There was a whole new set of challenges on this project; being flexible and adaptable not the least of them. Schedules and timelines changed constantly to fit in with the changes happening on set. The team at City Post were the ultimate jugglers, getting everyone working together and apart, to get the job done.
The grade schedule was really tight with last minute changes to edits there was a lot of running back and forth between the conform department and the grade suite. But we did it! Phew.
Terrific team work all around. For more information here is a recent post on the City Post website:
Post production facility City Post in Australia is more than used to dealing with dramas, having been the post house for shows like “The Dr Blake Mysteries’, “My Life is Murder” or BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated “The Cry”, but when the second wave of coronavirus swept across Melbourne in June, they weren’t expecting the real-life drama that was about to unfold.
City Post’s offices in Melbourne’s CBD already had their COVID-save protocols in place after the first lockdown struck while they were working on the popular ‘’Dancing with the Stars”, and they had to adapt quickly to extend their remote-editing and delivery capacity, and carry on.
Soon they had 25 post-production personnel working on-site, with five editors and one post producer working remotely to manage the fast turnaround, next water-cooler hit; being Season 2 of “The Masked Singer” (Australia). They were only a few weeks into production when the second wave of coronavirus began to take hold, and NSW abruptly closed their boarders to Victoria.
“All of a sudden we had three post producers and two offline editors with only a 48-hour window to pack everything up and get back home, while they continued to work on the show” says Wayne Hyett, Emmy-Award winning editor and Managing Director of City Post.
The first episodes of the second series were just airing and audiences were abuzz with speculation and predictions – was that the unmistakable voice of Kate Miller-Heidke, behind the Queen? But in the background, City Post was working closely with Warner Brothers and Network 10 to fast-track a whole new way of working. So as the Sydney folk were heading home, the Melbourne folk were self-isolating until their COVID test results came in, and the show continued going to air two nights a week.
“Suddenly we had to accommodate another five editors and post-producers to work from home, sometimes literally from their own computers. We were extending servers, expanding editing and production workflow capacity and communication channels with very short notice. Thank goodness we were running a gigabit connection out of City Post.” Explains Nadia Diggins, City Post’s Operations Manager.
“Normally on a reality TV show, you might have a six-week turnaround, on this show though we sometimes had six days. That’s to offline, edit, grade, integrate FX and graphics, mix and master.” Nadia adds. “They’re not simple shows to put together.”
“I’ve been in the business for 30 years and this was certainly the most challenging thing I’ve ever been involved in.” Says Wayne.
So, with all the pivoting and flipping having been pivoted and flipped, the show’s pipeline was once again ticking along efficiently, although more remotely than anyone had ever experienced before. It was now hours away from the filming of the episode finale – when several crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The show was immediately put on hold and everyone, including all the judges: Dannii Minogue, Urzila Carlson, Jackie O, Dave Hughes, and host Osher Günsberg had to head into two weeks of quarantine, and City Post had to lay their tools down again while everyone re-tested.
“The Masked Singer” finale was rescheduled to record with many feeds streaming in from different locations, and with only five days to turn it around – it went to air on Monday 14 September. Done. Remotely. Ratings peaked at 1.191m and Twitter was a buzz with congratulations, as people came to realise that Osher wasn’t actually standing on the stage with the contestants, and that the four judges weren’t actually seated together but rather were beaming in from different states and even a different country.
The masks may be laid to rest for the end of the season, but production continues on other shows at City Post, such as weekly episodes of the kids animated series “Monster Beach”, (which just won Best Animated Kids TV Programme at the ConnectAsia Awards 2020) and new production ramps up on a big scale, yet-to-be-announced TV series drama as well as three feature-length documentaries – and with producers, directors, editors or post-producers working off-site. No problem.
“The biggest thing we learned through this process, is that remote workflows on such a large scale, with such tight deadlines worked so well. We were able to continue without missing a beat and there’s a great confidence that comes from that”. Wayne concludes.