2011 wasnt all that bad for TV & Commercials, was it? So what does 2012 hold?


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2011 was pretty depressing, reading the paper or watching the news was a miserable experience, and all in all, those who still have a job, or have a business should apparently be chuffed to bits!
Manufacturers have had a torrid 2011 with various disasters striking key supply lines around the world, meaning shortage of tape stock, and now hard drives and the like. Interestingly though, while my suppliers may have had a tough time, a lot of my clients have actually had a pretty good year, not exactly the best ever for most, but many have told me that when they actually worked out the numbers, their figures were actually very good – both freelancers and production companies.
So if this is the case, and for us we had a very good year, what is it that makes us all feel so uncertain about 2012, despite quite a few of us media based companies having surprisingly good revenue? The big thing for many is “Do we expand premises, get more people, invest in new technology, or just keep capital in the business just in case it gets bad in 2012?”. Unfortunately I think the tendency is to opt for the latter, across all industries, not just our own, and I’m inclined to agree with them, which does nothing for getting the economy going, but most people are just too scared to risk losing it all when everyone is telling you that the first six months of 2012 is going to be horrible.
This year we worked on ‘South Riding’ for BBC, ‘Monroe’ for ITV, ‘Top Boy’ for Channel 4, ‘The Fades’ for BBC, ‘Whitechapel 3′ for ITV, ‘The Bodyfarm’ for BBC, ‘Bert & Dickie’ for BBC and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ for BBC. This adds up to 29 hours of drama for us, and we’re very proud of all of the work. ‘Top Boy’ and ‘The Fades’ stood out this year as youth orientated shows which both received critical acclaim. With ‘Top Boy’, Channel 4 invested thousands in advertising, which meant that it pulled in a large and very diverse audience. During its transmission week, it was the second most popular topic (trending) talked about on Twitter in London, Manchester and Birmingham. It’s fantastic when a series pushes the boundaries of storytelling and its craft, and produces something which is more than just ‘ok’, and ‘Top Boy’, though difficult for many to watch, received such great reviews that everyone involved is genuinely proud to have worked on it. To engage with such a diverse age range from all different walks of life, to be truly compelling, is a testament to what can be achieved to create great, world leading UK drama – any comparisons to ‘The Wire’ can only be gratifying for those involved.
We were delighted to work on some wonderful TV drama this year, and I genuinely feel like the standard of UK drama is increasing, despite the year on year reduction in budgets from some broadcasters. Although more drama is being commissioned next year from nearly all the broadcasters, the chances are there will be more drama series but a little bit more money spread across quite a few more of them. This does have the unfortunate effect that UK drama has: too few shooting days and prep, too few extras and atmosphere, too few truly realistic locations, and too few decent wide shots if anything other than contemporary UK is the subject – all this hinders UK drama when compared to what the US can produce. The directing, producing, acting and technical craft is so high in the UK, that it’s a shame that sometimes the budget and subject matter is often so, well, safe. For UK drama to really get to a world stage then broadcasters need to increase budgets to capture the aforementioned, give writers more time to finesse their work, and increase budgets on those dramas that really need it, only then can we hope to create true ‘brilliance’ for a world stage on more regular occasions.
In terms of technology the most exciting development for the visually excited individual is the new Sony Grade 1 OLED displays, I was truly blown away by the quality of the image. However, at 24inches its not practical for a colourist who has clients, so we'll await larger sizes and hopefully a reduction in price. Blackmagic Design continued to make game changing announcements in 2011, with reductions in their prices, and by the end of 2011 a free fully loaded version of Resolve. Finally, just like editing, the cost of the software is negligible, only the hardware that drives it is going to cost you the money. Whether this changes much, I doubt it, we've seen rates drop year on year in most sectors and this kind of thing only enforces that - you can’t fight it, you just have to work it to your advantage, cheap software means more novice colourists, and what matters is the room, the calibrated displays, the relationships and the talent. In 90% of my work, my sessions are attended, and that is what my clients pay for, and that is not going to change at the high-end of the industry. From my point of view, I have less expenditure in equipment which was overpriced anyway.
2011 continued to be a very poor year for independent British films, with many directors not able to find funding to bring their film to the screen. Despite successes like ‘The King’s Speech’, and despite post production companies becoming investors, it wasn’t enough for many to get their film off the ground. I can’t see this changing in the short-term, but we will continue to actively look out for great scripts and directors for potential investment, if not move in to Production ourselves in 2012. We have to hope that other investors can return to the industry with the support of EIS schemes and tax benefits for those investors.
3D Stereoscopic has been huge for Hollywood, with nearly all children’s movies being in 3D. Here in the UK though, Sky are left to fly the 3D flag for us with sports and natural history programming. Sky are committed to 3D and I’m sure we’ll be hearing of some big commissions in 2012. However, a recent survey discovered over half of people who own 3D televisions don’t actually know they have 3D built in! Viewing 3D in a cinema is one thing, but wearing glasses at home is another. However, the Olympics and Euro 2012 along with transmitting Hollywood 3D movies could be what Sky and also BBC (if they commit to 3D) need to push the audience into the third dimension, and it’s not going to be quick – but we cant give up now. Fingers crossed Sky and BBC increase the momentum.
Finally, I’d like to thank all those that have supported The Look and the team that work here during 2011, we’ve worked with some of the best UK talent and some really lovely people, and we are very grateful to be chosen to work on some great projects this year. We begin work on the new series of 'The Accused' this February which is set to be a great drama for the BBC.
Happy New Year to all of you

Tags: iss061 | the look | post production | 3d stereoscopic | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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