Remote Production: The World is Your Oyster

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Over the past several years, two major technological developments have occurred in tandem, both of which have made wide-ranging and revolutionary changes in the world of media post-production. One of these developments is the explosion in sophisticated yet affordable software; the other is the exponential growth of cloud computing. 

These two technological developments have also occurred simultaneously with a third, highly disruptive financial development – the push for ever-increasing rebates and incentives from filmmaking destinations around the world.

This last factor presents as many negatives for the post-production industry as it does positives. 

Yes, the evolution in technology has enabled film productions to become highly mobile, moving to wherever the best financial incentives present themselves. In theory, work can now be completed anywhere. 

However, for many traditional bricks and mortar facilities – which can’t be moved or even quickly replicated in new locations – this presents a problem. Facilities may be overrun with work one year, and then bereft the next, unable to chase the most lucrative areas across the globe. Even companies quick to take the risk of setting up in incentive-friendly regions might find the winds change quickly: the cap on Louisiana production credits and recent questions over Montreal’s incentive scheme are two recent examples.

For a number of companies however, this new technological and financial environment presents many interesting opportunities: take, for example, the “facilities” that have eschewed the traditional model entirely, comprising their workforce of freelancers working remotely the world over. Examples such as VFX Legion have offices based in California, but run an entirely distributed workforce that produces and disseminates post-production content via the cloud. Many facilities have taken a hybrid approach, centralizing R&D in one location, while setting up satellite artist facilities around the world to take advantage of incentives – and also adding additional resources through remote workers.

Thanks to the available technology, a new trend is clearly starting to emerge – one in which worldwide communication and collaboration are the defining factors. The more easily companies can share assets and review works in progress, the better placed they are to contribute to a wide variety of projects. And the more they can utilize cloud-based services – such as cloud rendering, for instance – the more they can control their costs, with less capital tied up in infrastructure.

From a creative standpoint, companies that rely on invention and imagination for their continued success are no longer limited to the talent they can draw to the wherever the headquarters are located. Via remote working and the capacity of the cloud to handle huge streams of data, talented artists from the world over can contribute to a project, all without needing to leave the comfort of their own home. This negates the need for studios to pay for expensive visas or relocation – they can work with the best artists at a premium price, all while accessing a truly global talent pool.

What is becoming ever more clear as this trend continues to grow is that the most successful players in the industry are those that have been able to adapt most effectively, leveraging available technology and taking advantage of available incentives, but not relying solely on any one factor for success.

As more companies seek to take advantage of the worldwide possibilities of remote production – and even the world’s largest creative powerhouses seek to gain a foothold in this new way of working – we’re likely to see a sea change in the way the post-production industry operates. 

Communication has always been key in the creative industries; now that it’s possible on such a global scale via such new and disruptive tools, the industry five years from now is likely to be very different to that of today.

About the Writer

Rory McGregor is the CEO of Cospective, the creator of video review and approval solutions cineSync and Frankie. Previously Product Manager of cineSync, he took over as CEO in 2011. Prior to Cospective, Rory worked as an AFI-award winning sound engineer and was Studio Manager at the South Australian Film Corporation.

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