease of adding global talent. It’s never been this accessible and fast to spin up a global artist.
VFX supervisor, Rascal Post
We all sat on our pandemic islands and reassessed how and if this would change in the way that we work. Not long after it all began, there was a rapid development of cloud and remote working which has increased flexibility and allowed us to shape work into a new hybrid path which we are all trying to navigate. At Rascal we prize creativity and will use this new hybrid path to play, foster conversation, idea sharing to create many more chances of serendipity.
There have been huge advances made recently in real time rendering of CG. Once the assets are modelled and lit, one can render real time which is incredibly useful in being able to share and discuss concepts with each other and clients. This permission to be more spontaneous encourages creativity greatly. Virtual production has come a long way too since I first played with it in 1999. It can easily substitute far off locations which may not be accessible because of a lockdown. The complete control over the environment and lighting also open up a huge playground only limited by our imagination.
Since the technology has levelled the playing field in so many ways, we are free to work in many more combinations and not feel hindered by geography. This has opened up Rascal to global collaboration and the only criteria for our talent search is creativity and fun.
US managing director and director of global new business, Final Cut
Our collective ability to continuously adapt while also producing high-level creative work reveals the incredible resiliency of our industry. Evolving to expect change at every point of the creative and production process has fundamentally shifted our mindsets. Beyond the immediate rewards, as we look forward this evolution shows us that planning for long-term growth is still possible, especially when we invite new perspectives to the table.
Looking ahead, I do hope we find more ways to connect in person. We are very practiced at digital collaboration and connectivity at this point, but I know there is something we get from in-person interactions that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
Remote technology has borne us through this pandemic, but there is a creative and cultural toll this is taking that is only being felt now. Don’t get me wrong – remote workflow is here to stay – but how we successfully implement and adapt these technologies to support creative exploration, collaboration, and the culture that creates needs greater attention and care.
Senior editor and MD, OKAY STUDIO
I feel there are two – more or less – significant changes from a business perspective over the past year or two. One is naturally the move into a more flexible (or ‘remote’ for lack of a better word) working set up. That goes for clients and staff equally. I think it’s a big opportunity for us to work more effectively and more creatively – within certain boundaries given of course. Equally clients seem to be more open minded about the actual location of the post house, which with us being based where many creatives and clients live (East London) naturally plays in our favour.
Connected to that is a second point. Many people seem to have re-evaluated the way they work overall which includes who they work with. I feel this is a similar watershed moment as many technical developments that lowered the boundaries for market entry significantly about a decade ago. Clients and artists tend to be more open to work with someone new after these past two years and they look at the work and people above all, instead of just continuing with the same old without asking the question if there is a better and more creative solution for them out there.
Technology is constantly evolving and it’s up to us as post professionals to be ahead of the curve here. It feels that progression is happening exponentially rather than linearly – which makes sense looking at the way technology has developed over the last twenty years.
Looking at that speed is another argument for me to stay small, nimble and team up with young talent as much as possible.
I could say remote working and reviewing are changes but really these were around pre-pandemic. With everything tech it’s the way we use these tools, and if they can serve us better for the way we’d want to work together creatively that makes the difference.
Above all, the most important thing for talent is to listen and treat people with respect, no matter how junior or senior they are. Yes, hierarchies are still important but the responsibilities that come with them are (more) mutual and always go both ways these days.
Everyone can learn a piece of software right now with a few tutorials. More than ever it’s about work ethic, integrity, creative courage and being a team player on both sides of the ball.
Actually, it’s always been about that. But it is now much harder to hide behind a piece of tech or a job title to cover up bad manners or lack of skill. Employee and employer, head of department as well as junior operator, we all have to live up to the same standards no matter at which stage of our career to be successful as a team. Being more experienced doesn’t mean one can be less caring, vigilant and ambitious when dealing with other team members, the opposite is the case and talents know that.
Founder and CEO, Absolute
As a company, we have always strived to create a friendly, transparent and team-spirited environment for our talent to flourish in. Obviously, remote working has made this trickier – new starters are signing in from home and it’s far harder to build upon these relationships.
Covid has resulted in an industry-wide dilution of company culture these past two years. Therefore, rather than technological advances, our biggest priority for 2022 is our staff. We look forward to somewhat of a return to office working – and a definite return of consistency, collaboration and camaraderie Absolute has become lauded for.
VP of film & episodic, Assembly
Obviously, Covid has completely changed the industry’s stance on remote workflows… For years, Studios and Networks were stricken with fear around security issues that were quelled by “on prem” security measures (TPN etc…) but the moment the world went into Lockdown (March 2020) that all went down the drain. Every vendor has put a lot of thought and R&D into making the remote workflow experience as tolerable as possible. I think we all believed that we would see a slow migration back to “brick and mortar” editing facilities in the Q1 and Q2 of 2022 but Omicron has stalled that enthusiasm… Whatever the time frame is, the remote workflow is here to stay in some shape or form… I think we’ll see multiple forms of hybrid workflows be it completely remote, fully back to on-prem, and some combination of both. As long as there is production, we will provide post production wherever it needs to be.
The first answer is that “tech support” is based on solving issues / problems when they occur. You don’t know how to fix something until you are presented with the situation. That is precisely how many of the workflow changes have come about during the last two years. A lot of the technology was already there, we just needed to get into the lab and figure out which pieces fit into which holes. Now, there are some great things to come out like the whole “camera to cloud” phenomenon, the different streaming options, and more stable/secure remote connections. And we’re still creating better options for more bandwidth and better security.
As a new company, we are building from the ground up, so have the luxury to capitalize on building workflows and systems with whatever latest technology works best. We are not weighted down by three year old hardware and antiquated workflows. And we have the ability to continue to bring in talent that understands today’s issues. Our infrastructure is built on where the industry is going, not where it’s been… but we bring our decades of experience of problem solving and serving the community into this new era.