Matt is one of a number of experts participating in Createasphere’s Post Production Master Class in New York in September, a gathering of the brightest and most informed post production experts in the city.
New York-based Matthew Schneider works in the Test Lab, a research and workflow development team at Technicolor-PostWorks, one of New York’s largest providers of post-production services for film, television and commercials.
Recently, he shared a few thoughts about where the industry is currently situated, the work he’s engaged in, and where we might be headed.
“What we do, in the most thoughtful and realistic way possible, is to understand the real needs of our clients and develop the right workflow,” Schneider began. “Every job is different, with every job bringing a different set of constraints, limitations and pain points. Workflow development means navigating these constraints in the smartest, most elegant way possible.” This support often begins before the projects start, from the choice of camera, all the way through to the archiving of projects. “The past decade has witnessed the arrival of an extraordinary variety of new camera technologies,” he noted. “Camera choice has a very serious impact on the rest of the work we do. So we like to be integrally involved in the development of workflows to support those camera choices, and ensure that our clients have options available along the way.” That production decisions impact everything downstream is hardly a new concept, but for the past few years, “there’s been an unprecedented meshing of production and post, with post production now beginning essentially at the lens.”
On the topic of on-set color, Schneider sees a range of acceptance. “On-set color is certainly a factor in the New York productionmarket. Most if not all of our scripted clients are interested in it; acceptance however depends on budgetary constraints, geography, and the degree of need. As with all other services, what works best varies with each production.” Schneider added: “For those clients who do need onsite color and dailies processing, we now have our Technicolor Global Dailies system generated by FrameLogic, which can be deployed anywhere in the world.”
Schneider believes that many projects need the support of a big facility. “There are options and experience that come with a company like ours. We have at our discretion as many as six or seven different color platforms for example, round-theclock engineering on site Monday through Friday, as well as extensive experience with a broad variety of workflows. When a project arrives, we analyze all the variables to determine what works best for that situation. Our experience helps us to decide why one platformor workflow may be better than another, and why one toolset is best. There are many ways to do the work and every tool set carries its own set of idiosyncrasies. Our experience with this diverse tool set helps our clients decide how to deal with them in the most efficient way possible. “
Facilities, large or small, don’t just acquire people and tools, as a ‘vanity point,’ he noted. “We acquire and develop tools and technologies to answer needs that are presented to us. And, we put the very best people into the right spots. It’s just a fact that no one platformwill be able to handle everything. With different cameras – Arri, Red, Canon, Sony – all in play now, as well as different deliveries and creative approaches, a solid facility has to take on the responsibility to help its clients figure out the best way to do the project and then build the solution.”
What’s been a significant development in the past few years for broadcast television clientele? Schneider believes that the acceptance of compressed media both during acquisition and during final mastering has been one of the biggest changes. “Uncompressed finishing for television content had been the only way to finish projects for broadcast television. In the last several years however, acquisition and mastering have adopted formats such as ProRes and DNxHD. Contributing to this change were the development of extremely high quality video codecs, the adoption of camera systems that wrote to these new file formats, and ultimately perhaps, the tragic events in Japan, which created a shortage in tape stock. Certain camera systems – the introduction of the Arri Alexa for example – were pivotal milestones in a curve of change already in progress. Prior to the introduction of the Alexa, we had just one or two shows working in ProRes. Today, it’s a very high percentage.” He adds that color grading systems and other online tools have also improved their support for ProRes and DNxHD workflows.
Schneider and the team at Technicolor-PostWorks NY have a big picture view of the process, a perspective that comes from watching a number of technologies get introduced, gain acceptance, and then be replaced. “Technological changes are ultimately cyclical, with the pendulum swinging from rapid change to periods of greater “stability.” For the moment – and just for the moment – we are presently at the flat spot of the curve. But we know that technologies, camera systems, and budgetary thresholds will all contribute to that wheel of change turning again.” What might be important in the next few years, according to his viewfinder? “The development of the IIF/ACES processmay become a significant part of how post production pipelines are handled. There is growing interest in the Sony F65 as well as with smaller 4K cameras. At some point in the future, 4K as an acquisition format for scripted television shows may come into greater adoption. As a result, we are continuing to develop and refine how we respond to these needs.” It is part of what the post production facility, and experts, have always done for the industry. “It’s our job to help clients understand the complex, to reduce the complex to the simple, all while meeting deadlines and keeping to budgets.” While technologies and workflow will continue to evolve, the role of consultation and professional insight, especially for the experts at Technicolor-PostWorks, will not change.
In his role at the Technicolor-PostWorks Test Lab, Matt assists clients in workflow development and implementation, and designs solutions to manage the complications related to digital camera systems and formats. Since joining the company nearly a decade ago, he has been involved in countless projects for features and television, during one of the most rapidly moving, highly demanding times in the industry. Matt is one of a number of experts participating in Createasphere’s Post Production Master Class