As productions restart across the globe, HPA chair Leon Silverman explains the work of the HPA Industry Recovery Task Force which aims to keep the post community informed about the latest safety guidance and best practice.
As the focus intensifies on getting production and postproduction back on track, we know that the way we work going forward will be different than before. Whether you are a facility manager, a sound mixer, editor, VFX supervisor or colourist, from the business, technical and creative point of view, your roles are changing.
Various countries governments and craft organisations and industry bodies are issuing safety guidelines that, with local variations, are broadly similar. In reality, we all benefit from learning how others are handling the same situation. If you run sound stage facilities, if you operate a post house or a mixing theatre then you are already engaged with how to protect your people and your clients when admitting them into physical spaces.
HPA created an Industry Recovery Task Force in May, with the goal of keeping the postproduction community informed about the latest health and safety guidance, to make sure that that community continues to be a part of the conversation and to ensure that we emerge from this challenging time stronger and more creative as an industry.
The first in a series of virtual Industry Recovery Task Force global town hall events took place last week. The global town halls will continue for the following months, and each will feature major voices from the creative, health and political arenas. Our first event included expert opinion and advice from Dr. Daniel Z. Uslan, co-chief infection prevention officer for UCLA Health; Steve Rivkin, ACE, president, American Cinema Editors; Katie Fellion, head of business development and workflow strategy, Light Iron; Michael Cioni, sr VP of innovation, Frame.io; Doug Kent, president, Westwind Media; and Zev Yaroslovsky, former member of LA’s Board of Supervisors. HPA’s next global town hall is set for 19 August.
The Town Hall is a forum for everyone, no matter your location, to learn about best practises, explore experiences of experts, and, importantly, it’s a place where topics of interest among our community are articulated and explored.
While the principles of ‘wash hands, wear a mask and maintain distance’ are well understood, they present intricate complexities when applied in practice. From on-set video village to craft services and catering to make-up and wardrobe, there are dozens if not hundreds of variables that need careful consideration before we consider stepping back into the soundstage or facility.
Another essential strategy for returning to work is testing, which is and will remain a hot topic. There is still a lot we don’t know about implementing optimal testing strategies and understand that medical studies are constantly emerging, making it critical to keep abreast of the latest information. The Industry Recovery Task Force will invite medical and scientific representatives to each Town Hall to share up-to-the-minute information and be available for your questions.
As we look back to the industry reaction to the early stages of the crisis, we can be proud of our collective resilience and ingenuity. The crisis literally flipped a switch and we figured out how to work from home in relatively short order.
The experience forced a cultural change about the capability of tools for remote working. The industry’s problem-solving approach quickly tackled developing and deploying techniques for continuing to work under lockdown with as few gaps and lags in the chain as possible.
Now, as we resume principal photography and post pipelines—albeit gradually—we are in a position to assess the situation. While many collaboration tools have been excellent, many are not quite the finished article and need further evolution. Hosting resources into the cloud is a target but we shouldn’t rush to expecting that today’s solutions are a silver bullet. We need tools to enable better remote calibration of monitors. We need to combat last mile bandwidth bottlenecks. From a technical and security standards point of view there is still work to do.
Yet we can also use some perspective to understand the significance of this moment in our history. When the crisis hit, we needed remote production tools for a global content creation industry in enforced isolation where work is increasingly international, highly collaborative and spans time zones. The technologies and techniques brought forth in this time will benefit workflows long after the pandemic subsides.
In the same way the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 hastened the arrival of file-based workflows (by eliminating tape manufacture), the pandemic will be an accelerant of thought processes extant before Covid – notably virtual production, migration to cloud and software services.
The connection factor
There is no doubt that the experience of work from home has been very challenging to some, fantastic for others who have embraced a more positive work life balance, and a mixed bag for those who have made the very best of what they had to do but desire above all to get back into one-one creative spaces with a client, a director or DoP.
This connection factor is arguably the main piece missing in the back to work scenario. Filmmakers have always created content close up with each other on sets or in small rooms with intimate human interaction. Working from home has highlighted how hard it is to simulate the one on one nature of human creative engagement without physical presence.
In Hollywood, production is very slowly beginning to ramp up but not close to pre-pandemic levels. That’s likely to be the case for some considerable time. We’re beginning to see pockets of different types of programming being done in LA and in other places across the US. While production has begun in spots around the world, parts of post have never stopped while many have been side-lined.
- Read more: Roadmaps for restarting production
There is clearly a concern that work in the industry has slowed and that there will be challenging times ahead. Yet, the industry had been undergoing an explosion of global content creation prior to the pandemic. Content orders were reaching unprecedented levels and not just from Hollywood-based studios but across a wide number of platforms on a truly global scale. The economic power of our industry gives us an important voice which we need to ensure resonates with political leaders.
While acknowledging the very real concern among us there is also optimism that, as the pandemic evolves and hopefully resolves, that the level of global content creation will resume. We need to weather the storm and prepare for what we were in the process of readying pre-COVID; namely to create and service the extraordinary amount of quality content for platforms worldwide with a strengthened, creative and safe production and postproduction industry.
The HPA Industry Recovery Task Force Town Hall is free to attend by registering. For further information about the next event and registration, visit hpaonline.com.