Post-production anywhere, everywhere!


Globally, post production has seen some major changes of late. The combination
of low barriers to entry, shrinking budgets, tight timelines and the relentless
pace of technology change, means that it has become quite difficult to make a
living in this industry. As the cost of technology has fallen, so too has the major
barrier to entry into the post-production business.

Nowadays, anyone with a recent model Mac tower, a copy of Final Cut Pro and a
diploma from a film school can offer their editing services.

Without networks of business relationships or established brands behind them,
newbies in the market will use low pricing to get jobs. Mostly, this results in a
trade-off in terms of quality, but in areas like corporate video production and
event specific videos for example, it seems like there are an increasing number
of clients who are willing to make that trade-off. Some of these low cost
providers will be successful, some won’t, but there is a steady stream of
replacements that will step in and take their place.

Collaborative, mobile workflow

At the international level, our ever shrinking world makes it increasingly easy
and cost effective to move work overseas. Currently, this is more evident in
areas of the industry that are labour intensive like animation and VFX. The
introduction of compact and portable editing systems is one product segment
that is contributing to a larger trend – a trend of collaborative editing.

Collaborative editing tools like Adobe Anywhere and Avid Everywhere, among
others, have made the possibility of outsourcing editing of major productions
overseas, a reality, facilitating remote collaboration, both over short and long

Products such as CineSync have led to a lot of changes in the visual effects
industry over the past few years, allowing direct collaboration between artists
around the world and supervisors in other locations.

Super-users like Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox, HBO and Warner Brothers, to
name a few, have all embraced collaborative workflows. It is very common today
to create visual effects for large projects in Los Angeles, Vancouver, London,
New Zealand and India simultaneously, sometimes even working on the same
shots in multiple locations. Broadband connectivity has made this possible, but
it’s the clever software that has led the wide adoption of those techniques.

On the audio front, this movement has been going on for a few years, with a
number of television productions opting to have a sound editor / mixer employed
directly by the production, working in a Pro Tools equipped room within the
editorial department. AT NAB 2014 Avid launched plans to add cloud-based
collaboration workflows to Pro Tools to allow musicians, producers, mixers and
other contributors to be able to work together on the same music session or
soundtrack, in real-time or offline, no matter where they are.

Post-production, of course, also means finishing. Conventionally, finishing has
been done in purpose built facilities, large and small, for both features and
television work. These facilities not only have the infrastructure, but also the
talent and connectivity to facilitate an efficient finish of very high quality and for
this reason they will continue to succeed for some time yet. Having said that,
the same technical changes and economics that have pressured the front end of
post-production, are influencing many in the industry to explore alternative
models for finishing as well. Economical finishing tools, such as DaVinci Resolve
and a lower priced Avid Symphony, for example, allow the creation of “in-house
finishing’ as an addition to basic editorial.

These all taken into account, it is obvious that there is a clear trend towards a
mixed model, in which location based front- and back-end post-production is a
reality on many productions, while others will stay in a streamlined facility model.

For feature films, a proper environment for digital intermediate work is still a
necessity, but preliminary work can conceivably be done in a temporary
environment set up specifically for the production, anywhere it’s needed.
The movement towards a general decentralisation of the post process is
obvious, with many steps in the process being done in various physical places
depending on the production’s particular logistics and the needs of the creative
talent involved.

Declining revenues

According to IBISWorld, a global business intelligence leader specialising in
industry market research, revenue in the post production services industry is
expected to decline by 3% in 2014, and remain relatively stagnant through to

While it is always wise to take these sorts of five-year projections with a pinch
of salt, it’s not hard to imagine that globally there will be relatively low growth in
spending on film and television production and that this will trickle down to
spending on post. The advertising industry, which is the other major driver of
spending on post production, is unsettled to say the least, with traditionally
huge TV advertising budgets diverted to different forms of online
Unfortunately, for existing players in the post-production industry, this is
probably the area that is most impacted by a glut of low-cost providers
competing on the basis of price. Based on circumstantial evidence, many people
who are new to web video are more willing than television advertisers to
compromise on quality in order to keep costs low as they experiment with new
ways of advertising. The bottom line is that growth in spending on post-
production services isn’t going to be enough to offset the pricing pressures that
will be driven by new service providers.

The outlook certainly looks a little gloomy; people will have to contend with
shrinking budgets across all segments of the industry. In the television world,
splintering audiences are forcing broadcasters, cable networks and studios to
manage their spending more tightly, meaning that new shows have very little
runway to prove themselves before they are cancelled, and that big budget hit
shows face pressure to keep costs under control and maximise profits. It also
means that relatively low cost lifestyle and reality programming will probably
dominate the airways until we reach some kind of saturation point.

Against the backdrop of shrinking budgets, production and post companies are
going to face pressure to do everything faster. The moral of the story is that
2014 will more than likely be a year of being asked to do more with less.


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