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What the Coronavirus Pandemic Means for Production

Music & Sound
London, UK
Carole Humphrey, MD at Grand Central Recording Studios, gives her take on the coronavirus pandemic

There is no getting around the challenges our industry will face in the coming days. Certainly, we are working around logistical issues on an hourly basis and are already seeing clients with major multi-million-dollar shoot schedules being forced to delay. 

The main challenge for us and our clients is that shoots cannot be insured for cancellation or relocation due to issues like the coronavirus. Are brands brave enough to take the hit on productions? In my view, each production will be judged on a case by case basis.  

We will start to see a lack of content. Empty sports stadia. Sponsorship campaigns dropping for big events such as European Championship, Champions League, Tour de France and Olympics 2020.

Lots of repeats of TV programming are on the horizon as production companies struggle to complete scheduled spring shows. The postponement of ‘No Time to Die’, featuring the spookily-timed title, surprised many and more will follow. ITV has reported a 10% drop in advertising bookings.

Perversely though, if the UK finds itself at home staring at screens brands could find themselves with a captive audience.

In the short term we should be thinking as creatively as possible to keep the work flowing, rather than stalling it completely. After all, creativity is what we do best.

• Consider animation as an alternative format for some productions. Lead times are much shorter than they used to be.

• Radio commercials -  this allows for the possibility of remote recording with talent, who can dial in easily via Source Connect or ISDN.

• At GCRS we have a contingency plan to record, edit and mix remotely. We also have a long list of voiceover artists with home studios.

Ultimately however, remote working is not an ideal long term solution for advertising, cinema and immersive experiences. We need to work in the best acoustically treated studio environment in order to produce world class results. Put simply, we need high end spec to meet the high end specifications of all the terrestrial and streaming services. Although we can premix Dolby Atmos it still needs to be finally mixed and mastered in an approved room.

Also, let us not forget the talent that make the studio and the culture of our business.  At the end of the day the studio is a team of people not just a sound designer. These people bring much to the party in terms of QC, transfers, budgeting and delivering outstanding work on a daily basis.

Work from Grand Central Recording Studios