Keeping It Green: Production After Covid

Some eco-friendly innovations are worth saving

After a year of disruptions and distancing, it can be hard to see any upside to all the challenges the pandemic has created. But after a year of navigating all the risks and changed practices forced by Covid restrictions, one positive is starting to emerge that could be a major change for the better: greener production.

The truth is we've learned a lot from producing during a worldwide pandemic, and Mother Earth thanks us for that. But now, as vaccines roll out and restrictions ease, you might think it's time to get back to business as usual, circa 2019.

Yet after more than a year of remote practices, production post-Covid is definitely going to shift in ways that are more sustainable for the planet. So as we approach Earth Month and get closer to Earth Day 2021, it's important to look at the innovations and new working habits that can help to make a greener world.

Taking fewer flights.

Travel remains the biggest cause of carbon waste on any production, with flights across the country and all the things that accompany them like hotel rooms, meals and additional ground travel. In the last year, we've come to realize, by necessity, that not everyone has to fly in for pre-production, casting or sitting in a video village on the shoot. With the use of Zoom and other video conferencing tools, many members of the creative team and clients attend virtually, thus drastically decreasing our flying habits and their effects on the environment.

Using software for new solutions.

While some of us will start traveling again, we need to use what we've learned during Covid to keep our impact on the environment at a minimum. With a great deal of ingenuity and innovation, we've discovered many production hacks utilizing software and remote film capture that can help minimize and even eliminate travel. The Blackmagic Design Web Presenter, which provides a direct feed from the camera to a computer to connect to various streaming applications, is one of those game-changers that will not be going away post-pandemic. The same could be said for other solutions like Qtake as a video assist system. 

Working remotely can work better.

When it comes to post-production, the pre-Covid standard practice was to make all the editors, animators, audio engineers and other talents come into the office only to be in a session by themselves in an empty room. Now that much of those sessions have gone remote, why not keep it that way? Again, this would eliminate more unnecessary travel and transportation costs, thus reducing not only the budget but also the carbon footprint of any given production.

Using fewer hard drives.

Another area where we've built great solutions to remote production is in reducing the number of hard drives and keeping all content in one central place. We should keep building on this new practice to minimize the need for all those additional hard drives being purchased and passed (and sometimes shipped) around, many of which get broken or lost in the process. With content living on a single server accessed remotely, production efficiency has improved along with the impact on the environment. You can also Slingshot footage, uploading it to the cloud directly from the shoot, but with that we have to be mindful of workflow as well as your cloud storage provider's footprint and practices as well. 

As an advisory member to Green the Bid, I've been discussing ways to better educate our industry on green practices and create standards to help maintain the ways in which we can minimize our impact on the environment. As we emerge from the pandemic, Green The Bid's goal is to help create permanent changes that will reduce the overall carbon footprint of production. The initiative has compiled a list of guidelines and resources to this end, which include consultants that specialize in creating greener workflows. 

By using and building on these new practices and guidelines, the ad industry can look forward to a more productive and sustainable future once we put the pandemic behind us. Not only will your clients be happier with these greener practices, but the planet will thank us.

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Daniel Marin
Daniel Marin is president of JOAN Studios.

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