BROADCAST, FILM, TV, COMMERCIALS, NEW MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY NEWS
VOL 30 â€“ April 2018 R38.00
Celebrating SAFTAs 12
Golf Day 2018 will take place on
Thursday, 19 April 2018 at Eagle Canyon Golf Estate 3 Blueberry St, Eagle Canyon Golf Estate, Honeydew, Johannesburg, 2040
A cocktail party and prize-giving is held at the Eagle Canyon Clubhouse Pub following the competition, which provides great networking opportunities. Secure your sponsorship and 4-ball by Tuesday, 3 April 2018.
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Hole 1 & Hole 10 â€“ R7 500.00 (ex vat)
All other holes â€“ R5 750.00 (ex vat) For your own account
Green fees will be R500 per player which includes dinner Burger Bar
Shotgun Start @ 10:30am
Contact: Ellen Oosthuizen Cell: +27 (0)83 268 6868 Fax: +27 (0)86 670 6809 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
| IN THIS ISSUE
24 “You get one shot, and that’s it”: Inside the high-tech, high-pressure world of Outside Broadcasting
Coronation celebrates 25-year milestone with new TVC
Artificial Intelligence: is it changing the face of Media Asset Management (MAM)?
The role of the boomswinger
Begin with the end in mind
ANIMATION & GRAPHICS
Another successful year for
Coronation celebrates 25-year
the SA Eco Film Festival............................ 3 MTV Shuga Naija debuts
milestone with new TVC.......................... 8 ‘Simple Love’ showcases
BlackGinger’s Marco Raposo de Barbosa talks animation and
Begin with the end in mind................... 34 SACIA invests in the professional development of the South African
new season in South Africa...................... 4 Inside the inaugural
the beauty of Accra................................. 10
FutureAD conference ............................... 5
The rise of video content...................... 12
Deep VR captures African mass
The time is now for broadcasters
migrations in virtual reality film............ 14
to adopt Cloud services........................... 6 Colornite DMX Splitter 4R...................... 7 EditShare announces new QScan Automated Quality Control product line................... 7
FILM Director Speak: Nosipho Dumisa........ 16 Documentaries: A shining light from the African continent ............................. 18
graphics in South Africa.......................... 24
broadcast communication industry..... 36
OUTSIDE BROADCAST “You get one shot, and that’s it”: Inside the high-tech, high-pressure world of Outside Broadcasting............ 25 The ins and outs of mobile video links – options, pros and cons.............. 28
MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT Artificial Intelligence: is it changing the face of Media Asset Management (MAM)?...... 30 How do AI and MAM provide
AUDIO The role of the boomswinger............... 37
(SAFTAs) 2018 The South African Film & Television Awards..................................... 39 Marketplace............................................... 39 Upcoming Events..................................... 39
improved live sports production?........ 32
From the editor
The Team Editor
As I welcome you to our April 2018 issue, we’ve just recently wrapped another successful edition of the South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs). Huge congratulations to the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF) on pulling off another spectacular event held on 22 and 24 March at Sun City in the North West Province. It was great to see director John Trengove’s Inxeba (The Wound) scoop multiple awards at the SAFTAs this year including the prestigious Best Feature Film award. It’s no secret that the filmmakers have had a difficult time getting the film screened in the country after it received an unjust X-rating, with the filmmakers and cast receiving death threats until today. At the 2018 SAFTAs, the film, its cast and crew, finally received well-deserved and hard-earned praise and recognition from within the local industry. A full list of the SAFTAs 12 winners can be seen on pages 20 to 21. Our ADCETRA section takes a look at the making of the new Coronation TVC, marking the company’s 25 year anniversary. Conceptualised by Net#work BBDO and directed by Egg Films’ Sunu Gonera, the proudly South African spot is a celebration of South Africa, its people, and how far we’ve come. As always, Louise Marsland makes an insightful contribution to the section with an extensive, easy-read on ‘The rise of video content’ – not to be missed on pages 12 to 13. This month we get into the making of the much-talked about Exodus: The Great Migration. Costing R1.7 million to make over a number of years, Exodus: The Great Migration is a 9-minute virtual reality documentary produced by Deep VR, a virtual reality production company based in Johannesburg. The film captures the great wildebeest migration at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya – one of the most popular and largest animal movements in Africa. Read about this exciting, innovative project on pages 14 and 15. Our Media Asset Management (MAM) section focuses heavily on how Artificial Intelligence is changing the face of MAM. With valuable insights from Ian Dormer and Tedial’s VP of Products, Jerome Wauthoz, check it out on pages 30 to 33. Until next month! – Chanelle Ellaya
Chanelle Ellaya is a writer and a journalist. She completed her BA Journalism degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2011. While writing is her passion, she has a keen interest in the media in various capacities. Chanelle is an avid social networker and a firm believer in the power of social and online networking. Between writing and tweeting, she finds time to feed her love for live music.
JOURNALISTS Gezzy S Sibisi is a journalist and photographer with experience in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan and Daily Despatch publications. As a freelancer she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.
Louise Marsland is an editor, journalist and columnist in the media and marketing communications industry in South Africa, who has been writing about the industry for over two decades as a former editor of publications: AdVantage, Marketing Mix and Bizcommunity.com. She currently writes extensively about industry trends and consumer insight.
Lara Preston is a passionately committed marketer and strategist with a focus in promoting African content and events. Two decades of working across Africa have provided her with insights and experience that she puts to work for the projects she manages. In 2006, Lara founded, and still personally manages, Red Flag Content Relations, a full service below-the-line agency that also focuses on African entertainment and lifestyle brand marketing, strategy, and publicity.
David Cornwell lives in Cape Town, where he writes fiction, films and features for a variety of publications. His debut novel, Like It Matters (Umuzi, 2016), has been long-listed for the 2017 Sunday Times Fiction Award.
Ian Dormer was born in Zimbabwe and has been in the TV business since the 1980s, having served in various positions at the SABC, M-Net and SuperSport. Ian currently works and resides in New Zealand.
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Another successful year for the SA Eco Film Festival The 2018 South African Eco Film Festival showcased 15 films and ran from 22 to 30 March, taking place in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
hrough the medium of documentary film, each year the SA Eco Film Festival aims to raise awareness and bring attention to the numerous prominent environmental issues that our planet is currently facing. Additionally, the festival highlights and celebrates the innovative solutions that people around the world are developing in order to combat these issues. This year, selected films were screened at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town, The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg, and the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. Films screened fell under the following themes: The Ocean; Business and Industry; Food and Organic Living; Future Energy Choices. South African content received special treatment with the festival holding two premier events in Cape Town this year specifically tailored for local productions. Through two free screening events the SA Eco Film Festival showcased a wide range of local filmmakers and their productions. This edition saw the birth of the Eco Shorts Film Festival, which showcased five local eco shorts at the Bo-OP in Cape Town with introductions from the filmmakers themselves. An open air screening was held at the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre where guests were treated to “sneak previews” of much-anticipated South African documentaries currently in production. “We are very pleased with the festival outcome,” comments festival director Erica Schofield. “Attendance has been good from the start, particularly in Cape Town. We believe it is a combination of the fact that five years in, we’re building a following of steady supporters, and also believe a contributing factor to be that environmental and social justice topics are more present in mainstream conversations.”
SA Eco Film Festival directors Mariette Faber, Nick Chevalier and Bruce Young
“We’ve also extended the reach of the festival beyond simply being a screening event: we’ve incorporated speakers after each screening and built a festive atmosphere at the venue,” continues Schofield. “At the Labia Theatre this year, partners Greenhome came on board to make the venue plastic free for the duration of the festival (and perhaps beyond) and all attendees received R10 vouchers for them to try Fry’s vegan food – these little additions are of course good exposure for our sponsors, but our main aim with them is to create a textured and enjoyable experience for our audiences.”
Talent Campus Breakfast Panels The Talent Campus Breakfast Panels were held at The Labia Theatre on 24 and 25 March as part of the festival. In addition to the Talent Campus participants and industry leaders, the Breakfast Panels were open to the public and were presented as “master class conversations”. The Saturday morning panel was focused on crowd-funding, with panellist Patrick Schofield speaking on the popular
Thundafund platform, and local director Tim Greene, who crowd-funded his film A Boy Called Twist, sharing his insights. Sunday’s session was hosted by local director Bruce Young (Blood Lion) and director Mariette Faber (The Man Who Wanted to Change the World) from the Netherlands. The two spoke on their journey as directors, sharing with attendees how they found their story, what they learnt during filming, as well as how they sourced funding to bring their project to life. “We held two panels that were open to the public as sort of ‘master classes’ – while we should have done better on the attendance stakes, they were fantastic sessions, with productive actions coming out of both: a valuable learning curb for us that these sessions (attempted for the first time) are very worth doing,” explains Schofield. With the breakfast panels, Schofield says that they took the approach of looking at what might support a filmmaker the most by asking within the industry. There were two consistent themes that arose from those discussions: where to find funding, and how to gain experience. “We tried to address those in
a small way by offering a panel on crowd-funding, featuring two directors who have crowd-funded, and a panel with an international director as well as two local directors,” says Schofield. Schofield teased the idea of an ‘on-going Talent Campus’ during the year saying, “I personally like the model of opening the festival with a ‘produced through us’ offering, this year we are looking to run it slightly differently, with a topic chosen and filmmakers invited to work towards a film on that theme – watch this space.” “With our audience growing, and what appears to be the success of creating ‘an event’ more than simple screenings, we would like to look at building the festival atmosphere in the different cities where the festival is held – this year was very Cape Town-focused. We have also been fortunate in partnering with some incredible companies from the start, who have worked sustainable living into their ethos and help us happen, if we can we would like to nurture that style of existence – where we’re truly proud to be supported by the companies that support us,” concludes Schofield. – Chanelle Ellaya
MTV Shuga Naija debuts new season in South Africa
Monde Twala with Jemina Osunde and the MTV Shuga Down South cast
Since 2009, MTV Shuga, together with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, has attempted – through a youth-focused series – to foster discussions around the issues of unplanned pregnancy and HIV/AIDS on the continent.
ccording to Monde Twala, the VP for Youth, Music and BET at VIMN Africa, MTV Shuga aims to highlight issues that are prevalent with young people on the African continent. It is a show that can be watched by African parents with their children, bringing African solutions to African problems. The series, created in Kenya, has since been screened in a number of other African countries and become hugely popular with young people across the continent. MTV Shuga is broadcast globally on 180 platforms and has won several accolades including the Best Youth Programme at the recent South African Film and TV Awards (SAFTAs). Popular editions include MTV Shuga Down South from South Africa, and MTV Shuga Naija from Nigeria. On the evening of 20 March 2018, MTV Shuga premiered its new season of MTV Shuga Naija at MultiChoice’s DStv cinema in Randburg, South Africa.
The affair was hosted by Sandile Ntshingila, and attended by the MTV Shuga Down South cast, media representatives as well as young and outspoken fans of the show. MTV Shuga Naija’s Jemima Osunde, who can be remembered for her role in MTV Shuga Naija season 4 as Leila, was the special guest who flew in to promote season 6 of the show. Twala opened the evening’s proceedings, with a few words regarding the widespread success of the MTV Shuga brand; he also welcomed the lively young audience, who were treated to an exclusive screening of episode 3 and 4 of MTV Shuga Naija season 6. “We are thrilled to be bringing another instalment of MTV Shuga on the continent. We can’t wait to share the exciting new storylines and important messaging on family planning and sexual health that we’re touching on this season,” said Twala.
MTV Shuga Naija actress, Jemima Osunde
Set in Nigeria’s vibrant capital city of Lagos, as well as the contrasting settings in the Northern Kano and Kaduna regions, the series is written by MTV Shuga Naija season 4’s Chris Ihidero and Emma Uduma. Some of the cast from season 4 will also appear on the current season. Returning cast members include Timini Egbuson, Sharon Ezeamaka, Olumide Oworu and Jemima Osunde. Osunde, who was present at the event in Randburg, shared on how the show has positively impacted her studies as a medical student. Through her involvement in the show, she has had the opportunity to talk to and encourage young girls who are living through what she and the MTV Shuga cast are acting. The show works with various organisations including the NGO Mothers2Mothers, which educates HIV positive women on how to protect their unborn children from becoming infected. The show also hosts focused research
groups to help the cast tackle different themes that are portrayed on the show, as well as workshops on how to respond to viewers who communicate with them regarding similar dilemmas they find themselves in. MTV Shuga Down South’s Stephanie Sandows spoke on how she still gets messages on social media regarding the role she once played of a young girl in a transactional relationship tackling the blesser and blessee dynamics. Sandows retold some of the stories she has been told by young girls, and how grateful she is to MTV Shuga for offering her the knowledge and guidance to address such situations. MTV Shuga Naija season 6 screens on MTV Base (Channel 322), every Wednesday at 21h30 CAT. – Gezzy S Sibisi
“We are thrilled to be bringing another instalment of MTV Shuga on the continent. We can’t wait to share the exciting new storylines and important messaging on family planning and sexual health that we’re touching on this season.” – Monde Twala 4 | SCREENAFRICA | April 2018
Inside the inaugural FutureAD conference “More conversations, less ads” – this was the key message delivered to marketing professionals who gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre for the FutureAD Africa conference.
