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November 2018

In the magazine
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  • The Facilities 50
    Jon Creamer launches Televisual's 31st exclusive annual Facilities 50 survey featuring the top post production houses in the UK and 48 pages of analysis of the sector
  • The Commercials 30
    Jon Creamer introduces Televisual’s exclusive Commercial 30 survey, reporting on a year of highs and lows for commercials producers.
  • The Drama Genre Report
    With competition from streamers intensifying, UK broadcasters are exploring new drama strategies. Tim Dams reports
  • Primary Colours
    Five leading movie colourists tell Michael Burns the secrets of their craft, and explain the techniques they use to grade movies like The Danish Girl, Peterloo and Baby Driver
  • Up, up and away!
    Thanks to advances in camera technology, the possibilities of aerial filming are greater than ever before. Pippa Considine reports on some of the year’s standout aerial projects
  • OB: Which Way Now
    The OB industry is embracing major change as it adapts to the worlds of UHD, HDR and IP. Michael Burns reports
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Facilities 50 2015 Back to Reports & survey Listing

When it comes to tech trends, 4K and remote editing are still occupying the minds of the post production world with VR, AR and immersive now following close behind

So what are the technology trends that are uppermost in the minds of the UK’s facilities? 4K of course, and remote workflows but also VR.

It does seem like the buzzword of all buzzwords, but virtual reality does look like one technology trend that will turn into actual reality.

It still only represents a tiny proportion of the work that any post house is involved in, if they’re involved in it at all, but the technology around VR, AR and other immersive experiences is developing at a frightening pace.

And many post houses are keen to make sure they are at the forefront. The Mill’s recent sale to Technicolor was driven in large part, according to CEO Robin Shenfield, by the facility’s desire to gain access to Technicolor’s massive research and development resources. “The whole world has jumped into that market,” says Shenfield. “To be honest everyone’s figuring it out but you can see VR and AR and all sorts of experiential work being used in all manner of promotional things along with health and education. It’s got gaming as a big driver of course and it will get used in the marketing world. The rate of change in that market is super fast and we intend to be at the forefront of doing the great creative work.”

Framestore has also launched its own VR studios as has MPC: “We have seen a marked increase in VR related projects. In response, we are developing various tools for VR and AR, which allows us to push the boundaries of immersive filmmaking.”
Onsight says the “interest in VR has been notable” already and is only set to grow. Gramercy Park Studios agrees: “Virtual and augmented reality will play a major role and will be explored by the agencies to create novel ways for customers to relate and experience brands.”

Glassworks argues that the future will be a mix of a whole range of emerging and current technologies. “It will be all about combining technologies like VR, stereo, facial recognition, robotics and vfx to create immersive experiences for viewers and communications for brands.” There is a lot to learn for everyone. As The Mill says, “Almost every technique and project has ‘never been done before.’”

Remote workflows
Remote working will become more and more important and it’s a technology trend increasingly occupying the minds of post production houses.

“Remote viewing and editing will become expected with Avid Everywhere,” says Directors Cut. And that’s set to gather pace, says Dock 10, “be this the continued success of public cloud platforms like Forscene and MediaSilo, or private cloud applications such as Adobe Anywhere and Avid Everywhere, ‘cloud’ working continues to grow in popularity. Understanding and trust is growing for storing media off the premises, and using networks to access it.” Splice says that “cloud-based services are in ever-increasing demand. We see these trends continuing, along with the demand for ever more sophisticated metadata and media management solutions.”

Cloud based rendering and storage will also become more and more crucial. Vfx house Milk says there will be an “increase in studios using cloud storage, cloud rendering, rental software licensing” and Silverglade argues that “remote working will become increasingly important to our business over the coming year and will continue to support our business model of increasing our throughput without expanding our physical footprint further, allowing us to invest in technology and post services further in 2016.” Envy points to its recently launched cloud based archiving service, Envy Store, as does the Farm with its own SPOTS product: “our three year online storage service giving productions remote access to their content archive.”

The Mill says it continues to “invest in software that allows greater flexibility to share projects between our studios. We will move Beam’s storage and delivery platform into the cloud as well as developing systems to place an increasing percentage of our CG rendering into various cloud providers.”

But cloud based working won’t be quite the revolution that many think, says Encore. “Contrary to predictions many were making a few years ago, demand for offline rooms in central London remains high. Although cloud technology enables editors to work remotely many productions still want their editorial base to be centrally located. To accommodate demand we have actually increased the number of cutting rooms we can offer to our clients.”

4k a reality
4K/Ultra HD seems to be becoming more and more significant for post houses, but it also seems as if the tipping point is yet to happen. Producers are shooting in 4K but the demand for 4K mastering is still 
fairly small. Opinion seems to be split between those who think it will take centre stage and those who feel it’s hype rather than reality. “Shooting in 4, 5 or even 6k is relatively common as a way of giving flexibility in post but 4k for mastering has not happened at all for us,” says Big Buoy. “4k is coming and the majority of camera rushes are delivered at 4k+ already,” says Coffee and TV. “However until 4k domestic displays are common, finishing at 4k will be the exception rather than the rule.”

