It would be a bit blasé to say that media post-production has changed drastically in recent years. Of course it has changed.
A workflow so heavily dependent on technology and online solutions can’t avoid shifting alongside the tech that makes it possible.
But post-production isn’t only changing on a technical level. We are now seeing a dramatic change in the paradigm surrounding post-production.
In fact, we may even be witnessing the death of extreme specialization in the post-production space.
A new wave of Video Artists have established themselves in the industry, and they’re bringing with them a new way of doing business, one that also stands to cut costs and create a much more flexible workflow.
We’ll give you the lowdown on this new movement with the help of renowned Video Artist Denis Ogorodov, who has worked with many world-famous clients, including Google, Twitch, and Coca-Cola.
One of the most substantial alterations to post-production involves a change in the make-up of post-production professionals.
There are more post-production professionals now, and that’s thanks in large part to the elimination of previous barriers to entry.
Ogorodov explains that technology, and increased accessibility to this technology, is the cause behind this effect.
“The biggest change has been accessibility to both software and hardware. This democratization of software and hardware created a very healthy environment for the post-production community, rich in resources. This has allowed editors like me to become ‘Video Artists.’ I am now not only editing the project, but I am also storyboarding, designing, animating, compositing, color grading, and in some cases ideating the project from scratch.”
The cross-discipline approach to post-production that Ogorodov mentions here will be explored in more detail later in the piece, but for now let’s focus on that idea of democratization.
It’s really a two-fold development. On the one hand, professional hardware and software has become easier to obtain, as Ogorodov notes, but for beginners, there are also many free or low-cost options that let users learn the basics of many different aspects of post-production.
Now, whether an aspiring post-production artist wants to wade into the shallows (iMovie, OpenShot, Blender) or jump right into the deep end (Adobe Suite, etc.), they can do it for a reasonable amount of money.
In other words, the floodgates have been opened, and relatively new Video Artists are bringing with them new perspectives and ways of doing business.
One of these new ways of doing business includes an emphasis on remote work, whether out of necessity or convenience.
Ogorodov has always been an advocate for remote post-production work. While he recognizes the value of having collaborators speaking with others in the same room, he also knows that this has become less of a problem thanks to the numerous file-sharing and conferencing programs currently on offer.
Then, as the world was challenged by a global pandemic, Ogorodov’s remote-based workflow became the only viable way to complete post-production.
Even beyond the current situation, Ogorodov feels that remote work will only become more common in the years to come. In his eyes, it’s not just about modernizing outdated methods, but also reducing the cost of this work for Video Artists of all time.
“The main reason I believe remote work will increase for video artists of all kinds is the cost of doing business. Renting an office space is a huge hit for many smaller ad agencies and post-production companies.Then there’s equipment rentals, purchases, maintenance, and other overhead expenses.”
When Video Artists own their own equipment and don’t need to worry about common business expenses, they no longer have to pass those outdated costs along to their clients.
These advantages aren’t exclusive to freelance Video Artists, either. We may soon reach a point where major Hollywood studios allow their post-production crews to work remotely.
If, or rather when, that time comes, forward-thinking Video Artists will already have a significant head start, utilizing a workflow they’ve been optimizing for years.
While we’re on the topic, let’s talk a bit about that workflow.
Being a trailblazer in your field often involves revisiting conventions and deciding what can go and what needs to stick around.
While working on the documentary The Donut King, Ogorodov and the rest of the team made a strong choice to disrupt the usual workflow.
Not only was it a change to how Ogorodov usually works, but it was also a change to how the industry typically operated in the post-production stage.
“While usually you would only send a film to color grading after complete picture lock, this new workflow I facilitated allowed the Designers and VFX team at Chapeau Studios and the Color Grading artists at Olio Creative to continue working, unimpeded. This workflow, while possible in the past, would have been cost prohibitive, but now saved the team time and money.”
This isn’t necessarily a workflow that would fit all projects, but Ogorodov realized that it would work well for The Donut King in particular.
The “old ways” are only useful so far as they hold up. As other aspects of production and post-production continue to change, we may very well see teams actively reassessing not only the order of their workflow but the individual elements of that workflow.
If this reassessment results in increased efficiency, then everybody wins in the end.
Expanding skill sets and perspectives
Evolving tech can feel threatening to some, exciting to others.
In particular, those willing to master new technologies and skill sets are rewarded for setting their careers on the cutting edge.
Virtual Reality has certainly been one of the most sought-after new filmmaking technologies of the past ten years.
For those accustomed to standard-aspect footage, working with VR footage is intimidating.
But back in 2013, Ogorodov saw the newness of VR as an opportunity to be part of an upcoming movement.
He then went on to establish quite an impressive pedigree in the VR space, working with Google VR to help launch their Daydream product, as well as VR projects for Toyota and Coca-Cola.
Looking back on his personal history with VR and the knowledge he’s gained since the tech was still brand new, Ogorodov notes that, in many ways, it has become just another skill set to add to his collection.
Once a specific technology stops being novel, you can really get down to work and improve the process.
This has certainly been the case with Ogorodov’s more recent VR work.
“Earlier this year, I was the Lead Video Editor for Twitch’s January-Drop campaign at ad agency Elephant. My combined skills allowed me to collaborate with a team to create an edit that cut seamlessly between animations.”
None of this is to say that VR specifically is the be-all end-all of new filmmaking technologies, but it’s an excellent example of a chance for production and post-production professionals to expand their existing skill sets to include something that will only become more popular, and relevant, with time.
Creative freedom and autonomy
Before we go, we’d like to touch on a more abstract aspect of the day-to-day work of Video Artists: establishing and maintaining trust with clients.
Once that trust is achieved, it allows Video Artists more creative freedom when working on projects. But of course, getting to that point is easier said than done.
To give a brief example of what that trust can look like between a Video Artist and client, Ogorodov shared his experience working with the ad agency Petrol on multiple trailers for the videogame Remnant of the Ashes from Gunfire Games, which itself received glowing reviews upon release.
Petrol essentially gave Ogorodov free rein for capturing in-game footage that could then be used in the trailer, as well as full control over the edit.
That initial trust was most likely based on the strength of Ogorodov’s past work. But keeping that trust was up to Ogorodov himself.
Had the finished trailers not impressed those at Petrol or Gunfire Games, there would have been problems.
But the work itself proved that that creative freedom had paid off for everyone.
“I think the most important thing for me as a Video Artist is to gain my client’s trust. I want to delight and surprise them with something different when the moment calls for it, and of course also gently but firmly tell them when something is not working and offer an alternate solution.”
These moments of autonomy represent the culmination of everything we’ve discussed here so far.
A Video Artist who is comfortable in a remote work environment, who is self-sustaining in their software and hardware, and who has expanded their skill set to include many different stages of post-production is ready to, as Ogorodov put it, delight and surprise clients with their ideas and what they’re able to create.
In the current post-production climate, it’s not enough to simply be good at one thing and leave it at that.
Those who are willing to go that extra mile for the duration of each project are setting themselves up for continued success.
by Giorgio Chang