t the two-day conference, held on 14 and 15 March 2018, Africa’s marketing and advertising industry was the topic of conversation as various industry leaders presented their ideas, insights and innovations on the new era of television advertising and digital media, and what this all means for the future of brands, agencies and publishers. The event unfolded as a sequence of panel discussions and presentations with key industry players all agreeing that understanding and acknowledging your customer is the key to any successful business. Philbert Julai, marketing manager at Barclays Kenya, shared on how people have now put more trust in their peers than what advertisers have to say. Julai stressed that advertisers need to evolve with their users in order to gain their trust and interest. “Brand loyalty is a long journey that requires checking customers’ engagement to the service or product,” Julai added. In the one-on-one session with GeoPoll – one of Africa’s largest providers of data on audience size, share and ratings for TV, radio, and print – speakers Ricardo Lopes and Matt Angus-Hammond shared on how they conduct surveys from countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to determine which channels and platforms consumers use. Lopes expressed how important it is for advertisers to know how much people are buying, and why they are drawn to that specific product. His partner and GeoPoll’s business development lead in Global Key Accounts and Custom Research, Angus-Hammond shared how the grim
Karabo Ganzini, strategist at Black River FC spoke about how the introduction of new methods of conversation can coexist in an ever-changing world. The old email method still works for her automobile business, she said, but it is subject to exclusivity. Ganzini does this by sending emails to loyal customers based on their tailored needs and lifestyle choices. This approach can help boost the customer’s engagement with the brand, unlike the spam emails that everyone loves to hate. “Once you have someone loyal to your brand, especially if it’s a car brand; if you are giving them information that the rest of the consumers don’t know and you give it to them first, they tend to come back to your brand,” said Ganzini. Coca-Cola, a globally recognised brand that has stood the test of time and evolving advertising dynamics, had Misikir The panel discussion, Digital revolution in Africa tied to the success of mobile?, at the FutureAD conference Mulugeta Bekele, a senior brand manager from task of sending surveys via SMS, email format that they wish to be engaged in, Ethiopia, share on how the brand has and calling people provided key insights proved to be a more fruitful approach. sustained itself. and immediate results on how the Other speakers echoed Chinkanda’s In a Q&A with Dataxis, Bekele audience is viewing a particular brand. statement, saying that the old format revealed, “I personally believe the most The end result is knowing your client’s press statements and emailed releases important thing is driving transaction specific likes and dislikes, and adapting needs to be revolutionised, but also (reaching as many consumers as possible), the business to suit these needs which in warned practitioners to be wary not to as loyalty in isolation won’t ensure a turn helps businesses to save money by lose the non-conforming bunch that is sustained and cheaper growth. As long eliminating elements that are not often left behind. as a product consistently delivers on beneficial to their audience. Speakers also cautioned against a its brand promise, then loyalty CEO of HDI Youth Marketeers, Bongani one-way approach to campaigns: What comes naturally.” Chinkanda was one of the headline works with a village in Kenya, may not The first edition of FutureAD Africa was speakers on the second day. In a necessarily work for a village in South organised by Dataxis, a leading analyst presentation titled Digital revolution in Africa. However, there are some common house across converging telecoms, media Africa tied to the success of mobile?, grounds for certain basic services and and IT markets. Chinkanda explained that communicating products which resonate with anyone – Gezzy S Sibisi with an audience in the standard and regardless of class or nationality.
The time is now for broadcasters to adopt Cloud services
For the likes of high-profile sporting events or surges in seasonal demand, broadcasters can leverage Cloud Computing to access capacity as and when it is required – paying only for what they use – and avoiding the problem of having unused capacity in their data centres. Access to new applications… A wide variety of new applications – for editing, post-production, effects and other tools – becomes instantly available as a broadcaster moves their workflows into the Cloud.
Cloud and virtualisation technologies have the potential to entirely reshape the local broadcast industry – changing how broadcasters create, distribute and monetise their video content.
n recent years, Cloud computing architectures have shown clear value in so many other industries and we’re now approaching a time when the broadcast industry can start to benefit in similar ways. We are seeing better operational efficiencies, more collaborative workflows and accelerated levels of innovation,” says Paul Divall, MD of Jasco Intelligent Technologies. According to Divall, it’s only a matter of time before the broadcast industry starts embracing the advantages of the Cloud. In fact, a number of ‘digital-era’ broadcasters – the likes of Netflix for example – have firmly embraced Cloud platforms to scale limitlessly and reach users on any kind of device, anywhere in the world. Locally, Divall sees a number of clear advantages for South African broadcasters adopting Cloud services:
• Seamless integration between services Our broadcasting landscape is traditionally very fragmented and lacking in overarching standardisation. Within different broadcasters, workflows and technologies are different and inefficiency often permeates the broadcast value chain. Cloud applications can help to simplify,
abstract or unify these legacy systems – creating cleaner workflows and ultimately a more efficient broadcast operation.
• Accessing outsourced talent
• Enhanced collaboration Teams can be geographicallydispersed or Paul Divall co-located; they can be working on the same raw footage together; or tackling different aspects of the same activity. With Cloud applications it becomes easier for teams to collaborate. So, for example, from a single raw stream of cricket footage • one person can be working on the 60-minute highlights package, another on the 30-minute version and another on the 5-minute version.
• Reduced costs Because the teams can now collaborate from anywhere in the world, not everyone needs to travel to a single location (such as travelling to
• Scale capacity up and down as required
Rio for the Olympics last year). This can dramatically reduce the total costs of creating broadcast content.
Increased use of data analytics By being able to collect, store and analyse data with powerful Cloudenabled Big Data tools, broadcasters can comb through vast volumes of data. These insights can be used to fuel greater levels of personalisation, new customer experiences and services and more tailored advertising opportunities.
By shifting to public Cloud environments, broadcasters can more easily pull in outsourced or crowdsourced creative talent – allowing them to infuse new creative approaches into their work and flexibility onboard resources as and when they are needed, minimising their salary and overhead bills. Divall notes that for many local broadcasters, the Cloud has remained a far-away dream, particularly when one considers that just one minute of pro-resolution 4K Ultra HD video comes in at a weighty 5.3 gigs, and that streaming this content through workflows requires an eye-watering 880 Mbps of dedicated bandwidth. But while the public internet may not be viable, using dedicated private links and hybrid or private Cloud environments, some of these benefits start to become a reality. As broadcasters overcome some of the bandwidth concerns and better understand the security considerations, we could well see a new Cloudenabled broadcast era descend… sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Intelligent Solutions. Mastered
6 RocketScience | SCREENAFRICA- ScreenAfrica.indd | April 2018
2018/03/23 3:09:40 PM
| TECHNOLOGY News
Colornite DMX Splitter 4R The DMX Splitter is a useful DMX tool for daily lighting operations. It boosts and regenerates DMX signal before distribution. This reduces interference and protects lighting equipment. The device also simplifies connections and reduces installation and cable cost. It is vital for long cable runs or installations of more than 32 DMX devices on a DMX chain.
Colornite’s DMX Splitter series is high quality and provides 100 per cent electrical isolation. These splitters are great for fixed installations, mobile shows, rental and more. The DMX Splitter 4R is a DMX signal booster and splitter. It has one input and four output ports on the front panel and provides 100% isolation for all inputs and outputs.
Key Features • • • • •
3pin & 5pin DMX In 3pin & 5pin DMX Thru 3pin & 5pin DMX Out Signal & power LED indicator for each output Resistor Terminator to
• • • •
end a DMX chain Power input: AC 110V or 230V Power consumption: 6W max. Size: 482 x 147 x 44 mm (1U rack mount) Weight: 3 kg
*Movievision is the official distributor for Colornite in South Africa.
EditShare announces new QScan Automated Quality Control product line EditShare, a technology leader in intelligent shared storage, QC and media management solutions, recently unveiled the brand new EditShare QScan Automated Quality Control family (AQC) of products, powered by the awardwinning QUALES QC engine. The new file based video and audio AQC product line simplifies compliance and delivery requirements with robust quality check capabilities that leverage a patent pending QScan Single-Pass Analysis process which can be applied at any point during the workflow.
New EditShare QScan models include: QScan One – A robust full-featured entry level AQC solution that processes one file at time. Ideal for small post facilities requiring the facility to check the integrity of files on an on-going basis but that don’t need to check large volumes of media concurrently. QScan Pro – A full featured professional AQC solution that processes four files at a time. Designed for a mid-sized post facilities, with different departments such as audio, grading, VFX and editing. Each department can set up parameters to test their files, with up to 4 files being tested simultaneously.
EditShare end-to-end AQC workflow
QScan Max – Fully scalable multi node enterprise AQC solution with each node allowing for processing four concurrent files at a time. Ideal for VOD, OTT and Telco companies, the Max revision has limitless scalability allowing a large operator to test hundreds of files concurrently. Certified by DPP and AMWA, all EditShare QScan models support DPP compliance, including PSE and, new at NAB, IMF testing.
Maximum efficiency: Combined test templates and single pass analysis QScan allows users to combine different test templates and with QScan Single Pass Analysis, maximising efficiency for
qualifying essence and container elements across a wide range of project types. EditShare QScan will also perform partial analysis allowing users to skip or set the test templates to skip over the bars, clock or black at the start of a clip.
Visual timeline and reporting designed for creatives The intuitive QScan UI is visually designed for the creative. Simple-to-use features and easy-to-read report results expand AQC use across the operation. “We have made it easy to navigate the QScan timeline,” states Twine. “Users can go frame by frame and understand the values of the selected parameters and the tested results. This makes it particularly easy to spot problems with the content.”
All EditShare QScan solutions are natively connected to the EditShare Flow MAM solution. While traditional AQC simply checks files on the output, QScan integrated with Flow validates files throughout the production – from ingest to editorial, VFX and grading, through to delivery. Errors detected by QScan are added to the content timeline as metadata, visually flagging issues to users. This fully integrated approach allows facilities to check files before expending valuable creative time on potentially unsupported media files. Integration with Third Party Solutions In addition to Flow integration, EditShare QScan also offers flexible workflow configurations. Purchase as a stand alone system or leverage the QScan RESTful API for seamless integration with third party products including industry standard MAM and ingest solutions. QScan will make its debut at NAB 2018. *Protea Electronics is the official distributor for EditShare in South Africa.
Coronation celebrates 25-year milestone with new TVC The year 1993 was an eventful time in South Africa, filled with uncertainty and optimism, as the country anticipated the transition to a democracy. This year Coronation celebrates 25 years since it opened its doors on 3 July 1993, overlooking the challenges that were seen by many, it saw an opportunity to develop a brand that South Africans can trust.
8 | SCREENAFRICA | April 2018
ike Schalit, creative chief and co-founder of Net#work BBDO expands: “Running a successful company for a quarter of a century is no easy feat; when you’re talking South Africa since 1993 that’s a veritable lifetime of ups and downs – and yet Coronation’s commitment to the country and its investors has never wavered. Over the last 25 years, they have never stopped earning trust, literally, outperforming the market in the long term. So when Coronation tasked us with celebrating this milestone, whilst reminding South Africans of their heritage, ‘voila’ the concept was staring us in the face: Through the highs and lows, no matter the day, every day has actually been a good day to earn the trust of South Africans – putting their money to work.” Net#work BBDO’s relationship with the Coronation brand began in 2013 when they won the account after a successful pitch. Through the years the agency has sustained its relationship with the brand, a relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and a shared brand vision. “In fact, Trust is Earned was the platform we were equally passionate about and committed to build upon with more relevance and empathy. Over and above various tactical opportunities and miscellaneous projects, we have been called upon to solve three major briefs over the last five years, culminating in compelling, integrated
campaigns using different media channels anchored each time by a powerful, impactful TV ad,” Schalit shared. Egg Film’s award-winning director, Sunu Gonera was brought on board to direct the spot: “The brief and treatment process was collaborative; where we started is quite different from where we ended up,” explains Gonera. “The appeal was to tell an emotive story incorporating South Africa’s rich and varied history.” The result was the Trust Every Day ad, which reflects on the past 25 years through the lens of one South African family. Beginning with the voiceover, “1993 was an interesting time to start a company or anything else for that matter”, the ad looks back on some of the country’s past setbacks and victories, including political, economic and sporting events. “We parallel some landmark South African and global events with the history of Coronation... Ups or downs, good days, bad days, our lives go on with belief and perseverance as does Coronation’s work ethic and performance,” explains Schalit. The TVC was shot in and around Johannesburg over four days, with Nola Williams and Gerhard van Zyl handling research, wardrobe and art department duties.
TECH CHECK EQUIPMENT • Camera: Alexa mini camera • Camera: Panavision G-series anamorphic lenses
“We shot on the Alexa Mini because it is light and easy to use in smaller spaces. It allowed us to get in close on some of the performances so the viewer could really feel the tension. We used G-series anamorphic lenses to give the shots their cinematic quality…” – Sunu Gonera
“Over the last 25 years, they have never stopped earning trust, literally, outperforming the market in the long term. So when Coronation tasked us with celebrating this milestone, whilst reminding South Africans of their heritage, ‘voila’ the concept was staring us in the face.” – Mike Schalit “The first word on our approach page in our treatment was ‘South African.’ We wanted to do something classic and cinematic but keep it relatable by ensuring there was a South African aesthetic. We also wanted to balance the sense of scale with an equal sense of intimacy and to make it both an emotional and inspiring journey,” shares Gonera, who also mentioned how David Oosthuizen from Deliverance Post did a
fantastic job in interpreting the treatment. DOP Rory O’ Grady shot the ad on the Alexa Mini with Panavision G-series anamorphic lenses. “We shot on the Alexa Mini because it is light and easy to use in smaller spaces. It allowed us to get in close on some of the performances so the viewer could really feel the tension,” says Gonera. “We used G-series anamorphic lenses to give the shots their cinematic quality, and we filmed
predominantly on the steady rig, which gives the shots a fluid but dynamic feel,” he added. In post-production, Nic Apostoli from Comfort & Fame handled the grade, while Gordon Midgley did the editing. The ad was released to the public in early March, and within a week of its release, it had garnered over 48 000 views on YouTube. – Gezzy S Sibisi
KEY CREW Director: Sun Gonera DOP: Rory O’ Grady Editor: Gordon Midgley
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‘Simple Love’ showcases the beauty of Accra Director Makere Thekiso recently shot the music video for Ghanaian rapper, M.anifest’s latest song, ‘Simple Love’.
