July 20, 2020
Despite surges in coronavirus infections, Netflix has slowly ramped up production of select shows around the world, including Asia. In the United States, Tyler Perry made headlines earlier this year announcing a return to production this month at his Atlanta-based studio — albeit under a NBA-type “bubble’ environment designed to eliminate coronavirus infection opportunities.
Netflix has jumpstarted two movie productions California, in addition to two stop-motion animations in Oregon.
“For 2021, based on our current plan, we expect the paused productions will lead to a more second half weighted content slate in terms of our big titles, although we anticipate the total number of originals for the full year will still be higher than 2020,” Netflix said in its Q2 shareholder letter.
For French-based Technicolor, which supplies sound to Netflix production “The Politician,” operating remotely wouldn’t appear to be a challenge. Not so, according to CTO Mike Novitch, who said the company needed to reconfigure its artists’ workstations to accommodate remote workflows in order to meet Netflix’s preexisting deadlines.
“We scrambled to deploy as many systems as we could to the talent for mixing and editorial,” Novitch said.
Technicolor accommodated by pulling the computers the teams were using on the physical sound stages and supplying 5-1 Nearfield monitors so they could use the same computers in their homes.
“Everyone had a reference monitor system to listen to in their house; then they each did their part in their own house and transferred files back and forth,” Novitch said.
While the first season of ‘Politician’ was set in Santa Barbara, Calif., most of season two takes place in New York City (shot on-location). The Technicolor was tasked with enhancing the feel of the city, providing a background for the dialog to sit in without it distracting from the interactions on-screen.
The remaining scene was shot as a FaceTime call and was used in the last episode of the season. Normally, the Sound team might have four days or so to mix an episode, but in this case one member of the team would be working on one episode, while another was finishing another episode remotely, according to Technicolor Sound’s Gary Megregian.
“Fortunately, production was almost complete before the shutdown happened,” he said. “It was really about time management and figuring out the most efficient use of our time.”
The most difficult part was not being on a mix stage where the artists can hear what’s happening in the moment and how things are playing against each other. If there was a dialog edit that needed to be fixed or a sound effect that was misplaced or needed to be changed, Megregian would need to wait until a mix was delivered to him so that he could hear things in context before making those decisions.
Working collaboratively from their homes, the Technicolor Sound team were able to deliver the required sound in less-than-ideal work conditions.
“There were a lot of moving parts and a lot of people made all of this happen. None of this could have happened without them,” Megregian said.