Coffee & TV’s co-founder and CEO Derek Moore lays out four facts he’s learned about post-production over the last seven years
Since we started Coffee & TV in 2012, I have learned a lot about the post production business. Here are four realisations about the current state of the industry.
1. It’s not ‘post’
Every day ‘post houses’ create content. We get involved with creative ideas, produce concept art, help with budgets, storyboards and writing treatments, often well before a director is chosen. We do pre-viz work before shooting, we’ll also be on set with cameras and a Flame to make sure everything is working. Then we put it all together at the end. There is so much more to what we do than ‘post’ production, and we are determined to build a company that is recognised for that.
2. It used to be about the equipment
Until the last recession, the business model was, ‘Buy some really expensive machinery that most companies can’t afford and charge clients a fortune to use it.’ I worked in facilities that had several film scanners worth over £1million each. Most clients didn’t have so much work that they could justify investing in their own kit, so they outsourced this overhead when needed. Until the cost of the kit dropped to a point when everyone could afford their own.
3. Now it is all about the people
Talented artists make the work we produce a smooth, enjoyable process with fantastic results. It’s so important to recognise that without them, all we would have would be an expensive building in Soho with a load of flash computers in it. We wouldn’t be able to make a thing. Since we started, our mission is to create a business that is driven by the people who truly understand the creative process. Our artists and producers already share in the studio’s profits and actively help to form the strategy for the years ahead. In my opinion it is easier for smart creative people to learn the required business skills than for business people to understand what makes creatives tick.
4. In-house is here to stay.
10 years ago, large post houses used to have a wide range of projects: The high-end of the very best TV work and feature film sequences; a lower end that would often be done at night by juniors; then all the mid-range stuff; the bleach commercials and alternative versions of the big-ticket work. The high-end work in Soho is very much alive and well. To a large extent, the lower-end work is still around too, although it often gets ‘outsourced’ or ‘off-shored’ to various studios around the world with lower cost bases than London. But the mid-level work has been disappearing in-house at an ever-increasing rate. The key point here is that doing this work internally makes perfect business sense for our clients. Companies like Coffee & TV are geared up to deliver breathtaking visuals; that is where we provide the most value. So, it is easy to understand why this level of work still finds its way to the specialists. In fact, agencies and broadcasters also benefit from outsourcing the simpler work that uses overseas studios with lower cost-bases to provide competitive pricing further down the creativity food-chain. However, mood edits, promos, simple titles etc, don’t require a cool Soho studio with a huge render farm and a team of digital artists straight off the latest Bond movie. As lucrative as that work used to be for the big facilities, it now makes far more sense to hire a few freelancers and get it done in-house.