TECH CHECK EQUIPMENT • Camera: Sony FS7
BTS on the ‘Simple Love’ music video shoot
KEY CREW Director: Makere Thekiso Producer: Callback Dreams / Afro district Executive Producer: Jobie Bakama, Makere Thekiso and SingItDamnit Music DOP: Motheo Moeng Editor: Kayode Raji Grade: Gideon Breytenbach Music Score: Chad Alexander
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imple Love’ came about when Coca-Cola Ghana brought me out to direct a music video for Coke Studios in Accra. I decided to do something for M.anifest on my off day because Ghana is magic when it comes to locations, fashion, people, culture and stories; it has everything you need as a director. I was yearning to do a project that gave me total freedom and the space to make mistakes and grow as a director,” comments Thekiso. Thekiso describes the video as a short film that seeks to highlight the beauty of Accra’s buzzing seashore, through the journey and movement of a young ballerina named Angelika Kankam. In the video, the young woman travels through the busy fishing market, lost in dance amidst the chaos around her. In her journey to find her “simple love”, she interacts with various characters along the way until she meets and falls in love with a captivating young man, played by M.anifest. However, their moment does not last with the young dancer drifting away to a new phase in her life where she can be seen grieving the love that she has lost, and trying to find her rhythm again. “It is about one searching for love in a very chaotic world and finding it then being overwhelmed by it. The song and my personal experience were the driving force behind the creative. It was one of the lowest points in my career, where nothing was working, and I had just come off the biggest project of my career, but doors were still closed. I had not directed anything in over a year. I was also dealing with a lot of things in my personal life, good and bad, and the song spoke to me,” shares Thekiso. Thekiso says that M.anifest allowed him to choose any song from the Nowhere Cool album to shoot the video for, but he found himself resonating deeply with the ‘Simple Love’ interlude: “It is not even a full song but an interlude. The song is so bare (that) it allowed us to play around in terms of scoring; Chad Alexander did an amazing job scoring it. He gave the song a new life,” says Thekiso. In the short film, Thekiso decided to showcase the Tema Fish Market with its real people performing routine tasks in their everyday lives. The young ballet student who plays the lead character, alongside M.anifest, was the only role in the video that was cast. “She was worried that her moves were not perfect and I told her we are not making a perfect visual piece but an honest piece. I wanted
Scenes from the ‘Simple Love’ music video
all the flaws to come out. When you listen to the song, M.anifest makes a mistake halfway through the interlude that he did not fix in post or in studio, and that flaw inspired the piece,” shares Thekiso. In the six-minute short film M.anifest is only seen for 30 seconds, the rest of the video is made up of the dancer’s journey. “I thought using a ballerina in that fish market backdrop would create an amazing juxtaposition, rough and soft; it is a major contrast of dancer and location. Love is a universal language spoken by everyone,” Thekiso shares. ‘Simple Love’ is inspired by indie-style filmmaking and was shot using the Sony FS7 camera. Thekiso expands: “We did our first take on 120 frames per second but it was too slow and too long, the take was 11 minutes long. We then moved it to 75 frames per second and then the film was six minutes long. The camera was hand-held, so we depended a lot on the slomo to stabilise it. Motheo Moeng did a great job. It was all natural light we did not even have a bounce board. We shot it
flat so that we could play around in grade.” The scoring by Chad Alexander took nine months and nine versions to reach the desired result. The music was then sent to New York for mastering and final mix. ‘Simple Love’ has travelled across the continent reaching audiences in Ghana, Nigeria, East Africa and South Africa. The film has also received favourable reviews from Okay Africa, Tidal, BBC and on Between 10 and 5. ‘Simple Love’ has been showcased at various public screenings in Ghana. The film was also part of the Redbull Amaphiko Film Festival in Johannesburg last year. Thekiso says he plans to submit the short film to other short film festivals. “The concept is an African love story using music, dance and the beautiful people of Tema in Accra to tell the story. This short film was a labour of love. It is the most personal visual piece I have ever directed,” Thekiso concludes. – Gezzy S Sibisi
AV-HLC100 Live Production Centre
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The rise of video We’ve seen many industries disrupted over the past decade, especially with the advent of social media. The latest industry is the video production industry. Latest stats show that 90 per cent of all internet traffic will be video based in 2019.
his has serious content implications for brands and the film production industry has to transform to embrace this need as hot new video shops emerge and agencies – digital and social media – establish their own video content production units. Video content has been on the rise since smartphones upgraded their cameras and social media channels started prioritising video, as demand by consumers increased for visual content. Facebook Live, YouTube channels and Insta-Stories are now being used by mainstream media organisations; brands; and individuals to broadcast their products/services/random thoughts. And everyone with a phone is a broadcaster today, which meant that media channels had to start including first person video and eyewitness accounts in content. Now brands are heading the same way as any social media interaction is amplified by the addition of video content. Where the disruption comes for video production companies, is that brands need fast content, instant content and a continuous flow of content. Jodene Shaer, head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory, had this comment: “Video content has exploded into the forefront of marketing strategies, and 2018 has kicked off with a taste of the impact it will have for the future of social and digital marketing. Driven by consumer demand, marketers are reporting an increase in ROI and are seeing the public engage with their pages for longer.” “With features including Insta-Stories and Facebook Live, the rise of native content from brands is assisting in creating a more authentic and accessible connection with their consumers, which
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Chace Geyer and Devin Risely, CBR Productions video producers
will continue to drive the popularity of live and video content by both marketers and consumers.”
Insta-videos trend This means that video production houses and videographers have to hone their skills to produce shorter insta-videos – at a greatly reduced cost. We’re talking about the rise of hot new video production shops who charge R1000 a video and a day’s turnaround; as opposed to R10 000 a video and a month’s turnaround. And we can talk about quality, but civilians are posting videos every day on Instagram and YouTube and receiving millions of likes, despite the quality. You have to go where the audience is and that audience right now has an insatiable need for video content. The key, according to the experts, is to marry high quality with agility – being able to be more efficient without necessarily compromising quality, but being able to meet brand and business needs. It will require faster turnaround, new techniques and the industry needing to transform radically to meet brand and customer demand for instant video.
The stats tell a story Have a look at the stats being lobbied about out there in the industry by creative industry heavyweights: • 90 per cent of all internet traffic will be video based in 2019. Currently that figure is 74 per cent. (Source: Cisco). • 50 million people use Instagram Stories. • 92 per cent of mobile viewers share videos. • People are 85 per cent more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video (Source: G&G Digital). • Mobile video increased by 35 per cent, whereas desktop and TV viewing only increased by 2 per cent in 2017 (Source: Halo). • Mobile video is forecast to grow by 25 per cent in 2018 and 29 per cent in 2019.
Google in February launched its own “AMP stories” format to compete with Snapchat and Instagram, with image-driven news articles aimed at mobile phone and tablet users. Facebook’s launch of its six second ads have driven a demand for video advertising. Locally, telecommunications brands are encouraging consumers to consume and create more video, by reducing data costs: MTN Shortz platform allows local-content providers to distribute their content to the mobile operator’s customers; Telkom has reduced data costs and introduced its LIT service to increase streaming; and Vodacom’s Video Play app, allows customers to watch more video.
“Video is one of the biggest growth areas in digital media in 2017, with Adobe reporting that 51.9 per cent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.” – Graig Munitz
Written by Louise Marsland
“Images, videos and graphics help get readers’ attention as quickly as possible and keep them engaged through immersive and easily consumable visual information,” says Rudy Galfi, responsible for driving Google’s AMP stories. Visual marketing, in the form of photography and video is no longer a nice-to-have for brands, it’s a must have, says G&G Digital: “When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 per cent of that information three days later. If an image is paired with that same information, people retained 65 per cent of the information three days later.”
New kids on the block G&G Digital officially launched photography and videographic services for clients in February. “Video is the most powerful engager in a brand’s arsenal. It
Desiree Gullan, G&G Digital executive creative director
“On demand video is the way we will be consuming information, entertainment and education in the future. These are exciting times.” – Desiree Gullan
Jodene Shaer, Chat Factory head strategist
ignites emotions, builds trust and doubles exposure time. Videos can easily explain complex concepts and is increasingly preferred over reading. Sharing product videos and how-to tutorials on social media will increase reach and support the sales process,” said Desiree Gullan, G&G Digital executive creative director. CBR Marketing Solutions boosted its
stable of digital offerings with the launch of a new video production department, CBR Productions, earlier this year. It is headed by young film duo, Chace Geyer and Devin Risely. The reason? “Video is one of the biggest growth areas in digital media in 2017, with Adobe reporting that 51.9 per cent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI,” said CBR MD, Graig Munitz. “Brands need to show a more authentic side to themselves, one that is more raw and real. The film industry also needs to learn how to capture this for brands in innovative and engaging ways.” Film and video content producer and director, Sean Wilson-Smith, founded Vidr, a video content go-to agency specialising in bite-sized video and a national network and hub of makers and editors who film, shoot and cut and deliver onsite. “Traditional film/video content
production was growing old fast because of: big, expensive and heavy gear; a lack of trained, consistent, available content directors/filmmakers; lengthy returns of final edits/content; and the cost incurred to clients for all of the above, just for a one or two minute piece of video.” Vidr uses top of the range lightweight and nimble high-tech cinematic filming/ editing gear that fits into a backpack; “leasing” these “Vidr Gear Bags” to filmmakers, and linking them with new and on-going clients who want consistent video content delivered fast via its secure Cloud based/AI/Blockchain Vidr CMS platform.
Market disruption Wilson-Smith believes they are disrupting the market: “Creating a platform where clients can login, find available content producers with gear on hand in a flash (much like finding an Uber on a map), booking them via our platform, and getting their own video delivered to
themselves via our secure cloud-based Blockchain encrypted platform. “We are making it much easier and cheaper for brands and clients to know a consistent agency exists that helps them with their video strategy to get going, and provides them with beautiful cinematic work asap. And we’re focusing specifically on ‘bite-sized’ video and its craving market/fans, where time is minimal to watch video, and they need it packaged quickly, in order to market fast!” Gullan, in turn, points out that clients are demanding breakthrough content for their brands and that they expect it to be relevant, fast and to get share of mind among their consumers. “Agencies are responding and producing video content that delights their clients and their clients’ target market. This is putting pressure on specialist video production houses as they’re not just competing with other video specialists, but with agencies as well. In addition, there is a lot more user-friendly video software for editing, voice recording, creating titles and quick turn-around templates; this is making video production much more achievable for creative teams in-house or in agencies.” Continuing trends in the industry cited by Gullan, include: • The six-second advert. Brands of the future are using a combination of short-form ads and long-form video to tell a brand story. The result is greater brand awareness and powerful engagement. • There are three ways of using a combination of short and long-form video to improve reach and frequency, reinforce your message and reduce overall campaign costs. • More and more video content is being and going to be produced. On top of that consumer attention is scarce. So we’re all going to have to be faster, smarter and more creative to break through. Brands that get it right will get so much more for their investment as consumers become advocates and share good content. “On demand video is the way we will be consuming information, entertainment and education in the future. These are exciting times,” Gullan concluded.
Deep VR captures African mass migrations in virtual reality film The great wildebeest migration at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is one of the most popular and largest movements in Africa. This mass migration, which includes zebras, antelopes and over a million wildebeest, has become the highlight of many Safari trips as tourists from around the world flock to the nature reserve to document this spectacular sight.
BTS on Exodus: The Great Migration 14 | SCREENAFRICA | April 2018
nfortunately not everyone is fortunate enough to take a trip to Kenya and witness the migration first hand, and while wildlife programmes may give us a glimpse at it, even the best footage will only present viewers with the filmmaker’s point of view. But imagine being part of an immersive migratory movement that lets you get up close and personal with the animals at the Masai Mara National Reserve as they anticipate their crossover. With this in mind, Deep VR, a virtual reality production company based in Johannesburg, added a Virtual Reality (VR) wildlife division to its cinematic offerings and recently released their first VR film titled Exodus: The Great Migration. A screening of the film took place recently at Circa Art Gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg, with wildlife enthusiasts, tech writers and moviegoers gathered at the site to participate in the film’s local premiere. At the event, attendees were treated to a screening of Made in Marra, a behind-the-scenes collaborative film showcasing the Exodus crew’s 10-day stay in Kenya to capture the wildebeest migration. Deep VR CEO Ulrico Grech-Cumbo addressed the audience and spoke on why the company chose to launch a wildlife division. Grech-Cumbo and Deep VR co-founder Telmo dos Reis had never experienced an animal migration before but sought a truly original African experience, even if it meant self-funding their work. “We’re on a crusade to create truly original African stories. One thing our continent offers the world is plentiful and exotic wildlife. Nobody was doing it in VR, so we saw an opportunity to film something we loved, that we could become the best at globally,” said Grech-Cumbo.
