As the world responds to the coronavirus pandemic and the entertainment industry is forced to halt production on shows and films, post-production houses around the globe are finding ways to keep the wheel turning.
From editing, foley and visual effects, companies like the Australia-based Rising Sun Pictures, which specializes in VFX, have been making preparations since January.
Tony Clark, managing director says of Rising Sun Pictures, says a handful of non-production staff are working remotely, but most of the staff is still working on site.
“We have implemented high-frequency cleaning and other actions to keep our workplace safe for the crew and their families,” he said. “In South Australia, the cases of COVID-19 have been limited to date with the only occurrences in overseas travelers and people with whom have had close contact. As of today, there were only 42 confirmed cases.”
Since the world of VFX is indeed a global one, working remotely and over long distances is nothing new. But that might change and if it does, Clark says, “There will be a significant cost to the business, substantially in capital expenditure plus labor and additional operational costs” as they navigate through the logistics.
Similarly, Barbara Marshall at MTI Film, which provides color grading and editorial finishing, has kept up with post-production needs. “As this started to progress, we limited having clients in as much as possible,” she says.
Technology allows editors, who mainly work alone, to come in and sit in their bays. “They do drop-ins and titling through screen shares so clients can see their monitors,” she explains.
Color correction is a bit trickier, as not all clients have calibrated monitors and the right equipment. “The colorist is alone in the room and has the client on the phone and they’ll do live color corrections,” Marshall says.
For those clients who don’t have the equipment at home, the colorists will send files, get notes and navigate accordingly.
Domenic Rom, managing director of Goldcrest, was just as focused on the pandemic. “We looked at Italy and knew it was something we’d never seen before,” he says. His first instinct was to protect not just Goldcrest’s employees and clients, but also their work and future.
Rom held a meeting wondering if it was possible to set up a remote facility for workers that was secure. He set up his work-from-home facility in New Jersey, and his colorists who happen to live within proximity of one another in Brooklyn were able to turn their spaces into colorist decks. “We had to make sure we had a strong internet connection in place (at each of the locations). We looked at firewalls because security protocols are key, and we asked how to do it within three days.”
Goldcrest engineers worked through the weekend and by Monday afternoon, the work-from-home set-up was fully operational. “By Tuesday, we were all doing a full day of work,” he says.