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BROADCAST, FILM, TV, COMMERCIALS, NEW MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY NEWS

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VOL 32 – JANUARY 2020 R38.00

GALLO MUSIC PUBLISHERS WISHES YOU A PROSPEROUS 2020!

HOME TO THE BIGGEST SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC HERITAGE CATALOGUE ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.


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| IN THIS ISSUE

28 LIVE SUBMERSIBLE BROADCASTING

12 THE MAKING OF SANGSANG ENTERTAINMENT’S DEBUT FEATURE FILM, SALVATION

30

18

THE SOUND OF PERSUASION

FOREST WHITAKER ON GODFATHER OF HARLEM, CHOOSING ROLES AND DOUBTING HIMSELF

NEWS |

FESTIVALS & MARKETS |

TRADE SHOWS & EVENTS |

SOUND STUDIOS |

Realness Institute announces call for 2020 submissions............................ 3

Discopro session sheds light on co-production treaties.............................. 14

Building a digital video economy in Africa...................................... 22

The Sound Of Persuasion........................ 30

INDUSTRY REVIEW |

CINEMATOGRAPHY |

2020 – the year ahead.............................. 16

AoIP and the customer journey............. 32

An interview with Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman DOP .................................... 24

Internet Air-Waves with Antfarm........... 34

The latest in LED tech at Movievision..... 4 Joburg Film Festival 2019 – a resounding success................................ 7 DISCOP Johannesburg recalibrates as African marketplace evolves....................... 7

ADCETERA | Director Kyle Lewis creates unconventional, eccentric visuals for Toya De Lazy’s Funani music video........... 8 Promax Africa speaker Emile Rademeyer on the power of immersive technology................... 10

FILM | The making of SangSang Entertainment’s debut feature film, Salvation................................................ 12

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AUDIO OVER IP |

ANIMATION | Behind the scenes on Triggerfish-animated Zog......................... 17

AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION |

IP WORKFLOWS | IP workflows and a future roadmap of the industry.......................... 26

TELEVISION | Forest Whitaker on Godfather of Harlem, choosing roles and doubting himself......................................... 18

BROADCAST TECHNOLOGY | LIVE Submersible Broadcasting.............. 29

Legendary composer Geo Hohn on making sounds for film....................... 35

REGULARS | Marketplace................................................... 36 Upcoming Events......................................... 36

Director Thabang Moleya on the state of the South African film & television industry...................................... 20 Director Speak: Mandla N....................... 21

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FROM THE EDITOR

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all, our loyal readers, to our first issue of 2020. I hope you all have had a restful break spent with those you love most and are feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new year and a new decade. As always there’s much to look forward to within the African and global broadcast, film and television industry this year and we hope to continue to keep you updated with the latest happenings in the local market. With that said, please feel free to get in touch and let us know what you would like to see more of in the magazine and online, and if you have any leads that you feel we should be covering, we’re just an email or phone call away. Let’s get into this issue. In our Adcetra section this month we spoke to Promax Africa 2019 speaker, Emile Rademeyer, on the power of immersive technology. As Executive Creative Strategy Director at VANDAL Australia – a leader in the field – Rademeyer creates immersive, interactive and augmented reality experiences for advertising, public, commercial and retail environments. In the article he shares his thoughts on why immersive technologies continue to break new ground in creative spaces and how this has reshaped the future of advertising. We get into the making of SangSang Entertainment’s debut feature film, Salvation, in this month’s Film section. A multi-narrative drama, Salvation weaves together the journeys of three characters whose lives intersect while on a journey to find personal freedom and salvation. Filmmaker Carmen Sangion takes us through the creative process behind the film. This month’s TV section boasts a very special contribution from Kevin Kriedemann – an exclusive interview with the legendary Forest Whitaker. Speaking to Kevin while in Johannesburg last November to promote his latest series – Godfather of Harlem – the celebrated actor talks about his lead role as Bumpy Johnson in the new series. Off the back of AfricaCom 2019, Louise Marsland shares what she learned about Africa’s digital video economy at the premier technology, media and telecommunications event. According to the article online video is expected to overtake broadcast television in 2020, and it is estimated that video will comprise 80% of all internet activity by the end of the year. In our Cinematography section this month, David Cornwell spoke to esteemed cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto – DoP on Martin Scorsese’s latest picture, The Irishman. In this exclusive interview, Prieto speaks about his approach to filming The Irishman, his experience in working with Martin Scorsese and where he finds his inspiration. Other articles include an interesting read from Ian Dormer on ‘LIVE Submersible Broadcasting’, and a thought leadership piece written by Peter Walker, Senior Product Manager at Calrec, on Audio Over IP in broadcasting titled ‘AoIP and the customer journey’. Till next month! – Chanelle Ellaya

SCREENAFRICA PUBLISHER & MANAGING EDITOR: Simon Robinson: publisher@screenafrica.com EDITOR: Chanelle Ellaya: editor@screenafrica.com JOURNALISTS: Gezzy S Sibisi: news@screenafrica.com DESIGN: Trevor Ou Tim: design@suncirclegroup.com

WEBSITE ADMINISTRATOR: Michael Lotriet: web@suncirclegroup.com SUBSCRIPTIONS: Tina Tserere: tina@sun-circle.co.za Delight Ngwenya: admin@sun-circle.co.za ACCOUNTS: Helen Loots: accounts@sun-circle.co.za ADVERTISEMENT SALES: Marianne Schafer: marianne@screenafrica.com Graham Grier: graham@sun-circle.co.za

THE TEAM

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EDITOR 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.

SUB-EDITOR & FEATURES WRITER David Cornwell writes fiction, films and features for a variety of publications. His debut novel, Like It Matters (Umuzi, 2016), was long-listed for the 2017 Sunday Times Fiction Award and the 9mobile Prize for Best African Debut.

JOURNALISTS

Lara Utian-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.

Louise Marsland is a veteran editor and journalist with over 20 years experience in the advertising, media, marketing and communications industries. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, she worked as the editor of AdVantage magazine, as well as Bizcommunity. com. She is currently publishing editor of TRENDAFRiCA.co.za.

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.

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.

SALES BROKER Emmanuel Archambeaud: earchambeaud@defcommunication.com Tel. +331 4730 7180 Mobile. +336 1103 9652 Sun Circle Publishers (Pty) Ltd Tel: 011 025 3180 Physical address: First Floor, Process House Epsom Downs Office Park 13 Sloane Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Postal address: PO Box 559, Fourways North, 2086 Editorial Disclaimer The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of Screen Africa or any employee thereof. Sun Circle Publishers makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Sun Circle Publishers reserves the right to delete, edit, or alter in any manner it sees fit comments that it, in its sole discretion, deems to be obscene, offensive, defamatory, threatening, in violation of trademark, copyright or other laws, or is otherwise unacceptable. All contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publisher.


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Nirox in The Cradle of Humankind, the venue of the Realness African Screenwriters Residency

REALNESS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES CALL FOR 2020 SUBMISSIONS The Realness Institute is keeping up the good work in 2020, nurturing African producers and writers in the year ahead…

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he Realness African Screenwriters Residency – an initiative of the Realness Institute – has developed 20 film projects in 13 African countries in its four years of existence. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s 2017 Realness project, This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this year and has secured a North American premiere at a prestigious – still to be announced at the time of writing – festival in the first quarter of 2020. Hiwot Adamasu’s 2016 Realness project, A Fool God, premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and will have its European premiere in early 2020.

CREATIVE PRODUCER INDABA The Realness Institute’s Creative Producer Indaba is a year-long professional development programme that will bring together 15 participants to develop the capacity of producers on the continent and create a pan-African network of producing talent with the ability to

bring African projects to the international market. The Creative Producer Indaba aims to empower producers from Africa with industry tools and business strategies for entrepreneurial development, thereby expanding sustainable infrastructure and bridging the gap between financial support from North America and Europe, and the lack of policies and treaties in place that could catalyse this support. Creative Producer Indaba is an initiative presented in partnership with EAVE, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s IFFR Pro and Sundance Institute.

REALNESS RESIDENCY The Realness African Screenwriters Residency is six-week programme that takes place in the stunning Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, where the residents undergo focused incubation. Writers are given the space and support to refine their projects from a creative perspective, as well as to position their projects to industry partners for potential

financing and production. From the 2019 cohort, the following filmmakers have been granted the following awards by the Realness Institute’s partners: Iman Djionne (Senegal) and Athi-Patra Ruga (South Africa) both attended Locarno Filmmaker’s Academy; Silas Miami’s (Kenya) project and its producer, Carol Kioko, were selected for the TorinoFilmLab Meeting Event; and Beza Hailu Lemma (Ethiopia) was selected to attend the TIFF Filmmaker Lab. Over and above their Realness awards, Iman Djionne has been selected for Atlas Workshops taking place in December at the Marrakesh International Film Festival. Both Beza Hailu Lemma and Iman Djionne have also been selected for Produire Au Sud in Nantes. Realness Institute strives to empower African filmmakers and unearth the wealth of African stories – real stories from the continent, told with an honest and unapologetic point of view by African filmmakers. Realness Institute is also thrilled to expand its partnership with IFFR Pro from the Creative Producer Programme into the Screenwriter’s Residency, with a scholarship for a Realness producer to attend Rotterdam Lab. Mmabatho Kau,

producer of South African Fanyana Hlabangane’s 2019 Realness Project, has been nominated to attend the Rotterdam Lab in 2020.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS The call for submissions for both Realness Residency and Creative Producer Indaba opened on 15 November 2019 and will close on the 31 January 2020. More information and application forms can be found at www.realness.institute. Alternatively, those wanting to apply can email submissions@realness.institute for more information. The Realness Institute is an initiative by Urucu Media in partnership with: Berlinale Talents, CNC (Le Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée), Cocoon Productions, Deuxieme Ligne Films, Durban FilmMart, The Durban International Film Festival, Durban Talents, EAVE, IEFTA, Institute Français, The French Institute of South Africa, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s IFFR Pro, Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Filmmaker Lab, Locarno Filmmaker’s Academy, Nirox Foundation, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Sundance Institute and TorinoFilmLab.

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NEWS

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THE LATEST IN LED TECH AT MOVIEVISION Forget all about New Year, New You this year and rather embrace all that is new in LED. Movievision will help you step into the future with the newest fixtures in our product offering, all of which will bring your set bang up to date with the latest in LED technology. DISCOVER FALCON EYES This lighting brand started taking the local market by storm at the end of last year and is set to reach even greater heights in 2020. Falcon Eyes has taken fixtures you know and turned them on their heads by integrating RGBW technology with superior workmanship, all available at unbelievable prices. This attention to detail can be seen in the small but mighty PocketLite F7, a fully RGBW on-camera LED light. It is dressed to impress with a well-built full metal housing, but it is its capabilities that will stun you: this 15mm thick 12W light has an output of 4060 lux at 0.3m! This little power house also features adjustable colour temperature (2500K-9000K), high CRI of Ra 97, HSI 0-360 adjustment, as well as many different effect pre-sets. It has a built-in 7.4V/30000mAh 22.2Wh battery and supports QC3.0 quick charging through USB Type-C port. We have all seen flexible LED cloth lighting panels but let’s take it a step further. Falcon Eyes’ version, the RX718 RGB+CCT LED Flex Light, goes beyond simple bi-colour. Here the flexibility of an LED mat has been merged with RGB LED. Fully controllable via DMX, this fixture is a great portable solution for effect lights and microfilming productions. It has an output of 100W and is compatible with V-mount batteries. Rated CRI 95, you can expect 1970 lux at 1m. The Falcon Eyes CLL 4800TDX Fresnel is specially designed for professional filming and broadcasting. This fixture is equipped with high CRI LED chips to ensure a CRI 95+ rating. This is a bi-colour LED Fresnel with a colour temperature range of 3000K-8000K. The beam angle is also adjustable from 12° up to 60° and to round off its features it has a silent fan mode, is dimmable from 0 to 100%, has an LCD display and is fully controllable via DMX.

2,800K to 6,000K. It delivers an output of 6,732 fc at 10 feet. Most remarkably, the Punch Variable draws only 4.78 amps of power at full output. Like all AAdynTech fixtures, the Variable generates no heat or harmful UV or IR emissions, is self-contained with an auto-ranging universal power supply requiring no ballast, head cables or lamps, and its Instant On function ensures no warm-up wait time on set. There are several control possibilities with the Variable: built-in User Interface Module (UIM) with Kelvin temperature display, DMX with DMX loopthru, or via the optional corded UIM Controller with Kelvin temperature display.

Falcon Eyes CLL 4800TDX Fresnel

You can experience all these fixtures for yourself at the Movievision showroom: 41 5th Street Wynberg, Johannesburg.

