Pain points in cross-border transactions – Reputation and Credentials
Popular search engines are still the default tools and, at best, their results can be cross-checked with the target’s business associates.
Algorithms apart, there is disparity in the supply chain itself that slows down the evaluation process in developing markets. In the U.S. or the U.K., for instance, services such as concept and scripts, sound effects or animation are standalone services offered by super-specialists. So, vetting is easy.
Contrast this with unorganized markets such as India or Poland, where one service provider offers all those services. Comparing companies on a specific expertise becomes complex, if not impossible.
With no established processes, local service providers often resort to unprofessional means to snare contracts.
Name-dropping is one. To impress clients, they boast about their links with local celebrities and prominent persons, and claim to have made big contributions to successful shows. It is difficult to ascertain the veracity of their statements.
Lack of transparency
Another bane is the lack of transparency. Take the case of an independent producer from Jordan seeking to go west. When she reached out to distribution companies in Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam, they welcomed her content but refused to share details about buyers.Next, she learnt, her production had been screened at multiple film festivals. Accolades came, but little income.
Fixers and consultants
Hiring local fixers and consultants helps. Bigger companies also invest in local offices and operational hubs. While this could resolve some of the issues in the primary markets, problems persist in the secondary and tertiary ones.
Adding to the verification dilemma are non-standardized forms for so-called Request for Information or Request for Proposal. Not only are they long, but are differently worded and nuanced. This prompts local vendors to devote their time and best resources on filling these forms, to bag big contracts.
The Vitrina Way
A secure marketplace provides a platform where every buyer and seller has been thoroughly vetted, eliminating chances of fraud.Vitrina ensures this by putting guard rails on its platform.
Our team identifies bad actors or potential ones, and such companies are kept out of the platform.
The team weeds out those that mis-represent facts, or make claims not backed by demonstrable proof.
The launch, for example, will exclude all freelancers from its database. Only companies will be featured.
Official Email IDs
One primary condition to qualify for the Vitrina platform will be an official email ID. In the absence of that, a couple of other documents will be required.
Vitrina is in the process of outlining the list of documents. The documents required to prove the legitimacy of a company and its appropriate representative may vary for different countries.
Even when onboard, the platform will set parameters monitoring not just the credentials but the activities undertaken by the participants.
These would trigger alarms within the system if any member makes false performance claims.In that case, they would be instantly removed from the system.
AI, the key pillar
Its proprietary AI has given Vitrina the confidence and scale to delve through massive volumes of unstructured data sets, find patterns and report anomalies.For example, if a company offers a long and convoluted explanation about its work, the AI is able to dissect and identify the exact nature of services that the company provides, compare this with competing services, and club them in a specific category.
As streaming multinationals engage in buying and selling content across geographical boundaries, the paucity of information about prevailing norms, local parlance, and regional insights is pushing them to rope in indigenous partners.
The absence of multi-country mapping of the global supply chain is one of the biggest hurdles in cross-border transactions. As streaming multinationals engage in buying and selling content across geographical boundaries, the paucity of information about prevailing norms, local parlance, and regional insights is pushing them to rope in indigenous partners.
The challenge is picking the right allies from a host of studios, dubbing companies, production houses, distributors, translators, writers, actors, directors, and ancillary service providers, who together constitute the content supply chain.
There is negligible data about these service providers in any market. The majority of sellers and buyers physically sift through distributed material, jot down names and contact details of potential collaborators, and then write to them individually.
Inadequate assessment parameters delay the process of selecting a local vendor. Also, the absence of a curated list of the best and next-rung players leads to subjective choices. Bias is common, and the risk of the same names appearing repeatedly is high. By the time the verification is complete, a rival has taken the vendor
The lack of a standard format to seek information or negotiate is yet another stumbling block. Collaboration often involves long, complex questionnaires. There’s no uniformity of keywords across boundaries – ‘localization’ in one country could mean ‘sub-titling’ in another.
Many streaming companies are asking their content search agencies for data that simply doesn’t exist. So, they have to rely on industry sources, keyword-based search engines, or hurriedly-culled directories and documents in private circulation. Commonly called trackers, these are spreadsheets and manuals resembling the early web directories.
The Vitrina Way
Vitrina’s primary objectives are to build a robust database and a secure search platform that are bereft of inherent prejudices.
As a first step, it conducted a simultaneous census of all the major global markets, and all companies within the content supply chain in those territories. A census meant no company would be favorably picked. The exercise culminated in an extensive list of 226,000 companies.
This is being curated to build a database, which would include information about 60,000 production studios and content services companies across 30 countries, as well as 200 OTT platforms and television networks. Vitrina plans to make the census a regular feature. “We hope to do a census of companies for markets of our choosing, and keep expanding to new countries,” Founder Atul Phadnis said.
