Exclusive: Cineom partners with Bridge Postworks; builds a 4K HDR-ready post-production facility

Cineom which has been one of the leading players in the broadcast and media space recently lent its services to post-production company Bridge Post Works.

Known for creating handcrafted solutions for media and entertainment verticals across broadcast, film, professional audio-video, and digital solutions, Cineom has played a vital role by delivering myriad industry-standard technology-based products which help run the M&E powerhouses in India, ME, and Africa.

The impact of the pandemic was felt in every region, every industry, and every aspect of life. Describing the initial post-pandemic times as the pressure situation, Cineom business development manager Priyan Parab shares, “Some of the pandemic’s side effects still have the power to surprise. The inevitable pandemic has been certainly challenging for us; with the restrictions coming in and the projects to be delivered simultaneously, it was a pressure situation for our team to complete the projects within the given deadlines. We had got special permissions to work during the lockdown as we fall under the essential services category (as we provide services to broadcasters and media houses).”

Pandemic has been tough for businesses across the world. Parab informs, “We lost one of our valuable employees during these tough times, and more than 10 of our employees were Covid positive, including our CFO. With all these unfortunate circumstances occurring, we still managed to deliver for three of India’s biggest news channels (Republic TV Bangla, Argus TV, Asianet), the most advanced post-post production studios (Bridge Post Works, Rabab Studios & Miraj Studios) and other A/V Projects in the pandemic.”

Cineom was also instrumental in setting up India’s first Virtual Production Test Lab in Mumbai and introduced the M&E industry to the gamut of virtual production during the pandemic last year. One of the most economically pervasive pandemic effects, Parab informs, is the rise in shipping costs.

Speaking about the additional pandemic-induced challenges, he shares, “These costs were overall increasing the cost of sale to the end-user. At the same time, the delivery timelines for the tech equipment had risen drastically due to manufacturing delays and a shortage of semiconductors. As we stock & backup most of the tech gears needed by the M&E industry, it helped us serve our clientele quicker & in a more efficient way during the long waiting times the clients faced getting their equipment. We forecast that though demand should remain high in the coming months, prices should begin to come down again by the end of the year, as the manufacturing shall boost. While Pandemic prevented us from doing our face to face meetings, we at Cineom focused on building digital habits & strategies, which including having an internal CRM & ERP system, revamped & more interactive website, E-commerce store to buy products online, updated social media pages & interactive webinars and extensive use of Virtual Meetings.”

Speaking about their partnership with Bridge PostWorks that they struck for building a 4K HDR-ready post-production facility, he shares, “Cineom was chosen to be a tech solution partner and a turnkey System Integration partner to execute this future-ready project. Post-on-boarding, Cineom took multiple roles & responsibilities to deliver the world-class facility to bridge post works. With an approximate area of 2000 sq.ft, and four state-of-the-art DI (Digital Intermediate) rooms to be made, Cineom started the initial design concepts for Bridge. While designing the facility, the Cineom team has considered all the international OTT delivery norms so that post-completion, the facility was ready to deliver the content to OTT giants such as Netflix, Amazon & Hotstar, to name a few.”

Parab informed that Cineom’s scope of works included the complete isolation and acoustics (design + buildup + installation + testing), HVAC, CCTV, access control & intercom – (Design & SITC), 4K/UHD post-production system devices, including video interfaces with 12G-SDI for four Digital Intermediate (DI) rooms, multi-channel surround sound audio systems, in two main rooms and a two-channel speaker system in other critical listening environments, network design and configuration for support of Q-LAN, Dante, and AES67 requirements, centralized server room/apparatus room (Design & Setup) for all the hardware equipment’s such as workstations, servers, networking devices, and storage. Apart from that, Cineom also was responsible for the supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of all the A/V along with high-end post-production equipment. 

Elaborating on the facilities they provided for the studio, he further shares, “As the facility was meant to future proof, with our set of highly skilled engineering teams, the Cineom team installed the entire facility with 10G Network connectivity & 12G SDI Cables for seamless 4K+ workflow and 8K ready tech. Furthermore, isolated DI rooms were created with no access to the hardware (workstations & servers) in the room for an additional layer of content security. Also, considering the need for remote production, Cineom has designed the entire facility to have workflow around PAM (Production asset management) in the future, which will help get Content Security, Storage scalability, increased performance, efficiency & reliability.”

