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Facilities 50, 2013 Back to Reports & survey Listing

Post technology never stands still as 2014’s list of tech trends reveals cloud-based working and 4K are likely to dominate the year ahead

The Cloud

One of the latest technological advancements to really start making an impact on post production (and production in general) is cloud-based working. It’s a fast-growing area with new and increasingly innovative ways of exploiting cloud-based technology being offered by a vast array of media technology and IT companies.

Almost all post houses single out ‘the cloud’ as a huge potential trend for the coming year. On the whole the feeling is it’s a positive development, although not everyone is convinced cloud-based working is good news for the post industry.

“We believe 2014 will see an increased interest in media asset management services as they develop from being a localised product available to all within a given facility and begin being offered as a cloud-based product,” says Scott Holmgren, md, Clear Cut Pictures. “Searching and viewing content, including archived masters and rushes, available to anyone with an internet connection offers greater creative flexibility and potentially time and cost savings.”

“Further developments in cloud-based services have meant the industry is slowly starting to adopt new ways of working in this area,” adds Anna Mallett, CEO, BBC Studios and Post Production.

“It’s finally all about the cloud,” agrees Paul Austin, head of post production, Dock 10. “We’ll see the rise of Avid Sphere, Adobe Anywhere, CentralParQ, etc, and I’m also interested to see what FORscene do with their recent financial backing. Cloud-based remote editing offers a tangible solution to making the post budget work for all parties.”

Hogarth Worldwide’s post production supervisor Daniel Buckley is predominantly enthused by the potential of Adobe’s recently launched Anywhere service: “The release of Adobe’s cloud-based, collaborative editing system Anywhere is a really exciting development in the move towards a cloud-based editing system. I think we are going to continue to see the shift towards post production workflows that centrally store assets in a cloud environment and allow artists and operators to work collaboratively and with greater flexibility.” On top of this, Buckley believes, “Adobe’s new subscription/licensing model with creative cloud is also a model we are going to see other companies adopt in the near future.”

“Cloud-based solutions are key and being able to deliver these efficiently and cost effectively will be key,” says George Panayiotou, business development manager, Filmsat59. On a positive note, Rowan Bray, md post production UK, Prime Focus says: “We’ve seen the use of technology including cloud-based logging creating real savings in post budgets, which in turn protects the creative standards of the programmes.” Similarly, Phil Dobree, md, Jellyfish also points to “cloud-based working allowing us to reduce expensive overheads and infrastructure costs.”

However, Eben Clancy, post production director, Timeline TV sounds a word of warning: “Cloud editing feels like it’s getting nearer but no one has a business model worked out for it.” And Cara Kotschy, md, Fifty Fifty is concerned about what the likely success of cloud-based editing, asset management and post services could ultimately mean: “The rise of cloud-based editing solutions is a trend, but [if it takes off] is there a need to come into Soho any more?”



4K
The other big thing everyone is talking about is 4K/Ultra HD, despite it being relatively niché as technologies go, with most consumers pretty much unaware of the development and there being almost nothing you can watch in 4K in the home.
But, unlike 3D stereo, which even at its height always had its detractors, pretty much everyone in the industry is convinced the future is 4K. Post houses are gearing up for the widespread adoption of 4K, even though most believe 4K is some way off being adopted by consumers.

“4K acquisitions and a post pipeline to support this is high on our agenda – our clients that are delivering landmark series are pushing 4K to the fore,” says filmsat59’s Panayiotou. Hogarth Worldwide’s Buckley agrees: “4K is driving many developments in technology both in image acquisition and processing, and while wide-scale domestic consumption of 4K is still a few years off, we’re definitely going to see a trend for post facilities to equip themselves for full end-to-end 4K workflows.”

Clear Cut’s Holmgren is perhaps a little more optimistic about the speed of take-up of 4K than most: “4K viewing and streaming products will start to hit the market in 2014. Ultra HD TVs and 4K internet streaming products such Red’s RedRay will start to appear on the high street. We believe the main focus of 2014 will be on 4K acquisition for productions that intend to re-master their product to 4K delivery in the near future. Traditional TV production companies will spend 2014 adapting to the workflow and cost implications of shooting with high-end cameras.”

Patrick Fischer, md, Creativity Media is somewhat less convinced: “I don’t think there’s a major new tech trend on the horizon for the next year. 3D has lost its lustre, which is underlined by the BBC exit, and 4K is still waving from beyond the horizon.” Fifty Fifty’s Kotschy agrees: “We don’t feel the talk of 4K is going to amount to much immediately other than eager producers/directors wanting to exploit the hype.” It’s the same for Justine White, co-founder, Finish: “4K is much talked about but realistically it’s not that practical yet for short-form work ending up on TV/internet.” John Rogerson, CEO, Halo is similarly sceptical: “Possibly we’ll start to see more 4k but slowly, I don’t think the format will drive fast consumer uptake.”



File-based delivery

The final piece of the file-based jigsaw – file-based programme delivery – was slotted into place at the beginning of 2012 with the announcement of the DPP’s file-based delivery guidelines. 2014 is the year these guidelines will be formally introduced.

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are moving to file-based programme delivery from 1 October 2014 and BSkyB, C5 and BT Sport are all planning on a similar move in due course. So it’s of little surprise the impact of moving from tapes to files for programme delivery is something many post houses cite as one of the key technology trends of the coming year. “It will be interesting to see how the DPP launch will fair in 2014,” sums up Fifty Fifty’s Kotschy.

“2014 should see the DPP’s file-based delivery rolled out as a preferred method of content delivery to broadcasters. File-based workflow automation tools will be trialled in an attempt to produce seamless workflows that save time and money, (especially on labour costs),” explains Clear Cut’s Holmgren. Likewise, Max McGonigal, md, Crow TV says there will be “increasingly efficient delivery mechanisms to support the industry push to achieve TX file delivery by 2014.” Richard Moss, md, Gorilla TV also points to “more file automation, including delivery and QC” for the coming year.



Cheap Tech
The widespread availability of much more affordable post products is a trend many post houses say will continue in 2014.
“Technology is getting cheaper and more sophisticated, enabling us to create increasingly complex effects faster and for less money,” says Jim Allen, md, Big Buoy. “From our point of view, the continual increase in cheap but high quality equipment is meaning profit margins are able to increase,” agrees Thomas Urbye, md, The Look.

For Adam Luckwell, md, Unit, cheaper technology leads to increased focus on creativity: “Changes in technology have allowed more resource to be allocated to creative – less admin people and more creative personnel. Putting the resource where it counts, in front of the client.”

“Cost of entry has been removed and it’s all about the talent,” agrees Derek Moore, md, Coffee and TV. So does Creativity Media’s Fischer: “Post production is thankfully getting more democratised with cheaper equipment and more and more talented people creating amazing work from their own home and smaller, boutique companies.” 

However, Paul Ingvarsson, joint-md, Storm HD is less keen on the long-term implications of cheaper technology: “Lower costs software could be an opportunity, but I doubt this will last long before it’s a serious threat to our business as facility owners.”




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