When people ask what Clean Cut Media post-production facilities are like, I tell them we offer all the kit you’ll find at a Soho post-production house, but without the overheads!

Lots of producers and editors live in our area of South West London. And why travel into central London to a post-production house when you can just come round the corner to Hampton Wick?

That’s why the BBC came to us recently to edit their Formula 1 show. The BBC editors wanted to use their own kit, so we provided a control room, an edit suite, broadcast monitors and an HDCamSR tape deck, and I was on hand to help out where necessary. They brought in their servers containing all the footage capture during a year’s worth of Formula 1 races, and used our Ethernet infrastructure to feed their edits from their servers. I was on hand to help their edits run smoothly and provided broadcast monitoring for their FCP7 HD workflow.

We’re very no nonsense, down-to-earth people. The whole production team has a good mix of technical and creative capabilities, so we know how to fix kit, design workflows and put things together that will work. It’s our priority to help things flow and make life easier for our clients.

I started machine digital tape editing in 2001 at BskyB, working on a multitude of program genres, having spent five years as a senior VT/EVS op before that. Both roles have given me a good technical understanding and rigging experience which is still relevant now, 20 years on.

From Afghanistan to Strictly Come Dancing

My own editing and production experience spans everything from war zones to Strictly Come Dancing, so I’m used to dealing with all kinds of environments and all sorts of clients.

Many years ago I used to work for Al Jazeera news in Qatar. Most of the time I was editing in the bureau but I spent 14 days out in Afghanistan and Kabul. I was editing out there using the bare minimum of kit, just a laptop computer. At the time I was working with James Bays, a news correspondent. He’d been in the news himself when he got himself kidnapped by the Taliban on purpose, to get a story. Luckily, they gave him back and he was fine.

My experience with Al Jazeera gave me a great grounding in working with limited technology in hostile environments.

On the other hand, I don’t want to exaggerate. Sometimes, live television can be more stressful than working in a war zone! I’m thinking back to covering live boxing shows, which were really busy, crazy environments. 

Back then, you had to have a very different skill set. Tape editing was very linear, so you had to understand what your suite was doing to make it work, controlling vision and audio and the visual effects at the same time. Now the Avid takes care of everything and you can fix mistakes very quickly. Avid suites are easier to operate than tape suites. But someone still needs to build them!

Applying lateral thinking to post-production

Technically, the old school way was convoluted, but it gave me the ability to make things work. You had to think laterally and plan ahead, and I still believe that’s the best way to make sure production goes smoothly.

The kit at Clean Cut Media is flexible and modular so we can adapt to what clients need. We use Mac computers so we can use most video codecs without too much hassle, and because it’s modular, we keep everything up to date so our kit can provide proper broadcast compliant material.

A lot of clients are coming to us now for 4K workflow. This provides high resolution images of an amazingly high quality, but it also takes up a lot of bandwidth and disc space. So we work with clients to help them find ways to produce 4K material and then use that in the most efficient, effective way possible.

A creative alternative to shooting in 4K raw

Here’s one example of how we did this. A documentary team from Myanmar contacted me back in March and asked if I could help with setting up a 4K workflow and also provide edit suites for dry hire. I advised the team on which camera codec to use and which colour spaces to consider.  Initially they wanted to shoot 4K raw but this would have taken up too much disc space.

Instead, I suggested that they should shoot onboard XAVC 4K S-LOG2, which is a fantastic codec and easy to process.  Because of the shoot costs involved, I recommended making backups of everything via Shotput Pro to ensure there was no data loss or corruption. I put in place an AJA IO4K In/Out box that can output 4K, along with a Raid Five Thunderbolt drive by LaCie. This simple but effective workflow was easy to use and created great results.   

Save money with smart pre-production advice

Talking about lateral thinking, we also advise on pre-production. A lot of money is wasted when people don’t think carefully about pre-production. So they might shoot a green screen without using enough lights, or have a sound recording that’s not the right quality because there was no dedicated sound person working on it. Or perhaps they don’t use enough cameras, or have cameras in the wrong place, or the shots are over-exposed.

We’re editors so we can fix a lot of problems in post, but if you come to us beforehand, we can also save you from making a lot of expensive mistakes by looking at your plans and advising on how you can do things differently.

And Strictly Come Dancing? It was a freelance production gig about 15 years ago. I know nothing about dancing and I can’t even remember who was on the show at the time. I was focusing on my work! I have clearer recollections of my work for the Red Bull Air Race, Big Brother Tennis for Sky Sports and V Festival Music for ITV.

My next project is the ATP World Tour finals at the O2. This time I’m going to try a QNAP 871TS as a cost-effective solution to running three edit suites on site in a semi-shared set up along with two media management systems.  Should be fun! 

In the meantime, if you’d like my advice on the best post-production set up for you, please get in touch.

Phil Hill

Post-production facilities at Clean Cut Media

Our fresh, modern post production facilities include a variety of comfortable video edit suites. They’re the ideal place for you to work on your film, TV show, music video or documentary.

Kit includes high-spec edit suites and a wide range of editing software. While you’re here, our experienced editors will be on hand to offer advice on media resources and different digital formats. We also give you the option of uploading and delivering your media via your chosen portal or our tailor-made FTP site.

All of our suites are available for dry or wet hire. To find out more about our post production facilities, please get in touch.