Refinery embraces changes in post-production


At one stage last year, Refinery was working with 20th Century Fox and
FilmAfrika on Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines, with Touchstone Pictures and
Andre Scholtz Productions on Schucks! Your Country Needs You, on Kite for The
Weinstein Company and Videovision Entertainment, and on iNumber Number for
Quizzical Pictures and Fortissimo.

“We’re working on great productions with some of the biggest companies in the
world,’ says Tracey Williams, managing director of the Johannesburg post-
production facility. “There’s been an improvement in the scale of projects we’re

For example, Refinery managed all post-production and deliveries around the
world on SAF3, an American TV series from Baywatch creator Gregory J Bonann.
“It was a first for South Africa to have an American show post-produced and
delivered to 23 countries internationally from here,’ says Williams.
“With TV series like Black Sails and Homeland shooting here, the rebate helps us
make a strong case to keep the post in South Africa,’ Williams says. “We’re
expecting to attract a lot more international post-production work going

While Refinery has had a great year, it’s also been one of major changes.
“Globally post facilities have had to reinvent themselves,’ says Williams. “Just
look at the number of facilities that closed around the world last year.’
Refinery have made a conscious shift away from the large “own everything,
employ everyone” model. They’ve streamlined to a core team of versatile,
experienced talent who can work across multiple platforms, while collaborating
with other studios, edit houses and specialists as necessary. “Customisation is
the new approach,’ says Williams, “which means that post producers need to
be creative in assembling the right creative team suited to the project’s
individual needs and budget.’

For SAF3, Refinery set up a satellite post facility at Cotton Mill Studios in Epping,
Cape Town. “We’re becoming very comfortable taking things to the client,
whether it’s dailies solutions or edit solutions or an entire facility like SAF3. We
understand our client’s time is expensive, so we’re focusing on how to get
solutions to them.’

She says the next major shift will be in deliveries. “Sony is no longer making SP-
Betacam, which will have a significant impact on the SABC,’ says Williams. “This
is going to be the year that digital file deliveries replace tapes at
The experience delivering SAF3 to 23 countries internationally gave Refinery
exposure into a number of new territories they hadn’t previously engaged with.
“Most countries took file deliveries, but not the same codecs or with the same
audio configuration,’ says Williams. “There’s a huge variation in the specs that
different broadcasters accept, so we’re glad we have a proven pipeline and
management process in place.’

She says that while Refinery can deliver files via the internet, cost efficiency is
still best on couriered drives.

Williams also predicts a more defined role for DITs and data wranglers this year.
“The DIT has replaced the role of “clearing rushes’. This needs to be done in a
controlled environment, with a broadcast monitor, a keen eye and the
experience to know what to look for, from dead pixels and waterfalling to
banding, lens and filter issues. This role has become a lot more than data back-
up and responsible verification methods. It is critical that the right checks and
balances are adhered to,’ says Williams.

“From the view point of the DOP, this person is seen as key in making sure the
look of the film and his / her vision translates. This means ensuring continuity
whether it be the dailies files the executives are viewing or the editorial files
used for the offline.

“An in-depth understanding of colourimetry throughout the post-production
process is essential to this role. On certain foreign productions this role is still
fulfilled by the post facility, especially where high volumes of data are recorded
and where workflows have been tried and tested,’ Williams concluded.

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