Taking VR to Kenya When the time came to film Exodus, the Deep VR team found that there was nothing available in-store to shoot a project of this nature. So the team had to develop camera systems in-house and ensure that their rigs were “trample-proof”. Grech-Cumbo expands: “We gutted them in order to install special aluminium heat plates instead of plastic components that would dissipate heat (as GoPro H4s are notorious for overheating). This,
| allowed us to attach custom optic ribbon cables to the camera bodies and the other end to 250-degree Entaniya fisheye lenses, which allowed us to house the camera bodies and microSDs inside 6mm-thick, steel casings that we created to make sure the rigs were ‘trample-proof’.” However, even with such detailed planning, the crew were disappointed to find out that their camera equipment, although more than efficient for the job at hand, was also attracting the wrong kind of attention. To the crew’s dismay, a pack of curious lions began using the protruding devices as something to nibble on, while the camera-shy wildebeest tried to avoid them at all costs. As a result, the team had to disguise their equipment by covering it in grass and other kinds of greenery in order to camouflage the rigs before planting it in the wild once again. Other challenges faced included the drone camera malfunctioning – twice! As well as issues with the crew’s film permit which led to them abandoning their vehicle and walking on foot throughout the National Reserve to set up rigs. After seven days of filming in the wild, the crew discovered that they still had not acquired the footage they needed for the film. “That was terrifying, thinking we had invested so much time and money, and now would have to return and tell people our mission had failed,” comments Grech-Cumbo. The team soldiered on until the last day, when everything finally took a turn for the better. On the tenth and final day, and with all cameras rolling, thousands of wildebeest dashed down the riverbank, crashing into the water for the muchanticipated crossing. Upon leaving Kenya, the Deep VR crew had shot over 130 hours of footage. Telmo dos Reis was the head of postproduction, while Skhumbuzo Dlomo did VFX work including tripod removals, roto painting of tourist vehicles, as well as frame-by-frame painting of missing data. Overall, post-production duties took a year and two months to complete.
The VR Experience Costing R1.7 million to make, Exodus: The Great Migration is a 9-minute virtual reality documentary. At the premiere screening, guests utilised Samsung Gear VR headsets together with
“We’re on a crusade to create truly original African stories. One thing our continent offers the world is plentiful and exotic wildlife. Nobody was doing it in VR, so we saw an opportunity to film something we loved, that we could become the best at globally.” – Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
the Samsung S8: “They’re untethered and the new S8s have a UHD screen resolution – higher than anything else on the market. The one thing that is lagging in VR is display resolution, so we opted to actually purchase a rental pool of 40 of these kits due to their high resolution and ease of use for activations and pop-up VR cinemas,” informs Grech-Combo. The film takes the viewer through a range of emotions, first showcasing the dry conditions and desperation that leads to the migration. Observing the massive troupe of wildebeest grazing, the viewer is able to wander around the animals and explore their turf. Other wild animals, including lions, can be seen at close range. The narrator provides a deeper insight into the migration and also directs the viewer to other events within the 360-degree environment. As the day of the big move finally approaches, the herd gathers near the riverbank in anticipation of their trip. The treacherous trail through dark waters filled with crocodiles creates an atmosphere of distress and a sense of urgency for the viewer. As the herd gathers the courage to take to the water, it feels like a deadly race against time, with the scores of animals pacing their way to the other side.
Future projects While there were some sound glitches and slightly blurry visuals at times; Exodus: The Great Migration is a more than worthy effort for the first-ever narrated VR wildlife documentary. The Deep VR team is already working on a series of mass migration VR films focussing on mammals, birds, invertebrates and insects. The team’s current project features the Amur falcon’s 60 000 kilometre journey from Mongolia to South Africa: “Preproduction has been great. The first trick with migratory projects is to coincide with them actually being there. There are currently 15 000 falcons in the roosts where we are filming. We’re simply creating what we call ‘shoot hypotheses’ of how we think the birds will react in certain circumstances, and designing around it, knowing that it’s very likely we’ll have to keep changing strategies until we can get useful shots,” GrechCumbo shares. Several more pop-up VR screenings of Exodus: The Great Migration are scheduled to take place at various locations, with details to be provided on the Deep VR Facebook page. “The Great Migration is pretty well known – the purpose of the first episode of Exodus was to teach people about the format. Future episodes of Exodus will focus more on wildlife education and conservation. We hope to use the format to create more empathy for conservationrelated causes and mobilise people more readily (than traditional formats) to get involved,” concludes Grech-Cumbo. – Gezzy S Sibisi
TECH CHECK EQUIPMENT • VR GEAR: Samsung Gear VR headset with Samsung S8
“They’re [Samsung Gear VR headsets] untethered and the new S8s have a UHD screen resolution – higher than anything else on the market. The one thing that is lagging in VR is display resolution, so we opted to actually purchase a rental pool of 40 of these kits due to their high resolution and ease of use for activations and pop-up VR cinemas.” – Ulrico Grech-Combo
thriller drama series that Gambit Films is producing. I am also busy writing a romantic-comedy which will hopefully go into production in 2019. But there is a project that I have always dreamt of doing and have been working away at for a long time in my quiet little corner where all the wonderful things happen. I can’t speak too much about it yet but that it’s a true-life story of a South African icon, which I would absolutely kill to direct.
Screen Africa chats to Nommer 37 director, Nosipho Dumisa. A KwaZulu-Natal-born, Zulu, female director, who has somehow found herself making films in the Afrikaans language… What is your background and how has it shaped you as a director? I am a black woman born and raised in ho a massive and tight-knit Zulu family in Nosipisa m KwaZulu-Natal. I am Zulu. Yet Du somehow I have spent the last four to five years of my life telling stories in the Afrikaans language. How did that happen? Divine intervention. In high school I picked Afrikaans as a second language because I wanted an easy subject, never thinking in a million years that one day I would need it. Fast forward to many years later and I ended up meeting my colleagues and good friends at Gambit Films, most of whom are coloured and grew up in the Cape Flats. I learned to observe this world as an outsider first and now in a way, I know it better than my own home town and my own people. I connect with this world because I’ve spent my entire adult and some of my teenage years in Cape Town and seeing the crude injustices here and back home have made me want to tell stories about these people, my people in a very real and authentic way. I was fortunate enough to spend a year away from South Africa once and what I understood about myself by the end of that year is that I love my country and my people and the world has no idea who we are. As a director, I want to tell South African stories made by South Africans for not only South Africans, but also for the entire world. I want to cross cultural boundaries in every project that I touch, in any way that I can, because I don’t believe that we know and therefore understand each other as South Africans. Describe the moment, if there is one, when you knew you wanted to become a director? Honestly, there was no ‘moment’. I fell in love with directing and knew that I was good at it (I hope you agree) somewhere along the journey of becoming a director. I can’t pinpoint the moment in time. I don’t believe that anyone can be one thing anyway – we’re all storytellers and the expression of that can change at any time. Right now, this is the expression I’ve chosen because it’s the season I’m in. I believe in complete surrender to whatever vision God has for me so I tend to leave it to Him. Where do you go for inspiration? Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes for me, whether it’s conversations I have with people that suddenly give me a different perspective on life or someone shares something they’ve been through or heard about and it sparks an idea for a story. Reading books and generally walking around and stalking people in the streets (please don’t judge) will often evoke a strange curiosity/ obsession that will eventually lead to a story.
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What kind of content do you enjoy creating? I love to create stories about people that feel real, tangible and authentic. Though I enjoy fantasy and sci-fi as a genre, I am always drawn to stories centred in truth and the real world around us. I enjoy telling an underdog story and stories about imperfect heroes and complicated villains.
Who do you look up to in the film industry and who are your mentors? I like to learn from as many people as I can. My fellow creatives at Gambit Films (Daryne Joshua, Travis Taute, and Simon Beesley) are the people that I trust the most. I’m not sure that real mentorship is a culture we’ve fostered much in our South African industry, though I really hope to see that change because it’s incredibly important. As Gambit Films we were fortunate enough to have Homebrew Films mentor us as a company but I’ve sort of had to figure out directing on my own. I have respect for producers such as Helena Spring and applaud my peers who are currently doing great work e.g. Be Phat Motel and Urucu Media. Internationally, I’m obsessed with Shonda Rhimes and Channing Dungey, who is the first black president of a major broadcast TV network (ABC Entertainment Group) – and hello, she’s a woman! Top Three favourite directors, and why them? This is a tough one because I can be fickle (laughs)! But let me give it a bash. In absolutely no order: Martin Scorcese/F. Gary Gray: I’ve loved all Scorcese’s films and the way in which his voice is always clear and uniquely his in every film he’s done (apart from Hugo – sorry fans of Hugo but that wasn’t a great moment for him). Hopefully one day, he’ll make films that handle women with better care but I truly respect this man’s craft. F. Gary Gray has made some of my favourite films, which I also happen to repeat the most. He walks the line between genre and the human narrative (the part that makes you care deeply) so well. David Fincher: I connect with his work the most. The man is twisted, extremely visual and so detail-oriented and I love it! Cate Shortland: Just before I made Nommer 37 I decided that I didn’t know enough female directors so I started looking through festival circuits and ‘Best of’ lists etc. I came across a movie called Berlin Syndrome, which was directed by Cate Shortland. Previously she’d also made Somersault. If you haven’t seen these films, do yourself a favour and check them out. You asked for three directors, and I already cheated, but I absolutely cannot leave out the man of the current hour, Ryan Coogler. I’ve seen all his films and adored them. He is fantastic and my goodness, he’s a black man and only 31 years old! He is so fresh in his ideas and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Which projects are you currently involved in? Besides spreading the word about Nommer 37, I am currently part of the writing team for a 13-part crime
What has been your biggest career challenge to date? Making my first feature film definitely has to be the biggest challenge of my career yet. Based on discussions with my peers who had either just been through the process or were also going through it, I had an idea of the challenge ahead but until you’ve had to do this, I don’t believe anyone can ever truly make you understand. I had to toughen up and learn to trust myself completely. You are surrounded by so many people, so many opinions, some of which question your own, that you have to learn to filter them and know your truth with absolute conviction. What has been some of the highlights of your career thus far? Making Nommer 37 (feature film) and being accepted as the very first ever fully South African production and first South African feature film in more than 10 years to be accepted into SXSW International Film Festival. That definitely had me praising Jesus, let me tell you! In 2016, I also got to produce the very first Afrikaans soapie ever to be produced in Cape Town, Suidooster. It’s gotten stronger and stronger and I couldn’t be more proud of the Suidooster Films team. Winning a SAFTA and Best Director award at Silwerskermfees for the short film version of Nommer 37 was amazing. Top three favourite films of all time? I did say that I’m fickle, right? This list always changes based on my mood but here we go. My favourite films do not reflect the type of films I make but they reflect the kind of narratives I love and believe in. • August Rush: Didn’t imagine that one, did you? I’ve watched this film a million times and will continue to watch it again. I love stories that bring music/sports together with underdog stories. Slumdog Millionaire actually really belongs in this category as well. • Any Given Sunday: Again it’s sports and underdogs with exceptional performances. • Seven: It’s just brilliant. For me, it’s David Fincher at his best. There’s nothing more to say. What is your dream shoot location? Ah how does one answer that? I want to shoot everywhere in the world! I want to shoot in obscure and wonderful places on our divine continent. Right now, if I can just shoot in KwaZulu-Natal (the midlands, South Coast) I would be ecstatic then we’ll take it from there. If you weren’t a filmmaker, what career would you have chosen? Don’t laugh but I almost went into medicine. I took all the subjects, got the marks and almost applied but then an amazing guardian angel by the name of Anita Schonauer, my high school drama teacher, saw something in me and called it out. She exposed me to a career path I never would have even considered because that’s just not what you did in my family or where I came from. There’s a few of us out there with her to thank. Then again, I think I could have been an amazing singer or dancer if I could actually sing or dance.
9 at the Durban Internat
ional Film Festival 20
20-23 July 2018 Early bird dElEgatE rEgistration opEns
HAVE YOUR PEOPLE CALL OUR PEOPLE www.durbanfilmmart.com
Documentaries: A shining light from the African continent Documentaries, and historically African documentaries, must be one of the most underrated of film genres across the globe. Commercially overlooked and often relegated to the margins of festivals and commercial broadcast (streaming) platforms, documentaries are most often labours of love made by dedicated directors and producers.
here are however, some encouraging beacons of light for the genre, as documentary filmmakers across Africa forge ahead with innovative stories and production methods, and with more and more festivals and awards being devoted to this genre. Thankfully, long gone are the days of so-called “donor films,” heavy handed and often moralistic driven films funded and hinged on donor organisation agendas. Especially across Africa, documentary filmmakers are finding creative and innovative ways to tell their stories, pushing the boundaries of what may even be considered documentary filmmaking, and blazing trails along the way. Not only are the topics of many of the recently produced documentaries moving away from the African stereotypes, but the ways in which these stories are being told reflect the innovative spirit of a fresh generation of filmmakers.
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Imfura, as an example, is a Rwandan short that won the Berlinale Shorts: Silver Bear Jury Prize just recently. The film is a hybrid – a fusion of documentary and staged material, according to the Berlin programme. Out of This World is a Vice i-D production that tells the stories of queer South African artists. Narrated by New York based rapper, performance artist, and activist Mykki Blanco, the film follows a host of young South Africans whose courage and creativity are putting them at the forefront of a cultural revolution. Ghana’s Arthur Musah’s latest film, One Day I Too Go Fly, is a unique real-time, four-year study of four African youths’ journeys to becoming engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The film follows the lives of Nigerian, Philip Abel; Zimbabwean, Fidelis Chimombe; Tanzanian, Sante Nyambo; and Rwandan, Billy Ndengeyingoma in school, MIT and in their home countries. Mensah uses the term “new cinematic narratives” to describe his films as they are based on stories not seen before.
