Bridge PostWorks collaborates with Cineom to deliver 4K HDR-post-production facility
BridgePostWorks partnered with Cineom to deliver a state-of-the-art 4K HDR post production facility in Mumbai. Bridge PostWorks owned by Sidharth Meer caters to a set of diverse clienteles which includes the leading OTT players like Netflix, Amazon, Disney +Hotstar and others.
Cineom has been a leading player in the broadcast and media space. How challenging has been the Covid Pandemic and its impact on your business overall?
Cineom is India’s leading Media Solutions and Integration company in the broadcast and media industry with an impeccable track record. Their customers include the crème de la crème players in broadcast and media space.
Priyan Parab, Manager Business Development at Cineom & Sidharth Meer, Founder of Bridge PostWorks share insights of their unique collaboration in setting up the 4K HDR post facility.
Priyan Parab, Manager, Business Development at Cineom
- As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, its impact is felt in every region, every industry, and indeed every aspect of life. Nonetheless, some of the pandemic's side effects still have the power to surprise. The pandemic has been certainly challenging for us; with the restrictions coming in and the projects to be delivered simultaneously, it was a pressure situation for our team to complete the projects within the given deadlines. We had got special permissions to work during the lockdown as we fall under the essential services category (as we provide services to Broadcasters and Media houses). We lost one of our valuable employee during these tough times, and more than 10 of our employees tested Covid Positive, including our CFO. With all these unfortunate circumstances occurring, we still managed to deliver two of India's biggest news channels namely Republic TV Bangla & Argus TV, advanced post-post production studios namely Bridge Post Works, Rabab Studios & Miraj Studios and other A/V Projects in the Pandemic. Cineom was also instrumental in setting up India's 1st Virtual Production Test Lab in Mumbai and introduced the M&E industry to the gamut of Virtual Production during the pandemic last year. Our employees have worked really hard, and while maintaining the quality factor we are known for, we have completed these projects in record time. While our logistics and accounts department were fully operational from our HQ in Mumbai, the rest staff pan India was working from home, providing continuous solutions & support to our clientele. As the inevitable pandemic has had a major effect on the revenues, Cineom is by far the only SI & Tech solution Company which has been able to retain all of its 150 + employees and managed to achieve its year-on-year turnover even during this complex and challenging time. One of the major impacts of the pandemic has been the huge increase in shipping costs, which also impacted us as we import many goods. These costs were overall increasing the cost of sale to the end-user. At the same time, the delivery timelines for the tech equipment had risen drastically due to manufacturing delays and shortage of semiconductors. As we stock and keep a backup of most of the tech gears needed by the M&E industry, it helped us serve our clientele quicker & in a more efficient way during the long waiting times the clients faced in getting their equipment. We had forecast that though demand would remain high in the coming months, prices would begin to come down again by the end of the year, as the manufacturing would see a boost. While the pandemic prevented us from doing our face-to-face meetings, we at Cineom focused on building Digital Habits & Strategies, which including having an internal CRM & ERP system, revamped & more interactive website, E-commerce store to buy products online, updated social media pages & interactive webinars and extensive use of Virtual Meetings.
The duration of the crisis will play a central role and with no clear indication about the end of the pandemic, we will try our best to meet our revenue targets and keep on delivering state-of-the-art projects with our value addition and continuous support to the M&E Industry.
The Cineom team and Sidharth Meer
Tell us more in detail about the Bridge PostWorks Studio which you have set up? What is the pipeline and state-of-the-art technology systems adopted by them?
- As Bridge PostWorks was on its growth journey, Bridge decided to partner with Cineom to build their all-new 4K HDR-ready post-production facility. Cineom was chosen to be a tech solution partner and a turnkey System Integration partner to execute this future-ready project.
