By Marc Loftus
Issue: April 1, 2002

Post studios: tough times and new directions

These are interesting times. While the buzz this month will certainly revolve around NAB and the new products being introduced, I can't help but ponder the state of the post studio business. As a publication, we're constantly coming across interesting user stories regarding the creative techniques and tools used to post high-profile spots, TV shows and films. But, we're also very conscious of the business side of post production, and the less attractive, and somewhat painful reality that's been taking place over the past few months among studios, namely closings and layoffs.

Not long ago, Post reported on the closing of LA-based broadcast design house Pittard Sullivan. Manhattan's Post Perfect also recently closed its doors, with the company chairman stating that the studio's "time had passed." And there are at least a dozen other studios I can name that have consolidated, cut back, or laid off.

In this issue, Interface Video Group owner Tom Angell reflects on his 25 years in the industry. How did Angell manage to grow his business, stay profitable and keep up with all of the new technologies? "Dumb luck?" he jokes, but I'd say probably not.

Bob Koch was recently promoted to VP/GM of National Video Center/Recording Studios in New York and candidly recalled the struggles his facility - like many - have faced over the past year. Market conditions are extremely difficult, says Koch. "The brand identity and design business in the entertainment industry has been devastated." Because of the reduction in spending by advertisers and less revenue by the networks, Koch says National received less business from network clients. Clients, says Koch, didn't know how to continue their marketing efforts and many projects were cancelled or put on hold. "They realized there needed to be a greater sensitivity with regards to message, content and posture." So how is National responding to tough times? Reorganization - leveraging the studio's client services and support. They also brought in COO Winston van Buitenen, who was formerly a CFO for Loews, Sony and TriStar. The reorganization, dubbed National Creative Services, is structured into several business units that serve as resources for clients across all market sectors.

"We're going to look at all of these [client types]," says Koch, "and ask, ‘How can we help you?'" While not every client needs National's full spectrum of services, the studio believes there are plenty that do. "Those are the kinds of people that we need to work with," Koch notes, "and we are confident that there are enough out there."