Outlook 2020: The trend toward dispersed & collaborative solutions
Michael Phillips
Issue: November/December 2019

Outlook 2020: The trend toward dispersed & collaborative solutions

It seems that digital and cloud-based services enable new solutions on a daily basis. While maybe not that frequent, there is a lot of technology being introduced impacting preproduction, production, post production and delivery. Digital acquisition is tightly coupled with post – not only in format (resolution, frame rate, codec, color space, bit depth) but all other metadata generated from preproduction through production into post. Multiply this by the type of content that is being created with streaming and on any device that has a screen. Customers can be studio, brands, influencers and format delivery with different aspect ratios. All of this factor into the type of solution or solutions Hula will propose to meet the creative needs of the production. 

One of the areas where technology is providing solutions is for dispersed and collaborative solutions. The days of all the producers, directors, directors of photography, editors and others watching dailies together in a room after each day are mostly gone. This is due to a variety of reasons, including multiple shooting locations, shooting schedules and program turnaround. In response to these needs there has been a host of post production solutions that have come to market that leverage existing local systems and synchronizing assets to multiple locations, combine local and cloud solutions where all media is in the cloud, or the editing system and media are all in the cloud with just a log-in needed to access. 

“Adoption will be based on type of content being edited.” 

The current trend seems to be around content that needs to get to air or social media quickly and certainly news situations where content is being acquired, edited, and sent to the mothership for air. For other types of content, trust in the security of the cloud will always be a concern and maybe only certain parts of the workflow will be cloud-based. For example, continued secure delivery of content or for review and approval. These are “offline” solutions as the collaborator can log-in and comment based on their own individual schedule. Simultaneous realtime collaboration will continue to trend with solutions like Hula’s own Real Time View, where participants are invited to the “editing room” remotely to watch and collaborate in realtime. These solutions are becoming more sophisticated with additional functionality and focus on latency and image quality.

Hula Post colorist Jason Yanuzi 

For many shows, it is still advantageous to be co-located in the same building or floor so that face-to-face interaction, and hallway or lunch exchange of ideas can happen. For example, the writer’s room in close proximity to editorial managing story lines in realtime. 

Another change in the industry as a whole is the rise of the subscription model. As solutions are available via the cloud, manufacturers are appealing directly to the end client via subscription services as their main revenue model.  This changes the way traditional rental services work with their clients, depending on the solution being provided. While the end customer can subscribe directly, we do see the continued need for service and support that is faster and in-person that the industry has become accustomed to, especially for studio, OTT, feature length and serialized content. 

Some providers do provide a multi-tenant model for the enterprise, enabling rental services to manage a service model required by the customer. What many of them don’t do is provide a fully flexible pricing model to match the unique aspects of the rental business managing daily, weekly, or monthly needs. For now, the solution provider will only have limited tiers into which a rental service might fit but does address all the ebb and flow of their different customer types. This will be a moving target over the next year or so as different pricing models are tested. 

Diversification of services beyond rentals is a trend that will continue catering to the rise in the amount of content being created for all platforms and channels, and being able to meet the creative and budgetary needs with a boutique hands-on approach. It also allows Hula to leverage their locations with color finishing and mastering as well as sound mixing. The ability to bundle price rentals with finishing has always been valuable to the producer and allows a clearer picture of workflow definition and process to be defined, ensuring success with different budget levels. 

Ultimately it is the people and level of service that Hula provides that is the customer’s greatest asset. Hula deals with many different scenarios, needs and issues from across their customer base giving it an advantage in delivering the right solutions for any one customer from the beginning of the production to the very end. This is where years of engineering and support come in providing for customer peace of mind – the rental company becomes the knowledge base for any type of project the customer may find themselves in and to whatever platform they are delivering and are a partner in achieving the customer’s success. 

Michael Phillips is the Creative Technology Officer at Hula Post in Burbank, CA (www.hulapost.com).