Web work pays off for studios

In three short years the World Wide Web has gone from being a techie’s secret passion to becoming everyone’s mantra. It is no wonder L.A. studios are posting and upgrading Web sites at fever pitch, to get the message out about services, entice new clients and keep up with the competition. The potential is there, but is there a payoff?

The Magnolia Studios in the Burbank (www.magnoliastudios.com/~magnolia) sports a Jan. 1, 1996, Web site start date and for Bruce Nazarian, president and Webmaster (designer) for Magnolia, the mission and experience has been great.

“We were already a literate company in terms of e-mail and online services for many years,” Nazarian relates. “But after seeing the World Wide Web, we knew it was for us. There is a real need in the audio post business to make information about audio available for production people to limit the amount of mistakes that are made. To that end, we maintain links to many equipment and service companies like THX and EDnet.”

Most recently for Magnolia, an e-mail query came in from a company in Hong Kong looking for a U.S. studio to finish a project. “They happened on our site, made e-mail contact and the next thing you know, they are in the studio doing the job,” Nazarian says. “Our Web site is definitely responsible for several jobs that have come in, and we expect this situation to grow in importance to our bottom line.”

Pop Sound, a division of Pop (formerly Pacific Ocean Post), shares Web space with the other film, TV and DVD services Pop offers (www.popstudios.com). Dave Larson, executive president of marketing and new ventures for Pop, sees the Web not only as an external showcase, but a vital internal communications link.

“We are our own Internet Service Provider (ISP), so not only do we have Pop on the World Wide Web, we are hosting several of our clients as well,” Larson says. “What is proving to be most useful at this time is the internal communication link. The entire staff has embraced this, and we use it extensively every day.” Pop posts internal data ranging from who just got married to sensitive, password protected project related information.

“We went into the Web business without being clear on what to expect,” Larson explains. “It is hard to quantify at this moment the actual bottom line results, but we are getting a lot of traffic and we feel it is adding to our business.”

Post Logic’s (www.postlogic.com) Dan Hoisman, vice president and CFO for Post Logic Studios, sees their home page in a completely different light: “It is the first blush in the negotiation process.

“We get people to the site through print ads and our site is pretty busy,” Hoisman claims. “Most importantly, it has become a way to get people to interact with us without the pressure of having to talk to somebody and commit to booking. A potential client can visit our site and understand we are a creative facility for any type of production, be it long form or commercial, audio or picture.”

2-Lane Media is the ISP for Post Logic and according to Hoisman, “They have showed us how to program our site so you don’t need any plug-ins on your computer to view our audio and picture clips. This makes our site fast and it keeps a potential client interested in looking at more. We are in the communications business, and we need to have a presents on the Web.”

The world of Disney on the Web is a mega-commercial adventure with an entire division devoted to selling Disney products to the world. The site for the audio studios is part of the overall facilities web site found at http://www.disney.com/studiooperations/. For Chris Carey, vice president of post-production services for Walt Disney Studios, the facilities site has become an electronic brochure.

“Brochures are the most difficult and arduous things to put together, but if you have a good one you can find a million and one uses for it,” Carey says. “We based our Web site artistically and conceptually on the hard copy brochure.”

The site went up in early 1996, but most of the response to the site has been people looking for job opportunities. “This is Disney and it is obvious that we produce great product,” Carey states. “If it isn’t obvious, I’m not sure the web is the place to go for that information. I think it is more important to say we have a presence on the web.”

And as with everything Disney, there’s a pretty good chance that the presence will grow.

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