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September 2017
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Reports&
surveys

Facilities 50 2016 Back to Reports & survey Listing

While 4K footage is now pouring into most post houses, those delivering in 4K are still a rarity. But that’s changing. Facilities are also increasingly interested in the possibilities of VR, AR and 360

Each year, we ask the respondents to the Facilities 50 survey what they think are the big technology trends of the moment and what changes in tech will affect their businesses in the near future – either positively or negatively.


Pixel power
It won’t come as too much of a surprise that 4K/UHD has been fairly front of mind once again. “There is a real feeling that this this is going to become the industry standard very soon and, rather like HD, we are seeing a surge in clients wanting more help and advice on the workflow aspect,” comments Halo.

In last year’s report, we found that while more 4K/Ultra HD footage was starting to flow into post houses, the tipping point in terms of producing 4K deliverables was yet to happen.

Twelve month later, has that point been reached? That’s a bit of a yes and no answer, depending on who you ask.

There are few viewers watching UHD broadcasts in their homes as yet, so 4K delivery is not significant for the majority of post houses. “Whilst we have been in receipt of much 4K media for HD delivery, which has increased production techniques and facilities, we have not had a much 4K delivery requirement as yet,” says Silverglade. Bravo too says that while there has been “an increase in 4K filming, post continues to stay mainly in HD.” Run Hire similarly says that as “a smaller post facility producing mainstream content, the 4K revolution has so far not affected us. Time will tell, but we predict that if/when we change to 4K delivery, it will have a profound effect on our workflows.”

But even without much content being broadcast in 4K, producers are increasingly aware of the benefits of shooting in the format, says Fifty Fifty. “Clients are shooting 4K to make use of the ability to crop in to pictures and for future proofing. I don’t see that changing until the major UK broadcasters start transmitting 4K in a major way.”


Ultra on the way
But there is certainly a change coming. “We are already seeing an increase this year in the number of UHD commissions,” says Halo. “And with Sky’s UHD services launching, the volume of UHD/4K post work looks set to expand over the next 12 months.”

For those working in high-end drama and sport, 4K delivery is already here. Netflix and Amazon now require 4K deliverables as standard and the aforementioned Sky will now start to buy more and more 4K programming for its UHD customers. BT Sport is already broadcasting some Premier League matches in 4K and is set on doing more.

Twickenham Studios, which works mostly in the bigger budget end of drama and film, says “4K is becoming the standard for delivery. The projects we are currently quoting for are all 4K and we are being asked to project 4K picture in our dubbing suites.”

Evolutions too says “4K and perhaps more excitingly HDR bookings continue to increase. We have recently completed a number of significant 4K projects.” Molinare states that it is seeing “an increasing demand for 4K/UHD/HDR work, and we have posted numerous projects for both domestic and international broadcasters with these demands.”

Dock10 reckons that while 4K is still mainly drama based, that will be followed by other genres soon enough. “We are expecting the 4K lead from drama to spread to other genres we cover including sport and children’s.”

The fact is, the speed at which 4K delivery develops will depend on the broadcasters’ hunger for it. As Unit says “4k post depends on the amount of broadcasters who start to only accept 4K.”

Whatever the speed that happens, post houses need to be in a position to cope with 4K if they aren’t already. “4K is obviously becoming more sought-after and 4K workflows are now becoming a necessity for a post house rather than a luxury,” says Coda.

Post houses will also have to think about storage for the extra data they’ll need to deal with. Framestore says that all its strategic tech planning is “based around working at 4K resolution or higher. The majority of integrated advertising projects are 4K or higher. This impacts storage and networking infrastructure, which will see, increased Capex investment.” MPC too says that “4K is common and often higher resolutions are being seen. This causes a significant burden on storage, render and archiving. Cloud technology has allowed us to cater for busy periods and still deliver 
on schedule.”

Solutions will need to be found. Splice says that this higher resolution content “will drive the need for cheaper and faster storage solutions as well as improved processing power overall.”


Dynamic stuff
But of course, there’s not just 4K to think about. Much of the buzz is also around the possibilities of shooting and delivering high dynamic range content. HDR provides a substantially better viewing experience and much of the buzz among manufacturers and broadcasters is around the possibilities of HDR and how attractive it will be to consumers if they get to see it.

Mirroring what’s happening with 4K acquisition, Encore says its “seeing lots of interest in HDR” as well as UHD. “Many clients are looking to future proof current productions by adopting these technologies now.”

Pinewood reckons that “High Dynamic Range will undoubtedly be one of the most important trends.” The speed of its take up again depends on broadcasters. But, says Fifty Fifty, it could also depend on the platforms that wish to use it. “If we see tablet and phone technology incorporate HDR into their screens, meaning content can be displayed in bright sunlight, then the drive for HDR content will be massive.”


Almost real
Last year, many picked out the world of VR, AR and 360 content as exciting developments for the post business. Companies like Framestore and The Mill are already helping create stunning VR and AR experiences but many post houses have also had a taste of working with these formats now, particularly, those working in commercials. Time Based Arts says that “VR is obviously growing traction, we’ve completed a couple of projects in this format.” Rushes calls VR and AR “an important creative opportunity.” The tech is developing all the time but, says The Farm, “there will be increased interest in VR as methods acquisition and delivery mature.”

