For the independent post production community, this can be looked at as the best of times and the worst of times
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For the independent post production community in North America – indeed, for post houses everywhere – this can be looked at as the best of times and the worst of times.
There are more opportunities than ever for editors, visual effects artists, motion graphics designers, colourists, sound designers, composers and audio mixers to show off their skills and demonstrate their creativity. From streaming video to mobile to more traditional broadcast and cable, a veritable explosion of advertiser-supported content is available, creating fertile ground for innovative talents to utilise their skills on behalf of their clients. When you factor in exciting new technologies like VR and AR, it seems there’s a limitless range of possibilities for what you can do at a modern, independent post production company.
Members of the AICE International Board gather for a group photo during their most recent board meeting, held in Chicago in May
Of course, in many respects this is also the most challenging time ever to own or run such a company. Clients are driving down budgets relentlessly as they seek ways to fund all this content, creating a ‘do more with less’ matrix that’s become the new normal. New players are muscling onto the post production scene, opening studios with abandon as they try to position themselves as ‘makers.’ And in the midst of it all, ad agencies are cannibalizing their own creative vendor community by opening competing in-house production and post production facilities.
In a nutshell, this is what AICE is all about. As the independent post production industry’s trade association in North America, our mission is to promote the post production arts and advocate for the rights of the companies working in this field. With eight chapters in the US and Canada (Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Texas), our members encompass just about every major post production company in our respective markets. In addition, we have at-large members in cities like Atlanta, Boston, Miami and London.
In support of its members – and the independent post production industry as a whole – AICE has published numerous position papers and recommended guidelines that ad-dress critically-important issues of business practices, technology and workflow. These can be found on the AICE web site
Audio mixers and sound designers at companies in AICE's L.A. Chapter met lasts spring at 740 Sound for a roundtable discussion to talk about a variety of audio post issues and trends
As independent companies – many of which are small businesses – AICE members are driven not just by a passion for their work and their craft, but by the need to survive in an increasingly cutthroat business environment. That’s why the association has taken a hard line when it comes to the threat of in-house competition, stressing the need for clients to demand greater transparency on how their post production budgets are being spent.
Creatively, the association sponsors the annual AICE Awards - a competition that represents the only juried awards show in advertising to focus solely on post production. Now in its 16th year, it recognizes outstanding achievement in editing, color grading, design, music and audio, across a wide range of content formats and product categories.
Winners of the 2015 International Camp Kuleshov Chicago Chapter competition strike a rowdy pose at their awards celebration last year
On a more playful note, its Camp Kuleshov trailer competition for assistants represents a chance for the next generation of talent in editing, graphic design and audio mixing to show what they’re made of. Each year, dozens of assistants at AICE member companies take a stab at re-imagining popular or cult movies via editing, title design or sound design to change their genre or somehow transform them into something new. The results, often hilarious, reveal the depth of dedication these young people have for their work.
As the only trade association in the world to focus exclusively on post production for advertising, AICE plays an invaluable role in helping the industry uphold professional standards, adhere to fair and ethical business practices and stay on the cutting edge of technology. Yes, post production is our passion, as is making sure that the industry operates on a level playing field, and that all companies get a chance to compete in an open and fair marketplace, where creativity, innovation and efficiency are rewarded.