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How COVID-19 Has Been A Game-Changer In The World Of Production

By Tania Sethi, Chief Production Officer, North America for Hogarth Worldwide

As an industry, we have always been very dependent on physical presence and having everyone involved in a production co-located in a single space, be it during pre-production, shoot phase, or post-production. It was truly impressive to see how fast we as a community were able to make the shift in how we operate with such agility and efficiency. Luckily, this also happened at a time when technology is so versatile and gives us the flexibility we need to adapt and overcome these obstacles.

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The pandemic completely changed how we operate almost immediately, if not overnight.  We are now doing productions and shoots where the director may be sitting in Los Angeles or Sydney, Australia, and is handling the duties for a production taking place in Warsaw, Poland or Vancouver, Canada. Even suggesting something like this a year ago would have been considered laughable, but amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of the pandemic, arrangements like this one are becoming part of the new normal in production.

As a result of this distance, the director and creative teams no longer physically sit with the editor, animators, sound engineers or visual effects artists through the post-production process. This decentralization has caused some difficulties, but we have learned to adapt this change seamlessly. Another advantage coming as a result of the pandemic is that you are no longer geographically bound to personnel. The best talent around the world are always at your disposal, no matter the project you are working on.

The embrace of cutting-edge technologies has been crucial to the success of the quick pivot we’ve seen in production. We are now able to use remote-access technology to view shoots from our desktops or phones and keep a close watch on what is being captured, and similarly remote into post-production sessions to watch the edit in progress or listen to a voice over being recorded. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we continue to try out new technologies that aid the production process. As an example, we have been trialing AI based technology that allows us to change the messaging of a pre-existing video by altering the mouth movement of actors to match the new message, or to seamlessly change the spoken language, from English to Mandarin or any other combination. We have also seen an increase in the use of virtual sets which allow crews to shoot in a controlled environment, using CGI backgrounds, be it the Sahara desert or a beautiful Indian palace, convincingly, in three dimensions and in stunning detail. This allows us to stay within local COVID-19 guidelines and shooting restrictions, to avoid travel and its associated costs, and to ensure safety on the set for the production teams and talent.

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Moving forward, there are definitely going to be some significant shifts in how we produce content both during and post-pandemic, and the biggest enablers of these shifts will be innovation and technology. Ultimately, it will depend on the type of project being produced, and how open you are to pushing the boundaries and trying new ways of approaching it.

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