As someone who wants to work in post-production, being able to get an insight into how post houses work, are structured, and how best to get your foot in the door, is something that will most certainly not fall on deaf ears. Which of course meant that today’s guest speakers at University had the pleasure of my full attention. We had the opportunity to hear from, and speak with Mat Appleton of Envy, a post-production house with a number of locations, based in London, and Rachel Daly of AVID.
It was interesting to hear about the different stages of workflows within a post-production house, as they differed slightly from what I first imagined. Although Envy has over one hundred offline Avid suites, they only employ one offline editor, purely for consultation, or assistance. These suites are hired out to freelance editors, already hired by a production company to assemble an offline edit. That being said, I'm not sure freelance would be for me. If most post-production houses work under this kind of structure, then it is in my best interest to gain greater knowledge of the online edit process. This has led me to consider and build on my growing interest in colour grading.
|AVID Symphony 6|
|Film Light Baselight Hardware|
Envy currently uses two grading systems, dependent on the work involved, Avid Symphony, and Film Lights Baselight. As the two main forms of work are short form (adverts, films, one off specials etc.), and long form (TV series etc.), these two forms can affect post-production decisions such as grading. For instance, a long form project may not need as much grading, normally informative or entertaining, it only needs to look nice on screen, doing this in Avid Symphony will not only save time, but larges amounts of the post-production budget. This particular program is considered to have a quick turn around time in comparison to Baselight. Baselight is a far more complex, and notably better grading system, and serves best on projects that demand a high level of colour grading as part of the budget. Envy currently employs four colour graders and a junior, whom are some of the highest earning within the company.
|AVID Pro Tools 11|
Short form and long form also affect roles within the audio department, which currently uses Pro Tools. As pointed out by Mat during his presentation, the majority of people working audio post either work in short form, or long form. Apparently, this is related to the artistic choices made in audio, short form may desire a particular sound, someone with greater knowledge, and more experience that can bring a particular style to a project. Long form on the other hand, will normally have a consistent, and well-maintained level of audio during production as it is mainly for TV entertainment. This means it should only need minor corrections and leveling, and no particular stylistic interference. Envy also currently use Flame Premium in their VFX department, an area that will I not pretend to have any knowledge in, and an area I have never felt much desire to learn, yet!
|Flame Premium VFX|
It was also interesting to hear about how ones career will start within a post-production house. Beginning as a runner, making coffees, and doing odd jobs, before passing probation. After a successful probation period, one can then expect to spend anything from one to three years, if not more, working in the MCR (Machine Room). Which MCR will depend on your desired career path, the roles differ between Online, Grading, VFX, and Audio, each offering a different pace of progression. Working in the MCR entails such tasks as fixing bugs, ingestion, and transcoding, to creating DVDs for presentation. It is here that ones status grows with greater responsibility, trust, and advancing ones knowledge of how a post-production house operates in terms of hierarchy and roles.
However, post-production houses have endless dealings with contacts and clients, this puts one other skill on par with all others, social skills. Being able to interact easily, and professionally with high paying clients is important; not only to the company itself, but also to building ones own contacts, and potential clients in the future. It is a well-known fact that producers, and directors etc. keep very familiar circles, having an editor they get on with, and whose work speaks for it self, will ensure future work, and a growing network of clients. This also requires knowledge of the industry, where it’s going, familiarizing ones self with the potential content, such as news, fashion etc. As Mat put it, “If you don’t enjoy it and it’s not like a hobby, you won’t go far at all”.
Although I am only in second year of University, which is currently flying by as fast as the first, this opportunity has given me a lot to think about. It has in no way changed my decision to pursue a career in post, but it has given me a huge push in my attempts to find work experience, to see first hand what it is truly like behind those doors. It has also inspired me to pursue other paths within post, seeking experience and hopefully accreditations in grading and audio, potentially taking part in non-university related software courses, widening my potential career paths, and maybe finding a new hobby in the process.