FEBRUARY 8, 2022

Exploring the Hybrid Post Facility with Ryan Hardison

A post-prod editor works on a project from a remote location

Many businesses have had to completely reexamine their workflows in recent years. This has presented several challenges that demanded innovation from those in the post-production industry. To explore some of the adaptations that post professionals have made during the pandemic, Avid Post Cafe host Corey Tedrow recently spoke with Ryan Hardison, co-owner of Red Arrow Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Discover how the Red Arrow team adjusted over the past year and a half, and how a hybrid post facility model impacted the team and their clients.

Learning and Adapting

Like many areas, Knoxville issued a stay-at-home order in March 2020, and Red Arrow Industries took that direction seriously. "We have the utmost respect for our employees and we want them to be safe," Hardison explained. So, reacting quickly, the entire team switched to a work from home model by simply grabbing their Avid machines and taking them home. Unfortunately, this also meant that the editors now had to work off individual drives rather than the much more efficient shared storage that they were used to.

At this early stage, Hardison and his team developed a very complex workflow that utilized a number of different tools and required files to be transferred between users multiple times in a day. "We did that for a little bit and we did it well," he said. "But that's a lot of hard work." To make things more efficient Red Arrow moved the Avid machines back to the office and instead supplied their team with the tools necessary for remoting in from home. "It really took the weight off our editors' shoulders in terms of product management and media management, and they were able to get back to being creative."

Adjusting as a Team

While many industries suffered during the pandemic, Red Arrow has seen enormous growth. "Throughout the year, we got more work and more work, and we had to add more editors and add more editors," Hardison said. This, of course, is a pleasant surprise for any business owner. "But probably the most surprising thing is how well we were able to work as a group separately."

For Hardison and his team, being completely remote and losing the face-to-face collaboration was one of the biggest difficulties that they faced. Recently, though, they have been able to move to a hybrid model with great success. "What would have taken three hours, you know, collaborating via remote, is taking an hour and a half in real person, and it feels good," said Hardison. "You forget how much you miss that sometimes."

Looking Forward to A Hybrid Post Facility

Despite the challenges of working from home, Hardison feels like a hybrid post facility model is the future of the industry. "I don't see a world where we'll ever be 100% back in the office for post," he explained. For Red Arrow, the team has simply outgrown their office building during the pandemic. But also, both Hardison and his employees prefer being able to work from home when they can.

The use of remote work technology has also allowed Red Arrow to use freelancers from beyond the relatively small post community in Knoxville. "A year ago, we could only hire editors that lived in Knoxville that could come in to our office. We no longer have those handcuffs on us," said Hardison.

When asked about his overall impressions of the hybrid workflow, he said, "I'm excited about just the flexibility that we're going to have going forward for this stuff. It's a whole different world than we've ever seen."

Having learned the value of a hybrid workflow, Red Arrow Industries, and doubtless many other businesses, feel that this is the future of post-production. "I don't think we just want to throw all of that away and go back to what we were doing," Hardison concluded.

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  • Jonathan Thompson headshot

    Jonathan has worked as a journalist, director, cinematographer, editor, and screenwriter. In 2017, Thompson started Signal Film Company, a video production and consultancy firm in the Southern United States, with his wife. 

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