TV-BAY January 2013

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The evolving face of post-production As post-production continues to evolve from a predominantly bricks and mortar operation to an increasingly mobile one, new business and financial models are required... by Will Strauss I n the latter half of 2012, Assimilate made an interesting announcement about payment options for its Scratch and Scratch Lab software products. Instead of buying a license outright, it said, now you can choose to simply rent either of these Digital Intermediate (DI) ‘dailies’ tools for any period of time from a single day to three months. They call it pay-as-you- use. I’m going to stick with renting or hiring. Available through the Assimilate store and purchased with just a credit card or PayPal account these rented applications are said to provide “financial flexibility to artists in a constantly evolving production and post-production landscape, making them more productive and helping them make money.” Clever, if not entirely unique, Assimilate’s model reflects post- production’s current reliance on individual artists and technicians that work remotely on location, on-set or near set as often as they do in a good old fashioned bricks and mortar post house. It’s a move that’s been brought about, in the main, by the transition to file-based cameras and, as such, it’s not likely to be going away anytime soon. One of the upshots of this move is that, in the year 2013, post- production facilities no longer employ the vast numbers of people that they used to. With dwindling budgets and the general peaks- and-troughs nature of post work to also contend with, you can now see both staffers and freelancers operate where the workflow requires them. And sometimes that is Soho. And sometimes it isn’t. It’s got to the stage now that, in some cases, facilities don’t even have full- time creative staff at all, just in-house engineering capabilities, while others don’t even house kit. In that second scenario they manage it on someone else’s behalf on their premises or, again, on location or on set. The post producer still works closely with a producer. But the relationship is a lot more streamlined than the post production ‘hotels’ of the 1990s and early 2000s with their expensive systems, hero suites, high ceilings and hot and cold running runners. Incidentally I’m not saying there isn’t room for runners and high ceilings. There is still a need for them and several facilities do very well working in that way. But not everyone can run a business like that because it’s expensive and not all programme genres require that type of service. The pay-as-you-use software model is in part a reaction to these changes. For just $150 (£92) a day you can now use Scratch to create dailies, do a conform, complete a colour grade or do some compositing. It takes a lot of the financial pressure off either the post-house or the freelance post professional who now has to work in a completely different way to how he or she did 10 years ago. 32 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BA073JAN13.indd 32 11/01/2013 14:17