PocketLite F7 on-camera LED light

AADYNTECH PUNCH VARIABLE – NOW 35% BRIGHTER Rediscover AAdynTech with their revamped Punch Variable. This LED fixture is now 35% brighter and has an adjustable colour temperature range of

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NEWS

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JOBURG FILM FESTIVAL 2019 – A RESOU

Producer Richard Green was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award

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total of 60 films and documentaries from Africa and the world were screened for audiences at various venues in and around the city. The festival hosted a number of esteemed actors, producers and directors, who – after select screenings – participated in Q&A sessions with the audience. “The Joburg Film Festival offers a multicultural cinema experience in the heart of Johannesburg,” said Joburg Film Festival executive director Timothy Mangwedi about the 2019 film selection. “It’s a cinematic feast that showcases thought-provoking, debate-stoking films from around the world.” Films produced by graduates of the M-Net Magic in Motion (MiM) internship programme and the MultiChoice Talent Factory’s (MTF) Academies in East, West and Southern Africa were also screened as part of the festival at no cost. Additionally, a series of industry masterclasses and panel discussions were held during the course of the festival, with the aim to propel the local film industry, its performers and practitioners, forward.

A RED CARPET AFFAIR The opening night of the festival saw major industry players, film fanatics and familiar faces come together in their red carpet attire, under the epic structure erected – exclusively for the festival – on Nelson Mandela Square, to watch the South African premiere of local horror film, 8. Produced by Jac Williams and directed by Harold Hölscher, the Man Makes a Picture production stars Tshamano Sebe, Inge Beckmann, Garth Breytenbach and Chris April. At the opening night event, MultiChoice Group General Entertainment CEO, Yolisa Phahle, welcomed guests saying that: “As Africa’s most-loved storyteller, MultiChoice is

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Malefetsane Masitha was announced as the winner of the Joburg Film Festival’s Youth & Audience Development Programme

© PROPER FILM – PHOTO: GABRIELLA ACHADINHA

Running for six days, from 19 to 24 November 2019, the Joburg Film Festival – brought to you by MultiChoice – kicked off its celebration of global film with the South African premiere of locally-produced horror film, 8, at the festival hub on the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Rocks was awarded Best Film

proud to be the headline sponsor of a festival that is dedicated to celebrate, inspiring, energising and delighting audiences.”

CELEBRATING THE BEST OF THE BEST On 23 November, at the festival’s glittering awards ceremony held at The Inanda Club, Rocks (UK) – directed by Sarah Gavron and starring Bukky Bakray and Kosar Al – took home the coveted Best Film Award. South African film, director and writer Jenna Bass’s Flatland – starring Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin and Izel Bezuidenhout – was awarded Best African Film, and director Atiq Rahimi’s Our Lady of the Nile (France) received a Special Recognition Award from the festival’s respected juror panel. The 2019 juror panel was made up of multi-award winning author, Zakes Mda; NCIS: New Orleans and Avatar actress, CCH Pounder; South African screen star, Florence Masebe; renowned Nigerian documentary filmmaker, screenwriter and cinematographer Femi Odugbemi; and Canadian academic and writer, Nataleah Hunter-Young. Legendary producer Richard Green (Tokoloshe – The Calling, Nothing but the

Flatland took home the Best African Film award

Truth, The Wooden Camera, The Sexy Girls, Chikin Biznis – The Whole Story, Spud) was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the festival. Malefetsane Masitha was announced as the 2019 winner of the Joburg Film Festival’s Youth & Audience Development Programme. The programme was designed to encourage and empower young emerging filmmakers across Gauteng. The festival, in partnership with the MultiChoice Group and Gauteng Film Commission, embarked on a provincewide skills transfer initiative that reached more than 100 young people in a series of workshops in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Mogale City and Sedibeng. Aspiring filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 25 were encouraged to submit a video under the theme Your Kasi, Your Story, which served as their entry to participate in the two-day workshop in each region. The workshops specifically targeted youth living in townships and involved industry professionals sharing their extensive experience and knowledge on the amazing craft of cinematic storytelling with enthusiastic audiences. Bongiwe Selane, festival director of the Joburg Film Festival, said that the jurors had a tough task in making a selection from the 10 films in competition at this

year’s event. “The quality of both the continental and international films at this year’s festival was incredibly high. Each was recognised for their powerful message and their ability to provoke important debate on an array of issues.”

THE INAUGURAL MULTICHOICE AFRICA’S MOST-LOVED STORYTELLERS AWARDS Joburg Film Festival headline sponsors MultiChoice Group also recognised some of Africa’s finest storytellers with the inaugural MultiChoice Africa’s MostLoved Storytellers Awards. Activist, actress, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author Gcina Mhlophe received the Legend Award for her longstanding contribution to continental storytelling, and internationally-acclaimed author Deon Meyer was honoured with the Global Storyteller Award for his work in spreading stories from Africa around the globe. Creative duo Jahmil X.T. Qubheka and Layla Swart took home the Emerging Storyteller Award for their status as exciting new voices in African storytelling, and investigative journalist Karyn Maughan claimed the Fearless Storyteller Award. “MultiChoice continues to invest in the


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UNDING SUCCESS “MultiChoice

Author Deon Meyer was honoured with the Global Storyteller Award

local production industries wherever our channels are available, and we have an on-going commitment to develop the next generation of African storytellers. We have screened a number of films produced by graduates of the M-Net Magic in Motion programme and the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academies in East, West and Southern Africa this week. We look forward to seeing their work

Jahmil XT Qubeka & Layla Swart accepting the Emerging Storyteller Award

taking its rightful place amongst the local and international films and documentaries at the Joburg Film Festival in future,” commented Phahle. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We have the opportunity to do great things for our economy through filmmaking. And if Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood can do it, so can we.”

continues to invest in the local production industries wherever our channels are available, and we have an on-going commitment to develop the next generation of African storytellers.

– Yolisa Phahle Gcina Mhlophe received the Legend Award

DISCOP JOHANNESBURG RECALIBRATES AS AFRICAN MARKETPLACE EVOLVES The eighth edition of DISCOP Johannesburg – which ran from 20 to 22 November 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa – wrapped with lower attendance figures in comparison to its 2018 edition.

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76 delegates from 68 countries – down from 1155 delegates in 2018 – attended the 3-day film, television and digital content market and co-production forum, including 194 content buyers and 216 content producers from Africa, as well as 281 international content distributors. As a result, organisers are moving forward with plans to hold the 3-day content market and co-production forum at the end of July. The next edition of DISCOP Johannesburg will be held from 29 to 31 July 2020 – in just six months from now.

“In July, content buyers still have money to spend for the current year. Budgets are much tighter at the end of November and negotiations always slow down before the holiday season,” says Patrick Zuchowicki, president of DISCOP. He adds, “October and November are also very busy months with MIPCOM, MIP CANCUN and the American Film Market pulling a lot of resources out of global content distributors.” Despite a difficult economic outlook and challenging market conditions, organisers are happy to report a boom in intra-regional business, signalling exciting new opportunities as content produced

in Africa is increasingly headed to other countries on the continent. In response to these important shifts, this change of dates will also bring DISCOP Abidjan (27 to 29 May) closer to DISCOP Johannesburg. Being held two months apart from each other, the proximity of the two events will help forge stronger ties between content producers, buyers and sellers from Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Organisers also reported a wellattended sidebar conference and workshop programme featuring an impressive 30 sessions, most of them dedicated exclusively to content

co-production, monetisation and distribution issues. Sixty-five speakers shared the stage representing the likes of Netflix, The Africa Channel, Al Jazeera, the African Animation Network, Agence France Presse, Warner Media, Icon Comics, Kana TV, Cote Ouest, Vubiquity, SABC, Rapid Blue, GRB Entertainment, Afrikatoon, Multichoice, Euronews/Africanews, IDC, Zee Entertainment, WeWork, AAA Entertainment, Known Associates Entertainment, Voice of America, Twentieth Century Fox Television Studios, ITV, Discovery and many others.

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ADCETERA

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TECH CHECK EQUIPMENT • Camera: Arri Alexa Mini • Lenses: Panavision Primo anamorphic

“We make music videos for the art and enjoyment factor. We want to wow the audience and, for ourselves, walk away feeling like we made something special.” – Vjorn du Toit

DIRECTOR KYLE LEWIS CREATES UNCONVENTIONAL, ECCENTRIC VISUALS FOR TOYA DE LAZY’S FUNANI MUSIC VIDEO South Africa-born musician Toya De Lazy was first introduced to acclaimed director Kyle Lewis’s bold aesthetic style in 2014 when he produced the colourful music video for her hit single, Forbidden Fruit. Since then, the artists have remained great pals and worked on several other projects together.

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ow based in London, Toya has reinvented her sound to a newly-formed genre called Afro-Rave – a combination of African beats and contemporary British sounds like garage, bassline and grime. Toya debuts her fresh new look and sound in a music video for her new song Funani, directed by Lewis. According to Toya, the song is about embracing yourself to the fullest while also reclaiming your culture and language. Lewis is known for having a hands-on approach with regard to art direction – this includes the designing and making of props and décor, as well as lending a hand in the costume

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department – and it was no different with the video for Funani. The result is a bold visual explosion that celebrates Toya’s edgy artistic sound and cultural identity, and could easily be mistaken for a fashion film. Eccentric fashion designer, Blünke Janse van Rensburg, who is also known as an advocate for self-acceptance, offered some of her first-year varsity pieces to Lewis and his team to work with on the video. Additionally, a crotchet ‘wanderpiece’ was made and supplied by stylist Thom van Dyk. Lewis and his team put together all the props and décor, including the eye masks, intricate headgear and comical sock puppets. “Kyle has to be given the credit here – he made 95 per cent of the props and accessories you see on the screen. We’d be having Skype meetings while he was glue gunning eyes to shoes!” comments producer, Vjorn du Toit. “As adults, we’ve forgotten to a large extent how to play and imagine. I love how if you look at the video closely, it is everyday washing up gloves, hair curlers, etc. which Kyle has given life to.” Between Lewis’s busy work schedule and Toya making the trip from London to Johannesburg, the art direction team had just one week to prepare everything needed for the shoot. “Kyle had the concept for a while now, he was just waiting for a gap in his schedule to shoot it. Once he did, he phoned up Toya, told her his vision and asked how soon she could be in SA. A week later we were shooting in Tembisa, Johannesburg,” shares du Toit. Funani was shot by cinematographer Rick Joaquim on the Arri Alexa Mini with Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses. “Kyle knew from the start that he wanted

to go over-the-top with the art direction and wardrobe… So I did the same with the camera,” says Joaquim. “We shot most of the video handheld but then also over-cranked the camera at times and messed with a higher shutter speed, which gives Toya that robotic and animated feeling in parts of the track.” Joaquim says that while Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses “are amazing”, they aren’t always the easiest to shoot handheld with due to their size, “but they render skin tones beautifully and flare wonderfully,” he adds. “I lived mostly on my Easyrig Vario 5 with Flowcine Serene to help with the weight.” The video was shot on a sunny day in Tembisa, with a small crew working hard to maximise the use of natural light as best as possible. “I still lit the talent and dancers with a mindset of ‘fashion’ or ‘beauty lighting’. I embraced their beautiful skin tones using softer sources or bounced light to pull out the reflection in darker and stunning skin tones,” says Joaquim. “When dealing with harsh sunlight I’ve seen others lose the details of faces. So I wanted to make sure we kept that in.” Since the release of the music video it’s garnered 43,000 likes on YouTube, with local and international fans clearly approving of Toya’s new look and sound, with comments including “sick visuals”, “lit dance moves” and “fresh sounds” to name a few. “We make music videos for the art and enjoyment factor. We want to wow the audience and, for ourselves, walk away feeling like we made something special,” du Toit concludes. – Gezzy S Sibisi

Funani was shot on the Arri Alexa Mini camera with Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses.

KEY CREW

Kyle Lewis Director: Kyle Lewis Producer: Vjorn du Toit DOP: Rick Joaquim Technical Team: Dean Hibbert, WP Haak, Tyler Geldenhuys Art & Styling Team: Gerhard van Zyl, Thom van Dyk


2020 STIMELA

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ADCETERA

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PROMAX AFRICA SPEAKER EMILE RADEMEYER ON THE POWER OF IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGY with digital placemaking experiences that influence human behaviour. The future of all of these is an interactive, digital layer – laid on top of the physical world to change or augment physical reality to a new state of augmented reality,” he explains. This game-changing attribute is the very reason why immersive technologies will continue to influence trends, not just in advertising but on every contentdependent platform.

VANDAL Australia’s Executive Creative Strategy Director, Emile Rademeyer, chats to Screen Africa about the innovations that enable immersive technologies to continue to break new ground in creative spaces and how this has reshaped the future of advertising.   

NO ONE-WAY COMMUNICATION “Through the onset of digital technology, we now have the opportunity to have a dialogue using advertising, art, media and content. Technology is transforming human civilisation and interaction at an unprecedented pace,” says Rademeyer, who adds that content is one of the biggest driving factors behind this transformation. “Augmented reality gives us the opportunity to make the invisible, visible – allowing us to engage with people in physical spaces in a manner never thought possible before.”

Emile Rademeyer

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orn in Pretoria, South Africa, the Australian-based Creative Strategy Director helmed a session at Promax Africa 2019 titled Augmented Reality is the Future of Advertising, where he explored the idea that the future of advertising, art, entertainment, content and culture is in augmented reality.

