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Keeping Ahead of the Trends that Impact You

Chuck Parker

by Chuck Parker, Chairman and CEO, Sohonet


It could be a fulltime job to watch all the new developments driving the film, TV, and ad production industries. There are more trends than can fit in a single column but let’s consider this blog a launching point for discussion and collaborative thinking.

TV PRODUCTION IS SKYROCKETING. Driven by players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, with further expansion expected as Apple (& Disney+? join the fray. This is a new era for the small screen, where content owners perpetually seek to outbid and out-innovate each other for the right to entertain us with blockbuster content. This puts the creative community neck and neck in a fierce struggle to keep up and to surpass expectations. That push in production impacts the entire pipeline.

CONTENT PRODUCTION WILL CONTINUE TO RELY UPON VFX. For the past 10 years we’ve witnessed a steady expansion in the expenditure for VFX in all content types, in turn triggering a push to the cloud to accommodate the intense compute and storage requirements. That, in combination with the growing global talent pool and regional tax credits, are bringing bigger and more expensive VFX within reach. All are indications that VFX will continue to grow in both volume and sophistication.

AD SPEND IS GROWING. Far from the same beast it once was broadcast or cable were the only options, ad spend is growing, and at the same time, it is splintering. The previously two-strand operation has broken into multiple channels, from “broadcast” to OTT and social. Video advertising continues to prove an effective medium, especially as digital video ads can be hyper-targeted to a carefully selected audience. This change is undoubtedly growing advertising budgets and video spend pie, but it’s making it much more complicated to serve – not least because viewing audiences are rapidly expanding their content expectations and preferences.

THERE’S A CONTINUED DRIVE TO PUBLIC CLOUD RESOURCES.  Due to the increased demand for high-quality VFX content over the past few years, facilities have turned to the cloud to help solve their “peak” compute challenges, with cloud rendering now becoming more and more commonplace.  Companies are building entire TV shows, commercials and even movies from cloud resources. The virtual workstation will drive the next wave of transport requirements to and from the cloud, compounded by cloud-based SaaS applications.

CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT IN AVERAGE SPEEDS, IN COMBINATION WITH AFFORDABLE TOOLS, WILL YIELD A REVOLUTION IN DISTRIBUTED WORKFORCE. Daily trips to the office may be a thing of the past. While this is not a news flash as there’s already capability and deployment between major office locations, we’re looking at the next wave of distributed teams, enabled by massive investment in enterprise collaboration tools (Zoom/BlueJeans, Google Docs, Slack) and network infrastructure. That infrastructure will enable a drive to smaller offices spread across metropolitan locations, a trend to opening to offices in new metros, previously less obvious locations (e.g., Portland) and more people working remotely.

THE DEATH OF THE ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE MODEL. Software delivery has been evolving over three axes for 10+ years: SaaS vs. on premises servers and licenses, reduced complexity / singular focus vs. all-encompassing modules, and distributed team admin vs. enterprise administration. These all drive changes in how teams consume cloud resources and applications, and will accelerate remote collaboration capabilities to create more distributed teams

THE CONTINUED EXPLOSION OF FILE TRANSFER. The past 10 years of large file transfers were enabled by enterprise level servers, applications and “IT data wranglers.” The explosion of content production, ascendency of personal file transfer tools and mass deployment of file syncing tools put the capability into the hands of the team members at every level. Combined with the trends toward distributed work teams and the death of enterprise software, this market expansion will continue to accelerate.

THE CONTINUED DECONSTRUCTION OF THE EMPLOYER RELATIONSHIP IN MEDIA PRODUCTION.  While freelance labor is nothing new in our industry, the trends above combined with the “Gig” economy will drive a further expansion in freelance labor in feature, episodic and ad content production, including a major expansion in “nearshoring” to tax-friendly locations.

How does all of this relate to you, and to HPA? It’s simple, there are business and technical innovations evolving, including many that are beneficial to careers, but these changes need to be understood. Seek out the experts, and there are many here within the HPA, and discuss, consider, debate where the industry is going and how you can see a bit past the horizon.

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