By Will Alexander, co-founder and executive producer at design, animation and VFX house, Heckler.
In what seems like an instant, all of our lives have been turned on their head. We can debate whether our leaders were asleep at the wheel when it came to not better preparing us for what now appears to have been an inevitability, but what would be the point. Here we are and we’ve got to get used to the new normal.
It’s gut wrenching to see shop shutters pulled down and queues trailing around blocks at Centrelink’s across the country, filled with people who have found themselves there due to no fault of their own. Many are, or sadly soon will be, from our industry.
Pretty much overnight all live action shoots from commercials to TV shows and movies, have shut down around the world. We are now at the stage where news broadcasters are reporting live from their loungerooms and bedrooms.
While we’re only at the beginning of this thing, I was speaking to global post house in Shanghai today and they’re back to 100% capacity, with all staff at work and reported cases of Covid-19 steadily in decline. We’re even quoting for a job out of China, via our Singapore studio, so there’s definitely light at the end of this dark tunnel. But in Australia we’ve got a long road to travel before any post house here is going to be working with live action film.
So, what does it all mean for the future of post-production?
It means we need to think fast to evolve our businesses and develop new ways of working with clients and each other if we’re going to survive. We need to collaborate in ways we perhaps might not have before. Ironically, in our silos of isolation, we need to find ways to have more open communication.
The good news is, advances in technology means we’re well equipped to make remote working possible. We have the tools to effectively and quickly share data through the cloud. We can of course edit, grade and online in real time and with virtually attended sessions. The technology is there.
Everyone is talking about how to reimagine live action scripts into fully post led projects right now. Animation, CG, motion graphics and mixed media are featuring heavily in many conversations. So to, are edits borne of stock footage, user generated and crowd sourced content. But we are also seeing more traditional live action directors teaming up with animation directors to bring their stories to life.
Let’s face it, our industry was already under enormous strain with rising expectations and shrinking budgets. Sure, Covid-19 has just made matters dramatically worse and faster than we could have imagined, but I firmly believe we can get through it. We are problem solvers at heart and never has the sentiment of necessity being the mother of invention felt truer.
But we’re going to have to work differently. Studios are going to have to work more closely, putting our competitive instincts aside, sharing projects and supporting each other like never before. No one needs to be left behind. The horrible alternative is that when we do emerge from our homes, we will return to an industry we don’t recognise.
Keep calm. And see you on the other side.