It has already been almost twenty years since Saya was founded. There were three of them in 2002, wanting to tell stories using their professions: producer/reporter, musician/composer, and sound engineer. They were about 25 years old when they first hung sound insulation on Rue des Jeûneurs. The tone was set.
Samy Chandiramani, who joined Saya eleven years later in business development, believes that that energy has stayed: "For me, it was a group of young people who knew how to laugh but who had the courage to launch themselves on this adventure, to take that risk. Today that attitude is still there. Julien is hiring and producing works in a time of crisis. We don't do things like everybody else."
For Pascal Blondela, head of post-production planning and monitoring, this risk-taking is proof of "an entrepreneur's vision" and "grit": "It's like a note that can be held and changed naturally, thanks to all the work that has been put in place and a great intelligence behind it."
When Saya established its headquarters, there was a strong desire to create a place where people could feel good. Simply put, because people feel good here, whatever comes out of it will only be better. Their opportunity was located between the walls of 32 Rue des Jeûneurs, a former textile studio that kept its industrial allure and whose charm still captivates each new visitor.
A Story in Sound and Picture
Audio post quickly became the heart of Saya's work, but that wasn't enough. At the time, TV stations were in the process of reducing costs and infrastructure. They were looking to do all post production in the same place—for consistency, too. To respond to these new needs, SAYA generalized across all of post production.
With the help of a fourth associate, François Charles Le Goff, and numerous investments, the team grew and developed a picture department. It was here that Saya made its first steps in the world of TV shows: Section de Recherches, produced by Dominique Lancelot, and L'Hôpital, produced by Antoine Perset, then others like Les Invincibles by Making Prod (with Stephane Drouet and Matthieu Viala) or Pigale, La Nuit by Lincoln TV.
But so many investments in so little time was a liability when the 2008 crisis hit their sector a few years later... Fortunately, things set off again rather quickly and the team decided to concentrate its efforts on fiction and documentaries. There was in the meantime the opportunity to work on some feature films—notably Mirrors, directed by Alexandre Aja and edited by Baxter. But to serve their desire to be part of a maximum number of steps in post production, the team decided to make the small screen their playing field.
It's in this vein that Saya developed its whole gamut of services, including Saya Sound and Saya Lab, dedicated to audio post and video post.
"The goal of these new services being notably to offer clients different advantages, but also within the very specific constraints that digital brings," specifies Julien. "Saya Heritage and Saya Protect respond for example respectively to the constraints of security and protection from pirating, whereas Saya Play facilitates access to footage and allows teams to work collaboratively. We likewise offer Saya Anywhere to clients who work in other studios for technical reasons, but who want to enjoy our services even at a distance."
But as Samy explains, "Saya refuses to do everything. When we don't have the expertise internally, we work with quality partners. That's the case for Saya Full Access for example, which is for subtitling and audio description."
Artisans at Heart
Beyond the desire to be known as a real service provider capable of all the phases of post production, wanting to be perceived as upmarket was behind the decision to concentrate on French scripted TV. For Julien, "Working on Les Invincibles means participating in a project that a channel like Arte broadcasts as a series for the general public. It also means helping the general public have access to quality content. As 'ultra technicians,' we like that. We want the quality of the finished project to be optimal—regardless of the client."
"Or the project," adds Clément Chaumeil, technical sound director. "Whether it's streaming, prestige TV, or feature film, for me, the goal is the same: ensure the craftsmen who work here are in the best conditions. Free them from preoccupation with usage or technique so that they can focus on their real jobs."
His counterpart in picture, Florentine Genot, won't disagree. "The people we meet on a daily basis are passionate about their jobs. Being passionate ourselves, we can't do anything other than everything possible to give them the best working conditions."
The team does not, therefore, skimp on resources. "In places I've worked before, the idea was to spend as little as possible to achieve a certain result. Here, the paradigm is different. Here we invest where we need to, as much as necessary, to guarantee the best results in the next three to five years. Our monitoring work in this direction is essential. If we choose to invest in the latest Atmos audio, it's because we know that in a few years it will be the norm," Clément explains.