Even wildlife documentaries are getting a makeover, utilising the latest technology trends such as VR and 360 degree cameras. South African company Deep VR, beat some of the best funded international filmmakers to secure funding for the landmark project, Exodus: The Great Migration. The film will be one of the world’s first Virtual Reality (VR) documentaries of what has been described as one of the greatest natural phenomena on Earth. Documentary filmmakers are also getting wise to alternative distribution platforms and methods, with many filmmakers opting for streaming platforms and even YouTube as a preferred way to show their films. The recent YouTube series, The Confused African examines Ugandan society through the explorations of two of the country’s musicians, artist and TV personality Ken Daniels and rapper Navio. Directed by Jonny Von Wallström the series offers a Ugandan perspective on issues such as immigration, corruption and music.
With the rise of this diverse and exciting selection of documentaries, a host of festivals also continue to push their support for African documentary film. This year, the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) has just announced an exciting new partnership with STEPS and the Bosch Foundation in Germany for the prize for Best Documentary Film. The winner of the Golden Dhow will also receive either a fellowship to the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg, or if the filmmaker is more experienced, then an alternative award such as an invitation to
Still from Out of This World attend the Berlinale with costs covered will be presented. STEPS will also offer the winner a licensing deal for the AfriDocs platform, the first and only free streaming platform for the best in African documentaries. Anyone in Africa can stream these films anytime at www.afridocs.net. For the second year now, the Ladima Foundation will also present at ZIFF the Adiaha Award for the best Female Documentary Filmmaker. The 11th annual Africa World Documentary Film Festival in St. Louis Missouri took place in February, screening 50 excellent documentaries out
of the 185+ submitted by filmmakers from countries including Cape Verde, Central Africa Republic, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Italy, Jordan, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and South Sudan. The Mashariki African Film Festival in Rwanda took place from 25 to 31 March in Kigali with over a dozen African documentaries in competition. The festival is a showcase of Rwanda’s flourishing film industry with a special focus on young filmmakers in the region. March also saw Lagos host the 2018 edition of the yearly I-Rep International Documentary Film Festival. Produced by the Foundation for the Development of Documentary Film Festival in Africa, this
year marked the eighth edition of the yearly feast of documentary films, which began in 2010. The 2018 festival explored the theme: ARCHIVING AFRICA II: Frontiers and New Narratives. Cuba is also honouring its roots by offering solidarity with the African continent this year during its 16th annual International Documentary Festival. This year’s festival focuses on African portrayal, analysing documentaries by Latin American and African artists, past and present. Among the main films are Jose Massip’s Miriam Makeba, which tells the story of the life of the South African singer, and Nova Sinfonia by Santiago Alvarez, dedicated to the former Mozambique military commander Samora Machel.
South Africa’s annual Encounters Documentary Film Festival is also coming up, taking place from 31 May to 10 June. With the production value and creativity of documentary filmmaking rising rapidly across Africa, and the global opportunities to showcase these films increasing, it is clear that African documentaries will soon be taking their rightful place as equals to the much celebrated feature film genre. We can’t wait to see them. – Lara Preston
Still from Imfura
SAFTAs 12 winners
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| SAFTAS 2018 The 12th Annual South African Film and Television Awards, hosted at the Sun City Superbowl, Bokone Bophirima were celebrated under the theme “Our stories are gold” with a special commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s centenary. ADVERTORIAL
Nig Night one of the awards, 22nd of March 2018, celebrated excellence within the technical craft of the industry, which is made up of people that are the back bone of the industry. While the second night, 24th of March 2018, focused on the scriptwriters, directors and performers. Congratulations to all the winners, may they continue to tell our golden narratives and may the rest of South African continue to celebrate their excellence.
The SAFTAs 12 Women Nominees’ Celebration High Tea event was hosted on the 23rd of March 2018, was not only in honour of Albertina Sisulu’s centenary, but also a celebration of all the women nominees who continue to make their mark and excel in a male dominated industry. The NFVF is committed to ensuring that the South African ﬁlm and television industry is accessible and inclusive.
SAFTAs 12 Night 1 Winners
Jody Bowers & Ayesha Katieb
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Berdene du Toit
O Kae Molao
Marius van Graan
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SAFTAs 12 Night 2 Winners ADVERTORIAL
Crystal Donna Roberts April 2018
ANIMATION & GRAPHICS
BlackGinger’s Marco Raposo de Barbosa talks animation and graphics in South Africa Marco Raposo de Barbosa is the Marco Raposo de Barbosa co-founder and VFX supervisor at BlackGinger, an animation and visual effects studio in Cape Town, South Africa.
arbosa started his career in 1994 as a multimedia designer and later moved into 3D animation. When the company he was working for invested in a state-of-the-art animation system – the Silicon Graphics Indigo 2 workstation running Alias/Wavefront PowerAnimator – his love for visual effects (VFX) was ignited. In 2005, after working as a flame artist for several years, Barbosa, Marc Bloch and two other partners started BlackGinger. “Over the course of the last 13 years, we have continued to focus on high-end VFX, animation and postproduction for the commercial market, as well as developing the feature film and series side of the business. This allowed me to move out of Flame and focus on VFX supervision,” shares Barbosa. As a VFX supervisor at BlackGinger, Barbosa oversees the technical and creative execution of all company projects. BlackGinger’s most recent works include the Cerebos Salt commercial which involves computer-generated (CG) characters combined with miniature live-action sets. “A project like this, which is fundamentally a character animation piece still involves lots of VFX work with complex hair systems, fur and cloth
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simulations as well as photo-real shading and lighting,” tells Barbosa. A big part of the company’s feature film work now involves 3D scanning: “both with our 64 camera photogrammetry rig for people and prop scanning and our LIDAR scanners for locations and sets,” Barbosa expands. These films include 24 Hours to Live and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. During the 2018 Cape Town International Animation Festival (CTIAF) which took place in March, Barbosa was one of the headline speakers presenting a session on VFX, under the title: Zen and the Art of VFX: Surviving in a world where anything is possible. “My topic was inspired by the challenges, both good and bad; we face as individual artists and as an industry. These are often left unspoken or unacknowledged, and I thought it might be insightful to people new to VFX and relatable to those already in it,” says Barbosa. “Having been in the digital VFX world since the early days of computer animation I have seen it go from being an obscure field that few people understood to being the cornerstone of many blockbuster movies. The technology,
both software and hardware, has evolved hugely, giving artists the tools to be able to achieve things that were very recently not possible. The complexity of a lot of what is achieved is really astounding, which is why most of the industry is made up of artists specialising in sub-fields with VFX, some creative, some technical,” Barbosa adds. “Seeing how VFX has been devalued in many public and industry forums is sad. On one side this is due to the rapid expansion of the industry resulting in the commoditisation of VFX and on the other end there are good and bad examples of everything, with the bad examples getting more attention than is fair. When considering the radical achievements that those at the top of the international industry are attaining, it is truly inspiring to understand how complex and progressive these projects are. VFX has developed into a craft that is capable of creating anything. Negotiating the constraints of time, money and personal development in this context is what my talk was aimed at.” Barbosa enjoys seeing a growing number of people wanting to pursue a career in VFX, which is still considered to be a fairly small industry in South Africa. In terms of training, Barbosa recommends The Animation School as they have been very open to discussing what skills the industry needs and produce a lot of great students. However, for the more
technical/coding side of VFX, studying Computer Science at any university is xan option. BlackGinger also contributes to this thriving industry through its internship programme where post-graduate interns learn every aspect of the toolset and workflows. “We have a series of courses that each intern needs to complete which have been honed over many years to ensure a smooth and effective transition from the academic world into the production world. They are mentored through these programmes, and beyond, by the department heads and project leads,” says Barbosa. Additionally, the interns get to participate in awardwinning projects and productions where the learning curve can be very steep, helping them gain experience quickly. “VFX requires so many different skills and insights and is constantly developing and advancing. This makes it challenging and forces growth and learning, which is what is so great about it. You get to be involved in projects that have 100’s or 1000’s of people working together, and we all create something that is hopefully great to watch and fulfilling for all who had input. The work is massively diverse and can take you to places you would never otherwise go and meet people you would never meet,” Barbosa concludes. – Gezzy S Sibisi
“You get one shot, and that’s it”: Photo credit: Anton Pretorius
Inside the high-tech, high-pressure world of Outside Broadcasting
Obeco on a Symphony Orchestra shoot in Cape Town
There are few sectors of the production industry as technically demanding, and few environments as highly pressured, as outside broadcasting (OB) and its related service, electronic news gathering (ENG).
s viewers, it’s fair to say that – with the slickness of live sports events, music concerts, news segments and awards ceremonies – we are blissfully unaware of the frantically moving
parts that allow the production to run smoothly. The art and the skill of outside broadcasting is to make us feel ‘like we are there’ – but to achieve this requires not only an arsenal of equipment, but a
truly collective effort, characterised by the ability to remain calm and to problem-solve in even the most stressful situations. As Anton Pretorius, founder of the Johannesburg-based company Obeco says, the basic components of OB broadcasting consist of a “studio control room in a truck. Simple as that. We add components that you don’t really see in a studio, like EVS systems, but essentially that is what an outside broadcaster provides.” However, when you begin to break down what that service entails, it is clear that the operation is far from simple. As
Pretorius explains, “You have many cameras, with cables that connect them to the van, you have a vision mixer in the van, and you have recorders that record what is being mixed. If it’s a live event, you have a Satellite News Gathering (SNG) van parked next to it that sends the mixed signal to the station. Obviously, there are a few more devices to make the end product look more exciting, but that is the gist of it.” For Greg Nefdt, managing director of Alfacam SA – an independent company which established itself, largely, through the process of capturing the 2010 FIFA World Cup – what is essential about
“…one of the big disadvantages in the South African market is that the quality of the OB services we produce, generally speaking, far exceeds what people are generally willing to pay for them.” – Greg Nefdt
outside broadcasting is the “multicamera facility” that it provides. “In the context of news, and ENG broadcasting, someone might go out with one or two cameras and the uplink vehicle, and they shoot what they need and uplink to the broadcaster,” Nefdt says. “But for covering a sports game, for example, you’re using somewhere between 12 and 24 cameras, and for some of the bigger event shows it could be more.” Nefdt gives an insight into the unique pressures of working within such a setup. “All these cameras are filming at the same time, it’s generally live, and what you’re basically doing – in the OB van – is creating a show as it happens. You get one shot at it, and that’s it. It’s a kind of magic, really.” Of course, such a production feat would be hard enough without any unexpected surprises along the way. However, as Nefdt explains, with so many elements involved in a production, hiccups can happen – and how they are dealt with is, ultimately, what distinguishes one OB crew from another. “Before you get onto a job, you’ve specced it, you’ve spoken to the client, you’ve done a technical brief and you’ve got a very good idea of what the show is going to look like and what it’s going to take. But, when you arrive on the show, things change. It can be various circumstances or situations that come up, and you’ve got to be able to blend in and work with those changes in a live environment, which can be challenging. 26 | SCREENAFRICA | April 2018
And when things don’t go exactly according to plan – and because you’re working with so many components, things can go wrong – it’s vital to keep the temperature cool in the OB van and solve the problem quickly and calmly.” He goes on to explain that one of the key features of any successful OB production is effective collaboration between the various sets of crew members. “You can have in excess of 50 crew members on a job. You have the cameramen and support crew in the venue, and then you have people inside the OB van: the director, the assistant director, EVS operators, vision controllers, vision mixer, graphics operators, auto cue operators, producers and engineering crew. Then you have crew on the audio side that are making sure everything sounds good, then the people who are managing the signal – and everyone on the crew needs to be in communication and know exactly what’s going on at all times.” Pretorius underscores the point, saying, “Any OB van is only as good as its communications system.” Luckily, the advancement of communications technologies such as fibre has had a tremendous effect on the OB production industry. As Thandekile Nyembezi and Eddie Seane of Vision View Productions explain, “In the past, the distance of where the van could park could cause serious challenges, but since we run our vans through fibre now, this challenge isn’t really a factor anymore.”
