Outlook: 'Pandemic post' workflows are here to stay
Steve Finnigan
Issue: November/December 2022

Outlook: 'Pandemic post' workflows are here to stay

The COVID pandemic beginning in 2019 was an international incident unlike anything experienced in a lifetime, impacting business across the spectrum. Entertainment, production and post were completely shuttered in the early going, before adapting to and adopting new methods of working, and adding new security measures to keep clients’ content safe. 

Photo (L-R): Images & Sound's Grant Baker and Steve Finnigan 

In 2019 New Zealand-based Images & Sound began a thorough revamp of our security and firewall protocols to make sure they were in line with TPN requirements. Also, we adapted to meet additional Amazon security requirements with the Rings of Power production about to hit our shores.

This turned out to be a blessing when the first COVID-19 wave hit, as the NZ government’s strict isolation policies meant most staff were not able to enter the premises for many weeks. Despite this, key artists had the ability to work from home securely and access internal servers while providing production companies a great deal of confidence around data protection.

In many circumstances this external work has continued as our artists have found the benefits of working remotely while still being able to access the building’s resources and come into the facility for specific client-attended screenings or sound mixes.

As an added and unexpected bonus from the pandemic, offshore clients, who would previously have been nervous about approving a grade or final mix from the other side of the world, are now much more open to the idea given that this is the environment everyone has been having to work in locally, as well as internationally, over the past couple of years.

Images and Sound co-owner Grant Baker is similarly convinced of 2023 continuing in a parallel vein. The “pandemic post” workflow brings with it a constant evaluation of the technology needed to keep clients’ confidence high, and staff working as creatively and efficiently as possible. This keeps facilities from getting lazy, from a technology standpoint, while assuring client satisfaction and ease of collaboration from anywhere around the globe.  

Naturally, many of our domestic production clients have already eagerly jumped to come back into our studios, but the ability to do this or not has given them added flexibility and confidence gained over the past two years in our capabilities.

A couple of “proof of concept” notes from the technology standpoint in this “pandemic post” workflow are expanded Baselight grading capacity for the three systems operating in the building, with improved performance from the latest hardware and a much larger storage pool to handle larger data volumes and read the latest cutting-edge camera file formats. Similarly, by running the latest Avid software and NEXIS cloud storage, they have the ability for offline editors to work remotely while not having to concern themselves with media security or transporting drives between locations.

The silver lining of the difficulties of the past few years is that “iron sharpens iron,” as they say, and hard times often create the best, lasting solutions. Pandemic post production is here to stay. 

Steve Finnigan is Company Director and Co-Owner of Images & Sound New Zealand (www.imagesandsound.co.nz). He has more than 20 years of industry experience as an ADR recording specialist, is head of sound, and an audio post production supervisor for film and television projects.