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Is post-production an endangered species?

Broadcast Engineering by Philip Hunter

There seems to be a trend away from one-stop-shop post-production toward specialists in visual effects (VFX), color management and creative finishing.

To judge by a spate of conference presentations at IBC 2013, we might conclude that post production was alive and well, but a closer inspection, might reveal that post production as we know it may cease to exist. That does not mean that the functions will become extinct, but that some will increasingly be automated, while the ones that really add value and require the human touch will be incorporated into either the production or distribution chains, squeezing out the traditional post-production house. There seems to be a trend away from one-stop-shop post-production toward specialists in visual effects (VFX), color management and creative finishing. Such trends are being driven by advances in computer animation and special effects generation, ironically, creating a need for greater human skills in matching these with the content after filming has finished, when the traditional post-production phase takes place.

Post production is also being driven by trends in computer hardware toward virtualization, cloud-based infrastructures, SaaS (Software as a Service) and increasing availability of wide area networks with enough bandwidth to exchange post production files affordably, finally ending the era of physical media transport by courier. This is leaving traditional facilities with their capital intensive infrastructure looking rather cumbersome and uneconomic.

As always at a time of disruption in an industry sector, there are opportunities for those post house willing to adapt quickly and retool with the skills and equipment needed to serve the emerging market. UK-based Envy Post Production, for example, recently incorporated an SaaS file transfer system called Media Shuttle to move large files securely, in response to evolving requirements from both its business partners and customer base.

Post houses need to follow trends in overall content production, with increasing demand for skills and facilities for data management, archiving and duration. There is a new breed of content commissioners among pay-TV operators and OTT providers such as Hulu and Netflix, with rather different requirements focusing on episodic series suitable for consumption online via PCs and tablets as much as big-screen TVs. At IBC there will some discussion over whether this will regalvanize the high-end post-production market or whether it means the functions will be subsumed into the OTT distribution chain. read more...

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