Pretorius emphasises the importance of this innovation. “To me, the greatest technological innovation in our industry over the last few years has to be the use of fibre. Two weeks ago we did a recording of an event in Cape Town that needed 13 cameras, video feeds all over, audio feeds and communications to everyone on the crew. The van was parked 250 metres from the stage and on the other side of a river. Every single feed had to be done using fibre – and without it, the job would have been impossible.” In addition to the multitude of “micro problems” that outside broadcasters encounter – as Pretorius puts it, “Once you’re parked and you have three-phase power, because the equipment is so sensitive, the fight starts to keep the dust out and the cold air in” – hearing Nefdt describe the costs involved in equipping and maintaining a first-rate OB production truck gives a sense of the broader challenges facing the industry, and particularly independent players within it. “A good outside broadcasting van, like our OB-1, if we had to replace it with all the cameras, all the long lenses, the EVS recording equipment and the audio facilities, you’re looking at about R100 million plus. And on the second-hand market, something good is still going to cost you plenty. And one of the big disadvantages in the South African market is that the quality of the OB services we produce, generally speaking, far exceeds what people are generally
willing to pay for them.” Nyembezi admits that “budget restraints will always be a cause for contention”, but insists that the only way to keep thriving in the OB industry is to “constantly nurture relationships” and to stay ahead of the pack by offering the latest technologies. “Augmented and Virtual Reality is the most exciting thing that we’ve done lately, from creating the VR environment to showing it on air. The 4K, ultra-slomo replays currently used in international cricket broadcasts – which are filmed at 2000fps – are actually directed by our very own Eddie Seane. It largely depends on where your clients are coming from because you might find an international client who wants 4K and another who are happy with HD pictures.” As broadcasting methods and, more significantly, viewing habits continue to evolve, Nefdt sees a bright future for outside broadcasting. “The mechanisms and the platforms are changing. More and more people are finding ways to get their own broadcasting streams out to the public, who themselves are more interested in seeing the content they want to watch on the medium or device that suits them, where and when they want to. So although the landscape is changing, the advantage for OB companies is that the public is increasingly going to want to watch live multi-camera content, and they are always going to need us to be there and capture it for them.” – David Cornwell
Specialists in the design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of all professional audio, video and broadcast systems
Turnkey Media Solutions (Pty) Ltd Trading as
As a Systems Integrator, NIC has vast experience in designing custom solutions for various clients’ needs and to date, we are the leading supplier and manufacturer of outside broadcast vehicles in southern Africa. We have successfully designed and integrated over 40 OB vans and 22 OB custom made fly-away kits. Some of the stations include SABC, SuperSport, Jacaranda 94.2Fm, Kaya 95.9 Fm, Highveld 94.7Fm, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Gagasi 99.5FM, Vodacom and many more.
Our success in delivering such vehicles is due to the fact that we invest a lot of time and energy in research and development. NIC’s other major advantage is that we have a suitable premises and facilities specifically for custom design, construction, manufacturing and installation. All steel work, carpentry, acoustics, coach building, electrical, aircon and relevant work is done 100 per cent in-house at NIC’s Factory in Johannesburg and any required services are not sub-contracted out. We are therefor able to monitor and maintain a high standard of workmanship on all aspects of the project. We keep up to date with the latest technology and solutions and therefore our designs continually evolve with the times.
NIC’s most significant advance in design has been with the generator, power and aircon systems. Power is the most important and crucial aspect to any successful OB van and we have successfully designed a reliable, fail-safe and intelligent power solution, which keeps all your vital equipment protected and working under all challenging OB environments. Our new technology generators are highly reliable and efficient, fitted with intelligent control and protection systems. We have also incorporated a design that allows generators to be permanently mounted inside the vehicle with custom,
Contact Person: Karl Britz
in and out airflow solutions, enclosed in a custom acoustic and vibration isolation housing. Our underbench and multi-ducted aircon solution uses custom design airflow systems and has been highly successful in our latest OB vans. This solution has negated the need to cut and fit unsightly vent airflow panels into the sides or roof of the vehicle and there is no longer any mounting or water leaking issues. All these solutions are installed in such a way that they are hidden and non-intrusive yet have simple access for maintenance purposes.
Cell: +27 82-851-9744 Email: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
The ins and outs of mobile video links In the past five years, there has been an influx of video transmission technologies that allow transmission direct from camera via Wi-Fi or Bonded Cellular technologies. How do these technologies differ from the traditional DVB-T/COFDM camera back transmitter and what are their pros and cons? Wi-Fi Video links
Bonded Cellular Video links
This technology as the name implies uses traditional Wi-Fi 802.11x technology to stream the video from the transmitter to the receiver. These links can utilise both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands to establish a link between Transmit and Receive units and variable video encoding bitrate is dependent on the data bandwidth available to the receiver. The problem sometimes experienced with these links is that their performance is dependent on spectrum availability in the operational area. For instance, if the units are deployed inside an empty stadium; the RF spectrum is free from other users, so the system is free to utilise the data channels it needs to establish a stable video stream. However, if the stadium was full of other users, the amount of frequency spectrum drops and the system will now battle to find available channels to initiate a video stream. Typically, the units will connect but the quality of the video drops due to the low bitrate it must now use to get a feed through the reduced spectrum space.
These links are based on using Mobile Service Providers (3G/LTE) connectivity to link the transmitter or mobile unit (usually located with the camera) via the public internet to the receiver which is usually located at a broadcaster. These links are also capable of bi-directional voice communications via the link making it ideal for Live ENG operations in the field with minimal setup. The transmitter is designed to be carried by the cameraman or connected onto the camera. The unit then has the facility to have multiple SIM cards inserted into it to give it access to the internet. The amount of SIM cards varies with manufacturer typically, most units can accommodate 4 SIM cards; but some manufacturers can use up to 16 SIM cards.
Pros: • •
Cheap. License free; these links operate using the standard Wi-Fi specifications. Easy to operate and setup.
Advertised performance is usually based on using a relatively open spectrum with minimal RF noise and interference. Difficult to predict performance if the area is to be filled with other users. In these situations, the link is restricted in performance distance. Very low power. In order for these links to remain license-free, their output power needs to be very low, resulting in their use being restricted to very short distance links (less than 100m).
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This link technology is dependent on two factors: 1. 3G/LTE mobile connectivity in the transmitter area. 2. Public internet connectivity to the receiver. Both factors have been getting better in South Africa, so the operational areas for this type of system is getting better and more reliable. However, users should be aware that they have no control over mobile connectivity performance or the public, unmanaged internet, so the use of the link must be judged correctly depending on the footage being covered and amount of uptime required. Using the system for ad-hoc news feeds in mobile coverage areas that are not overly congested, or rapid deployment to disaster areas is ideal for this type of technology. Using it at a sports stadium when it is full of fans will be very difficult to get a stable, usable video feed due to the reduced availability of data bandwidth at the mobile sites situated around the stadium. There is also no guaranteed Quality of Service (QOS), and all these links rely on a ‘best effort’ data throughput. Some manufacturers offer solutions to try work around this problem by using repeaters or stronger 3G/LTE
modems which allow the system to connect to mobile sites a bit further away from the immediate vicinity of the event site to gain better 3G/LTE connectivity.
• • • •
Cheap, compared to SNG or Licensed Microwave Link costs to get the same connectivity (typically 80 per cent cheaper). Once set up; one button to initialise link is possible. License Free Ideal for minimal equipment live camera standup with IFB. Both the Transmit and Receive equipment can be fully controlled via a cloud based Web Portal.
Reliant on mobile operator coverage; the operator needs to have a few SIM cards of different service providers to maximise 3G/ LTE connectivity. Not ideal for areas where mobile sites are congested due to too many users. Cellular/Mobile phone GSM technology is geared for fast download (consumption) speeds from the base station network to mobile phone. Upload speeds are often restricted and easily congested due to the network design. Fewer 3G/LTE frequencies are available for the portable transmitters to reach the base station.
DVB-T/COFDM Camera links These links are best compared to the Wi-Fi links mentioned above. Whereas the Wi-Fi Video links are limited to the performance of typical Wi-Fi connectivity parameters, the DVB-T/COFDM link parameters are fully controlled by the user. • High Power Output transmitters. • Antenna Gains and propagation can be calculated and reliably used at any time and any place. • Modulation scheme; Guard Intervals; Error Correction and Bit-Rates, allowing for optimal link performance. • Receiver configuration: multiple diversity RF inputs via fibre. • Dedicated Frequency Band. Being able to change all aspects of the link, the user is capable of setting up a system that is guaranteed of performance. The main technical requirement needed is the frequency spectrum. Typically, these types of links are operated in the license free 2.4 to 2.5 GHz ISM Band; which should be available worldwide however, this is normally not the case. In certain areas, this spectrum is saturated with other users and creates problems in trying to guarantee a clean link. The operator would need to invest in equipment in a licensed RF band. This adds cost to the link operation, but a clean/stable link can be guaranteed.
– options, pros and cons An advantage of the DVB-T/COFDM links is that the receive system can be customised depending on the operational environment. Namely: • The receivers are multiple diversity RF inputs; typically the standard input configuration allows for two RF inputs; additional receivers can be cascaded together to create a multiple RF input system. The multiple inputs help with reception in high multi-path environments or it can be used to locate various antenna receive points in locations where the RF camera would roam, thereby eliminating blank areas. • RF leads from antennas to receivers can be run over fibre minimising RF loss. • Various antennas can be used depending on the requirement e.g. stadium or indoor environment: low gain omni antennas should be used. For long range or high RF attenuation environments (jungle/ bush) – high gain parabolic or sector antennas should be used to offer increased gain in the direction of the transmitter.
A draw back of the DVB-T/COFDM system is that it doesn’t offer an adaptive modulation scheme i.e. the video bit-rate couldn’t be automatically increased if the link could reduce the Forward Error Correction and increase the modulation QAM scheme if the RF link path became better. To guarantee link performance the user will have to do a test run of the area and monitor the feed to see how well it performed and make changes if needed. The main advantage is that the performance would be guaranteed. If the operator is using a licensed frequency, no other users will interfere with the links performance.
Pros: • •
Guaranteed Performance; provided licensed frequency is used. Everything is flexible/customisable.
Expensive, both equipment and license/s required to operate this equipment No adaptive modulation schemes.
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Written by Quentin Barkhuizen, sales manager, Telemedia
Ideally would need to operate in a dedicated Outside Broadcast frequency band, best suited for mobile links.
Guaranteed RF spectrum availability The main requirement for all the abovementioned technologies is guaranteed RF spectrum availability. The link’s performance will be dictated by the following: • Wi-Fi: dependent on the number of users in operation, utilising similar link technologies. Bonded Cellular: dependent on mobile operator coverage and availability of data bandwidth from local mobile sites and the number of users using the same mobile site. • DVB-T/COFDM: link performance can be guaranteed if a licensed frequency is used.
In short, if link performance needs to be guaranteed then the operator should invest in using a licensed frequency. Using Wi-Fi or Bonded Cellular links; even though they are cheaper, their performance will be dictated by factors that cannot be controlled by the operator. The use of these links need to be carefully weighed up against how important the link operation needs to be versus cost. Another concerning factor in the industry regarding the Wi-Fi; Bonded Cellular systems and DVB-T/COFDM in the 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz and 2.4-2.5 GHz band is the use of Screamers/Interference Sources used by Government Security Agencies at events when Heads of State/Ministers attend. These links are the worst affected because they are common off the shelf products. The use of licensed frequencies out of the commonly used bands usually help in avoiding interference from these interference devices. In fact, it is illegal for any Government Agency to interfere with a Licensed frequency user’s transmission.
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MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT
Artificial Intelligence: is it changing the face of Media Asset Management (MAM)? Media Asset Management (MAM) started out as the platform to manage your media assets, right? As technology and ever changing needs have grown MAM has now evolved into a solution that manages workflows to prepare these assets.
n order to do this efficiently, you need built-in collaboration tools allowing users to access the system from different locations, over secured web clients or mobile applications and built-in notification tools ensuring the system operates with maximum productivity...and to speed up the process maybe a little automation help from a robotic friend! In its broadest description, a MAM system provides a single repository for storing and managing video and multi-media files. A sub-set of Digital Asset Management (DAM) – with its origins in the television and film industry – Media Asset Management solutions are well suited to the broadcast industry, but increasingly relied upon by a huge variety of sectors from social media groups to e-commerce stores, television programme producers and government agencies, to media institutions and sports rights holders: in fact, anyone building libraries of digital content. As complex as requirements can be, the goal of most remains much the same: the safe, future-proof archiving of video and
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large media files, with simple, efficient and reliable access. MAM systems haven’t changed fundamentally over the past decade. At their heart, they are still databases of digital files and associated metadata. The metadata serves two key purposes: it provides information about the files and it enables them to be found in searches. Most of the metadata is entered into provided fields like title, description and keywords, by a user during the upload process or shortly thereafter. Typically, these users look at the images one-by-one and then type the data into fields on a web form. The process is time consuming and sometimes labourious. It’s no surprise then that MAM vendors have been keeping an eye out on the emerging industry of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and visual recognition with keen interest. When Google released their Google Cloud Vision API just over a year ago, it hinted that AI had come of age at last, at least in how it can be applied to help media asset management? Google Cloud Vision enables developers to understand the
content of an image by encapsulating powerful machine learning models in an easy to use REST API. It quickly classifies images into thousands of categories (e.g., “sailboat”, “lion”, “Table mountain”), detects individual objects and faces within images, and finds and reads printed words contained within images. From this data, one can build metadata on their image catalogue, moderate offensive content, or enable new marketing scenarios through image sentiment analysis. What makes AI an attractive offering for media companies is not just its ability to automate tasks, but also its potential to generate automated metadata for enhancing searchability and discoverability of content. This in turn plays a major role in increasing monetisation of assets.
In this new form of thinking AI capabilities in the MAM sector would include: Visual Analysis: • Object recognition: Identifying multiple objects within a video (including humans, cars, animals etc.) • Action recognition: Identifying how these objects interact with one another (singing, driving, running etc.) • Emotion recognition: Identifying emotions expressed while performing these actions • Face recognition: Identifying presence of individuals (including celebrities) in a video based on a library of known faces • Logo recognition: Identifying specific companies based on logo/brand imagery in a video
On the audio front MAM systems are looking at the following AI inclusions: Audio Analysis: • Speech-to-text: Converting spoken video recordings into readable text • Language Translation: Translating text from one language to another • Sentiment Analysis of speech: Determining the attitudes, opinions and emotions expressed While capabilities in the first two areas exist today with workable accuracy, achieving high levels of accuracy for Sentiment Analysis is a challenge that developers are working on. Also known as opinion mining – sentiment analysis is extremely useful in social media monitoring as it allows us to gain an overview of the wider public opinion behind certain topics. The ability to extract insights from social data is a
MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT
practice that is being widely adopted by organisations across the world, for example the Obama administration used sentiment analysis to gauge public opinion to policy announcements and campaign messages ahead of 2012 presidential election.