Dock10 says it’s already “seeing a huge amount of interest in our 360 VR services, and we have already worked on several exciting projects. With YouTube and Facebook making big investments and Sony PS4 releasing their headset in October, the appetite for 360 is only going to grow.”

And when it does, professional post production skills and technology will be needed deliver it. Whereas elsewhere in this survey we report on worries about in-house and DIY post affecting the business, the beauty of technologies like 4K and VR is that they need specialist, dedicated companies to make them work. And that’s a big opportunity for the post world.


Top kit Investments 2015/2016

The Mill £6.4m
Evolving The Mill’s state of the art London studio. Launched The Mill Experience for clients and staff to experience emerging tech projects created internally. Continued to invest in key disk storage, Flame, and render upgrades.

The Farm £5.5m
Technology infrastructure for new home on Newman Street, new edit clients, 4K/UHD monitoring, high-speed storage, new facility in Bristol.

Framestore £3.7m
Doubling our capacity in workstations and also storage to multiple petabytes. Increased render farm capacity by a third. Flame upgrade to 2017. New grading suites globally.

Envy £3.2m
New building/edit/tech infrastructure/storage/MAM/Nearline

Evolutions £3m
New equipment for new properties and upgrades of existing equipment across the board

Pinewood £2m
Mixing theatres - Four additional theatres, Grading theatres, invested in kit - upgraded, more Avid Pro Tools, S6 mixing consoles

MPC £1.4m
New technology and building Improvements

Absolute £1.2m
Replacement of all workstations - vfx and Flame. New server and render farm. Achieved through a deal with ERA that gives us hardware as a service and replacement of all workstations every three years and replacement of the server and render farm every six.

dock10 £1.04m
New workstations, ISIS storage, Avid Airspeed channels, nearline storage, ProTools upgrades, picture reference monitors.

Molinare £1m
Isilon storage clusters, three Flames and upgrade, Baselight upgrades, 4K and HDR monitoring, vfx growth, Avid and Premier offline suites, ISIS storage, online server.

Coffee and TV £600k
Pixit central server, DaVinci Resolve 8x GPU grading suite, CG render farm, Flame suites, studio refurb, 4K pipeline, dedicated fibre internet.

Coda £500k
Construction and the kitting out of a second facility. ISIS Storage, DaVinci grade, 4K workflow, two more Pro Tools sets.

Encore £500k
Five new Flame online suites and investment in a new SAN system. Infrastructure upgraded to support UHD work.

Lipsync £500k
Avid S6 desks, vfx hardware and software, grading, Flame.




Top kit:Planned investments 2016/2017

Framestore £4.7m
4K infrastructure – systems, storage, networking. Grading expansion; VR expansion globally; Labs expansion globally; shoot production expansion globally.

The Mill £4.5m
Continued upgrade and maintenance investment. Software to allow greater flexibility to share projects between studios. Inhouse bespoke tools for fur, feathers, pipeline and rigging.  

MPC £2.4m
New technology and building Improvements.

Evolutions £2m
Avid post production systems, online and nearline storage, connectivity between buildings, MAM systems.  4K and HDR display devices.

The Farm £1.5m
Equipment upgrades across the group (edit clients and monitoring) and VR.

Envy £1.3m
offline/audio.

dock10 £1.2m
Avid Interplay Virtualisation, remote editing expansion, network and firewall expansion.

Pinewood £1m
More theatres and kit upgrades

Molinare £750k
Baselight, Flame, vfx and audio, 4K and HDR monitoring

Lipsync £750k
tbc

Jellyfish £700k
Workstations (virtual rack based systems), storage, software, edit suites

Serious £300k-£1m
Dubbing, more offline, acquisition.

Flix £600k
Building a motion capture facility

Gorilla £500k
plus More facilities and studio upgrades

Rushes £500k
Infratructure, Networking, Security

Unit £500k
Third grade, audio upgrades for five suites

Filmsat59 £300-£500k
Additional cameras and lenses, Networked media storage.

Gramercy Park £400k
Third audio suite and another offline suite

Milk VFX £400k
Workstations, editing kit, asset management tools and render nodes. More studio office space and equipment in both locations. Upgrading storage and connectivity between offices.

Glassworks £350k
Across the board hardware and software improvements

Timeline £350k
New edit suites and equipment

Axis VFX £300k
4k and Stereo displays, online editing, render capacity, software, workstations

Fifty Fifty £300k
Content agent or a similar auto-file creation tool for mass file delivery and a complete upgrade to our nearline storage. We are also looking to strengthen finishing at Fifty Fifty investing further in Flame and/or Smoke.  It may also be that this year sees further expansion at Fifty Fifty with an additional audio suite built on site.

Bluebolt £250k
Machines, storage and software along with facility upgrades in refurbishment

Directors Cut £250k
Audio desks, off-line editing, 4k monitoring & infrastructure

Encore £250k
Creative talent
Infrastructure investment to meet the challenge of complex deliveries with productions requiring more flexibility on delivery schedules

Freefolk/Finish £250k
Colour Grading / Flame / Nuke / CGI

Coffee and TV £200k
Second grading suite, VR workflow.

Storm HD £200k
More 4K infrastructure and monitoring

Twickenham £180k
Site wide SAN media storage system, a second Baselight grading suite and new Protools Mac Pro computers. Full upgrade to our sound mixing consoles.




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