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November 2014
Issue: June 1, 2012

Editor's Letter: Staying successful in post

By: Randi Altman
Running a post house these days is not easy — the economy is shaky, clients and staff need to be happy and engaged, and thanks to affordable pro tools, competition has increased… sometimes even from clients. This month, a handful of long-standing studios share the secrets of their success. A couple of others kindly offered up some tips for this space as well. 

Bob Nelson, executive producer at NYC’s QuietMan, says there are three guiding principles that frame their approach to this business. “The first is to understand what sets QuietMan apart from our competitors. The second is to understand the marketplace, and accept that it will define us as well. The third is to respect the importance of relationships and trust.”

To be successful, he says, they need to offer a complete range of services. “Since you can’t anticipate the specifics of the next opportunity, QuietMan needs to provide appropriate talent and skills for whatever comes along. QuietMan is all about our talent and our longevity. We maintain our core staff of designers, producers and 3D artists.” 

Being multi-disciplined helps them attract a wide range of projects. “Variety keeps the company financially healthy and also keeps our artists interested and motivated. We care as much about a photoreal product demo as we do about a high-profile music video. We are as challenged by a live-action shoot as we are by a 2D graphics project. We flex all of these muscles.”

I reached out to Hollywood DI’s managing director Neil Smith with the question, “How do you evaluate gear? Both ROI and necessity?” He said he asks himself that question every day. “As digital content workflow becomes the norm in the post world, Hollywood DI has embraced the relentless wave of technological change that Moore’s Law drives before it. With a Moore’s Law impacted purchase you have to assess the ROI in terms of months rather than years. For example, in our Da Vinci Resolve grading suites we invest in high-end gaming cards rather than high-end professional video cards. Why? There are millions of gamers worldwide all clamoring for the latest and greatest (i.e., fastest, cheapest) video cards from Nvidia and ATI. As a consequence, the price of CUDA and Open CL gaming GPUs continues to drop dramatically while the power keeps going up.”

But it’s not all about tools. “The most valuable element for us is the talent we have in-house. All our artists are multi-tasking, and they all want the latest software tools to get their job done quickly and easily. Providing them with the tools they need to get their job done in the most efficient and creative manner is part of the ROI assessment equation.”