AnimfxNZ 2008 began with a song.
A contingent of Maori gathered to perform a 'powhiri', or New Zealand traditional welcome. The foreign visitors and speakers lined up so the kaumatua could determine if they were friends or foes. Thankfully, there were no enemies among them, and the conference was able to proceed.
Aimee McCammon, the General Manager of Park Road Post Production, explored some of the challenges faced by PRPP and post-production houses in general. It's a commodity business. The pace of change is phenomenal. High entry costs for the really cool new equipment coexist with the plummeting price of downstream technology, generating a tricky balance between early adoption and ROI.
Consider the Quantel Pablo they bought in late 2006. They started the kit with a chargeout rate of $1600/hr. 18 months later the rate was down to $800/hr, and under continuing and relentless price pressure from competitors. Nonetheless, Aimee is proud of and will continue the company's policy of being early adopters of technology.
Cheaper technology has a couple of other effects. Anybody can make a film these days with a MacBook and a copy of FinalCut Pro, which means there are a lot more crap films — and crap filmmakers — out there. Aimee, however, is confident that out of a thousand crummy ones there will be one or two that are exceptional. A million more rocks coming through the pipe will reveal exciting product and talent that might otherwise never have seen the light of day.
The term 'world-class' gets bandied about too easily, in my view, but Park Road Post Production clearly deserves to be in that category. They've never failed a QC in New Zealand or abroad. Their shelves are lined with awards, including an Innovation Award for a Red Post Workflow, a Qantas Media Award and two Oscars. Their vision is to be among the top five post-production houses in the world by reputation, and Aimee in particular would like to see the shop win an Oscar for a film by somebody other than Peter Jackson — James Cameron, are you listening?
On the technical side, they've got two DI suites with a total of 32 terabytes, meaning they can work on two films simultaneously if need be, and they're rocketing into 3D & D.Cinema. Fancy gadgetry notwithstanding, Aimee closed her presentation with a firm admonition: you can't win in this race with technology alone. Without passionate and driven people, you're nowhere.
Kaila Colbin, the founder of Missing Link , is a frequent contributor to a variety of magazines.