Post-on-boarding, Cineom took multiple roles & responsibilities to deliver a state-of-the-art post facility. With an approximate area of 2000 Sq. Ft, and four state of the art DI (Digital Intermediate) rooms to be made, Cineom started the initial design concepts for Bridge. While designing the facility, the Cineom team has considered all the international OTT delivery norms so that post-completion, the facility was ready to deliver the content to OTT players like Netflix, Amazon & Hotstar, to name a few.
Cineom's scope of works included the complete isolation and acoustics ( Design + Build-up + Installation + Testing ), HVAC, CCTV, Access Control & Intercom - (Design & SITC), 4K/UHD post-production system devices, including video interfaces with 12G-SDI for 4 Digital Intermediate (DI) rooms, Multi-channel surround sound audio systems, in two main rooms and a two-channel speaker system in other critical listening environments, Network design and configuration for support of Q-LAN, Dante, and AES67 requirements, Centralized Server room / Apparatus room ( Design & Setup) for all the hardware equipment's such as workstations, servers, networking devices, storage etc.
Further, Cineom also was responsible for the Supply, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of all the A/V along with high-end post-production equipment.
As the facility was meant to be future proof, the Cineom team installed the entire facility with 10G Network connectivity & 12G SDI Cables for seamless 4K+ Workflow and 8K ready tech. Furthermore, isolated DI rooms were created with no access to the hardware (Workstations & Servers) in the room for an additional layer of content security. Also, considering the need for remote production, Cineom has designed the entire facility to have Workflow around PAM (Production Asset Management) in the future, which will help get Content Security, Storage scalability, increased performance, efficiency & reliability.
Additional & small-scale but crucial jobs such as Design of conduits, wiring diagrams, A/V & Network Schematics, as-built drawings, rack-layouts / elevations, power requirements along with UPS & Supply of all the high-quality installation Material was also executed by the Cineom Project Management team, ensuring our client Bridge PostWorks as a one-stop solution and a single point of contact which was Cineom.
The facility is now ready and includes two state-of-the-art Dolby Vision-enabled (4K HDR ) colour grading rooms with Da Vinci Resolve colour grading technology licenses. These two rooms also house in 5:1 Audio experience for the viewers to have an immersive experience. In addition to the two above rooms, two other relatively small grading rooms are meant for 4K SDR grading and consist of a two-channel audio monitoring system.
With this technology, we are sure Bridge PostWorks will help their brands & clientele to unlock new creative and business potential with a digital content that is brighter, livelier and much more dynamic. Bridge PostWorks is by far one of the most technically advanced post-production facilities in the country, and we at Cineom are proud to deliver this project successfully.
What are the technical challenges that you faced in the execution of this project, and how did you overcome them?
- There weren't any technical challenges faced as our team was highly skilled and knew exactly what had to be done. But, yes, there were many iterations on the tech gears as our client required the best, and we accommodated the same. The lockdown did put pressure on us, and the project faced some delays, but in the end, we were able to deliver the facility with the best equipment and pipelines to our client.
In today's time with OTT players ruling the content gamut, workflows are louder than words, and at Cineom, we aim to simplify these complex workflows by leveraging the technology. We have been studying & experimenting with the Production & Post-Production workflows, which help us design the most economical, feasible and effective solution for our client, which are at par with the international OTT & SMPTE norms. Bridge PostWorks will set an example in the industry as it has been housed with the right & future-ready tech, which will enable it to deliver Picture Finishing ( Colour Grading & Conforming ) to the optimal quality.
Sidharth Meer, Founder of Bridge PostWorks
Give us a brief background about your profile and how long have you been active in the industry?
- 19 years since I first picked up a video camera and shot my first film, it was a small piece that travelled to a few festivals and since then it’s just been a non-stop wild ride. This industry is just fantastic and there is so much to do and so much to learn and grow. I’m constantly learning, moving from cinematography to VFX and now to colour and finishing over the years. It’s been approximately 10 years of doing just colour grading. I was fortunate to have met the right people at the right time with whom I’m always collaborating with on new projects and constantly trying to push myself to try something new.
Tell us about Bridge PostWorks and the kind of equipment and technology that has been installed?