Creating Compelling Content from a MAM AI Archive A MAM enriched with AI metadata makes it easy to search through a vast content repository for topics and archival footage related to a particular theme in order to create a riveting story. Such metadata driven research is particularly useful when creating news stories or documentaries from archives that generally have limited levels of tagging. Here, speech-to-text conversion can be undertaken to tag all archival content with AI generated metadata, thus making the repository easily searchable. Additionally, content can be auto tagged using Object Recognition as well as Face/Location Recognition technology to further enrich metadata and build highly relevant stories around specific celebrities/public figures/themes etc. Another example would be for instance, a producer tasked with creating movie promos for a network will want to search for specific, high intensity scenes that depict the villain performing certain actions (shooting, high speed car chase, brawling etc.). An AI-enabled MAM system can help retrieve this information at lightning speed. Moreover, the MAM’s Edit tools can help refine these clips before sending EDLs to the edit suite.
Artificial Intelligence in MAM is only in the early stages The automation of the image recognition processes is only the beginning for artificial intelligence in media asset management systems. Intelligent algorithms have triggered a trend that leads to new interfaces and fundamental changes to the nature of human-machine interaction. In the future, MAM systems will also process voice commands in real-time thanks to automatic tagging and machine learning. The possibilities offered by intelligent algorithms are almost infinite but one thing is clear: whilst media asset management is bound to change as artificial intelligence capabilities grow, a degree of human intervention is still needed to fully categorise images; for now at least…I hope says me, a Media Manager (or have I just written myself out of a job)! – Ian Dormer
MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT
| THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
How do AI and MAM provide improved live sports production? Written by Jerome Wauthoz, VP products, Tedial
Everyone is talking about Artificial intelligence (AI). This disruptive technology has entered an unprecedented stage of development and is imposing itself in our daily lives at a pace that surprises, fascinates and sometimes frightens. AI is a hot topic with inspiring and practical use cases emerging every day.
ccording to recently published IABM data, AI adoption in broadcast and media is still at an early stage. Only 8 per cent of media technology buyers said they had adopted AI before last year’s IBC; 36 per cent said they were unlikely to adopt it in the next two to three years; and 56 per cent said they were likely to adopt it in the next two to three years. As we can see the broadcast and media industry is on an adoption curve. However, there is no doubt that AI will change the media landscape while providing enhanced viewing and increased opportunities for monetisation. Vendors need to consider how they add value for their customers and ensure that AI’s not just another similar solution. With all this AI news swirling around it’s no surprise that this year, the industry buzzword will continue to be “AI.” At NAB 2018, some vendors will have well defined, demonstrable solutions ready to display, as opposed to those who are showing integration connections to cloud-based super-computing platforms with no defined applications. For media asset management providers AI could be a game changer, in a recent IABM report, MAM was specified as the fourth most important priority for buyers.
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The attractiveness of AI for broadcasters is the efficiency of using computers to understand audience demands, the management of data and filtering of content for specific themes, as well as creating more, original and personalised content for increased viewer and fan engagement to reduce production costs and increase monetisation. AI and machine learning will be leveraged by industry leaders to extend their products. Recent industry news coverage has shown that a series of different applications are on track to be introduced. Many of these will focus on specific applications but most will fall into the categories of increased metadata generation and application, media augmentation and annotation, or machine learning applied to workflow operations to further automation. The increase of sports rights due to the arrival of new comers to the digital economy such as Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are a new challenge for broadcasters who need to reduce their production costs to maintain their profitability. So how do media companies add value for their customers and ensure that AI’s not a “me too” solution? The answer is
technology investment that efficiently automates common, repetitive tasks. Jerome Wauthoz Automation tools with AI will help production teams to produce more content and personalised content that allows media companies to gain more fans, viewer engagement and increased revenues. Sport production is demanding, it’s about live content and speed. This is a good example of where AI combined with MAM can help media companies to face today’s challenges. Assembling sports highlights is a prime example, broadcasters can automatically pre-configure events in the MAM to drastically reduce preparation time and avoid human errors. The question is, how do MAM providers create sophisticated AI options for broadcasters and media companies that enable these efficiencies? An AI powered metadata engine to fully automate in-game production is key.
During the live game, the programme feed is passed through a computer vision AI engine and a speech-to-text AI engine, which provide additional metadata and contextual information about the game to augment media logs. Combined, these different technologies enable automatic logging of a live event and generation of event logs during the game. This supports Tier2 federations or smaller broadcasters and clubs who do not have funds to buy the service of an external data provider. It also allows companies still manually logging the game to optimise their resources. AI will also assist in automatic content tagging, which is traditionally a labour heavy and expensive process. Enhanced MAM Search capability opens the door
to more content creation, thereby increasing monetisation opportunities. Together, these technologies enable automatic highlights creation with the best IN and OUT point calculated by the AI engines. Clips and EDLs are automatically created and automatically published to social networks, efficiently increasing the amount of content created with the same staff. Tightly integrated with AI tools, an advanced MAM can automatically generate an increased number of highlight clips during or after an event and deliver this advanced storytelling to a very targeted audience increasing the potential for significant growth in fan engagement while reducing production costs. Fans are requesting more and more personalised content to be consumed anywhere, anytime on any device. Using AI to analyse hit rates on social networks and make suggestions for
search engines to provide better results to producers will allow them to create tailored content. This means more opportunities for fans accessing enriched content on their preferred social platform, increasing engagement and driving more revenues from ads or sponsors. As sports moves towards increased data in every aspect of the game (players, tracking, game data), AI will enable content to be captured and analysed and will allow enriched data to be automatically added thanks to a powerful data analytics engine. Finally, AI can be used to increase workflow efficiency by analysing processes and predicting failures within a process. Connected to a Business Process Manager, AI can learn from errors in workflows and improve processes, minimising errors in the future and increasing efficiency. Properly focused and applied AI helps modern broadcasters effectively reduce production costs while increasing revenue, enabling them to cope with the never-ending increase in sports rights costs and demanding user experience. AI will also help to improve media workflows and streamline the user
MEDIA ASSET MANAGEMENT
experience to offer augmented solutions and greater creative opportunities for viewers who are constantly looking for a richer and immediate experience. As a leading provider of media and content management solutions built on its multi-award-winning Media IT platform, Tedial is uniquely positioned to answer the needs for smart live production solutions of global media companies and broadcasters. At NAB 2018, Tedial will introduce
SMARTLIVE, the world’s most comprehensive live event support tool and a breakthrough in sports production that leverages AI for automated clip creation and targeted content, reducing costs and boosting revenues for production companies.
According to recently published IABM data, AI adoption in broadcast and media is still at an early stage. Only 8 per cent of media technology buyers said they had adopted AI before last year’s IBC; 36 per cent said they were unlikely to adopt it in the next two to three years; and 56 per cent said they were likely to adopt it in the next two to three years.
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| THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Written by Seton Bailey, CEO, SA Film Academy
Photo by Joe Albas
Begin with the end in mind
Former SA Film Academy trainee, Pholosi Khumalo, on set of National Geographic’s Origins series
As regards Training and Skills Development – or Human Capital Development as it is now called – it is well to begin with the end in mind.
hen it comes to critical skills and service delivery on local and international film sets, the South African film industry enjoys an enviable global reputation, boasting some of the best crews and heads of departments in the world. But how do we sustain this reputation? How do we address the significant historical deficit and actively set about bridging the yawning gap between education and sustainable employment in the industry – at the same time harnessing the rich, diverse resource of emerging, raw talent – building a healthy, transformed, diverse, representative, globally competitive Film and Television industry?
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Skills development and training are an investment in our collective future In the broadest possible sense, it is an investment in the future of our industry; it is about laying a rock solid foundation for preparedness, readiness, effectiveness and resourcefulness in the film and television production workplace, maximising innate, raw potential in pursuit of productive employment and sustainable, successful career paths. Of course, when entering the film industry, no-one disputes that a tertiary qualification may potentially benefit you hugely, as amply evidenced by the many awesome film schools available in South Africa, with distinguished alumni.
But in a country in which the majority of South Africans confront significant entry barriers to tertiary education – and in an industry which historically has a low academic entry level – the film industry is almost unique in offering relatively few academic barriers to entry. It offers awesome, challenging career paths and employment opportunities for passionate, creative, dedicated, focused, disciplined, resourceful people with the right blend of occupational and life, inter-personal or people skills regardless of formal qualification. So it is no coincidence that the SA FILM Academy identified over a decade ago, that one of the most important areas of focus is to provide that absolutely vital bridge between education and employment in the film industry.
Learning-by-doing Notwithstanding qualifications, it’s generally acknowledged that there is no substitute for in-service, hands-on `learning-by-doing’ training on real local and international productions and in production companies. As a coordinated, industry skills development platform, the SA FILM Academy positions itself to assist in making vital, relevant occupational, life and entrepreneurial skills development and film industry transformation a reality, through in-service training and career opportunities specifically targeted at those previously excluded from the industry.
So what does it take? What does it take to `make it’ in this notoriously unforgiving, challenging, high-pressure, gladiatorial arena? Apart from vital occupational, hard skills, we’ve identified brain elasticity, resourcefulness and adaptability, as well as the ability to deliver consistently and excellently under extreme pressure, as the most valuable life skills required to succeed in the industry. This is where in-service training proves of inestimable value. Occupational skills are imperative for sure but life skills are at least as, if not more, important in the cut-and-thrust of an extremely tough industry. Elasticity, resourcefulness, adaptability, selfdiscipline, determination, focus, honesty, trust, loyalty, tenacity, passion, respect and teamwork are just some of the key ingredients that money can’t buy that bind the industry. They have to be earned. You have to earn your place in the industry. In our experience, not everyone is blessed at the outset with innate elasticity and adaptability under extreme pressure; it’s a rare breed that has the ability to negotiate the very stressful, creative industry. One of the earliest life skills we encourage is the ability to be proactive as opposed to reactive in high pressure situations. Very often, your background experience and inherited `baggage’ determines how you successfully navigate your chosen career path in an industry where your attitude largely determines your altitude. Regardless of academic qualifications, you need to familiarise and equip yourself fully in the environment in which you are striving to excel. As mentioned, the
academic entry level of South Africa’s crews is historically quite low, mostly hard-earned doctorates from the ‘University of Hard Knocks’. And you definitely don’t need a doctorate to make a movie. What you need is a great product, infinite preparation, a convincing pitch, good connections, financial support, mentorship, and hands-on `learning-by-doing’ experience. If we used tertiary education or academic qualifications as an entry level to the industry, we’d be wilfully excluding a vast reservoir of raw, South African genius and talent.
Entrepreneurial & enterprise development The SA FILM Academy actively promotes entrepreneurial and enterprise development, via its own dedicated YouTube online content generation platform and incubation hub, Kwaai City where trainees and interns have the opportunity to engage in turnkey content creation production from conception to creation to production to distribution, producing and airing content on the web as well as for corporate clients, broadcasters such as M-Net and dynamic, community events like the Cape Town Carnival.
Active employment Essentially when it comes to skills development and training in companies within the industry, it is initially about attracting and actively empowering the scope and field of expertise of the candidate both in terms of occupational skills and interpersonal, life skills, which are vital to the film industry. Time
SA Film Academy alumnus Tebogo Mkhabela directing Love in Hard Times. Mkhabela now directs Uzalo on SABC1
management, professionalism, a can-do attitude, passion and dedication are disciplines that cannot be taught, rather they are instilled through experiential learning on the job.
Leadership & Teamwork Leadership & Teamwork are foundational pillars in the film industry. Good, confident, inclusive leaders and managers embrace diversity with open arms. They are not afraid to learn, to show vulnerability, take calculated risks and actively consult with their departments before making key decisions which impact the production. But equally, heads of departments need to be firm in their conviction and their leadership, not to get swayed by the cross-wind of opinion, but to rely on what works best from hard-won experience, in any given situation.
Transformation Notwithstanding seeking to empower people by providing employment opportunities and career path sustainability, transformation and skills transfer in the film industry is about redressing significant historical imbalances and challenges of in-built glass ceilings and prevailing, entrenched `old-school-tie’ habits and cultures, which have very often remained unacknowledged. But transformation extends far beyond that. Are you actively employing or creating joint ventures with black filmmakers? Are you contracting and supporting local, viable black vendors, suppliers and micro business ventures? Are you actively recruiting and growing a diverse, representative talent pool of
committed individuals, even though they may well leave your organisation to start their own?
Skills transfer is a global imperative Two dynamic young South African women, Sne Ndlovu from Durban and Storm Solomons from Johannesburg, arrived back in South Africa recently after a 7-week internship with British production companies, Kudos and Wild Mercury, on the international Channel 4 and AMC series, Humans 3. This was a direct consequence of the positive experience Kudos had in South Africa in 2017, making the recently released BBC One and Netflix Troy – Fall of City series. Serviced by Film Afrika Worldwide – Kudos, Film Afrika and the SA FILM Academy arranged for the two hand-picked interns to embark on an epic experience of a life-time. Now they have returned to South Africa, enriched with new-found skills and experience, ready to take on new projects.
