Netflix’s supply chain, which underpins its rapid growth, is set to become even more integrated with everything from editorial to user experience as it strives to become the most innovative content creator of the planet.
“Where companies like Netflix are producing content at unprecedented levels of complexity, quality and speed, we need to rethink what publishing is as a creative function,” said Sean Cooney, director of Netflix, Worldwide Post Production at IBC365.
“We are in the early days of experimenting with many different formats and technologies and many new ways that an audience can enjoy our content. We want to find ways to express stories that are not limited in a traditional setting or dictated by the limits of technology.
Everything points to early post-process integration that will be increasingly necessary for Netflix’s continued success.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our industry where we find ourselves at the end of an era dominated by the impact, heritage and elegance of this century-old technology called film and the evolution of what we consider to be. the video “. Says Leon Silverman, director, Post Operations and Creative Services. “What’s really interesting about a company like Netflix is that its culture comes as much from Silicon Valley as it does from Hollywood. He has a deep affinity for the creation of entertainment and for technological innovation.
Silverman has spent the last decade at Disney, where he built his own editorial, sound and digital operations team and infrastructure before joining Netflix in February
“The point is, I wasn’t looking for a new job, but I was looking for ‘the next step,’ says the veteran who also spent more than a quarter of a century at Kodak’s former facility, Laser Pacific (now part of of Technicolor) leaving the presidency. He was the founder and past president of the Hollywood Professional Association business body, where he continues to serve on the organization’s board of directors.
“Hollywood has always been a meeting place for the arts and the technical sciences, but these have been siled and separated into many parts of the traditional system. In some ways, switching to Netflix is the culmination of everything I’ve tried to achieve throughout my career. Its philosophy is based on the intersection of technology and creativity to innovate new forms of storytelling. Netflix has the resources, the vision, and the talent to align these goals. “
“One of the challenges is to make sure that the talents we work with feel creatively supported even when we operate on such a large scale,” Sean Cooney, Netflix
Strongly, Silverman adds, “I know how difficult it is to get the people, the resources and the freedom to create innovation in big companies. I have worked with many brilliant people in my career, but my colleagues at Netflix have a level of intellect and intelligence where they just don’t get by. This culture is based on the freedom and responsibility to generate impactful results. “
Netflix’s global post office operation is in Los Angeles, where it employs the majority of its 275 employees. Cooney explains that this includes teams that manage shows from a budget, programming, and creative perspective, as well as technical and engineering teams that advance imagery, sound, and user design “to create a next-generation immersive entertainment ”.
Forty-five post-production staff are currently stationed in international post-production centers including London and Amsterdam, but with regional content increasingly important to the growth of the business, that number is set to increase. and with it the complexity of Netflix’s post-production operations. The aim is to streamline basic functions such as localization, quality control, asset management and archiving while increasing production from Asia, Latin America and Europe.
“Every title has to go through this pipeline while the field management of the craft functions on the shows such as writing and finishing is done remotely and under the management of partners, independent creators and third-party vendors,” says Cooney. . “One of the challenges is to ensure that the talents we work with feel creatively supported, even when we operate on such a large scale. We want to continue to provide a boutique experience even as we grow. “
These are not just platitudes. Netflix receives positive reviews from showrunners, directors, editors and cinematographers for the creative space it offers them. The importance of existing relationships with dozens of third-party post houses, independent artists and technology providers is also recognized.
“Netflix has spent a lot of time cultivating close relationships in the publishing community, but as we become more and more involved in upstream production, we want to focus on streamlining transfers on the creative side of production. to finishing the content, locating and delivering to our service, “says Silverman.
Using the cloud to connect creatives located around the world is part of the discussion, but there is also an emphasis on connecting that ecosystem to the physical spaces where creative work takes place. “We need to be there where the creatives are – whether it’s New York, Singapore, Brazil, Berlin or Mumbai, and we need to remove friction from the process as much as possible,” Cooney said.
Experimenting with formats
While this makes sense from a business standpoint, there is also a creative intention. Bandersnatch, the revolutionary interactive drama of Black mirror team, could not have been achieved without close collaboration from the editorial staff to the design of the user interface.
“We developed special technology to enable interaction with the audience, but it had to work in concert with our engineering and product teams and with the editorial and publishing teams,” Cooney said. “This involved multiple departments working to create a unique end-to-end experience and determine how scenario branching can work. This meant the UI guys were talking with [Charlie Brooker] on the script and with each intermediate department that touches the content.
Netflix’s investment would include a “state tracker” that records the choices viewers make when they watch the movie. Bandersnatch episode. The new technology also allows narrative branches to load without any lag and a writing tool called Branch Manager suitable for multiple choice scripts.
“As we see more synthetic content and non-linear content such as Bandersnatch there is more than a realization that publication is an integral part of the green light process. Leon Silverman, Netflix
There are plans to explore other genres, including romantic comedy, in a non-linear fashion, but the next step is live interactive factual. You against Savage. Debuting on April 10 and directed by survival expert Bear Grylls, viewers will apparently have the power to control what decision Grylls makes as he climbs mountains and enters the jungle.
There are plans for more non-linear drama as well as experiments with just about every cutting-edge media and technique, from VR to virtual production. “We have teams that explore virtual production just as we are interested in experimenting with every intersection where technology meets creativity to innovate new formats spanning film, television and immersive media,” said Cooney.
In doing so, a new role is envisioned for the Post, which abolishes the traditional boundaries that separated it from production. It’s an idea that has been around for years, but Netflix may have the resources and the enthusiastic attitude to finally make it happen.
“We’re in a time when the very notion of a serial progression from beginning content to production to editorial and then ending to distribution is anachronistic,” said Silverman. “Publishing is not ‘after’ anything, but it has become the underlying fabric of content creation, production and distribution. As we see more synthetic content and non-linear content such as Bandersnatch there is more than a realization that publication is an integral part of the green light process.
He adds, “It would be great to have the ability to rethink, reset, reload and reinvent large parts of our industry to create better pipelines of color, editing, visual effects and finishing and essentially create a chain. fully connected and integrated cloud-based creative supply chain. with the creative and physical places around the world where content is created. It will take real work and a lot of dialogue to move our industry forward, but the point is that if there is an organization or group of people anywhere that can bring together content creators and creative technological innovation in the service of global storytelling is Netflix. . “