- Bridge PostWorks was born out of an idea to serve the needs of the independent filmmaking community in India. It’s a community that me and many fellow filmmakers are a part of. We realised very early on that quality post production services at a price that truly serve the needs of a story or an independent artists’ vision in India were either non-existent or were done as favours by a few who worked at the big post houses that had the right infrastructure and talent. I believed there was a way to provide those services at the right price and came up with a business model that works. We also were the first to provide true DIT services which include live signal monitoring and on-set colour grading. We have since grown with our film community and have scaled to provide what they need. Which is fully colour managed workflows from set to post in 4K with HDR-Dolby Vision finishing and can continue to scale as their needs grow. We have 4 fully equipped colour bays running Davinci Resolve Studio on a mix of Mac and Window multi-GPU workstations, 2 rooms with 4K HDR colourist and client reference monitoring and 2 rooms with 4K SDR colourist and client reference monitoring. With a wide roster of talent on-set and in the studio and the ability to master to any format we can cater to any and every client request, no matter which studio or network our clients have to finally deliver to.
How was your experience of your collaboration with Cineom?
- Our relationship with Cineom goes back many years and we have always relied on them for equipment that we needed for the on-set DIT business from them, whether they be FSI Box IO’s or AJA routers. When it came to building the new post production studio we could think of no one better to execute this given our very specific requirements to be self-sufficient and extremely scalable and future ready. Their track record is proof and they have delivered some of the best studios in India and we don’t aim to be any less. We can now literally switch from 4K to 8K with no extra effort since everything is already built and cabled for. They were very accommodating and quickly adapted when we made changes to our infrastructure plan as the situation on the ground quickly pivoted from theatrical to OTT due to Covid. Our large projection-based colour bay changed to two 4K HDR colour bays. We also worked with their HVAC team and Dandekar Vaibhav Architects to design and equip the studio with a HEPA filtered fresh air ventilation system which currently meets or surpasses US CDC and ASHRAE guidelines for air circulation in closed office spaces. No one in India is even asking for it, but our teams’ safety and client safety is of utmost importance and we believe that, providing a clean and safe space to work out of, will help create the best work.
What are the distinctive services that Bridge is planning to offer to the industry stakeholders to augment their experience?
r - We are focusing on complete colour managed workflow services from set to post. The ability to deliver that exists and we have proven that on many projects. That means having our team on board right from prep, helping test the cameras and lenses and figuring out any kinks in the workflow, live signal monitoring and colour grading, to dailies services, delivering colour corrected dailies to producers and stake holders and properly metadata tagged proxies to editorial. We even include monitor calibration for editors monitors when we are brought onboard a project. And to final colour grading and finishing in whichever format the client requires. The new studio helps provide the right environment to work in and to view the final finished feature, series or documentary with perfectly calibrated sound and picture.
How challenging has been the Covid pandemic and its impact on your business overall?
- We did see a slowdown in the on-set business owing to the fact that no shoots could continue during the country wide lockdown. The post side of the business was business as usual as we worked on projects that we fully shot before the lockdown. During the lockdown we worked out of home and had the workstations setup in colourists homes and provided them all that they needed to be creative and complete projects. They were not all isolated as we were in communication with the team and clients over web conferencing and sharing media for review using cloud-based media review and approval tools. We are back to the studio now and we will see a recovery from the effects of the lockdown with shoots resuming while maintaining health and safety protocols. We hope to see a return to the same level of growth as in previous years if not more once everyone is vaccinated and always taking safety precautions at all workplaces and public spaces.
Who are your key customers today?
- Our clients are very diverse. We work on everything from a small music video for independent music artists to multi crore feature films or series intended for theatrical or OTTs like Netflix, Amazon, Disney + and the like. Our hope is to always be this way and to work on a wide variety of projects. We hope to do some work for AppleTV+ and HBO in the future. We like to take on new challenges with every project and we are looking forward to developments in the virtual production space and how we can fit into roles required for those kinds of projects.