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AUGMENTED ADVERTISING At VANDAL, Rademeyer focuses on creating innovative campaigns using moving images, sound, art, immersive, interactive and augmented reality experiences for advertising, public, commercial and retail environments. “As a leader in its field, VANDAL transforms physical places and spaces


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VANDAL, under the leadership of Rademeyer, is currently spear-heading the concept of digital placemaking, which involves using technology to enhance the environment by placing digital proponents in spaces that allow people to experience the digital interaction. According to Rademeyer, this concept is the greatest tool available to creatives of the future as it provides an option that can be integrated into the environment with undeniable results.

IT’S AN IDEAS GAME “It’s all about the idea. Only then comes the execution. ‘Form follows function’ is a principle associated with early-20th Century architecture and industrial design. It means the shape of a building or object should follow its intended purpose,” says Rademeyer. He believes that to guarantee the advancement of the creative industry, we need to make sure that the idea is rock solid: “We don’t use technology for the sake of using technology. Our focus is on creativity, having an exceptionally strong idea and the ability to utilise technology to bring these ideas to life.” Through their extensive collaborations with production companies and a variety

“Through the onset of digital technology, we now have the opportunity to have a dialogue using advertising, art, media and content. Technology is transforming human civilisation and interaction at an unprecedented pace.” – Emile Rademeyer

of other creative entities ranging from design to natural arts, Rademeyer and his team have introduced the capabilities of these technologies to the Australian market with the intention of continuing to spread to other international markets that show the potential of adopting these technologies. To ensure client retention, Rademeyer aims to explore various other opportunities that resemble the technological grounding that the whole world is headed towards. “It’s pretty simple. I need my phone, an internet connection and my laptop. If I have those three items, the world is my oyster.”

MEASURABLE IMPACT

PROMAX AFRICA 2019

With the world becoming more accepting of the inevitable co-existence of the physical and digital dimensions, creatives all over the world are bearing witness to fading global barriers – which brings a lot of competitive range for everyone involved. This fading of global barriers has its own advantages and disadvantages – but, more importantly, the opportunity this presents to creatives (and equally so for technological enthusiasts) is unparalleled. “Each of us live in two worlds – the physical and the digital. The purpose of digital placemaking is to bridge the gap between these worlds. It integrates these two worlds into one and yields real life emotions and results, enhancing human connection,” says Rademeyer. “Sixty years ago Pop artist Andy Warhol paved the way for exploring the relationship between art and advertising for everyone to see, experience and enjoy. Fast forward to today’s digital media landscape and we’re able to explore this relationship much, much further.”

Rademeyer was one of the speakers the 2019 Promax Africa conference where he delivered a talk on why augmented reality is the future of advertising. He placed emphasis on technology’s ability to immediately launch anyone onto the world stage instantly and why it is so imperative to train people to use these platforms for good instead of the opposite. “‘Don’t be evil’ is the phrase used in Google’s corporate code of conduct, which it also formerly preceded as a motto. Following Google’s corporate restructuring under the conglomerate Alphabet Inc, the original motto was retained in Google’s code of conduct, now a subsidiary of Alphabet. “In April 2018, the motto was removed from the code of conduct’s preface and retained in its last sentence. Go figure? A great idea can change human behaviour. Creative use of digital technology can do the same and much more,” he adds. Employing examples and a wellproduced case study, Rademeyer showcased the strength and impact that augmented reality has – not only in advertising, but also in other contentdriven spheres, including entertainment and culture. He made a solid case for the fact that powerful content boils down to how ideas (when applied with great technology) can influence human behaviour. – Levi Letsoko JANUARY 2020

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FILM

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The making of SangSang Entertainm

Salvation What began as a moment of spiritual uncertainty became the impetus behind an uplifting tale about the journey to salvation.

Behind the scenes of Salvation

F

ilmmaker Carmen Sangion grew up in Coronationville, a coloured township in the West Rand of Johannesburg. As a child she witnessed great hardship and experienced a series of traumatic events. But it was only when she turned 30 that the events of her past seemed to have caught up with her and she hit rock bottom. “I struggled with faith and belief in God since early in my childhood and my desire to understand the concept of God is probably one of my earliest childhood memories. And then when I turned 30 my spiritual crisis hit an all-time-low. I went to all kinds of therapies, conventional and unconventional, and ultimately what I found was that the problem lay in this disconnect from my source. But even more than that, I discovered that this wall between myself and God was a wall built on a lack of forgiveness and bitterness from the pains and traumas of the past, especially relating to my parents and my childhood,” comments Sangion, writer and director of Salvation. In order to free herself from the chains of her past, Sangion began the arduous

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process of trying to forgive herself and those who hurt her: “Forgiveness is so powerful, it’s not easy and it is an ongoing process, but I believe it can truly change your life,” she says. Through her healing process, Sangion’s faith in God grew and she began to feel connected to a higher power – and this is where the story for her debut feature film, Salvation, had its beginnings. “It was during the early days of my forgiveness process that the story of Salvation was born. I was feeling a lightness and happiness that I had never experienced before, and I just felt that I wanted to share that with others. I wanted others to know that the pathway to a true connection to self, others and God is through forgiveness of self, others and God.”

A multi-narrative drama, the film weaves together the journeys of three characters whose lives intersect while on a journey to find personal freedom and salvation. Set in present-day Johannesburg, Roxy Williams is an aging stripper living a meaningless and lonely life with no real emotional connection to anyone. That is until she strikes up a friendship with a tortured priest named Benjamin Martins and reconnects with her long-lost brother, a fugitive named Ezra. Kira Wilkinson plays stripper Roxy Williams, Jason Willemse plays her brother Ezra Williams and the priest Benjamin Martins is played by Clayton Evertson. Other cast members include Vinette Eprahim, Nandi Nyembe and Vatiswa Ndara.

A MULTI-NARRATIVE

PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Salvation is the debut feature film from Sangion’s production company SangSang Entertainment, which she co-owns with her sister, Kim Sangion, the producer of the film. The company was established in 2006 and has previously produced several documentaries.

Principal photography took place over five weeks: four in and around Gauteng, in locations including Cullinan, Maboneng, Jeppestown, Wemmer Pan and Rosebank; and one week in Genadendal in the Western Cape. Speaking on the look and feel of the

film, Sangion says she envisioned a film that would have an epic, cinematic feel: “I wanted the film to be aesthetically pleasing without feeling too selfconscious and over-stylised. I am already asking a lot of my audience to be engaged in three stories about three characters each facing very difficult issues in their lives. As such, I didn’t want the technical elements of the film to distract the viewer from the beauty of the characters and the story.” Director of photography Chuanne Blofield shot the film on the Sony F55 and Sony FS7 cameras: “We didn’t have a big lighting budget and the F55 performs really well with minimal lighting, especially in low-light situations. Also we wanted a high-quality look without the high price tag and with the F55, the images are much more crisp, so we knew we would get a very slick looking film without having to fork out too much money,” explains Sangion. “Every frame was heavily considered, stylised but very natural. Chuanne employed various lenses and techniques to put the characters in a vacuum, to make them feel completely isolated from


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ment’s debut feature film,

FILM

“I’ve experienced my fair share of pain and trauma and I think filmmaking has been like a healer to me. I’ve found myself, confronted myself and healed myself through my work.

– Carmen Sangion

TECH CHECK EQUIPMENT • Camera: Sony F55

the rest of the world. I wanted every frame to look like a photograph and to hold an entire universe of feeling in it. I wanted the audience to feel like they were part of the world but at the same time that they were simply viewing the world and the characters from a distance. I think Chuanne did an incredible job with the cinematography, he created a piece of art through precise framing and articulate lighting,” she adds. Post-production was done by Johannesburg-based production company The Usual Suspects.

FILMS ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION Salvation had a successful theatrical release at select Ster-Kinekor cinemas in October last year. The film also played at the 2019 Joburg Film Festival and at the Africa Rising Film Festival 2019. Sangion hopes to continue to tackle more films that explore the human condition and its complexities while also finding healing through the medium of film: “I’ve experienced my fair share of pain and trauma and I think filmmaking

has been like a healer to me. I’ve found myself, confronted myself and healed myself through my work. And so I guess I’m pretty much exploring my own human experience through the work.” Sangion says that she also hopes to change the way that the coloured community is projected in the media or at least give a better understanding of

the community through the characters portrayed on screen. “In the past, coloured people were pretty much all portrayed in the same way in all forms of media: as drug dealers, murderers, rapists, addicts…” she explains. “I made a decision a very long time ago that I would not contribute to that narrative, especially without creating context or giving compelling reason for such.” “We’re human, we have deep emotional lives, we have spiritual crises, we question why are we here? What’s the point of it all? Who am I? Is there really such a thing as God? But it’s rarely portrayed on screen. And honestly it’s these things that intrigue me most about the human experience, especially the black human experience. And I guess my films will probably always try to make room for such,” Sangion concludes.

“The F55 performs really well with minimal lighting, especially in lowlight situations. Also we wanted a high-quality look without the high price tag and with the F55, the images are much more crisp, so we knew we would get a very slick-looking film without having to fork out too much money.”

KEY CREW Director: Carmen Sangion Producer: Kim Sangion DOP: Chuanne Blofield Editor: Nicolas Costaras Sound: Carlo Mombelli

JANUARY 2020

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FESTIVALS & MARKETS

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DISCOPRO SESSION SHEDS LIGHT ON CO-PRODUCTION TREATIES African film and television industries are at an interesting cross-roads: there is almost unprecedented interest in content from Africa, yet persistent struggles with regard to funding remain. While the explosion of streaming technologies and mobile video on demand platforms has helped content creators access audiences, there is still a large gap to be filled – and the target of a recent debate session held at DISCOP 2019 was to explore how co-production treaties may fulfil this role.

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oining Screen Africa on the debate stage to discuss the opportunities and challenges of co-production treaties were three producers – Dan Jawitz (418), Thierry Cassuto (Love and Murder) and Isaac Mogajane (The Field, Anansi) – and three stakeholders from the South African film and television industry: Monika Rorvik, head of Film and Media Promotion at WESGRO; Lindi NdebeleKoka, senior manager of Cultural Development at the Department Of Arts & Culture; and Maijang Mpherwane, the head of the Media & Audiovisual SBU at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The panel highlighted many advantages. In addition to proper targeting, original themes and international distribution, multi-party co-production is increasingly becoming an important factor for successful and diverse content that guarantees financial success. As Mpherwane pointed out, institutions like the IDC carefully evaluate 14 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

projects based on their financial viability – and the ability to “share the risks of production” with an international partner is an attractive proposition. Ndebele-Koka added that extending South Africa’s network of co-production treaties was a priority for the Department Of Arts & Culture, as was adapting existing treaties – such as the one signed with France in 2010 – to reflect the increasing demand for television content; while Rorvik said that, from her perspective, while South Africa has been an important supplier of talent, stories and production services to the global community for a number of years, she was encouraged to see more and more co-productions taking place where South African creators were taking leading roles and retaining intellectual property rights. From the producers’ point of view, Jawitz provided a detailed breakdown of the kind of expenses involved in an international co-production – showing the transformative effect of foreign

investment into local budgets – while Mogajane said that while co-productions can be necessary to help achieve the vision of certain films, there were “never any guarantees” and that “passion and hard work” will also be required to get any film project over the line and into production. Finally, Cassuto raised an important point about the South African coproduction treaty system: that the lack of a pre-approval system often places extra stress on getting these deals over the line. Cassuto, Jawitz and Mogajane all agreed that while, in most cases, international investments could be guaranteed even during the early planning stages, the lengthy approval system on the South African side of things has been known to lead to delays and inefficiencies. – David Cornwell

THE LATEST CO-PRODUCTION GUIDELINES FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (JANUARY 2019): • Under the Foreign Incentive Guideline, the incentive programme offers a reimbursable grant to the maximum of R50-million per qualifying project. • The applicant must complete and submit an application not earlier than 45 calendar days prior to the commencement of principal photography. • The applicant must procure with regard to the QSAPE a minimum of 20% of qualifying goods and services from entities that are 51% blackowned by South African citizens. Goods and services procured from these entities must exclude cast, extras, producers, directors and writers. • The Qualifying South African Production Expenditure (QSAPE) should be at least R15 million for shooting on location in South Africa. • The Qualifying South African Production Expenditure (QSAPE) should be at least R12 million for level one Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) contributor status service companies for shooting on location in South Africa. • The Qualifying South African Post-Production Expenditure (QSAPPE) should be at least R1.5 million for conducting post-production activities in South Africa.


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2020 – the year ahead

INDUSTRY REVIEW

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If anything was clear from the end of 2019, it is that people are realising it’s time to get down to business. As the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), DISCOP Johannesburg and the Joburg Film Festival (JFF) all wrapped-up, the talk is about getting back to basics and a focus on the fundamentals that keep the industry going.

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nd while predicting the future is a perilous endeavour and I certainly do not have a crystal ball, I do think there are some trends to look out for within the industry as we head into a new year.