Creativity Media says that significant 4k deliverables is still “18-24 months out” but like everyone else “we have upgraded all our systems to 4k in anticipation.”

It’s important to be ready, is the argument from most post outfits. “We are still at the beginning of the 4K revolution, so it will become more prevalent over the next couple of years,” says Milk. “The ability to be able to cope is important with storage and render capacity and experience will be key to vfx studios.”

But it could be reaching that tipping point soon, says Big Bang. “We anticipate 4k delivery may become significant in the coming year.” Blue Bolt also argues that “4K is an increasing demand and slowly coming into the fold on our shows.” Outside of broadcast, there is definite interest. Bravo Post says that on high end corporate work “4K is becoming increasingly standard.” And 422 points out that “4K is becoming significant in our work for visitor attractions and immersive exhibition projects.”

For the broadcast market though, there is still a sense of being poised and ready to go rather than racing into the 4k future. “Directors and DoPs want to exploit the camera technology they have available to them,” says Fifty Fifty. “But there’s still a complete lack of demand from consumers (en masse) making an end to end 4k delivery from a post perspective an all too expensive process to complete properly particularly for the TV market.”

But recent moves by broadcasters could change all that. BT Sport now has its own UHD channel and, as Dock10 points out, “If BT do it, you know Sky won’t be far behind, both of which will ripple down into sports production companies. They will start to set the standard for 4K working practises.”

Nice Biscuits points to the soon-to-launch SkyQ 4K box, which, it says will “see 4K becoming the standard for delivery.” Molinare also points out that “50% of all our quotes now include 4K deliverables. It is becoming the norm. For example Netflix now insist on a 
4K delivery.”

Others say that HDR will complete the revolution. “We believe HDR displays will be the next big technology trend,” says BBC Studios and Post Production.  And Blue 2.0 agrees. “It is in unlocking the potential of HDR, wider colour gamut and higher frame rates, where the true benefit of 4k lies.” And it’s HDR that possibly has greater advantages. “There is now a lot of discussion about HDR and I know that for some broadcasters this is of greater interest than the move to 4k,” says Encore. “One aspect is that there is a potential benefit when viewing HDR irrespective of display device (eg laptop/tablet) whereas to realise the benefits of 4k you really need a 4k display.”

Top kit investments 2014/2015

The Mill
Move to Windmill Street is the “single biggest investment we have made as a company.”

MPC £5.1m

Framestore £3.7m Doubling capacity in work stations and storage to multiple petabytes. Render farm capacity up by a third. Flame upgrade to 2015. New grading suites globally.

Smoke & Mirrors £3.6m Support facility in India. Upgrade to Linux. Flame assist.

Evolutions £3m New equipment and upgrades in all areas of business.

IMG Studios £2.85M 
13 EVS XT3 machines and over 100 IPD licences with new database servers. 2 Petabytes of Isilon nearline Digital storage. Upgrade of MAM system to Viz One.

Dock10 £2.5m 
New MAM system, expanding fibre network, storage (ISIS, Isilon and LTO6)

The Farm £1.8m Tech infrastructure in preparation for new facility in 2016.

FILMS@59 £1.2m 
Cameras, upgrades to dubbing theatres with Pro Tools X and Avid S6 mixing consoles.

Halo £1.2M 
Huge data storage architecture, overhaul of Pro Tools kit, new grading suites, new 1000 sq ft building in Noel Street.

Planned investment 2015/2016
The Farm £10m 
New 33,000 sq ft facility in Newman St to open early 2016.

The Mill
Move Beam’s storage and delivery platform into the cloud and developing systems to place more CG rendering into various cloud providers.

Framestore £4.7m
4k infrastructure - systems, storage, networking; grading expansion; VR, Labs, Production expansion globally.

Tapeless workflow, automation, server and storage capacity

dock10 £3m
More storage, more software development, kit upgrades and getting all technology for the purpose of more 4K
working. Investment in technology to handle VR 360 workflows across studios and post facilities for multi-platform delivery.

Absolute £2.3m Full facility upgrade, new SAN, new workstations, new render farm.

Evolutions £2m 
New equipment and upgrades in all areas of business

Halo £1.5m 4k infrastructure and SAN, more TV grading and audio, Dolby Atmos, additional 7.1 mix suite with S6 console. Improvements and upgrades to film mixing rooms, enlarge film grading capabilities. Data network upgrades. Cosmetic overhaul of Noel Street and Margaret Street.

Pinewood post £1.5m New multi-purpose theatres and editing suites

Envy £1.4m 
Potential new building

IMG Studios £1.2m New storage for editing platforms. Remote editing solutions. Improved connectivity with OBs. Improved transcoding and ingest hardware.

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