"The fact that we went and sought out that quality reflects where we want to take SAYA," Pascal adds. "The idea of SAYA is to respect and promote the profession, all the trades of post production. All the investments that were made from the beginning work towards this. Working in an Avid environment isn't a coincidence. Because the quality is there, of course, but beyond that, Avid has a superfine understanding of the post-production workflow. When you see the freedom that an environment like Media Composer offers an editor, you understand that the tool was really designed for them."
"They are creative tools, and we don't want to offer less than that to the creators working here," adds Clément. "They're also tools that have shown us that they can be trusted. And that's in large part thanks to VIDELIO-Cap'Ciné. Their knowledge of the Avid environment is perfect, and we've had such a trusted relationship with them for all these years, we know that if we have the slightest technical problem, it will be resolved within half a day. Avid, VIDELIO-Cap'Ciné, and Saya, we're a trio that works and that allows us, we who are at the service of creators, to concentrate on the core of our business, which is the human support," specifies Florentin.
The Team of All Possibilities
Providing the best support to the people working at Saya is ultimately responding to this initial idea: making people feel good here. It's a simple and universal idea that no one has a recipe for, but that the Saya team seems to honor.
"Between us, what we often say is that we are not far from the luxury hotel industry," explains Pascal. "The objective is to have the highest quality service, the most pleasant welcome."
"And to be the most available," Florentine adds. "Everyone, in their respective positions, will go as far as possible to meet a customer's demand."
"Today, the fact that TV series' budgets are tending to decrease, especially among traditional broadcasters, is an additional challenge for us that pushes us to think differently, for example to develop our expertise upstream of post production and seek to optimize the budget. Whatever the market trend tomorrow, we will always look for the smartest solution to offer the same quality of service," explains Julien.
For Samy, there is no doubt that "the real added value of Saya is this team. This is what makes everything possible, both for us and for our customers. They are experts, like you have in big teams of course, except they have such a passion for their jobs and such a desire to satisfy the customer that they show the greatest curiosity to anticipate future requests and the greatest dedication to find in the moment, not the most obvious solution, but the best possible solution. That's the idea customers leave here with, and that's why they come back. What we want is to restore the nobility of the profession of service provider, and I think that is palpable."
There's an energy driven and inspired by management that the team would sum up as "always demanding, always kind." "The only thing that matters here is trusting each other. It doesn't matter your age or experience, the proof of that confidence is in your work. And we have the freedom and the autonomy to do that," Clément explains, thrilled to have found an environment where it's possible to become a technical director, even at 25.
And Tomorrow? Quality, Always
"Today, my only ambition is to continue to advance the quality of our support, our expertise, and our services. Not the quantity. Saya isn't meant to grow in numbers. I keep to the size we are today because that's what allows us to have such a special relationship with the people who work here," explains Julien. "And if this desire to maintain this level of quality makes us seem like a more expensive service provider, I accept that. I trust that time will show that we can convince those who are willing to step out of their price lists to come see us."
"Customers who are not looking for service at a discount, those who are looking for a real service with the goal of doing quality work themselves, they leave convinced," adds Fatiha Sabri, administrative and accounting manager.
For Julien, "It's this sincere attachment to quality that explains, I think, our luck in having such loyal clients in a rather volatile environment—an opportunity we want to continue to honor."
On the picture side:
- 12 edit bays with Avid Media Composer 2020.12
- 1 4K/HDR calibration room with DaVinci Resolve Studio 17
- centralized storage system with Avid NEXIS e2 (20TB) and Pro (80TB)
- finishing spaces
On the sound side:
- 9 sound editing booths of which 2 are LCR, 3 are 5.1, and 3 are Atmos 7.1.4
- 1 5.1 TV mixing room with vocal booth
- 2 Atmos 7.1.4 TV mixing rooms
- 2 Atmos 9.1.4 film/TV mixing rooms, adapted for post-sync recording
All mixing rooms are equipped with Avid S6 or D-control consoles and DK Audio cinema sound systems and connected to centralized Avid NEXIS storage.