This week we sat down with VOLT Studios COO Charlie Lach to get his take on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected VOLT and how we’re weathering the storm.
Charlie, how has financial forecasting and changed since the pandemic began?
“There was an immediate impact on new projects at the beginning of the pandemic as filming and production was shut down virtually worldwide. Financial forecasting has become an estimation of timing for the return of production and stability in the marketplace. We are seeing this happen in the major production centers. Accordingly, new projects and revenues are beginning to increase. “
What are the challenges prevalent in the industry today?
“The biggest challenge has been developing digital networks and communications to enable remote collaboration with our artists. Beyond the simple Zoom Conference, our work requires low-latency transmission of extremely high-quality video to multiple participants.”
Have you faced a challenge like this for VOLT in the past? How did you overcome it?
“The 2011 tsunami that struck Japan is the closest example of natural disasters having an immediate impact on our industry. In 2011 we were already evolving from videotape based workflow to digital distribution. However, many of the broadcast outlets and networks still required videotape copies of our content. Furthermore, most of our final archive and program masters were on tape. The disastrous tsunami destroyed the major videotape manufacturing facilities in Japan. Consequently, we were forced to convert to total digital distribution and archiving of projects rapidly.”
What tips do you have for other CFO’s/COO’s in the production and post-production industry?
“The basic rules always apply: Keep three to six months operating expenses in reserve. Always be aware of the trends. What may be an evolutionary process of change may be suddenly impacted and accelerated by outside events. Change can yield an opportunity for those who are prepared.”
What takeaways will you keep in mind when COVID ends? Or do you think this is the “new normal?”
“Some business operations will return to a fashion similar to pre-COVID. Staff artists will welcome the opportunity to collaborate in a face-to-face, in-person fashion. Clients may wish to return to in-person supervision for the most critical aspects of the production and post-production process. That said, the further evolution of remote collaboration will have a lasting impact. From a financial perspective, we will review our future needs for office space and overhead. We will take advantage of any cost savings afforded by the changing workflow accelerated during the pandemic.”
Please tune in next week when we chat with Executive Producer Amanda Tibbits to get her thoughts on what it’s been like being a producer during the uncertainty that is 2020.