WOMEN TAKE THEIR SPACE It is 2020, and 50/50 by 2020 is no longer a future goal but a reality that must be aggressively pursued wherever possible and viable. At the panel discussion hosted by the Ladima Foundation at DISCOP Johannesburg last November, the topic of quotas was heatedly debated. And while it is clear that some markets like Ethiopia – as was pointed out by Kana TV’s Rehima Awol – may not yet be ready for such a step, markets such as Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda and others could, in fact, sustain 50% women representation in major decision-making roles within key industry bodies, as well as 50% representation of content on TV and in festivals. The topic of how women are represented on screen, and its relation to how many and where women can be found behind the scenes, is now openly addressed at just about every industry gathering and event. These conversations are empowering individual women and organisations to ensure that the talking is translated into action. Both the Durban and Cairo International Film Festivals have adopted the 50/50 pledge, and many other African festivals are working towards the goal. The seats at the board room tables, and in the key production roles (directing, writing, etc.) are also being aggressively pursued. In 2020 women will not be waiting to be asked to take their seat at the table, we will be setting our own tables, budgets and agendas.

AFRICAN ANIMATION Everyone is talking about animation. At the recent AfricaCom event, MultiChoice’s Yolisa Phahle called animation, “The perfect intersection of technology and 16 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

content creation, which presents infinite scope for us to develop a local industry that can surprise and delight local and international audiences alike.” The world’s largest animation festival, Annecy in France, has announced that its focus region for 2020 is Africa. Annecy, in partnership with the African Animation Network, has for years been cultivating and incubating African animation talent through the Animation du Monde pitching competition. In 2017, Annecy’s International Animation Film Market (MIFA) partnered with the African Animation Network (AAN) and the DISCOP content market to launch the first pan-African pitching competition for animators, with two winners selected each year to compete with eight other projects at Animation du Monde. At the recent DISCOP Joburg, the Annecy team was on hand to announce the Africa Pavilion and also to award the winners of this year’s Animation Du Monde African pitch competition, who will attend MIFA. African animation producers such as Triggerfish in South Africa and Ubongo from Kenya are also reaching global audiences and winning awards at major events. Ubongo has recently opened offices in South Africa in order to expand their distribution reach as the demand for African animated content increases. While animation is still a timeconsuming and expensive process, the interest from players such as Cartoon Network and Netflix in African-created animation will encourage more and more fresh content from the continent.

THE RISE OF THE SERIES TV in Africa – both free-to-air and pay-TV models – is the lifeblood of the industry. While feature-length films may get short theatrical runs (see below), both film and series-driven content live and die in Africa based on the support of broadcasters – and now also of streamers. While both broadcasters and OTT/ streaming platforms still license and (very rarely) commission feature-length films, it is the shorter, episodic material that drives

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viewer loyalty – whether from tuning in each week or binge-watching the latest episodes. Series, from the high and low-end telenovelas, to dramatic international productions (such as the recent Trackers from M-Net or Queen Sono from Netflix), local comedies and unscripted reality TV, are still dominant and will only become more so in 2020. The quest for series that will hook viewers in and keep them watching in numbers is the holy grail of the industry. SABC’s Uzalo has gained over 10 million weekly viewers, an unmatched number but one that other broadcasters (and streamers) would love to achieve. While festivals feature the best in film from Africa, I do wish we could have a more inclusive approach, as was taken by the Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2018. There, with the support of The Africa Channel, and based on their partnership with DISCOP, we decided to include a web and TV series “festival within a festival” to acknowledge and celebrate episodic content. In 2020 we should strive to further celebrate the best in this genre to encourage the amazing diversity and improve the quality within this space.

AFRICAN MOVIES AT CINEMAS While the last few years have seen a roller-coaster ride for cinemas, there are signs that African-made releases can drive growth in key markets. Many predicted the death of cinema, but despite some highs and lows, cinemas are still surviving, and local content is becoming more and more popular with cinema-goers. Nigeria is once again leading the way in this space, with new cinemas opening regularly and Nigerian (Nollywood) content making up an ever-growing share of the market. A report from PwC on the future of cinema predicts that by 2021, Nigeria’s

box office revenues will top 140 million USD, and Nigerian content will account for a significant portion of this. In the first half of 2019, according to FilmOne’s Q2 Digest report, Nollywood films made up 22% of total box office revenue. According the Nigerian Cinema Exhibitor Association, in November, of the top box office films for the month, there were at least three Nollywood films in the Top 10 each week. With 45 cinemas in Nigeria (as of May 31st and according to the BBC), Nigerian box office revenue for the first half of 2019 has already exceeded the whole of 2017 (Business Insider/ Pulse.ng). In South Africa, the overall news is not as good, according to the statistics for the first half of 2019 from the NFVF, as South Africa’s total box office earnings in the first half of the year amounted to the sum total of R590 million – 8% less than in the first half of 2018 (which was a total of R631 million). However, the good news is that the market share of SA-produced films for the first half of 2019, while still only at 7% (the total amount being R42 million), has sizably increased from the same period in 2018, that of R17 million and a market share of only 3%. Also interesting to note, for locallyproduced films comedy was the topearning genre (grossing R22 million), followed by drama (R9 million) and a combination of comedy/drama following with earnings of R7 million. According to Pwc’s Entertainment and Media Report, South Africa’s theatrical attendance figures are not expected to grow significantly and increased revenue is based on increases in admission costs. However, the continuing rise of the market share of South African content remains good news for the industry. – Lara Utian-Preston


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ANIMATION

TECH CHECK

Behind the scenes on Triggerfish-animated Zog South African animation studio Triggerfish and UK-based production company Magic Light Pictures recently released a film adaptation of the much-loved 2010 picture book, Zog.

“Z

og is based on the book by the Gruffalo team, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and is about a young dragon that is at Dragon School, learning to fly, breath fire and basically become a holy terror!” explains Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the short film. However, student life comes with a lot of challenges for the keen but accidentprone dragon: “He’s super enthusiastic, but has no talent and ends up hurting himself every time he tries his hand at something new. The book is about how an unusual friendship changes his life and his dream for the better.” Triggerfish Animation Studios has an ongoing relationship with publishing duo Donaldson and Scheffler and the Gruffalo team, which is managed by Magic Light Pictures. This partnership has produced award-winning film adaptations of other popular children’s books including Stick Man, Revolting Rhymes and The Highway Rat. “My directing partner Max Lang pitched Zog to Magic Light Pictures in 2012. Of all the more recent books by Donaldson and Scheffler, he thought it would make a great film, as the characters and their journeys were very clear and relatable,” says Snaddon. Triggerfish has since purchased the film as well as the merchandising rights for Zog. According to Snaddon, the concept for the film started taking shape in mid-2017, with he and Lang working together on the storyboards. The pair then sought various artists from South Africa and the UK to work on the project. “Our art director was Sarah-Jane Williams who was key in bringing the hand-made feel to the design and surfaces of Zog’s world. Daniel Clarke, Caroline Vos and Stephen Howard-Tripp were the concept artists. Andrew Wilkins oversaw modelling, while Darren Hing and Roxanne Joyner oversaw surfacing,” he says.

Zog took just over a year and a half to produce, with animation director Jac Hamman overseeing the 17 animators that brought the characters to life. Samantha Cutler was the lead character modeller and Malcolm van Aardnt managed the rigging of over 30 characters for the film. “Kaya Kuhn was our line producer, and though she was new to animation, she did an amazing job of planning and executing the production at Triggerfish,” adds Snaddon. “Aninka Jonk, Laura Irvine and Clare Savage did a great job of running the team on the ground.” Zog is produced using Maya, Arnold and Nuke, with additional VFX work done through a plugin called Phoenix FD – which is used to generate fire and smoke effects in some scenes. Kane Croudace, Faghrie Coenraad and James Bihl were

the technical leads and Sue Mari-Sauer headed up VFX. “Everything was then bought together by Sarah Scrimgeour and her superb compositing team,” says Snaddon. Zog has travelled to festivals including the Shanghai International TV Festival, where it won the Best Animation Award, and the New York International Children’s Film Festival, where it earned the Audience Award. The film recently bagged an International Emmy nomination in the Best Kids’ Animation category and will compete against films from France, Brazil and India. The winning film will only be announced on 31 March 2020 at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Speaking about the nomination, Snaddon says: “We are thrilled, and hope that we win! I’m also really happy and proud of our team, as on Zog we had fewer resources than we did on previous projects and we still managed to pull off something really world class.” The film had its television premiere on BBC 1 for UK viewers, and is now streaming on South African streaming service Showmax. Zog can also be ordered on DVD through Amazon.

“Zog is produced using Maya, Arnold and Nuke, with additional VFX work done through a plugin called Phoenix FD.”

KEY CREW Writers: Julia Donaldson, Max Lang, Suzanne Lang, Axel Scheffler Directors: Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon Producer: Mike Buckland, Martin Pope, Michael Rose Sound: René Aubry Editor: Robin Sales

Snaddon and his team at Triggerfish are thrilled that South African viewers can now get to watch the animated film and hope that the heart-warming tale reaches more audiences. “Zog was originally a BBC and ZDF (Germany) co-production. I’m thrilled that Zog is streaming on Showmax and I’d also love Zog to eventually show on national TV, and for either the SABC or kykNET to get some translations going!” he concludes. – Gezzy S Sibisi

JANUARY 2020

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TELEVISION

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Forest Whitaker

on Godfather of Harlem, choosing roles and doubting himself Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Black Panther) was in Johannesburg last November to promote Godfather of Harlem, the hit new crime series from the creators of Narcos.Â

18 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020


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TELEVISION

F

orest stars as infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson, who returns from Alcatraz in the early 1960s to find the neighbourhood he once ruled in a shambles. With the streets controlled by Vincent ‘Chin’ Gigante (Emmy nominee Vincent D’Onofrio from Daredevil and Jurassic World), Bumpy forms an unlikely alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X (Nigél Thatch, reprising his role from Selma) to take on the Italian mob and regain his position as the titular Godfather of Harlem. Now streaming on Showmax, Godfather of Harlem is the remarkable true story of how the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement collided during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. We caught up with Forest to find out more…

WHAT RESEARCH DID YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR THE ROLE? There’s not a lot of footage of Bumpy Johnson. There are maybe five photos, but you have to take from those postures and gestures, pull them inside and create a full human being.  I spent time with Chism, one of Bumpy’s bodyguards. He’s 94 now but still coherent. I also spent time with Junebug, another guy who was part of the fabric of Bumpy Johnson’s world. They still live in Harlem. They were explaining to me how he would go about his day, how they were protecting him. They helped me a lot.  I also had an adviser in Professor Smalls, who was working with Malcolm X and actually took over the mosque when Malcolm left.   I read Mayme’s book. I read Bumpy’s poems. I studied the history. I read up on Malcolm. I read up on Adam Clayton Powell Jnr.  I listened to the music of the day.  I just got more and more information, as I read the books and spoke to people. That helped me figure out how to shape him into a real person. 

WHEN YOU’RE RESEARCHING A CHARACTER LIKE BUMPY, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH THE PEOPLE WHO KNEW HIM? I just wanted to understand what his fears were and what his needs were. So I was searching for those kinds of stories, for the kinds of things he felt he needed to protect, for the fear choices in his life. I was looking to find his truth and discover what drives him, to understand the moments that happened in his life that motivate his actions in the series.

“Most of the time, through the early part of my career, I was doubting myself. Even after I won at Cannes for Bird, I was deciding whether or not I’d be able to do this as a life. It wasn’t until really late – 15 or 20 years into my career – that I started to say, ‘Okay, I’ll continue to do this for the rest of my lifetime.’

– Forest Whitaker

HOW DO YOU KEEP A TV ROLE LIKE BUMPY JOHNSON FRESH?

DID YOU EVER LIE TO GET A ROLE?

I keep it fresh by using myself as a barometer. I continue to try to push myself to do more. On set, directors often say, “You did this scene and it was working really well, and then you did something else. What was that?” – I was continuing to explore. My choices start to shift. They stay on the theme, they still fit the edit, but they’re a process of discovery. You have to be like a child. And that’s hard to maintain. 

On The Color of Money, they fired someone who couldn’t play pool and they asked if I could play. I’d played pool before but I wasn’t a great pool player. They asked me to fly myself to Chicago to audition, so I spent days just playing pool, hour after hour. I spent 14 hours a day in the pool hall. When I got there, the first thing Martin Scorcese asked me to do was to just play pool...

DO YOU PREFER FILM OR TV? I just want to tell stories in whatever way I can. My last couple of projects after this one were film, and I’m still open to do more. 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR ROLES? I keep trying to grow as an artist and a person and I choose my roles that way. A lot of times I’ve chosen roles that cause me a little bit of fear.  I just love playing complete characters – that’s all I care about.

IN YOUR CAREER, HAVE YOU EVER DOUBTED YOURSELF? Most of the time, through the early part of my career, I was doubting myself. Even after I won at Cannes for Bird, I was deciding whether or not I’d be able to do this as a life. It wasn’t until really late – 15 or 20 years into my career – that I started to say, “Okay, I’ll continue to do this for the rest of my lifetime.”  When I did The Last King of Scotland, I started to understand something about transformation, about changing my energy to become someone else. Those sorts of moments became affirmations for me, not people. – Kevin Kriedemann JANUARY 2020

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TELEVISION

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South African filmmaker Thabang Moleya recently bagged himself a career-advancing project as a director on international television series – The Professionals – which placed him in charge of an A-list cast. Screen Africa caught up with him to explore his insights about the South African film industry and his latest endeavours.

