Challenges M&E companies face today – PART II
by CTO & Co-Founder Kamen Ferdinandov
Managing the shifting Media Landscape driven by Technology
The digital media landscape as a whole is undergoing dramatic transformation with companies having to navigate through emerging technologies alongside elements of associated social change at the same time. The entire value chain is affected, including media owners through to agencies, and ultimately marketeers and advertisers too.
Media channels are becoming increasingly fragmented as consumers are empowered more than ever before through accessible social media and blogging sites, that were not readily available a decade ago. Customers have effectively evolved into influential “mini-media platforms” in their own right.
These are very exciting developments. To be part of the digital age and a technological revolution certainly brings freedom to consumers, however, on the other hand, it presents many challenges to M&E organisations, such as:
- Staying relevant in a continuously evolving digital landscape;
- Learning to adapt and communicate in engaging ways to match customer expectations;
- Monetizing audiences.
The Stages of media production
This moves us on to my next point as we address the challenges faced within each stage within the media production process. Let’s focus on pre-production and production, post-production through to delivery and distribution and how these organisations are having to adapt to many technological changes currently.
- Pre-production and Production – Pre-production, production and post-production are moving closer together now with many post companies getting involved right from the start of the process in order to define final outcomes and deliverables before filming a movie or shooting a commercial.
The constant demand for faster and cheaper productions plays a significant role in how things are now done. This factor alone drives the demand for more automated and “human-less” operations, which attracts modern solutions such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the industry.
When I was asked by the press recently in an interview what I think the future holds with regard to technology generally in M&E, I replied by saying that the future is in taking a more creative approach and choosing solutions that differentiate from the push towards automation, AI and ML, which means that technology should provide more effective and efficient tools more than ever before, even in areas where they weren’t originally even required.
Many large film studios and production firms are also installing their own in-house post-production facilities and departments for efficiency, in order to have everything operating under one roof as well as securing sensitive confidential footage which is easier to control under one umbrella organisation with tighter controls. This has a knock-on effect for the smaller post companies that have to survive when many of the major projects are now absorbed in-house by the large studios.
With LAPIS, post companies and production companies would feel assured and confident in the full security that their content and data is well protected at all times.
- Post-Production – The post environment is extremely competitive, highly technical and creative with skilled artists working under immense pressure to meet tight deadlines within the highest standards of quality. Post companies provide vast services that range from editing, time-intensive CG and VFX work as well as online editing, colour grading, animation, and much more.
There are many post systems on the market that can perform all of these functions in one system, and many stand-alone systems that focus on one area of expertise, however in
today’s market, many post-production professionals such as world-leading colourists and compositors recognise that they have to hone in on all aspects of the process from editing, grading and finishing in order to work most effectively with dailies, changes, immediate client approvals and interaction across all client suites on a given project.
A while back there were two main formats the post-production world used, these were PAL and NTSC, and now there are hundreds of permutations, field rates, frame rates, versions, language versions and formats that post-production workflows have to readily accommodate and be able to adapt to quickly.
We are also seeing much more interactive and personalised material being produced, such as the recent Black Mirror “Bandersnatch” episodes for Netflix where viewers had the option to choose the ultimate outcome of the story by controlling their television remote controls. Another example is Ang Li’s latest Gemini Man which was shot in 120 frames per second which is quite a feat. These complex projects have impacted how post companies have had to adapt with challenging deliverables on a scale cinema and broadcast audiences from decades ago had never seen before. Post companies have had to post-produce footage in Large Giant Screen formats, HD, HDR, HFR, IMAX, VR, AR, XR resolutions up to 8K and beyond and much more. This in turn creates demand for monitor display technologies to be compliant and available across media such as television, PC, mobile and cinema screens and to be fully compatible with these new formats.
On top of all this creativity and technical expertise, post companies have to still run their everyday business, pay their invoices, invoice their clients, pay salaries, run financial reports, make bookings in the various suites, and store massive file footage securely. All these activities ideally have to be able to sync in with their creative work in order for them to be efficient and not get bogged down in the everyday details. This is the challenge and battle many running post houses around the world face today. Post-production companies would benefit the most from using LAPIS to coordinate and manage all these varied and vital tasks. A competent system like LAPIS can be an enormous support so they can get on with the business of running the business affairs efficiently and freeing up time to be more creative.
- Delivery & Distribution – This is ultimately the end-product that consumers can enjoy in the version of their choice. All of the visual formats such as Large Giant Screen formats, HD, HDR, HFR, IMAX, VR, AR, XR resolutions up to 8K and beyond are delivered by post companies for distribution to then be displayed across various media such as mobile, PC, television and cinema screens. Many of the innovative resolutions have prompted a demand for display technologies and manufacturers are currently working hard to make it possible for households to eventually be able to view many of these new formats from the comfort of home. A recent example is how UHD and Stereoscopic 3D was made available for audiences to view Sky 3D sports. Across most Technology & Consumption spheres such as film, TV, Audio, Publishing, Games, Website, the Gaming Sector, footage is being adapted to audiences’ preferences.
Online alternatives are gradually replacing traditional broadcasting. Online media access such as online TVs, VOD, and so forth, exceed traditional methods of distribution. Companies like Netflix and Amazon opened up the possibility for geographical expansion that resulted in increased demand and the need for speedy deliveries of localized content. Cinema or DVD/Blu-ray audiences tend to go to online streaming platforms now for example, such as Netflix and Hulu, and this has changed the entire focus of distribution and disrupted the way things now work in the M&E sector.
Consequently, the increase of outsourcing traditional in-house operations is now commonplace within the distribution arena, which in turn, brings in more and more mobile and web technologies into the mix. This in turn creates a massive demand for the simplification and adaptation for less knowledgeable personnel to be able to access these technologies and applications.
In Part 3, I will explore content and its intrinsic value to companies in the industry. I will reveal in this concluding chapter how LAPIS can benefit the media industry as a whole in every area.