Video Conferencing in Hollywood

The power of video conferencing to enable true collaboration is something that is understood by everyone who uses the technology. When thinking about industries and occupations that rely on collaboration one has to look no further than film and television production. These are incredibly collaborative mediums that require the deep cooperation and team work of writers, producers, directors, editors, and many others.

Some of today’s biggest blockbusters have crews that number in the thousands. Coordinating that effort can be incredibly daunting, especially with many remote filming locations and production experts spread throughout the world. It’s no wonder that Hollywood has adopted video conferencing as key member of the production team. There are many different applications for video within a film and television production environment including:

Post Production
The editing and post production (sound, special effects, etc) of a film can take more than a year to complete, sometimes longer. Coordinating the director’s schedule with the editor to get a cut of the film completed can be challenging (in many cases the director has moved onto shooting their next film, while the current film is still being worked). Many production companies make use of video conferencing to connect the editor, the director, and other post production team members.

Perhaps what is most amazing about this is how long Hollywood has been utilizing this method. Back in the early 90s, Steven Spielberg had finished filming Jurassic Park in Hawaii and had moved on to shooting Schindler’s List in the middle of a harsh European winter. He would be out shooting the difficult subject matter of the Holocaust during the day and then during his down time he would be reviewing edits and special effects shots from Jurassic Park via video conferencing. This is now status quo in many productions and has allowed creative teams to hit their deadlines despite their location and demands of new projects.

On the television side I can provide a first-hand experience. In 2001 I worked as an intern on the NBC television series, Third Watch. We were shooting throughout New York City on location and in a small studio in Brooklyn. The post production of the show was handled back in Los Angeles. Many times throughout my internship I was able to participate in editing sessions with the director (in NY) and the editors and producers back in Los Angeles.

Production
A new trend has emerged with video and Hollywood and that is video conferencing to help direct during production. Steven Spielberg (our model example again!) and Peter Jackson worked very closely on the recently released Adventures of Tin Tin. This film was not shot in a traditional sense; it was actually actors on a motion capture stage. Cameras captured their movements and this was translated into 3D imagery that could then be manipulated. Spielberg and Jackson were able to “co-direct” several scenes over video and determine the best camera angle, movement, etc.

Casting
Casting for a film can take months or even years. The same challenges exist in getting producers, directors, casting agents, and talent in the same location. Using video, potential stars can do their auditions and readings via video, to be viewed by anyone on the production team anywhere in the world. This certainly doesn’t replace the face to face interaction needed between actor and director, but it provides a good first introduction to new talent.

With film budgets well over $200 million in some cases and schedules that can carry-on for years, video has provided a way to keep everyone connected and on schedule throughout the long process of producing a movie or television series.

Additional Resources:

Bad Robot Case Study from Polycom

Video is becoming ubiquitous; everywhere you look there is a new application or platform. Plus video enabled smartphones allow you to bring video virtually anywhere. Countless organizations have used the technology to connect remote workers, cut travel expenses and create a competitive advantage. Here are a few overlooked industries that use video in a fun and exciting way.

Post-production: Directing a movie is a strenuous job, when one movie wraps another one starts, making it difficult to complete the final product. While the editors are back at the studio in Los Angeles, the director is already on a new film set in Thailand. Video conferencing allows the director to work through key scenes with the editor in real-time, ensuring post production stays on schedule.

Help predict the weather: Weather patterns are notoriously unstable and meteorologists have one of the only jobs where they can be right less than half the time. Video conferencing can easily connect local meteorologist to national weather experts so they can prepare residents for any severe weather or provide up to the minute updates that could potentially save lives.

Review the plays: Despite their best efforts, referees can miss a play or a professional athlete can cross the line. Sometimes a second opinion is needed for a game changing call and other times the league needs to step in for supplemental discipline. League officials can easily review the plays and confer with one another. If needed, officials can hold supplementary discipline hearings with players

Crime scene investigation: investigating crimes and finding those responsible is getting more and more difficult by the day. Advanced forensic science has allowed experts to unlock crime secrets while also freeing those who are wrongly accused. In some situations, blood spatter or other experts can be consulted over video during the initial investigation. This brings the highest level of expertise to any location in the world.

Finding the perfect outfit: The retail industry has been known to use video conferencing to view clothing samples and make alterations with manufacturing partners overseas. Consumers can also use technology to help find the perfect outfit. Not long ago, I started a video chat with one of my friends so she could help me decide on the right dress for an event because, let’s face it; my husband’s opinion just didn’t cut it.