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Clear Cut Pictures: the effect of 4K on post production

Max McGonigal, Managing Director, Clear Cut Pictures

Max McGonigal,
Managing Director,
Clear Cut Pictures

Ahead of his appearance at TV Connect (28th – 30th April 2015 ExCel, London), IP&TV News catches up with Max McGonigal about how 4K is changing things for those involved in post-production

IP&TV News: Hi Max. For those that don’t know about you, can you begin by introducing us to Clear Cut Pictures?

Max McGonigal: Established in 1993, Clear Cut Pictures is an award winning London Post Production Facility with a reputation for delivering quality post predominantly for TV. We were unanimously voted Broadcast Magazine’s Best Post Production Facility at the 2011 Broadcast Awards and have been shortlisted in 2013, 2014 and now in 2015.

We are one of the most popular post production facilities in the UK and have a reputation for our technical infrastructure which is well suited to quick turnaround programming.

From a post-production point of view, what challenges is 4K presenting? Also, what potential is there for 4K in the cinema, or for otherwise improving the visual experience for theatrical audiences?

Efficient post production is dependent on reliable and effective technology to carry out complex and challenging tasks.  The slow but steady emergence of 4K as an acquisition and mastering format has increased the demand for fast and reliable technology to maintain the demanding workflow processing speeds that the industry has become accustomed to.

Post production companies have learnt to adapt to the challenges of new formats over the years; from Black and White to Colour, to 16:9 to HD, to file based workflows. 4K is just the logical step up, as the industry strives to reach its mutual goal of creating ever better and engaging audience experience. This history of adapting to change has prepared companies such as Clear Cut Pictures for this next imaging evolution.

The challenges immediately facing post production come in the form of ensuring the technical infrastructure at our facilities is fit for purpose. To offer 4K services, almost all technical elements at a post facility require an upgrade (from HD environment) to be faster and/or larger. Edit workstations, data storage, preview monitoring, and networks must be upgraded. Investing in a new format can be a risk and some post businesses will be cautious after making recent investments (into formats such as 3D), which haven’t yielded the returns that were originally expected. As a result the upgrade process can be lengthy as the industry looks for reassurances that this format is here for the long term.

The upshot of all this investment is that the end user experience is greatly enhanced. 4K, as an evolving standard, has the potential to offer much more than just a larger number of pixels (although that in itself is very desirable). Wider colour spaces and higher frame rates are additional technological improvements that are associated with 4K – all of which can improve the audience experience, creating a deeper emotional connection to the content (than HD). These new media technologies also allow for greater creative freedom of expression, which keeps the content fresh and exciting.

4K is the obvious touchstone, but what other challenges and opportunities are new technologies introducing to the post-production process? Is next gen technology opening any doors for new creative and commercial opportunities?

Commercially, the introduction of 4K (and larger formats) has generated an increase of demand for data storage and management solutions that our production partners do not necessarily have the will or inclination to take on themselves. Post-production has a history of data management and so is best placed to remove this headache from production companies.

With investments being made in post facilities to improve their internal networks for large data (such as 4K), it makes sense to maximize the utilisation of these improvements by offering to manage client media data. The services that Clear Cut Pictures offer include deep archiving, cloud backup, cloud viewing and logging proxies files. Our clients need to be assured that their expensive assets are protected, safe and accessible.  There is also a growing demand to ensure that these assets are available on the marketplace for maximizing their monetization potential.

You’re attending this year’s TV Connect – what areas are you interested in finding more about while you’re there?

I’m looking forward to getting insight into new developments in end user experience through tech innovation and evolving delivery methods. It’s promising to be a great event and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

Click to download the new free TV Connect brochure.

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