Post house Virtual Post, along with data management company OvationData, has been awarded a grant from Innovate UK to fund a large-scale R&D project named Post Production Provided Anywhere (POPPA).

Innovate UK is investing up to £10m to fund single and collaborative R&D projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund. The fund’s aim is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic

The Virtual Post/OvationData partnership is a research collaboration designed to address the urgent issues confronting the production and post-production sector as it struggles with the impact of COVID-19. The POPPA project is focused on creating a future-proof infrastructure and service-delivery system that will not only help companies to cope with the COVID crisis, but will also provide a more sustainable workflow for the longer term. Key research objectives include establishing best practice to ensure that people are kept safe by working remotely and creating a platform that promotes diversity by removing traditional barriers to work.

POPPA aims to produce a prototype next-generation remote post-production system that will allow film and television companies to set up remote teams with access to fully provisioned toolsets quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Virtual Post will provide services, a flexible toolset and security protocols while OvationData will contribute its expertise in cloud and equipment provision and infrastructure. The research will be informed by the latest feedback on security issues, high-performance media storage for live operations and the challenges presented by latency, poor internet connections and failover capability. It will also focus on creating systems that are dynamically scalable.

Jon Lee, Virtual Post founder and CEO, said: “Our company name is a clue that we’ve known for some years now that we, as an industry, have not been providing post-production services in the most efficient and flexible way. As it has in just about every other area of life, the COVID crisis has accelerated the need for change. POPPA allows us to engage in an active listening project on a scale never before seen in our sector. Our model is to disrupt the market by removing fixed-cost, city-specific locations and giving customers and staff control over where and how they work.”

Andrew McConnell, business development manager for OvationData said “As a systems integrator to the post production sector for over 20 years, OvationData has witnessed the evolution of an industry that had its roots firmly in Soho to the global phenomenon that UK founded post is today. One of the key reasons for this success has been the industry’s ability to adapt and overcome new challenges. We are proud to be part of this project which aims to develop new and innovative methods for post-production workflows in today’s rapidly changing landscape”

POPPA’s key objectives are to:

Help productions that are now, or about to be, in production and that have to comply with new BFC (British Film Commission) regulations or other national/international guidelines for shooting on-set

Address the need for flexibility in offline editing and finishing

Mitigate the effect of COVID-19 restrictions by allowing post-production staff to work either remotely or via a hybrid model using the POPPA project workflow

Allow clients and prospects work from anywhere, reducing costs and efficiencies through new workflows and remote technology

Eliminate and reduce costs by improving production efficiency

Improve sustainability by reducing travel reductions: the work comes to the labour rather than the labour going to the work

Jon Creamer