Director Thabang Moleya on the state of the South African film & television industry

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ndoubtedly one of the country’s most sophisticated visionaries behind the lens, Moleya has spent a generous period of his career working on some of the most revered productions to grace South African television screens. Do you remember the one-of-a-kind international medical drama series Jozi – H? What about the continental smash multi-season series Jacob’s Cross? And then there was The Lab and the once Emmy-nominated (for Best Foreign Drama) Sokhulu and Partners. All of these shows can be credited to Moleya. “My father was an artist, so I naturally gravitated to this curiosity while growing up. In secondary school I majored in art and photography; I was fascinated by how a picture could tell a story,” he says. “I would spend hours in the dark room, processing black and white images. The camera became an extension of my identity. I had no idea at the time that this was story-telling, more than anything it was innocent fun.”

GOING FULL CIRCLE Over the years, Moleya has transitioned from long- to short-form directing, while also establishing himself as a commercials director. Through sheer dedication and

drive, he joined forces with Kutlwano Ditsele and Leanne Kumalo to form their own production company, Seriti Films. Upon completing a 360 in the directing sphere, he later felt the need to explore a format he had never done before and that is when he decided to pursue the production of his debut feature film, Happiness Is A Four Letter Word. “I wanted to tell stories in a different format that I had never done before. As a result, I ventured into doing feature films. The formation of Seriti Films enabled me to pursue my debut project,” he enthuses.

AN INDUSTRY RE-IMAGINED Filmmaking in South Africa, as an industry, has undergone numerous growing pains over the past decade or so. It has experienced the kind of growth that might have seemed impossible decades ago but not without inherent challenges and limitations. “We have very experienced and professional people, both in front of and behind the camera who can take our stories to the world. High-end content, with high-end production value,” says Moleya. “We have amazing support through the Department of Trade and Industry,

Industrial Development Corporation and National Film and Video Foundation to give opportunities to those with a voice that was never heard before.” Despite the open-ended possibilities, the management of opportunities still remains a major thorn in the flesh for the industry. The story-telling economy is also facing challenges that are prevalent in other commercialised profit-generating industries. “Our country has a rebate policy that plays a major role in the amount of international work, in the commercials and drama series spaces, that has been commissioned for production in this country,” adds Moleya.

SILVER LININGS Moleya is not hesitant to express the need to diversify representation in the key areas of the industry ranging from ownership to instrumental operational roles. “There are too many skilled young people who graduate and have nowhere to go. At the same time, the demand for great quality content keeps growing while the supply does not complement it – we need to bridge this gap by creating opportunities to meet this demand. “There needs to be more women

“There are too many skilled young people who graduate and have nowhere to go. At the same time, the demand for great quality content keeps growing while the supply does not complement it – we need to bridge this gap by creating opportunities to meet this demand. – Thabang Moleya 20 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

producers, directors and production company owners. We need to have serious conversations about intellectual property with everyone involved in the storytelling process.” Despite the industry having a broad sea of talent at its disposal, the lack of regulation and proper management of resources (including human capital) is evident. Financial instability is a consistent reality for many industry players, forcing them to juggle multiple production commitments in order to make a living. “While the shows they act on are on constant re-runs and get exported into Africa and the world, no benefit accrues to them,” confirms Moleya. “There’s a lot of growth and goals we have to achieve, but these are the important topics that we have to table in order to do so.”

GREENER PASTURES The Seriti Films co-founder recently added his directorial expertise to an international production, The Professionals – an artistic collaboration between South Africa and Ireland. The production set a new budget record (in Africa) at 27 million USD, with parts of the series having been filmed in the country under the guardianship of Moleya. “The show depicts the lives of private military contractors; it’s an actionadventure series starring Brendan Fraser and Tom Welling,” says Moleya. “We blew up a lot of things and added hair-raising car chase sequences. We had to shut down Sandton City’s main roads over a weekend. It was very exciting. I had a lot of fun but there were a lot of challenges and moments for growth, too,” he concludes. – Levi Letsoko


MANDLA N

DIRECTOR SPEAK

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TELEVISION

LA N D N A M

Lockdown was the most awarded drama at the 2019 SAFTAs, where the story of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility took home five awards, including Best Drama. With Season 5 coming only to Showmax on 31 January 2020, we caught up with creator and director Mandla N, who won a SAFTA in 2018 for the Lockdown script and was nominated in 2019 for directing Side Dish.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW IT SHAPED YOU AS A DIRECTOR. I grew up in Soweto. What shaped me as a director is that I’ve had the best of both worlds. I went to a township school all the way to Grade 5 and then moved to a school in the suburbs. So I understand the mass market and the highbrow market. When I joined Gang of Instrumentals, we performed everywhere, which really opened my mind up and helped me understand the different individuals in South Africa.  WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE LOCKDOWN?  In every township, there’s always that mystery about prison. You grow up and see a lot of people around you going to prison and coming back, but it’s hush hush they don’t talk about it. So I’ve always been fascinated by prison stories. It’s a huge fear in a lot of men’s lives. We’ve seen male prisons on screen before, but we hadn’t seen a female prison in South Africa. Yes, we’ve seen that on Prisoner and Orange Is The New Black, but not locally. 

Mandla N directing a scene on set

YOU WERE AN ACTOR ON SHOWS LIKE CITY SES’LA AND SES’TOP LA BEFORE YOU BECAME A DIRECTOR. HOW HAS THIS HELPED YOU AS A DIRECTOR? I think the training of acting really helped me. I understand performance and I understand performers. I get the pressure on actors. I understand how many takes actors have got in them. I understand how to speak to actors. I understand how to calm actors and take them to the next level. Clarity is everything; acting made me really clear as a director.  BEFORE LOCKDOWN, YOU WERE PRIMARILY KNOWN FOR COMEDY. WAS IT A DIFFICULT TRANSITION FROM COMEDY TO DRAMA?  Lockdown was my first drama and a lot of people said, ‘Mandla, you won’t crack it; you’re a comedy guy.’  But it’s not that different – everything is storytelling. Drama is about understanding rhythm and beats. No matter what story you tell, comedy or drama, timing is everything. So you apply the principles of timing and narrative.  If you watch Lockdown, there are elements of comedy, so my style is definitely still there. YOU WERE A MEMBER OF GANG OF INSTRUMENTALS. HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A MUSICIAN IMPACTED YOU AS A DIRECTOR?  Music for me is 50 percent of the picture. I pay a lot of attention to music. I am a musician. I edit to music. I write my own scores. I also create music. When I direct, I know the timing for people to hold moments, because I’m creating the beat in my own head as I’m directing, so I can tell them to look up, or look down, at exactly the right beat. So music has really helped me in directing.  TALK US THROUGH YOUR APPROACH TO CLIFF-HANGERS, WHICH LOCKDOWN IS RENOWNED FOR. Cliff-hangers are everything. A lot of people say they’re not coming back for this but they do, because we leave them on the edge of their seats. Lockdown isn’t easy viewing, but it is addictive viewing. We make the decisions on where to put the cliff-hangers in the writing process. I don’t leave cliff-hangers to the end of every episode; I also leave them at the start of every ad break. I know exactly how to play the combination of cliffhangers, music and actors from a directorial point of view; it differentiates me within the market. 

AT THE 2019 SAFTAS, FOUR OF THE SIX DRAMA ACTING NOMINATIONS FOR WOMEN WENT TO LOCKDOWN CAST MEMBERS: DAWN THANDEKA KING WON BEST ACTRESS AS MAZET, AHEAD OF HER CO-STAR ZOLA NOMBONA AS MONDE AND INTERNATIONAL EMMY NOMINEE THUSO MBEDU, WHILE LORCIA COOPER WON BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS AS TYSON, AHEAD OF HER CO-STAR PAMELA NOMVETE AS GOVERNOR DEBORAH BANDA. TALK US THROUGH YOUR APPROACH TO CASTING. Bad casting can really kill your picture. I spent about eight months casting Lockdown. I didn’t go to the agencies; I had castings inside the townships. Authenticity is everything and I wanted to depict real people.  Prison is a gritty, dirty, grungy world and we can‘t glamourise that. So when you see the ladies in prison in Lockdown, you think: “This person could give me a run for my money.” NOW THAT IT’S ON SHOWMAX, LOCKDOWN IS GOING TO BE AVAILABLE TO BINGE FOR THE FIRST TIME. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?  The fact that people can binge all ten episodes – it’s a bittersweet moment. Every Sunday and Monday were Black Brain Mondays and Sundays, as people would talk about that week’s episode. I know that timing is going to change now. But the whole format of creating content is changing, so you have to adapt. Change is always good.  WHAT IS THE KEY TO CREATING A SUCCESSFUL TV SERIES IN SOUTH AFRICA?  You have to know the market. You have to understand the landscape of South Africa. At the end of the day, it’s easy to create a world that will exist for one season, but how do you make sure viewers don’t get tired of that world and can still relate to it over five, six seasons? It’s about understanding that we live in a diverse country, and catering for that in your writing, in the types of languages, in the balance of languages. You have to understand the different shades of black people, coloured people, white people. It’s about casting a man from KwaMashu; not just a Zulu man. The more different you make those shades, the more South Africa appreciates you.  WHAT’S NEXT FOR MANDLA N?  I’m writing a film and then I’ve got a new series coming to Mzansi Magic that I’ll be shooting in the first half of the year. 

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TRADE SHOWS & EVENTS

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Building a digital video economy in Africa

he above stats, as well as the video economy in Africa at large, were discussed over two days at Africa’s largest technology, media and telecommunications event, AfricaCom 2019. Now in its 22nd year, the event takes over the entire Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), both CTICC 1 and the newly-built CTICC 2, every November in Cape Town. Video Exchange Africa is one of over 20 streams and co-located conferences that also take place there each year. Factors influencing the broadcast television and content market across the continent include the increase in connectivity, internet streaming and smartphone penetration due to costs coming down, creating new opportunities for both broadcasters, content producers and consumers themselves. The cost of data and infrastructure challenges are still huge barriers to the opportunity that the video economy presents, and – as a result – the telecommunications providers are becoming more important as partners in the content eco-system across Africa. This year, Video Exchange Africa

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This is a big year for video: online video is expected to overtake broadcast television. It is estimated that video will comprise 80% of all internet activity by the end of 2020. Over 500 hours of video is uploaded every minute – much of it via YouTube, according to the latest statistics from Cisco.

gathered influential speakers from Africa and across the globe to discuss and debate the opportunities that Africa’s transition to digital presents, exploring commercial models required to monetise content across an increasingly digital Africa;, as well as the progress and implications of online and digital terrestrial television (DTT). The relevance of the video economy for Africa is that videos uploaded to the internet give everyone a voice, enabling even those in rural centres to broadcast themselves to the world; and it enables more content producers to reach more consumers as penetration grows and the cost of devices comes down. In a panel on establishing a digital

video economy in Africa, introduced by George Twumasi, CEO of ABN Holdings and moderated by Mansour Mansour, YouTube product partnerships – MEA at Google, interesting discussions took place with Dayo Olopade, content partnerships at YouTube; Martin Njoroge, Android platform partnership, Africa, Google; and Gideon Munene Karimi, senior product manager, Safaricom. The panellists pointed out that it was not just about the scale of the opportunity or the growth of their platforms or others, but the fact that platforms like YouTube offer meaningful opportunities for users in Africa. The South African series Supa Strikas was mentioned as an example by

speakers. It started out as a comic in the Sunday papers, and now has its own YouTube channel and a million subscribers on the platform, employs 20 people and produces independent, educational media content to audiences all over the world. The series has also been picked up by Warner Media for its kids programming schedules. YouTube is focussing on increasing local content in Africa. The most common use is in the ‘How To’ market, the most popular being educational information, including learning languages, learning digital skills, or learning to fix something. Users are also taking successful global formats and making them local.

GROWTH Njoroge pointed out that, in Africa, less than 10% of internet users were consuming video, compared to the developed market, where 70% of internet consumption was on video. “The opportunity exists to grow this base in Africa and those front and centre of growing this opportunity are the telcos. It’s the telcos that need to get this economy up and running.”


| Karimi said the opportunities were threefold: 1. Penetration of smartphones: only 30% of African consumers have smartphones, although there is a high penetration of 2G devices. This is obviously linked to cost and a major discussion point at AfricaCom this year was the increasing affordability of smartphones in Africa, as well as the opportunity for Africa’s own home-grown smartphone models. 2. Internet literacy is a concern for Karimi, who said skills need to be taught to enable access. 3. Cost of access: the high cost of data, of course, came under the spotlight again at AfricaCom, as it does at every digital conference in Africa, as it remains a major stumbling block for those with low incomes. Added Njoroge: “Our mission has been to bring the internet to everyone. We want to bring affordable smartphones to users. So how do we make sure the first-time smartphone user experience, as regards functionality, is high? How do we build partnerships that work? How do we target audiences and bring in an affordable device?” He urged the telecos to take a leading role in all of these matters.