Providing a window of opportunity We don’t change lives, we are privileged to be able to provide a vital window of opportunity and a bridge across the yawning chasm between education and employment looming large in many peoples’ lives… But ultimately, the future is in their hands…
SA Film Academy’s Emmanuel Vuma and Bruce Malala on the set of ABC’s Of Kings and Prophets
invests in the professional development of the South African broadcast
communication industry Since 2009, the South African Communication Industries Association (SACIA) has worked hard to uphold its mandate to promote the adoption of professional standards and ethical business practices within the broadcast communications industry across Southern Africa.
xecutive director of SACIA, Kevan Jones has been on this journey since its inception. However, Jones insists that the spirit of the association dates back to a decade earlier in the nineties, when he was involved in setting up an informal group of broadcast engineers, who would get together and share insights on technology trends impacting the South African industry. “We’d arrange studio visits, share information and publish research on technology applicable to the broadcast industry. Most of the people involved in that early group are now retired, but Kim Smith from Sasani and George Durant from Red Pepper are both still active as leaders in our Broadcast Industry Council. Of course we’ve expanded dramatically since those early days but our core vision remains the same: to promote the adoption of professional standards and ethical business practices in the communications industry across Southern Africa,” shares Jones. This, they do by aligning themselves with similar associations around the world. They have also formed formal cooperation agreements with the IABM, AVIXA (previously InfoComm International), the International Moving Image Society (previously BKSTS) and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
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Through the years the association has been a member-driven association, bringing passionate people of the industry together through various activities. Jones expands: “Our members are regular participants in some of the big international trade shows and we make sure we host regular events which allow them to share their knowledge and experience,” says Jones. “We also deliver regular training in collaboration with some of the world’s leading training providers – providing access to members on the trends and technologies shaping the future of the broadcast and AV industry.”
The IP and Networks course SACIA has fully supported the transition from linear television to non-linear broadcasting. With this in mind, the association recently introduced the IP and Networks course, which takes a look at bespoke software and network interconnects based upon Internet Protocol (IP). Jones comments: “The technologies being used in the broadcast industry are fundamentally changing from bespoke and costly tools that perform specialist tasks, to IP-based technology that’s way more affordable.”
Kevan Jones with the SACIA team “Whilst the benefits of IP technology are real, there are real challenges in integrating IP and network technologies into a traditional broadcast environment. Our new IP and networks course is designed to assist broadcasters making this transition.” The first edition of the three-day course commenced in February this year, and covered the core fundamentals representing this network infrastructure for interconnections in a file‐based or streaming environment. Schedules of upcoming training dates are available on the SACIA website.
Redesigned old courses for future advancements Apart from the new addition in IP, the association felt that they needed to redesign some courses to better address the ever-changing industry, and to tackle the latest developments and challenges faced by their members. “Our AV industry training has been revised to better address the needs of the South African market, and our broadcast industry courses are in a constant state of development as new technology standards are introduced…However, we are also expanding our IP and Networks course to include a practical component which has been missing in previous deliveries,” shared Jones. The association has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tshwane University of Technology’s Arts Faculty. With this collaboration, the association aims to deliver even more professional development courses in partnership with the University. The deal will also help contribute to the development of the university’s curriculum in ensuring that it is relevant to the current needs of the industry. Irrespective of all the changes and additions to their course offerings, the Broadcast and Media Workflows course continues to be a firm favourite, shares Jones, he anticipates that the course will remain the leading course for the year 2018.
Train the trainer initiative for veterans As more and more established industry professionals reach their golden years and are thinking of retiring from the industry; SACIA insists that they should not hang their hats and deprive the world of their distinctive skills and well of wisdom. These professionals can now contribute to the industry through structured mentorship or by providing training programmes. A three-day course that includes theory and experiential learning is given to these future trainers who have become experts in areas such as live sound, audio-visual, event safety, cinematography, outside broadcast, rigging, broadcast operations, lighting design and animation. “The programme is really aimed at subject matter experts who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. We are actively looking to increase the range of short courses we’re able to offer the market. One of our objectives is to develop and deliver more short-courses aimed at the freelance community and anyone interested in becoming a trainer is a candidate for this course,” shares Jones. Since the first course in May last year, the programme now boasts 50 professionals who have completed the programme. The course is registered with the EDTPSETA (unit standard 117877) and once the participant has successfully completed their assessment they’ll receive a certificate from the SETA confirming their competence. In addition, the course is registered as part of SACIA’s professional development programme and individuals completing the course will earn CPD points that are used to maintain a SAQA-recognised professional designation. – Gezzy S Sibisi
The role of the boomswinger
Written by Jeff Hodd,
sound engineer, founder and owner of Stratosphere Sound
Just about everyone involved in the film and television industry, at some point, must have asked, “What on earth is a boomswinger and what exactly does he/she do? I’ve seen them hold up a pole in the air…seems pretty easy…wish I could get paid for doing that…”
nd as the years roll by, even the more experienced film personnel still don’t quite understand what a boomswinger’s duties are and some think this particular job is not really necessary. But it is. Let me tell you why! In general, the boomswinger’s role is often misunderstood and unappreciated, yet his/her contribution is fundamental to the success of the production. In many respects, this is also true for every department and that is what makes the film industry such a unique one, requiring specialised skills and collaboration with each other in order to produce the best possible result for each project. As the location sound fraternity, we generally love what we do and we try to have as much fun as possible. We enjoy gadgets, technical challenges and our core passion is to pursue the capture of
sound excellently even if it means we need to push at times to achieve it. We understand that most departments such as camera, lighting, grips, make-up, wardrobe, FX and art are working towards delivering the best they possibly can in order to produce the ultimate shot. This is a very visual orientated industry! However, our passion is to complement the visual; as one of our esteemed colleagues likes to say, “We are trying to make this movie sound as good as it looks”. The location sound department can be anything from one person for interviews or smaller confined shoots, to a whopping 24-person crew on large reality shows. Each has a purpose and in the larger crews, team work is vital. Within any of these, the role and responsibilities of the boomswinger vary according to the type of shoot.
However, when it comes to A-grade feature films, television series and international commercials, the boomswinger is really a leader. Interestingly enough, it is a common perception in South Africa that the boomswinger falls into the category of an assistant with the view that the position is a stepping stone to becoming a sound mixer, when in fact it’s a profession all on its own. Did you know that abroad there are boomswingers in their 50s and 60s still working on films? This is because their passion for this position has formed into a fully-fledged career and they have had the space in their particular film industries to function coherently in it. In the Netherlands, for example, the boomswinger is seen as the Head of Department. In the UK, producers regard the boomswinger in the same functional responsibility and payroll as the camera operator. In the USA, crew unions would not accept a boomswinger on their books unless they had worked a certain amount of ‘set time’ (which could take months and even years) on lower budget films with recommendations from respected personnel in the industry. Why is this? Really the boomswinger is at the cold face. Most decisions for the sound department happen on set by the boomswinger, but this position is also tough work behind the scenes. The many responsibilities of a boomswinger are critical for the quality of the production.
The job can be extremely physically demanding, requiring long hours on one’s feet while holding up the boom pole for extended periods at a time. The Health and Safety legislation in the USA allows boomswingers to call for cut if they feel overworked. As information required for the boomswinger to do his job properly is not always made readily available, making the perfect decision, on the fly, precisely at the right time, can be critical in keeping the production schedule on time. Not only does this position require the right temperament for negotiating with every department throughout the day to assist with any obstacles, but it also demands a high level of technical experience. For one, it is the prevention of boom shadows. A boomswinger has to be acutely aware of the lighting department’s constant shuffle of light sources, the sun’s trajectory and reflections from shiny surfaces which can come from props, glass or mirrors. Have you ever turned to your partner while watching a movie and asked, “What did they say?” Fully understanding the many optional microphones with their respective polar patterns that are available these days, combined with the experience of using them in numerous diversified scenarios, really assists the boomswinger to apply this knowledge in achieving the capture of clean, crisp
dialogue on set. If the microphone is placed incorrectly, the dialogue can sound distant and without presence. It takes a finely tuned ear to administer critical microphone placement and learning this takes plenty of man hours, experimentation, study and a ton of listening! The real challenge in achieving crisp sound is when shooting takes place in tight, confined spaces, or when working in simultaneous multiple camera set ups, or when walking backwards down the stairs etc. It’s easy to incorrectly place the boom microphone in an ‘off mic’ position because the microphone pick up can sound different within inches! It sounds like it’s ‘out of focus’. Each microphone has a sweet spot and placing it correctly achieves the desired sound. Instinctively anticipating the talent’s movements by keeping a vigilant eye on them when shooting, enables the boomswinger to deliver the clarity needed thereby minimising the demand for another take. Really, one doesn’t have many chances to get it right. A cast’s performance usually changes from take to take. Who knows which take the editors will choose in post! The boom microphone has and always will be the preferred choice in the edit because of its realistic and authentic sound. One of our highly respected sound mixers likes to compare boomswinging to achieving a pilot’s licence. Only through operating the required amount of flight hours is the pilot rated for his licence. One might ask, how does a boomswinger start? Where does it happen? Training boom swingers cannot be done in a classroom. Any sound mixer will always say that experience is the only
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teacher. Working with various sound mixers, more experienced boomswingers and even doing electronic news gathering (ENG) shoots grounds the learner, but achieving the qualification can take years. I often refer to this process as an “unofficial apprenticeship”. The sound mixer’s mentoring role includes spotting various traits and behavioural tendencies in their new starter and it often doesn’t take long before something must be addressed in order to help mould the student into the perfect disciple. Most sound mixers will not take on a new trainee unless the person has been referred by someone they believe understands what is required. They don’t want to waste time on someone who is not going to make this job their career. They might give someone a chance or two, but before long they will decide whether the wannabe boomswinger has “it” or not. Over time, the new apprentice could blossom into a formidable key crew member operating effectively in the ‘golden circle’. His behaviour is mature, calm but decisive. His technical contribution is timely and efficient, managing the sound department to stay in sync with all other departments. Sadly, in South Africa, the A-grade boomswinger is scarce. We have lost these operators to other nations,
departments and industries simply because their skill and incredible ability could not be met here with satisfactory remuneration rates and/or enough employment throughout the year. Some operators that have left our shores are fulfilling their passion and being regularly employed abroad – living comfortably within the cost of living – in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. So, finally what does an A-grade boomswinger do every day, on the set of an international feature film, television series or international commercial? The boomswinger is of key importance in the ‘golden circle’ and always has the editor’s and final post sound mixer’s requirements in mind. His approach and mission is to deliver the cleanest and highest quality raw sound possible. An A-grade boomswinger who consistently delivers with minimum errors, is a professional that needs to be respected and appreciated. On some commercials, lower-end productions and sitcoms, one might not need an A-grade boomswinger, but even if you take away half of these responsibilities, it would be fair to say that a boomswinger with a decent amount of experience is still required. Personally, on certain jobs, I’ve been told that a boomswinger is not required. My
response is that I’ll prepare the best I can, but when the pressure is on for all requirements to be done at once, which often is the case, then I’ll do my best to get the tech set up done as soon as possible. Should there be interference or an issue from an outside source beyond my control, I’d have to find the fault and correct it. When a boomswinger is on board, technical issues are usually kept to a minimum. So in conclusion, may I suggest that we need boomswingers more often than not. Their role is not just holding up a fluffy thing in the air, it is far greater than that. One is more likely to accrue extra costs in post-production fees by not having a boomswinger on set. On commercials, for instance, if we remove the boomswinger, we are effectively cutting a department in half. Throughout the industry, the training of assistants is a culture that has to be nurtured. The development of new crew members has to be done by stalwarts who have a reputable track record, in order for the industry, as a whole, to continue to deliver a professional service. If boomswingers are not paid their worth when budgets get tight, the end result will be that we have the sound fraternity haemorrhaging over the years. Consequently, boomswingers (even after being trained) are leaving the industry for other work. This big cog in the current system here in South Africa is straining at times and a greater awareness in understanding the fundamental purpose of the boomswinger will help improve professional deliverability.
The South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs) 2018 The 12th annual South African Film & Television Awards took place at the Sun City Superbowl in the North West Province from 22 to 24 March 2018. Seen there were:
Aret Lambrechts, Ben Ludik
Zinathi Gquma and Nolu Mateyise
Yaaseen Barnes and Na’eemah Masoet
Keabetswe “KB” Motsilanyane
Confidence Nkosi, Jacob Nkosi, William Mokou and Grace Mokou
Dithapelo Segodi, Mogau Motlhatswi and Nelisiwe Mwase
Kabelo Thomane, Peter Letsoalo and Keabetswe Kototsi
Ziphozonke Majola, Zandi Majola, Lebo Thabethe and Xoli Thabethe
Tumi Morake, Liam Jeynes and Mpho Osei-Tutu
Patricia van Hearden, Mamtaaz Mahomed Peerbhay and Amira Asvat
Matthews Swanepoel, Cait Pansegrouw and Sharday Swanepoel
Liam and Karen Jeynes
Pam Barry ,Nlafa Sikhafungana, Cordelia Khetsi and Shelly Barr
Ilana Cilliers and Suzaan Keyter
Tendayi Nyeke and Dikelo Mamiala
Dara de Matas and Duisa Matas
Nande Ngxola and Trevor Gumbi
| SCREENAFRICA |
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Master Dealer Africa Tel: +27 (0) 762569255 firstname.lastname@example.org
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As I welcome you to our April 2018 issue, we’ve just recently wrapped another successful edition of the South African Film & Television Awar...
Published on Apr 16, 2018
As I welcome you to our April 2018 issue, we’ve just recently wrapped another successful edition of the South African Film & Television Awar...