The facility is now ready and includes two state-of-the-art Dolby Vision-enabled (4K HDR) color grading rooms with Da Vinci Resolve color grading technology licenses. These two rooms also house in 5:1 audio experience for the viewers to have an immersive experience. In addition to the two above rooms, two other relatively small grading rooms are meant for 4K SDR grading and consist of a two-channel audio monitoring system. 

Parab shares, “With this technology, we are sure Bridge PostWorks will help their brands & clientele to unlock new creative and business potential with a digital content that is brighter, livelier, and much more dynamic. Bridge PostWorks is by far one of the most technically advanced post-production facilities in the country, and we at Cineom are proud to deliver this project successfully.”

While there were scarcely any technical challenges faced as our team was highly skilled, Parab shares that there were many iterations on the tech gears as the client required the best, and they accommodated the same. In today’s time when OTT giants rule the content gamut, workflows speak louder than words.

Parab shares, “We aim to simplify these complex workflows by leveraging the technology. We have been studying and experimenting with the production and post-production workflows, which help us design the most economical, feasible, and effective solution for our client, which are at par with the international OTT & SMPTE norms. Bridge PostWorks will set an example in the industry as it has been housed with the right & future-ready tech, which will enable it to deliver picture finishing (color grading & conforming) to the optimal quality.”

Founder of Bridge Postwork Sidharth Meer shared that their relationship with Cineom goes back many years. Detailing the equation, he shares, “We have always relied on them for equipment that we needed for the on-set DIT business from them, whether they be FSI Box IO’s or AJA routers. When it came to building the new post-production studio we could think of no one better to execute this given our very specific requirements to be self-sufficient and extremely scalable and future-ready. Their track record is proof and they have delivered some of the best studios in India and we don’t aim to be any less. We can now literally switch from 4K to 8K with no extra effort since everything is already built and cabled for. They were very accommodating and quickly adapted when we made changes to our infrastructure plan as the situation on the ground quickly pivoted from theatrical to OTT due to Covid. Our large projection-based colour bay changed to two 4K HDR color bays. We also worked with their HVAC team and Dandekar Vaibhav Architects to design and equip the studio with a HEPA filtered fresh air ventilation system which currently meets or surpasses US CDC and ASHRAE guidelines for air circulation in closed office spaces. No one in India is even asking for it and but our teams’ safety and client safety are of utmost importance and we believe that providing a clean and safe space to work out of, will help create the best work.”

Meer’s journey began when he picked up a video camera and shot his first film about traveling to a few festivals 19 years ago and since then, he shares, it has been a non-stop wild ride.

On being asked about the industry, he shares, “This industry is just fantastic and there is so much to do and so much to learn and grow. I’m constantly learning, moving from cinematography to VFX and now to color and finishing over the years. It’s been approximately 10 years of doing just color grading. I was fortunate to have met the right people at the right time who I’m always collaborating with on new projects and constantly trying to push myself to try something new.”

Speaking about the services they are planning to offer, he shares, “We are focusing on complete color-managed workflow services from set to post. The ability to deliver that exists and we have proven that on many projects. That means having our team on board right from prep, helping test the cameras and lenses and figuring out any kinks in the workflow, live signal monitoring, and color grading, to daily services, delivering color corrected dailies to producers, and stakeholders and properly metadata tagged proxies to editorial. We even include monitor calibration for editors monitors when we are brought on board a project. And to final color grading and finishing in whichever format the client requires. The new studio helps provide the right environment to work in and to view the final finished feature, series or documentary with perfectly calibrated sound and picture.”

From small music videos for independent music artists to multi-crore feature films or series intended for theatrical or OTTs like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and more, the studio works with a wide variety of clients. “Our hope is to always be this way and to work on a wide variety of projects. We hope to work for AppleTV+ and HBO in the future. We like to take on new challenges with every project and we are looking forward to developments in the virtual production space and how we can fit into roles required for those kinds of projects,” he concludes.