OPPORTUNITY Olopade said she saw enormous opportunity to up-skill and grow the ecosystem in Africa for African content. “With our YouTube Creative Economy

tutorials, we are teaching people how to optimise for YouTube. YouTube is helping to create employable skills and we already have real-life case studies from Africa.” She said in the context of artisanship in Africa, there were certain skills that could not be taught in a book and finding ways to teach skills online was a big opportunity in Africa. “Our content partners include individual bloggers, who are already providing beauty tutorials in Zulu to huge content partners like Multichoice.” Olopade said consumer behaviour had changed: “People are not always meeting in front of the TV at certain times. There is a huge opportunity for content online. With device affordability and greater connections, the greater the opportunity for content creators. It may be hard to get into your local media, but YouTube is free. “To optimise content and be discovered and grow their audience, we help users think through monetisation strategies. We always try to deliver real value to our partners. We are trying to add value by showing ads on that content and from our sales infrastructure. We are strategising to meet the needs of individual partners and help these businesses future-proof themselves for what is coming,” she outlined, referring to the massive opportunity that exists in Africa when that 10% currently consuming video online grows to match the 70% in more developed nations. Karimi pointed out that Safaricom has been running campaigns to encourage the uptake of video consumption online, with the most successful to date being the recent #Kipchoge campaign to

encourage Eliud Kipchoge to keep running in his successful attempt to break the two-hour marathon record. Over 4.5 million people watched him run on a free data special comprising a YouTube bundle on the day of the race from 8am to 4pm, allowing customers to stream the entire race at no cost. The fact is, in Africa, the smartphone is the point of entry to online content consumption and content needed to reflect that and partnerships in the future need to reflect that. The opportunity exists for the telco operators to start building the infrastructure and create the socio-economic benefit for people looking to build their businesses/personal brands and advertise their services online, said Njoroge. A significant point to note, Olopade added, was that totally new content formats were being pioneered in online video. “The ‘unboxing’ videos, the ‘reaction’ videos, make-up tutorials did not exist a decade ago. Now we are seeing African content creators take that content and localise it. There are huge opportunities.”

ECO-SYSTEM WarnerMedia fielded a strong presence at AfricaCom, and, interviewed on the side lines, Julien Borde – WarnerMedia’s director of channels for France, Frenchspeaking territories, Africa and Israel – indicated that Africa was very important, particularly in developing local content to resonate with local audiences across the continent for their channels.

TRADE SHOWS & EVENTS

WarnerMedia is well-known through its consumer brands such as HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, CNN, DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim and others. Turner, a WarnerMedia company, has been present in Africa for more than 20 years, operating six channels across the continent in 56 English, French and Portuguese-speaking countries, which include CNN International, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Boing, as well as TNT and Adult Swim, WarnerMedia’s brand dedicated to millennials. “We are focussed on finding good ideas from around the globe. We find new talents, incubate them, and take those stories to people from all around the globe. We broadcast a layer of local content in each territory. The key thing for kids and the audience, in general, is to find themselves on the screen. That helps us to create links with local audiences. There is a big opportunity to produce local content in Africa that is relatable.” “The one-way relationship with our viewers is over. We need to change the way we market ourselves. The future of TV is mobile, and we must take advantage of the multi-screen experience, offering our content where and when our consumers want it,” concluded Guillaume Coffin, vice president and head of commercial and business development, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks France, Africa and Israel. – Louise Marsland

“People are not always meeting in front of the TV at certain times. There is a huge opportunity for content online. With device affordability and greater connections, the greater the opportunity for content creators. It may be hard to get into your local media, but YouTube is free.

– Dayo Olopade

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

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AN INTERVIEW WITH

RODRIGO PRIETO, Rodrigo Prieto is one of the world’s foremost cinematographers. An expert technician with the chameleonic ability to adapt his style to the specific needs of the story being told, Prieto’s résumé includes films by luminaries such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spike Lee, Ang Lee, Pedro Almodóvar, Oliver Stone and Martin Scorsese – director of The Irishman, currently streaming on Netflix. In this exclusive interview with Screen Africa, Prieto tells us about his approach to filming The Irishman, collaborating with Martin Scorsese and where he finds his inspiration from project to project… 24 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

THE IRISHMAN DoP T he Irishman stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and sees Scorsese return to the crime genre that he has played such a large role in defining for modern cinema audiences. Based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, the film – which runs for 209 minutes – follows the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro) as he recounts his days working as a hitman for Pennsylvanian crime lord Russell Bufalino (Pesci) before becoming the bodyguard of notorious mobster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Emotionally complex and epic in its scope, The Irishman marks Prieto’s third collaboration with Scorsese, after The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Silence (2016). Speaking about their working relationship, Prieto says: “I’ve always admired Scorsese’s use of the camera and his cinematic language –and so I find it very natural to execute the shots he wants to do, because I really like his take on how to tell a story visually. I also think that I listen very carefully to what he’s saying, and not only when he’s talking specifically about shots or ideas, but just in general – I

know that when he’s in a project there are things he might say, even in passing, that have meaning and significance to the look he is trying to create. At least, I find that I can translate these things, and use them as inspiration for my ideas about how to manipulate the lighting and the camera.” With the film “in gestation for many years”, Prieto explains that he “read the book before I’d read the script, and that helped me get into that world. Sometimes when a movie is based on a novel, I actually prefer not to read the novel – because you can get caught up with scenes and incidents that don’t happen in the script – but in this case, I really wanted to get a sense of the history behind the story, and it was fascinating.” One of Prieto’s distinctive techniques is his willingness to combine film and digital to


| achieve the exact texture of image the story requires. “On this particular project I knew film negative would be required. This is because at one point Scorsese mentioned that he had a sense of memory for the movie – and of home movies. Then again, he mentioned that he did not want a grainy, hand-held Super 8 or 16mm feeling, either – so I thought I would use references to the emulsions of still photography of the different eras,” Prieto says. Shot on both an Arricam LT and ST with Cooke Panchro lenses, Prieto says: “I’m proud of the way I decided to differentiate the different decades in the film. For the 50s I used Kodachrome and for the 60s I used Ektachrome – and I think these photographic emulsions, on a subliminal level, remind us of our childhoods, those colours connect us instantly to the feeling of home movies. From the 1970s on, though, I did an emulation of a technique called ENR – which is a process

where on the print of a film, you skip the bleach pass and keep the silver on the film, which creates added contrast and desaturates the colours. So, towards the end of Frank Sheeran’s life, you will notice the colour has drained from his life because of what he’s been through. And that’s the big movement of the film – it starts full of Kodachrome colour and then by the end, the colour has drained from the images. This plays into the idea of memory, but is also a way to show that the meaning Frank thought his life had, which I represent with colour, maybe was not exactly what he thought.” Shot over 106 days, the other key challenge for Prieto on The Irishman involved the cutting-edge de-aging technology on display throughout the film. Prieto says, “We had to use digital cameras for the de-aging visual effects. So, even though I knew that I wanted the movie to a have a sense of being photographed on film negative, it was necessary for the scenes that were ‘youthified’, that we had to use three cameras for each angle. So for the main camera, I used a Red Helium, but on each side of it I used two ARRI Minis – which were just capturing information from the faces so that the computer could then apply all that information from the performances to the CGI-created younger face. “That was a big complication,” he continues. “I had to create rigs that were robust enough to hold these three cameras, but still lightweight enough to work on Technocranes or remote heads or fluids heads or whatever it may be – we had to make sure we didn’t limit Scorsese at all in terms of the way he wanted to move the camera.”

Another factor that added to the complexity of the camera crew’s operations, as Prieto explains, is Scorsese’s penchant for covering dialogue scenes from more than one angle simultaneously. “The cameras are facing opposing directions, which makes lighting complicated – and sometimes, he will also want to cover the scene in a two-shot at the same time. So when you consider that each rig actually consists of three cameras that means we could have six or nine cameras in operation at the same time – with six or nine focus pullers all working at once.” Elaborating on his choice of style for the film, Prieto explains that “Scorsese wanted the film to have the perspective of Frank Sheeran – who was a quiet, methodical man. That meant the camera couldn’t behave in a flashy way; the camera language needs to be simple when we’re with him: frontal, sideways or simple panning. There’s no spectacle to the way he kills, and so there’s no spectacle in the approach of the camera work.” With its novelistic length and assortment of settings and sub-characters, Prieto describes the key challenge of this particular project as follows: “To keep the images interesting, but not in an obvious way. Vary the lighting conditions and the colour from scene to scene and use the different settings as an opportunity to convey a variety of different feelings. What’s spectacular in the movie is the performances – and I had to trust that myself and not try too hard with the camera.” This last point is characteristic of Prieto, whose style, while recognisably his own, is also distinctive in its variety and has been put to exquisite use on an impressive

CINEMATOGRAPHY

variety of projects. From the fireworks scene of Brokeback Mountain, to his portrayal of Tokyo in Babel and the Quaaludes-induced chaos of Wolf of Wall Street, Prieto has been responsible for some of the most memorable moments in cinema of the last 20 years. “I have been fortunate to work with directors who are very passionate,” he reflects. “And I have always gravitated towards that – towards treating what we do as something much more than a job. I use cinematography as a tool for my own expression; lighting is an abstract way of expressing emotions. It’s like music – you can’t explain it in words, it’s something instinctual. That’s how I approach my cinematography – using my own life experience. Things I have seen with my own eyes and have made me feel a certain way. Even if I do try give every film its own specific visual characteristics – things that emanate from the story and from the director’s point of view – my eye is inevitably in there, the way I have responded to my own experiences in my life.”

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IP WORKFLOWS

| THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

IP workflows and a future Consumer habits are changing the world of video, with high picture quality and captivating, immersive viewing now expected as standard. This is especially the case when it comes to live sports content. To satisfy the demands of content-hungry consumers, broadcasters and content producers must simultaneously produce and deliver live coverage across linear, online and social media platforms and to multiple regions. When looking ahead to technology trends in 2020, giving audiences an experience that is the next best thing to – or even better than – being there, will remain a key driver.

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IP TRANSITION SET TO CONTINUE In today’s fast-moving mediascape, operators, broadcasters and content owners must deploy equipment and workflows that are flexible, scalable, reconfigurable and future-ready. IP answers these requirements. IP infrastructures and workflows deliver the scalability and agility needed to support higher resolutions (UHD or UHD HDR); they are more responsive than SDI environments and can also handle simultaneous multi-platform delivery and social media integration. This, in turn, opens up new and innovative ways of working that are essential to future-ready, successful media businesses. Although IP is not an inexpensive near-term alternative and requires significant investment, the long-term payoff that comes from improved flexibility and workflow efficiency will continue to make this investment worthwhile for a growing number of customers.

2019 saw major Outside Broadcast (OB) companies like Mobile Television Group (MTVG) and NEP deploy native IP equipment and glass-to-glass open standards-based infrastructures for new trucks. This OB pick up of IP equipment can be seen globally and across all regions, with ALAMIYA, one of the leading media and advertising companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, also selecting Grass Valley’s IP solutions to support a major upgrade of its entire fleet of OB vans. This partnership with Grass Valley allows ALAMIYA to deliver 4K UHD productions of large sporting and live events, future-proofing its end-to-end live production infrastructure. The industry is also looking beyond a simple IP I/O approach, and we are beginning to see moves toward internal IP – or what’s known as full raster – processing. As a frontrunner in driving the industry transition to IP, this is a priority for Grass Valley. If a workflow is to be truly IP, reducing the number of times that a signal has to be converted optimises the efficiency of the workflow.


THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

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IP WORKFLOWS

roadmap of the industry DISTRIBUTED PRODUCTION: A SMARTER AND FASTER WAY OF WORKING The industry’s transition to open standards-based IP is advancing the move to remote/at-home workflows, which bring the majority of live event production infrastructure back to a centralised or home studio. As broadcasters and production teams balance tightening budgets with consumer demand for first-class live event coverage, finding ways to extend to lower tiers and produce content cost-effectively is a priority. At-home or remote production workflows allow production teams to work smarter and with greater agility and flexibility, while reducing costs up to 30%. As well as the obvious time and cost savings that come from sending a smaller amount of equipment and staff on location, remote production models allow the same crew to support more live events in a day. Centralising production also allows broadcasters and production companies to loop in the best operators and editors to keep production values consistently high.

During 2020, remote production will continue to evolve as solutions are developed that enable greater distribution of resources. Today, it’s not unusual to have a small production crew at a venue while an additional team is at a fixed location, receiving signals and producing the live programme. The next logical step is what Grass Valley is calling distributed remote production, in which a greater number of locations and more flexible workflows can be utilised thanks to high bandwidth connectivity. Not only will a technical director be able to work multiple live events, taking place in different countries, in a single day, but on-air talent will be able to cover multiple games without having to travel. This is the evolution we expect and it’s not too far down the road. Distributed production will also take sustainable workflows to a new level and also deliver improved well-being to production staff by cutting out travel, long periods on the road and time spent away from home, as well as leveraging workflow consistency which is proven to enable better productions. The average soccer or rugby game or a week-long ski championship will also operate with a much smaller carbon footprint thanks to this model.

Written by Larissa Goerner,

director of Advanced Live Solutions LEADING THE WAY In 2020, we’ll continue to provide Grass Valley customers with the highest-quality production solutions on the market while adding efficiency to their workflows. As a company, we have also made a commitment to collaboration as a strategic priority. This approach provides unique advantages to our partners and to us – but, more importantly, to our customers. By partnering with other vendors through the Grass Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA) to create certified interoperable solutions that complement our already broad solutions offering, we make it easier for customers to work with us. We expect more initiatives in the next 12 months as we continue to demonstrate leadership through collaboration.

