Tag Archives: Walter Biscardi

Quick Chat: Walter Biscardi on his new Creative Hub co-op

Post production veteran and studio owner Walter Biscardi has opened The Creative Hub within his Atlanta-area facility Biscardi Creative Media (BCM). This co-op workspace for creatives is designed to offer indie filmmakers and home-based video producers a place to work, screen their work, meet with clients and collaborate.

Biscardi has had this idea in the back of his head for the past few years, but it was how he started his post company that inspired The Creative Hub. After spending years at CNN and in the corporate world, Biscardi launched his post business in 2001, working out of a spare bedroom in his house. In 2003 he added 1,200 square feet to the back of his house, where he ran the company until 2010. In January 2011 he moved into his current facility. So he knows a thing or two about starting small and growing a business naturally.

color

Color grading

Let’s find out more.

Why was this the right time to launch this co-op?
The tools keep getting smaller and more powerful, so it’s easier than ever to work at home.  But from time to time there is still a need for “bigger iron” to help get the job done.  There’s also a need for peripherals that you might want to use such as the Tangent Element panels and FSI monitors for color grading, but making that investment for just one project isn’t feasible. Or maybe you’re planning a large project and would like to lay out your storyboards and planning where everyone can see it. Our conference room has 30 feet of corkboard and a 10-foot dry erase wall that is killer for production planning.

How will it work?
We have a beautiful space here and oftentimes we have rooms available for use. In the “traditional post production world” you would charge $50- $175/hour just for the suite, but many indie filmmakers — and even many long-form projects like reality shows and episodics — just don’t have that kind of budget.  So I looked at the co-op office space for inspiration on how to set up a pricing structure that would allow the maximum benefit for indie creatives and yet allow us to pay the bills. So we came up with the basic hourly/daily/weekly/monthly pricing structure that’s easy to follow with no commitments.

I think the time has been right for the co-op creative space for at least two years now, it just took this much time for me to finally get my act together and get everything down on paper.

What’s great about the co-op space too is that we hope it’ll foster collaboration by getting folks out of their houses for the day and into a common space where you can bounce ideas off each other, create those, “Hey, can you come look at this” moments. You see a lot of that online, but being able to actually talk to the person in the same room always leads to much better collaboration than a thread of responses to your online video.

One of the edit rooms

One of the edit rooms

Can you talk more about the pricing and room availability?
Depending on the room, we have availability by the hour, day, week and month. Prices are very straightforward such as $100/day for a fully furnished edit suite. (See pricing here.) That includes the workstation, dual monitors, Flanders Scientific reference monitor and two KRK Rokit 5 audio monitors. Those rates are definitely below “market value” but we have the space, the gear and we’re happy to open our doors and let filmmakers and creatives come on in and have some fun in our sandbox.

The caveat to all the low pricing is that it is restricted to standard business hours only. Right now that’s 8am-6pm. This follows with most of the co-ops I researched and if folks wanted to have 24-hour access or longer access to the space, that would be priced according to their needs. But the rates would revert to more market standard rates with overnight being more. We’ll see how this goes and if it takes off, we could always run a second shift at night to help maintain a lower rate in those hours.

What about gear?
For editorial, graphics, animation, sound and design, we have the full Adobe Creative Cloud in every Creative Suite.  Four of the suites run Mac and one room runs Windows.  Every suite has a Flanders Scientific Reference monitor connected via AJA or BMD hardware.

Color grading is offered via Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve and Adobe’s SpeedGrade on a Mac Pro with a Tangent Elements control surface and an FSI OLED Reference Monitor.

The sound mixing theater features ProTools|HD 5.1 mixing system with Genelec audio monitoring.  The main system is a Mac Pro. That theater has an eight-foot projection screen (pictured right) and can serve as a screening room for up to 12 people or a classroom for workshops with seating for up to 18 people. It’s a great workshop space.

None of our pricing includes high-speed storage as we assume people will bring their own. We do have 96TB of high-speed networked storage on site, which is available for $15/TB per day should it be needed.

So you are mostly Adobe CC based?
Adobe is provided because that’s what we use here so it’s already on all of the systems. By not having to invest in additional software, we can keep the rates low. We do have Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro on site, but they are older versions. If we get enough requests for Avid and FCP, we can update our software packages at a later date.

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Walter Biscardi is a staple on social media. Follow him at @walterbiscardi.

‘Arson Dogs’ finds a home for post at Biscardi Creative Media

A web series about training dogs to sniff out accelerants? Smells good to me! For the show Arson Dogs, famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell called on Atlanta’s Biscardi Creative Media (BCM) to post 10 episodes of the series, which tells the story of how dogs get trained to sniff out things like gasoline and propane at potential arson sites. It runs on Stilwell’s Positively website.

ArsonDogs-4small

The series was shot in Maine, where State Farm’s Arson Dog Training Program trains handlers and working dogs. These specially trained animals are a huge part of a fire investigation team, working alongside law enforcement officials to alert their handlers to the presence of accelerants.

Stilwell and her crew spent five days at the school capturing many hours of raw material on up to five different cameras: the Canon C100, Canon 70D, Sony AX2000, Sony FS700 and GoPro. While post on the show is on-going, a trailer was completed on a tight deadline — they had about a week to craft it from over 3,500 raw clips. BCM founder Walter Biscardi Jr. led the edit with assistance from BCM editors R. John Becker and Kylee Wall.

“Victoria’s team uses the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, as do we at BCM, so we worked with them to show how best to log and organize the materials so we could use their notes to quickly turn the project around,” explains Biscardi (@walterbiscardi). “They did a beautiful job logging and organizing the bins in multiple ways so we could cross reference. Everything was loaded into our Small Tree Shared Storage system which proved a major key in the quick turnaround.”

Walter Biscardi at work.

Walter Biscardi at work

As you might expect from a show like this, the most challenging aspect for the post team is the sheer amount of footage, including a lot of sound on tape, either interviews or on-the-fly bits.  “There was no sound technician for the five days of shooting so the audio is spread around the multiple cameras,” reports Biscardi. “There are times when one camera is showing an area of action while the audio is from someone in a completely different location. Syncing up all the audio correctly and then quickly locating the correct microphones is definitely one of the larger challenges we have.”

Editor Wall is working off one-line descriptions for each six-minute episode, reports Biscardi. “There are no guidelines beyond the one sentence and the pre-edit meetings with all of us, so it’s really all on Kylee to build each episode in the suite. There are notes in the logs, which are a good starting point, but obviously editors see and hear things differently than the producers.  Of course, there are times when something is heard in the field but we may not necessarily have the audio that corresponds to their memories when we listen to the playback.”

Having the same footage and the Adobe suite in the Positively offices has been a real plus because BCM can make requests of Stilwell’s team and “they can not only tell which clip or clips we might have what we want, but even tell us the bins and sequences the clips are located in. If need be, they can even string out some clips in a sequence and email us the project file or vice versa.”