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Big Picture: The Five
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As always, post houses have spent millions in 2009/10 on new kit and services, ensuring they continue to offer clients the latest cutting edge technology. Here we reveal what they bought and what’s on the shopping list for next year
A section of the facilities 50 survey form is dedicated to the kit and services that post production houses have recently invested in, the kit they have earmarked for purchase in the coming year, and, more broadly, what the post production technology trends will be in 2011.
If there’s one pervading technology that everyone in the post world is focused on at the moment it’s stereoscopic 3d. It’s top of the shopping list for kit purchases over the coming year, and when asked what the major technology trends are likely to be in 2011, virtually every post house had stereo 3d at the top of the list. “3d is out there now and growing. This trend will continue,” sums up The Mill.
It’s not just stereo 3d finishing, many post houses are looking to invest in “3d sound” and one or two singled out 3d Blu-ray for investment too. On top of this, a noteworthy number of post production businesses are planning to offer 2d-3d conversion services too.
As you might expect, there are a few dissenting voices, and not everyone is completely convinced stereo is going to take off in their sector of the market. “We’re not sure 3d is going to catch on in the corporate market,” says Creative Media Partners, for instance. But the non-believers are few and far between and it’s fair to assume stereo 3d kit is going to fly off the shelves in 2011.
The other big trend is in file-based workflows and the explosion of data cameras, including DSLRs. Most post houses are kitted up for file-based working, and many assist clients with the choice of camera and how best to manage data. So it’s imperative post houses keep on top of new cameras and formats, and almost all survey responses have file-based working and data cameras as key technological developments.
“There’s a definite trend toward larger sensor cameras, both DSLR and Red,” says Unit, while Bravo is one of quite a number of post houses anticipating “more file-based cameras such as the 5D”.
From acquisition to deliverables, and post houses expect clients will now begin requesting delivery to an assortment of devices, for all their productions, as a matter of course. Many are currently looking to invest in kit to aid with this. The tendency will be to “deliver all jobs, as standard, in multiple formats and durations – across TV, web, phone apps etc,” says Time Based Arts. Similarly, Pinewood Studios Group says there will be “a greater volume of delivery formats – video games, iPods, iPads, mobile phones, and so on”.
Looking further down the line, Azimuth says, “Cloud editing is on the horizon, which will finally kill off offline editing in facilities. Maybe not next year, but any facility with a lot of floor space dedicated to offline should be worried.”
Many kit purchases over the last year have been editing systems and upgrades to existing systems. Vfx, grading and audio purchases also dominated. Lower down the list are projectors, monitors, cameras and quite a few Apple Macs.
The purchases pencilled in for next year don’t differ massively from the last, although naturally stereo 3d kit plays an ever increasing role and shoots up to number one on our list of top buys for 2011.
A typical post house in 2010
A typical post house in 2010 hasn’t altered dramatically since last year, but its range of services could well be even broader, with stereoscopic 3d post now being offered by many facilities. Its set up is likely to be similar to the following.... It will be able to post produce 5.1 surround sound in two or three audio suites, and may also offer specialist audio services such as ADR. It has two dedicated grading suites capable of colour grading up to 2k images (and increasingly 4k too). It doesn’t have expensive scanners so can’t offer telecine services. Its vfx services can cope with 2d and 3d work on seven vfx workstations (an increase of two since last year). It designs and authors DVDs and is increasingly likely to do Blu-ray discs now too. 24 staff are on its payroll, of which a little under half are creative staff. It typically regularly employs six freelancers. Its turnover is £2.1m, and it invested £150k in kit last year and intends to spend £175k on new kit in 2011.
1 Molinare £3m
2= MPC £2.5m
2= Smoke & Mirrors £2.5m
4 The Farm Group £2m
5 The Mill £1.8m
6 Framestore £1.5m
7 Prime Focus £1.28m
8 Films at 59 £1.25m
9= Mwnci, Evolutions & Pinewood Studios £1m
1 Cinesite £3.7m
2 Framestore £3.5m
3 Molinare £3m
4 MPC £2.5m
5= The Farm Group £2m
5= Films at 59 £2m
7= Prime Focus £1.5m
7= Evolutions £1.5m
9= Technicolor £1m
9= Envy £1m
Top 10 buys last year
The bulk of kit purchases last year included upgrades – the vast majority were to editing systems but there were also plenty of audio and grading suite upgrades
Post houses invested heavily in editing kit, including lots of Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro buys and also quite a few purchases of Autodesk Smoke
You can never have too much shared storage, and facilities bought plenty of it last year to ensure they are kitted up with enough capacity for the year ahead
There’s been a continued investment in vfx systems over the year, particularly in The Foundry’s Nuke, but also After Effects and numerous top-end Flame systems
5= Audio and Grading
Sharing the fifth spot are audio and grading buys, which include Pro Tools, quite a few Baselights, and also Quantel, Digital Vision, Da Vinci and Assimilate systems
Top 10 buys for 2010/11
1 Stereoscopic 3d
Straight to the top of the shopping list for the next 12 months is stereo 3d kit - nothing specific, just post houses kitting up for what is expected to be a year of 3d.
The need to invest in (primarily software) upgrades never ceases, and so continual upgrades are high up the list of priority spends
There’s more Nuke, Flame, Maya and general vfx purchases on the cards for much of Soho in the coming year
The need to continually invest in shared storage is a given in the data-heavy post production world of today
Grading systems remain a key purchase for post houses, with most facilities
non-specific about which systems they are going to invest in at present