Arrow’s in-house post-production story

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By Kyran Speirs, Head of Post-Production, Arrow

Before the pandemic hit, if Dan Carew-Jones and I had proposed to the board that in less than three years, when the company peaks in the busiest production year ever, we would produce nearly 100% of Arrow’s publishing workflows from the same basement space in Fitzrovia, and at a world-class level, I think we would have been politely told to take time off work.

Yet here we are, with up to 30 offline suites, full online finishing, color grading, graphics and 5.1 audio. Nominated for numerous awards and winner of one. Sky, BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, Discovery, Disney and Nat Geo are all on the credit list. It was a high octane adventure!

Don’t get me wrong, I will always believe and want to work with external facilities. Soho has a choice of the best technologies, creations and management in the world, but with so much content created by the small in-house post house now has a place among the big ones.

Being able to scale without the impact of real estate through technology – like high-powered blade computers with Terradici/HP RGS connectivity installed in a machine room – was a game-changer. A room that once housed a montage now houses 20 montages all operating remotely. The pandemic has really advanced post-production both in the cloud and in the remote world.

The internal position of course brings its own challenges and opportunities. Having a single client means we have to be versatile and nimble in our capacity management, but it also means we can be involved in the process from the earliest stages, which adds to the efficiency of the process as a whole. We never want to take shortcuts or compromise the level of production, so we buy what we need smartly, making it work efficiently for Arrow.

We employ a core team and partner with freelancers who complement our philosophy, loyalty and level of service which the core team adheres to.

Arrow Post’s driving force is not profit but efficiency. We do archival heavy shows and deadlines get tighter, so being able to design the facility to our specific requirements is a definite plus and a core value.

We’ve been researching cloud solutions for many years now using Microsoft SharePoint, Teams and Azure before the pandemic, as well as using cloud-based viewing and media management platforms like Limecraft Flow. Leveraging developing technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning is also part of our mindset and we see how these technologies can be used to increase efficiency throughout the supply chain. Curio platform, because we understand that storing images is worthless if you can’t find them!

What started as a vision of a streamlined and flexible internal workflow has run into a global emergency, and the need to keep people working has shaped a potential future for internal post.

The remote process is now a proven working model here at Arrow without massively increasing our space. It didn’t happen overnight and took investment, thought and unfortunate events to drive it forward. Can it replace the post houses of Soho? I really hope not, and I don’t think so. In-house facilities will not be able to offer the range of technologies that post houses can offer and this will be important as the pace of technological change accelerates. There’s room for both, though, and we share one ultimate goal: to deliver 7-star production service!

What started as a vision of a streamlined and flexible internal workflow has run into a global emergency, and the need to keep people working has shaped a potential future for internal post. With the rapid emergence of cloud and remote post-production technology, it’s no longer just about an installation or in-house position, there’s a newcomer in town, in-[your own]in-house post-production!

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