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BROADCAST TECHNOLOGY

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LIVE SUBMERSIBLE At last year’s IBC (September 2019), Associated Press (AP) was awarded the prestigious IBC Innovation Award for their undersea reporting during the First Descent Mission in Seychelles. The technical award was for the innovative storytelling and creativity made possible thanks to the partnership between AP, Nekton, Sonardyne, Live U and Inmarsat. What made the award extra-special was the fact that this was the first full HD-quality multi-camera live signal from the depths of the ocean using optical video transmission techniques, in which the pictures transmit through the ocean waves using light in the electromagnetic spectrum.

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BROADCAST TECHNOLOGY

E BROADCASTING T

he mission’s broadcasts were part of the Nekton Deep Ocean Research Institute’s First Descent expedition, which is exploring some of the world’s least-explored areas around the Indian Ocean as part of a project to increase understanding and aid protection of the marine life they contain. Very little research has been undertaken beneath 30 metres (scuba depth) across the Seychelles’ vast ocean territory of 1.37 million square kilometres. The objective is to contribute to establishing a baseline of marine life and the state of the ocean in Seychelles. Research is focused from the surface into the Bathyal Zone (200m to 3000m), home to the greatest patterns of biodiversity and impact of human activity on these vital ecosystems. Supported by 13 scientists based on the mother ship, the Ocean Zephyr, Nekton’s goal is to undertake at least 50 “first descents” into these waters to collect and generate data whilst live-streaming their missions to interested parties. Previous real-time video transmissions from the world’s deep oceans were signals sent from remotely-operated unmanned subsea vehicles, with video and audio fed via a fixed or tethered video or fiber optic cable, or sent over a low-quality digital live stream that also required underwater cables and added a significant time delay. Tethered cables restricted the freedom of movement of the unmanned vehicle and often ended in sliced or broken cables. When planning these missions, Nekton Deep Ocean Research Institute and Associated Press contracted, amongst others, pioneering subsea communications technology company Sonardyne to help provide the ways and means to transmit live video from the depths, without restricting the free-roaming submersibles, back to the research vessel. Sonardyne, who specialise in acoustic and non-acoustic technologies in marine environments, had the ideal solution in a recently-developed product – the BlueComm free space optical modem. With a depth rating of 4000m and a data

rate of up to 10Mbps, BlueComm modems use an array of high power light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are rapidly modulated to transmit data. It uses a separate photomultiplier tube as its receiving element. BlueComm operates using visible light, which can travel significant distances through water, making it an excellent tool for wireless transfer of video. The general rule of thumb is whatever colour the water appears, is the colour which will be least absorbed. So blue in clean water is the least absorbed electromagnetic wavelength, making it the obvious colour for the light that BlueComm uses. Because it uses visible light, the system is most effective in low ambient light conditions such as deep water or shallow water night-time operations, and because Nekton were focusing on the Bathyal Zone, this kind of technology was a perfect fit. For shallower and turbid waters, Sonardyne have developed an ultra violet (UV) version which improves transmission where there is a lot of ambient light but the maximum possible range reduces to about 80 meters. The optical data transmission is highly energy efficient, enabling more than nine gigabytes of data to be transferred using a single Lithium D-sized battery cell. Onboard the Ocean Zephyr, the decoded video was uplinked using Inmarsat’s high bandwidth SAILOR 100 GX compact one metre Ka-band terminal, with back-up from FleetBroadband, allowing AP to send live footage from First Descent’s mother ship to their production hub in London and then onto hundreds of broadcasters and digital publishers across the globe. Over 70 hours of live content was transmitted during First Descent’s mission in the Seychelles, including nine hours of prime-time television broadcast on Sky, as well as two-way interviews with the submersible crews. At one point, pictures were even beamed to the giant screens positioned above the concourses of London’s major railway stations, offering

commuters a live feed of events unfolding deep beneath the waves on the other side of the world. Sky News and Sky Atlantic, as part of Sky Ocean Rescue, have also joined the mission, and plan to broadcast more live subsea programmes in the future as the project develops. Meanwhile, the potential of the Nekton Mission continues to unfold. Nekton has teamed up with the University of Oxford to develop artificial intelligence tools, for example, to accelerate analysis and publication. Data and video will be made available through OCTOPUS – Ocean Tool for Public Understanding and Science – to provide a holistic and dynamic view of the changing state of the Indian Ocean, its biodiversity and human impacts. Better connectivity can also increase participation and improved real-time communication opens the door for experts from developing nations to join the scientific exploration of the oceans. In fact, promoting local engagement is one of the Nekton Mission’s broader objectives – and the project organisers made sure to create opportunities for marine scientists based in the Seychelles to participate in all aspects of the expedition. Together with datasets and research findings emerging from the expedition, this inclusive approach is intended to support the Seychelles to implement a Marine Spatial Plan, which will see around one-third of its national waters protected as part of building a sustainable Blue Economy. This is important because the way the Indian Ocean changes in the coming decades will profoundly affect the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the 2.5 billion people living in the Indian Ocean region. Their next mission is in the Maldives around April this year and then onto the Mozambique Channel, all coming to you live from under the sea thanks to groundbreaking technology, a whole bunch of flashing blue lights and a little bit of magic! – Ian Dormer

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SOUND STUDIOS

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PHOTOS COURTESY: JOE PUBLIC

The Sound Of Persuasion

Sergio Da Cruz at the desk of the sound studio at Jo Public

Screen Africa chats to audio-tech expert Sergio Da Cruz about the crucial role of music and sound in advertising campaigns and how music influences the final outlay of a campaign. In addition, we explore the crucial audio technology that enables him to deliver on his audio brief.

E

ver wondered about what goes into composing the sounds you hear in a radio or a television advert? The role sound design plays in the production of an advert is just as important as the narrative central to the campaign. The process involves creatives who are responsible for creating a message (as directed by their clients), which is then translated into a final product by visual contributors who collaborate with audio generators to achieve the final result – a fully-fledged campaign that speaks to its audience.

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“I think the hardest part about this is understanding the vision. I try to understand the creative team before I start creating sound. How I get my best results when it comes to ads, is a little give and take,” says Da Cruz.

The TLM 102 mic is ideal for crystal-clear vocals

“I will always ask what the creatives, as well as the clients, want – so that I can try my best to make both sides happy, I believe in ‘more is better’ when it comes to sound design,” he adds.

ADS AND SOUNDS As the senior sound engineer at ad agency Joe Public, Da Cruz is responsible for most of the sound design that is tailored on the agency’s audio visual campaigns. This role involves extensive consultation with the creative team to ensure that he is fully aligned with what the team is creating for their clients. The objectives differ from campaign to campaign, as these are determined by various aspects ranging from the style of

the campaign to the intended audience. Through experience, Da Cruz believes that it is important for the engineer to navigate his ear between being the master mixer and the campaign’s intended audience. “With sound or music design, when you think ‘I want a chainsaw sound effect’ – in your mind, as the concept holder or writer – you would know it is a chainsaw. But to listeners it might sound like a two-stroke motorcycle,” he says. “I like to think outside the box when it comes to things like this because sometimes the wild card idea is the perfect idea. I guess, because of my in-house position, I have room to play and help build new campaigns.” Avid Pro Tools S3 Control Surface assists in creating the perfect audio mixes


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SOUND STUDIOS

“With sound or THE PERFECT STUDIO – AUDIO TOOLBOX Vital to ensuring that the engineer delivers perfect audio solutions for the team is the studio he works in. Da Cruz currently works on Pro-Tools on a custom-built iMac with an Avid HD/IO native card. He affirms that the Blackmagic card is instrumental when working on visuals. The engineer says that he enjoys the effectiveness of PreSonus monitor station V2 with 2 KRK VXT 8 monitors. His desk-mixer is an Avid S3. “I have 2 microphones, both Neumann TLM 102s which I supplement with various plug-ins including iZotope Ozone 8, RX 6 Production Suite, Nector 2, built-in Avid plug-ins and the Waves Gold Bundle Suite.” When he needs to source sonic elements he employs Source Connect, and when in a position where he needs to record from a remote studio, he relies on Nexus to simplify his tasks. “So the equipment needed to create sound is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I prefer Waves and iZotope as I have been using them for years and have mastered working around them. Every sound engineer has his or her own preference when it comes to add-ons to the system.”

ALL ABOUT THE TECHNIQUE As senior engineer, Da Cruz oversees the technical processes that are involved in recording. This includes the recording of vocals, as well as searching through the music library with the intention of finding suitable audio design – and, if required, composing original sounds in accordance with the brief. Once that is done, the engineer is then be required to design the audio in order to add sound effects to the audio or visual campaign. After moulding all these elements together, he conducts a pre-mix which is followed by the final mix (the version heard on the radio or television advert).

“A lot goes into these steps, but it is not always relevant to every ad. Not all ads need these layers except for premix and mastering, but that is the beauty of being the sound engineer,” he says. “Every ad that comes into the studio has to be treated like a completely new project, and therefore has its own requirements and presents different challenges in order to achieve its full potential.”

IT’S A DIFFERENT GAME The technical process of audio composition and mixing has evolved aggressively over the last decade and a half. Da Cruz, through first-hand experience, has witnessed how most of the analogue equipment has transitioned into digital form. “Most of these things now like plugins and effects are all a digital add-on. For example, equipment that used to cost around R20,000 can now be purchased for just R2,000. “With the option presented by technology, you can now have a studio or should I say a DAW in a high-end Macbook Pro and do basic audio and engineering,” he adds. Da Cruz believes that as much as it’s good for the advancement of the craft to acquire all the technological innovations that enhance the process, the knowledge and skills required to operate a recording facility are irreplaceable. “Yes, it is easier to have a studio now than it was back then, but the engineering or sound designing still comes down to skill, creativity and knowledge.”

A NEW GENERATION MIX Da Cruz’s main concern is that these digital advancements have the ability to turn engineers into lazy and automated mixers, as a result of pre-sets and the like. He says that engineers need to constantly work on their skills and use the tech as an enhancer, instead of employing it as the main driver. “Sound engineers will stand out if they improve their technical mastery. Because at the end of the day, audio can be mixed or mastered using an artificial intelligence algorithm – but this removes the human touch and emotion,” enthuses Da Cruz. Despite having world-class equipment to work with at Joe Public, an engineer can never have enough tools to work – and so it is absolutely natural for Da Cruz to still have a ‘wish-list’ when it comes to studio gear. “I am quite happy with what I am currently working with. However, if I had to have a wish-list, I would put in a MacPro and bolster it up with Genelec monitors, as well as an Avid S8,” he says. “The list is endless. I would also add a Neumann U87 plus the Spectrosonics software range. I would definitely love to get my hands on a PRS Custom Guitar, as well as a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier tube head. There will always be a need for more pedals and more plug-ins,” he concludes.

music design, when you think ‘I want a chainsaw sound effect’ – in your mind, as the concept holder or writer – you would know it is a chainsaw. But to listeners it might sound like a twostroke motorcycle. I like to think outside the box when it comes to things like this because sometimes the wild card idea is the perfect idea.

– Sergio Da Cruz

– Levi Letsoko

Inside Joe Public’s award-winning studio

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AUDIO OVER IP

| THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

AES67 AoIP and the customer journey B As IP connectivity becomes more accessible to all sectors of our industry, those with their sights set on interoperability are working harder than ever to play well together. AES67 defines a common language for the streaming of live, high-quality, lowlatency audio over IP, and its adoption by ST2110 secures its place as the way forward for audio over IP in broadcast. 32 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

By Peter Walker,

Senior Product Manager at Calrec

ut what can broadcasters do to manage the transition from traditional connectivity, and how do they achieve the full benefits that have been promised with IP workflows? In reality, many broadcasters are unable to commit to a full-scale shift. There are a number of reasons for this. Moving to a completely new system is not only financially draining but it also has a learning curve. This curve is steep; there is much to learn within even a modest broadcast facility to go full IP. For this reason, many broadcast manufacturers offer IP interfaces that allow their equipment to be connected to an IP network, while maintaining other more familiar interfacing options. This allows broadcasters to migrate over time as and when they purchase new equipment allowing time to bed-in and expand within their comfort. Using a gateway technology allows users to start leveraging the advantages of IP with a much softer learning curve. Not swapping out all the equipment simultaneously means current systems can continue to be used, keeping everything on air and allowing the transfer to be non-disruptive to the programming schedule. It allows the broadcaster to get the full value out of their investment. And, once a gateway has been

introduced and an IP network established, broadcasters can start introducing other equipment onto the network, either with native IP equipment or via other gateways. Gateways allow broadcasters to transition to full IP infrastructures in their own time. They also ensure that the benefits of some proprietary systems, like Calrec’s deterministic and self-discovering Hydra2 network, can still be utilised. This can be very useful, for while there are many positives switching to an IP infrastructure, there is still work to be done to achieve truly dynamic connectivity within the network. The positives are clear: one of the key advantages of moving to IP is the ability to use existing network infrastructures and COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) hardware. Broadcasters want to be able to pass audio, video, control and other data over shared IP networks, and they want to use open standards to exchange media between devices made by different manufacturers. Standardised IP connectivity eradicates much of the cost, space, system complexity and cabling overhead of having a multitude of interfaces for analogue, AES3, MADI, SDI, etc. This is the goal of both AES67 and ST2110. AoIP has been around for many years, with lots of broadcasters already relying on


THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

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AUDIO OVER IP

As broadcast equipment manufacturers, true interoperability could be perceived as a threat because it increases competition, but we must protect our market share by making reliable, highperforming and easy-to-use products with feature sets designed for live broadcast applications, rather than by tying customers to proprietary systems.

