Ascent Media launches virtual post services

Ascent Media, owners of a group of video post-production facilities located in California, has launched new collaborative services that enable ad agencies and program producers to work with its editors and colorist virtually, via secure satellite connection, from anywhere in the country.

Ascent Media's UP Sessions allow clients to participate in telecine sessions, and other finishing work, from remote sites in real time while interacting with the artists performing the work.

The service allows clients the creative freedom to work with the post-production artists they choose, while saving the time, cost and inconvenience of traveling to the West Coast.

The company said its UP Sessions allow clients to participate in telecine sessions, and other finishing work, from remote sites in real time while interacting with the artists performing the work. The UP Sessions consist of three different products that facilitate virtual collaboration; UP Satellite, UP Fiber and UP Web.

UP Satellite uses a secure satellite connection, provided by Ascent Media Network Services, to transmit broadcast quality digital video to designated client sites in other cities. Directors, editors and others can then collaborate with colorists at Ascent Media’s facilities as if they were in the same room.

UP Fiber connects all the Ascent Media facilities in real time at broadcast quality via fiber. This allows clients to access, for example, Company 3 New York artists from a bay at Company 3 Santa Monica. UP Web is an Internet-based tool that allows clients to collaborate with sessions in real-time via a computer. This service is review-quality only, but can save time and money on voiceover placements and visual effects sessions, among other things.

Bob Solomon, president of Ascent Media Creative Services, said the system is simple to use, requiring only a satellite dish and a broadcast quality monitor. He said the company will also offer the service directly to agencies that have a desire for “in-house” capability and that Ascent Media is establishing a network of affiliated post facilities that will offer the service.

The UP Satellite service is point-to-multi-point (as opposed to point-to-point fiber), so it can simultaneously broadcast to agency personnel, directors and other parties who wish to collaborate on a session from different locations. To ensure optimum image quality, UP Satellite employs a digital path from end-to-end with no NTSC encoding. That avoids artifacts common to most types of long haul terrestrial transmissions. The system could also be easily adapted for data transfers.

Dallas editorial house, charlieuniformtango, is the first company to serve as an UP Satellite facility, with beta testing of the service ongoing there since January. During the testing period, several Dallas area advertising agencies used the service, including Publicis (BMW), GSD&M (Southwest Airlines) and Dieste Harmel & Partners (Gatorade).

To accommodate the new UP Satellite service, charlieuniformtango has set up a “virtual telecine suite” at its facility. A calibrated monitor installed at the site, and proprietary technology used by Ascent Media Network Services for the satellite transmission, ensure that the image viewed by clients in Dallas is identical to what they would see if they were sitting in the colorist’s suite in Santa Monica or Hollywood. Clients communicate with their colorist via speakerphone or teleconference.

In the next few weeks, Ascent Media said it would open UP Satellite sites in several other cities; including Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Miami and Atlanta. UP Satellite will also be available soon from Company 3 New York and R!OT Manhattan.

While Ascent Media is initially targeting telecine work, UP Satellite can also be used to monitor other types of post-production work, including visual effects and finishing. Dailies transfers are another important potential market, for commercial work as well as feature film production. Ascent Media also foresees directors using the service to view dailies while on location overseas.

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