On March 9, 2020 I was riding high. I had just wrapped up a busy job with a major financial company and my 1st quarter was turning out to be the best period for my 4-year-old business yet. It seemed like my young production company was turning toward a bright and busy future and as the weekend came I was planning on celebrating with my friends. I was also turning 34. As the week rolled on and the Coronavirus was coming into view in the Bay Area, upcoming clients began canceling one by one, starting with a live streaming conference the following week. It surprised me at first how quickly all my work was evaporating but by the end of the week with the economy closing down and shelter in place beginning it seemed inevitable that everything on the books would be canceled.
The production world has been upended by Covid-19. The entire industry has been affected: from major directors and studios to small independent freelancers around the United States. It is a sink or swim moment for many, and that means adapt or go broke.
With in-person concerts on hiatus, Grammy-nominated rock band Underoath turned to Odd!Life Studios to help produce a live streamed concert series so fans could enjoy their music while at home. Creating an immersive experience that was equal parts performance art, the concert series (“Underoath: Observatory”) consisted of three concerts over the course of three weeks, with each concert covering one of Underoath’s albums in its entirety. Cinematographer, Director and Producer Lief Thomason from Odd!Life Studios spoke exclusively to us about what it took to successfully pull off the concert series, including how using a Blackmagic Design workflow powered by four Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks, an ATEM Mini Pro, ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K and ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel helped them get everything done within their tight two week turnaround time.
Film shoots are slowly returning after months of being shut down due to the coronavirus crisis. With the return of film shoots comes new budget line items to deal with COVID-19. These costs include additional personnel, new equipment, medical testing, and lots of sanitization. In addition to the added direct costs, there are indirect increases in costs due to slower work and increased shooting time. The additional costs of regulatory compliance can be incredibly difficult for independent film productions.
Prior to 2020, advertising spending, on average, in the United States increased 8% - 10% annually since 2015. Increases in spending in each year were in excess of $10 Billion USD year over year and were about $241 Billion USD in 2019. 2020 looked to be even better until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, of course.
Given the current social distancing climate, many broadcasters have had to find alternative approaches to news production that will ensure the health and safety of its staff. Not least among these is NBC 10 in Philadelphia, where staffers, anchors and meteorologists have taken over their living rooms, basements and guest rooms for daily newscasts. An NBC affiliate station, NBC 10 got an early jump on the work-from-home production approach. The station’s meteorologist, Bill Henley (a self-professed gear junkie), took the challenge in stride. Diving into the station’s equipment locker and reaching out to friends at various manufacturers, Henley was able to quickly set himself up with a home studio that rivalled those of colleagues at the major networks.
As productions return to work, they are faced with the realities of what it will take to create the safest possible work environment. While some locations have specific restrictions, including quarantine requirements, there are some universal precautions that will apply to shooting in any location - such as implementing staggered work shifts and/or the zone system, increasing off-set work, and limiting contact.
No industry was left undisturbed by the current pandemic. The majority of web design and marketing agencies immediately felt pressures as clients canceled, marketing budgets were reduced, and businesses scrambled to figure out how to improve their online presence.
Quibi and the ATTN: team are gearing up to debut the new "Your Daily Horoscope” daily animated series. Taye Shuayb, VP of Production at ATTN, and team, which includes designers, animators, compositors and editors, counts on Adobe to edit and deliver 12 minutes of animation everyday using a combination of Photoshop, Character Animator, After Effects, and Premiere Pro.
I interviewed Brian De Herrera-Schnering, a colorist for Pinto Pictures who has flexed his color-grading muscles on everything from commercials and corporate projects to feature-length films. We talked about what has changed due to the pandemic, what remains the same in every era, and how he stays inspired.