7 it daily to produce live on-air content, but it has tended to be separate single vendor systems and/or relatively small networks. Even with Dante, the hardware and software of the IP connection is produced by a single manufacturer. AES67 and ST2110 allow for much larger, truly multi-vendor networks that can replace the whole connectivity backbone of a facility, with a much wider range of devices that can be used, preventing customers getting tied in to new purchase based on previous investment AES67 gives us a standardised protocol and parameter set so that a device from manufacturer X can exchange audio streams with a device from manufacturer Y, but it’s still not necessarily simple to connect stream connections between different vendors. Doing so typically requires an engineer to configure output streams on each device and often manually enter complex configuration details in order to be able to receive streams from other devices. While this works reliably, it relies on engineers to set up and it results in a static streaming configuration. For dynamic routing of audio, providing the operational workflows needed for live broadcast, we’re still relying on expensive broadcast routers, albeit via IP. This is not the goal of using COTS IP. With AES3, you plug in a BNC, and the receiving device knows it is expecting audio on that connection. With AoIP, a single connection to a network allows for the exchange of many channels of audio with many different pieces of equipment,

but they can only receive that audio if they know it exists in the first place. The fundamental part missing from both AES67 and ST-2110 is advertisement and connection management. In the absence of an agreed standard many vendors followed the Ravenna approach, which is helpful for advertising AoIP streams between those vendors, but still leaves us with labourintensive configuration in the UI of each device, resulting in static streaming connections. This is where AIMS and the JT-NM are making progress. They are promoting NMOS, a standardised mechanism for not only discovery/advertisement (NMOS IS-04), but also connection management (NMOS IS-05). This means you do not

have to log in to each device on a network to configure its connections, they can be managed from a central UI providing familiar broadcast workflows and using the network to perform the routing. NMOS has gained strong buy-in across the industry, from both manufacturers and broadcasters. It’s widely seen as the route to true interoperability, but its uptake has been slow in some areas. As broadcast equipment manufacturers, true interoperability could be perceived as a threat because it

increases competition, but we must protect our market share by making reliable, high-performing and easy-to-use products with feature sets designed for live broadcast applications, rather than by tying customers to proprietary systems. To unlock the full potential of IP and give broadcasters the workflows, costs and efficiency savings they need to compete in the modern broadcast era, we must all work together to provide proven multi-vendor systems that are easy for operational staff to use. At Calrec we are working with our partners and following the JT-NM roadmap, working towards the ultimate goal of making life better for our customers.

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AUDIO OVER IP

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Internet Air-Waves with Antfarm Antfarm’s co-founder Marek Dziembowski and managing director Jacek Dziembowski chat to Screen Africa about their upbeat approach to AOIP solutions and how this is kept in-synch with their clients’ demands by the latest innovations in audio transmission technology.

A

OIP, or Audio over Internet Protocol, is not a popular concept in the South African market but it is a practice that continues to gain traction at a commercial level. The transmission of digital audio products over the internet started off as a peer-to-peer experiment which gained enough momentum to scale into business-to-business applications. “I came from a musical background with years of live stage performance experience. The simple wish to extend a show to a remote internet audience got me into online live media streaming as early as 1998,” says Marek. “News updates, images, site status updates, commentaries and interviews were fundamental media essentials for publishing to an event-branded website, so naturally some early live streaming experimentation began there using Real Media Server V1 and Windows Media Server V1,” he adds. More than 20 years later, the concept has been integrated into traditional analogue broadcasting solutions by mainstream radio stations – much to the delight of the early adopters of this technology.

CHALLENGES FACING AOIP Any new technological practice that aims to disrupt the traditional operations of an industry is destined to face unique challenges before it eventually blossoms into an integral part of how an industry operates. “Audio streaming, particularly as used by radio stations to reach an online audience, has become an essential means of attracting new listeners aligned to

34 | SCREENAFRICA | JANUARY 2020

increases in the adoption of internet use,” says Jacek. “One noteworthy challenge that is relevant to the growth of a radio station’s online audience is the inherent consumption cost of accessing an online radio stream – as opposed to traditional mediums of radio broadcasting.” Undoubtedly the most obvious obstacle faced by radio stations that aim to implement AOIP as part of their strategy is that they tend to lose audiences in the lower LSM brackets as a result of data costs – while higher LSMs find it easier to gravitate towards these offerings. “In my opinion, the largest challenge in a successful online radio initiative is the offering of differentiated and relevant content to its target audience – this determines whether a radio station both retains and has the ability to grow its online audience,” enthuses Jacek. Jacek acknowledges that a lot still needs to be done in order to enable the market to be receptive of AOIP solutions. The rural market presents a great opportunity in terms of market size; however, data costs remain a major stumbling block as a large portion of this market will struggle to manage the costs. “It would be ideal not to base streaming radio on a ‘free for use’ model by listeners, as was originally done with the terrestrial broadcast model,” says Jacek. “This has forced content publishers (such as radio stations) to make use of advertising on an almost exclusive basis for revenue generation, as opposed to subscription-based, paid services for content.”

Marek Dziembowski and Jacek Dziembowski

TECHNOLOGICAL ENABLERS Through Antfarm, Jacek and Marek are the first innovators to introduce the South African radio eco-system to AOIP through the technological solutions that they helped pioneer. Over the years they have helped clients to identify most of the technological components and digital infrastructures that enable this practice. An audio encoder assists in digitising and compression of audio feeds (in the case of a digital radio station) and transmits the feed over an internet connection to a designated service provider known as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). “The audio encoder can be softwarebased, using a PC or notebook with a suitable audio capture card based on the audio format – analogue or digital – using either free or licensed software, preferably a FFMPEG or Omnia AXE,” confirms Jacek. “Relay Internet Connection is a suitable spec of internet access using a reliable internet circuit (uncontended, 1:1 upstream bandwidth or a vast amount of spare unused available bandwidth capacity) to ensure that the encoded stream can be reliably ingested to the service providers’ CDN.” Service Providers are also very instrumental in the process of digital transmissions. The SP that ticks the right boxes for an operation of this magnitude is one which uses a CDN platform that has access to media servers that are hosted online, such as Icecast or Shoutcast. On the listeners’ side, it is imperative that they have a media player or an assigned streaming link which will enable them to access the online transmission. In most instances, using the station’s app might work much better, as most stations host the streaming directly from their website. In order to keep track of the listening audience, an analytics platform is used to gain clear insight into the number of listeners that the platform has attracted.

This is in order to compile reports that give an indication of how the service is being received by the end-user.

INNOVATION IS KEY According to Marek, the South African market is very enabling for locally-based engineers to innovate and come up with products (on the software side) that can improve the quality of services provided to projects that aim to incorporate AOIP into their strategy. After being instrumental in creating Africa’s first CDN alongside one of the country’s leading internet infrastructure solutions company, Marek remains optimistic about how far the barriers of innovation can be pushed in this space. “With an innovative service boasting unlimited viewer concurrency at a flat monthly fee, the CDN we created quickly accommodated South Africa’s biggest commercial radio broadcasters, bringing them all online to connect with a global 21st Century internet audience – without breaking their budgets,” says the Antfarm director. Jacek also believes in supporting locally-produced solutions and innovations. He emphasises how doing so can help balance the simple economics of demand and opportunity. “Unfortunately, other emerging technology markets such as China and India make local production less attractive. Investment in local innovation by government with supportive regulation can improve uptake of local engineering innovation projects and the growth thereof in the local and broader African market,” explains Jacek. Even while being at the forefront of various technological improvements over the last 20 years, Marek maintains that the interfacing of audio and audio processing apps in the cloud has presented a new opportunity for both sides of the paradigm. “The constant challenge exists: internet audiences expect web media to be free,” concludes Marek. – Levi Letsoko


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AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION

Geo Hohn at Abbey Road Studios

Legendary composer Geo Hohn on making sounds for film Audio composition and production guru Geo Hohn shares his insights on what makes the perfect audio studio. Armed with an undeniable track record and an ear for emotive sounds, he let Screen Africa take a peek into his audio-production tool box.

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ith a proven track record in post-production supervision, film-scorer Geo Hohn is very precise about the studios he executes his tasks in. “I came from a classical music background and my natural talent leans toward film scoring, which involves composition, arranging, orchestration and sound engineering,” says Hohn. “It is very important to differentiate between a recording/mixing facility or a music production room/studio and a music mastering room/facility. They all have different specifications.”

EXPLORING VARIOUS PRODUCTION SET-UPS According to Hohn, audio production studios vary according to the intention of the project and what it requires. They vary from recording and mixing facilities, to music production rooms, to music mastering facilities, as well as sound studios or dub stages (which are used by film scorers when producing for film). He points out that although they may tend to look the same, technology plays a major role in separating one facility from the next. “These studios are usually designed according to specifications set out by technology leaders like Dolby or Auro3D. They include formats from stereo through

the standard surround formats like 5.1 and 7.2, on to immersive surround formats which are gaining ground,” enthuses Hohn. “The most common type of studio is for music production and recording. If the budget is not an issue, the ideal average-sized studio would include a facility built from the ground up specifically for this reason.” The building in which the recording facility is set up has a direct impact on the quality of the sound generated on the premises. Hohn believes that all facilities should be set up in rooms with independent foundations: “To get the best sound balance for referencing or recording in the room, the room should be sound insulated so that sound from adjacent rooms does not ‘bleed’ sound into other rooms.”

TECHNICAL SET UP Hohn says that for fully textured sound it is advisable to employ a studio mixing console, “preferably a SSL or Neve for analogue, and an Avid S6 for DAW control. Add a monitoring system, ideally a Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus Far/Mid field monitors and Sonodyne Nearfields. “AD/Converters are important: Prism Sound Orpheus and also an SSL alpha link via MADI should do the trick. For an external clock, the engineer can add

an Antilope Audio Atomic Clock or Aardvark TimeSync II and Sync DALocks to LTC, VITC, MTC, video, word clock 256x and AES/EBU.” For great-quality cabling, Hohn prefers anything made by Mogami. For consistently-performing pre amps, he prefers Universal Audio 610 or the Neve 1073, and when it comes to recording software, Hohn relies on Pro-Tools Ultimate and Nuendo 10 for composing. “For great-quality vocals, I prefer condenser mics – such as a Neumann U87 & TL-102, or Sterling Audio ST55. For ribbon microphones, go with Royer R121 or Coles Electroacoustics 4038,” says Hohn. In the terms of what would constitute the ultimate recording room, “that totally depends on the size and type of recordings. This can vary for a recording booth for simple voice-overs or ADR to a massive stage/hall for recording a full 140-piece orchestra.”

INNOVATIONS IN MUSIC PRODUCTION Music often only constitutes five percent of a film, but it has an undeniable ability to mould the feel of the entire picture even at different points of the narrative. Hohn points out that a lot of music that is produced in this current era is produced ‘in a box’: “You can feel a distinct difference. Most people cannot tell you why, but I get comments like warmer, fuller, richer when talking about music recorded in days gone by.” “In earlier days, especially the 90’s, it was very difficult and expensive to build a recording studio. Most of the music that was created electronically was made on analogue synthesisers interlinked with studio hardware and drum machines like the Roland TR 808,” he adds.

Hohn goes on to explain that in those days, recording was mostly done on a multi-track tape machine and the need to do the editing on a computer was very minimal. It was not surprising for writers who wrote for an orchestra to use the traditional paper and pen method – with an added boost from a piano. Although there are mixed reviews about the introduction of technologies such as artificial intelligence in music production, Hohn remains optimistic about this development. “The technology is not quite there yet. We also believe that artificial intelligence will assist us in the future to do better work. So we view it as something positive, not as a threat.”

TOP 10 TOOLS IN GEO HOHN’S AUDIO TOOLBOX: • • • • •

• • • • •

Avid Pro Tools Arturia V Collection Celemony Melodyne Sonodyne SRP500 – Active Speakers Roland A-88 – 88 keys fully weighted MIDI keyboard controller Roland Electronic Drum Kit Neve Genysis Console – 64 Channel AVID 192 I/O – AD/DA Converter  UAD Satellite OCTO – DSP Accelerator Tanoy Gold – Passive Speakers (Powered by 2x Mono Blocks)

– Levi Letsoko

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M A R KET PL AC E

UPCOMING EVENTS JANUARY

2 – 13

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Palm Springs, California

22 – 2 FEB

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23 – 2 FEB

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Salt Lake City, Utah

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20 – 28

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Profile for Sun Circle Publishers

Screen Africa January 2020  

It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all, our loyal readers, to our first issue of 2020. I hope you all have had a restful break spent with...

Screen Africa January 2020  

It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all, our loyal readers, to our first issue of 2020. I hope you all have had a restful break spent with...

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