The question that I’m asked most these days is, “why the %&*# are you getting back into the business”? My response simply is this, “I never left it”. In fact, seven years ago I joined a company comprised of brilliant mathematicians and software developers with the objective of changing an important aspect of our business and discovering new, data-centric methods of finishing high quality TV dramas. MTI became a new vehicle to satisfy an old passion, and having found a group of likeminded “obsessors”, I began a journey that would ultimately lead back to a familiar road as well as others not travelled.
The changing world of post has been most recently affected by the advent of digital acquisition. The flurry of new digital cameras is an ongoing challenge most post houses find difficult to facilitate, and present the facility owner with a business dilemma of how to support customer whim on the set. It’s a serious question since production believes every camera is easily supported when, in fact, they each have their own idiosyncrasies, and can consume enormous time and resources in creating usable editorial deliverables. These technical, creative, and business puzzles often intersect and confuse matters to the point of frustration for all involved.
The experience of the last seven years has been one of learning and creation. With a dedicated team of developers, MTI has tackled some of these difficult issues the post industry faces daily. I say with complete modesty that we anticipated the sea change that has manifested itself during the last two television seasons. Regardless of what ultimately tipped the scales, the change to digital acquisition was inevitable and would have to be facilitated by the post industry if post houses were to remain a viable business enterprise. Our commitment is to help post business owners continue to offer a higher, more complete dailies service to its customers than they could provide for themselves.
MTI’s product development focuses on two areas: film restoration and post editorial facilitation. Control Dailies and Convey both address the area of post editorial facilitation. Control Dailies and Convey created a completely new methodology of facilitating the variety of acquisition formats that continue to be deployed by the production community, and was recognized by the HPA (Hollywood Post Alliance) for its innovation when it awarded MTI an Engineering Excellence award in 2006. Control Dailies and Convey rest on an IT infrastructure that supports parallel workflows for file based deliveries with a maximum of efficiency of time and labor. To the extent that this endeavor is long term and fraught with continuing change in production, MTI is in constant pursuit of developing solutions for all issues arising from this evolving state. This is a daunting task that can only be addressed by software development that is nimble and responsive. MTI has endeavored to be a reliable partner to the post industry, dedicating thousands of man hours to perfecting workflow for digitally acquired dailies.
In response to MTI customer concern about its entry into the market as a service provider, our policies and motivation remain clear. We entered the film restoration field to accomplish two objectives: improve our technology by having firsthand, direct experience with the problems that modern digital film restoration customers face, and make sure that we were around to support our current software and service customers. We anticipated the general commoditization of software and needed a way to survive and ensure continued development in what is a growing business for the service sector. We also made a commitment to share all developments with the community and never hoard any technology. We have honored that commitment to the letter and, happily, have employed more developers for Correct DRS™ than ever. We are delivering Version 9, which is the fifth major version release in six years, with better, more effective tools for the restoration artist. And, we continue to research and develop more aggressive algorithms to make the workflow more efficient.
We only seek what any other company desires… profitability. As many of you witnessed at NAB (some with gladness some with sorrow) software pricing for film restoration has plummeted and, while this may seem attractive at first glance, what it portends is reduced support and development for those companies wishing to pursue this field as a serious endeavor. Film restoration is no different from other service offerings. It is a demanding and technically challenging art form that requires continuous refinement and development. Good luck to an industry that doesn’t recognize the dangers of undervaluing maintenance and support.
We pride ourselves on being able to listen to customers on both the services and engineering sides of our business and react to their suggestions and ideas as though they were our own. When we meet likeminded, passionate post people we’re thrilled to include them in our circle of “obsessors” because we know that through their perspectives our product development and services will improve and, ultimately, benefit the industry in general.
MTI is a small company with big ideas that seeks to partner with customers on both sides of the equation in an effort to improve the post industry in general and help post businesses thrive… including our own. Customer support is essential, and we respectfully request it of you.