Upstairs at the Ludus


For long time veterans of the post-production industry, the world must now seem
topsy-turvy, for we’re in the throes of a technology – and by virtue thereof, a
content – revolution!

With this in mind, Cape Town-based facility, Upstairs Post, is introducing a new
division of its business, which it has called the Ludus. The word ludus refers to a
school or house for Roman gladiators. It was here that young talent was honed for
gladiatorial combat in the thrilling spectacles of the arenas.
This concept references the “bloody battle’ of business which is to come – where the
select few will find fortune and favour, while the rest fall on their swords. It’s about
becoming the best, getting the crowd to call its name, giving them something new,
something spectacular, a new arena with new gladiators – an entirely new

The post-production services industry is at an interesting juncture. Driven by the
squeeze in production budgets, it’s facing low margins, slow growth and operational

Trying to adapt, conventional offline houses all now offer grade / online in many
weird and wonderful forms – some seem to work but lack capacity. They may be
taking a stab at individual survival but collectively they’re merely adding to the
erosion that’s being felt industry-wide, the world over. Something needs to change.

What all of these business models do, both good and bad, is that they all erode the
market share of the BIG guys; they all chip away at the pie. The inevitable result
will be that the offline editors will cause the death of the traditional online facilities
– as they get better at what they do, we will see more and more of the market
share dispersed.

Being behind the curve is bad; but so too being too far ahead of it. Perhaps synergy
and capacity can be built with collaboration – with like-minded people creating and
re-imaging how post-production fits their lives, their existing businesses, rendering
it less conventional and more inclusive?

Smart businesses

Currently, post-production consists of big machines, many owned copies of software
and lots of storage hardware. In the future, we will only need interfaces.
Smart businesses are already preparing for this future destination.

At the same time, Upstairs Post Production needed to re-invent. To offset the
creeping change where offline houses compete with online houses, Upstairs Post
Production tried a different approach – it worked, attracting top online and grading
talent, offering clients added value and disrupting the Cape Town post industry.

The Upstairs Ludus is a Johannesburg-based post-production facility re-imagined – a
facility that caters for the needs of production houses, directors and agencies and
where stakeholders have a vested interest in the business. The Upstairs Ludus
offers a creative, cost-effective route, with fresh talent and little risk.
Traditionally, all post services were split between different companies, which means
extra cost – in the form of additional human capacity, fees, mark-ups, etc. Not
conducive to working with today’s constrained budgets!

The Upstairs Ludus is a one-stop shop, offering:
• Offline
• Grade
• Online
• Vfx/animation
• Audio
• Tele-stream

With all these services being housed in one convenient space, the benefits to the
client include:
• Reduced overall cost
• Less time wastage
• One contact person – no mess, no fuss!
• One invoice – post budget from beginning to end

Location was a key factor in setting up the new facility. After searching everywhere
from Bryanston to Rosebank, the Upstairs team settled on a 400-square-metre
space on the corner of Republic Road and William Nicol Drive, close to both the
Sandton and Randburg CBDs. Opting for a “reimagined space’ somewhere between
the traditional “old house’ and “industrial warehouse’ models that are common in the
industry, they conceptualised a fusion space which is sophisticated, contemporary
and honest. It’s a clean space which promotes creativity and productivity.

At the heart of the model is the idea that the people who work in The Upstairs
Ludus actually own a piece of it. The logic behind this is that The Upstairs Ludus
becomes a vital support for their own core models, giving them longevity in an
ever-changing industry.

Johannesburg-based Upstairs Ludus will open on 1 March 2015.

For more information on the venture contact producer Ashleigh Lambson at:


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