To ensure the information about the companies in its database is accurate and unbiased, Team Vitrina cross-checks facts through multiple data sets, and gets past and current work profiles vetted from diverse sources.
As the data is segregated, many classification systems are at play, in content, services and within companies.
Team Vitrina has a deep understanding of data and metadata, along with an accumulated global experience of content data and industrial intelligence within the video content industry.
This knowledge is coming in handy as it creates a single system of global supply chain classification for all companies.
It is also compiling an accurate and exhaustive list of both the services and credentials of those companies, which will successfully remove vocabulary mismatches and move from a non-normalized taxonomy to a normalized one.
When the census, classification system, past and current work profiles of companies in Vitrina’s database are linked up, the product will be a sophisticated search platform for the video industry.
This will enable the ranking and discovery of companies in different geographical locations, of diverse specializations, of specific genres and multiple language proficiencies.
Lack of data is the biggest pain for the industry
Every year, the global entertainment industry spends about $255 billion buying and producing content.
Where does the money go? Which stories and genres are getting funded, and in which markets? Which are the rivals Netflix is encountering as it chases storytellers, talent and studios in different countries? Which content, originally produced for a local audience, is being picked by global streaming players?
There are simply no deals data to track the what and where, and explain the why. An information that is critical today when global content budgets are in a state of flux.
Media deals that are top of market today may not be the core focus next year
Top studios in the US, Brazil, India and other major markets are reluctant to license their best work as they plan their own streaming services.
Covid-19 has had a crushing impact on box-office launches, and has changed the traditional pattern of theatrical releases.
The economics of content production and content acquisition are not insulated from such shocks, and beg for deals tracking.
Scale of content production has been growing tremendously year-on-year
Over 100,000 TV channels, streaming platforms, studios, cable and satellite companies worldwide are furiously adding more than a million new video content titles every year to an existing basket of about 15 million.
Data on these production, acquisition or distribution deals are disaggregated and unstructured. Or, simply, unavailable.
Predicting content potential based on current trends is a challenge
There is a constant battle to predict what content is ‘in demand’ for acquisitions. Industry players have been resorting to crude methods to track patterns and trends.
Interns and new recruits are asked to tabulate last known deals by competitors, streaming companies and major studios.
Anecdotal calls to ‘experts’ for ‘signals’ is yet another means.
Incomplete information leads to incomplete conclusions
Extracting details of deals is also complex and time-consuming. The data sets are either buried in press releases or are often semi-structured, owing their origin to industry bodies that track deals only for specific markets.
Most of the information is circumstantial at best.
Unavailability of financial specifications of ongoing deals leads to non-standard pricing models
In any cross-border deal, while the bulk of the funds is spent on production and acquisition, distribution often forms a major part of the money trail.
While distributors are not shy about announcing the deals, they keep the financial specifics close to their chest. Dearth of details leaves the streaming giants at a disadvantage while negotiating.
Leakage of information via grapevine creating misinformation
Sometimes, small local studios that are already under exclusive content contracts, continue dialogues with rival streaming companies to gather intelligence, leaving parties on the other side of the table vulnerable.
The Vitrina Way
Using technology to convert unstructured information into structured data & analytics
There is a certain way that money flows into the video entertainment industry.
Vitrina aims to use its proprietary AI and analytical expertise to trace this path: from where the money is coming in, and where it is going.
A system is being created to capture data that would indicate what content is getting funded, in which markets, in which genres, and by which companies. Also, who the recipients are.
The information culled from published sources and industry experts would explain how the industry is structured, and which constituents are critical in the flow of the big bucks: the countries, studios or the distribution companies
Connecting the dots across all aspects of content funding life-cycle
What kind of stories should get funded, or the nature of content that must be created is a function of what content is being traded.
Vitrina aims to piece together the entire story. From the source of the money to what type of content is attracting more funds, which the top markets are, and the diverse choices that an entertainment company might be making in different regions.
Vitrina would also pick out the prominent dealmakers in different markets, and examine the nature of their deals.
Not limiting to specific deal makers; Vitrina is covering the longtail across regions
Vitrina would go beyond Netflix, Amazon or Disney and dig deeper in order to identify the mid-sized or still smaller players in different geographical areas.
Its pecking order would also include local, pan-regional or regional companies which might be regularly spending substantial money to produce content.
Vitrina would examine the size of such deals, genres that are drawing the funds, and regions that are seeing maximum action.
In the course of its search, Vitrina would also identify the biases, prejudices and preferences in language or genre. Were certain studios or themes being patronised more than others?
Vitrina Deal Intel’s winning formula is to deliver accurate information every time
Such deal intel, combined with an AI-powered robust supply chain search, would give Vitrina its winning formula.
At every step, Vitrina would read authentic information from appropriate indicators to improve the quality of choices in the selection of content, partners, and markets in cross-border transactions.
This would remove the ambiguity that exists in cross-border transactions today.
Customised post-production solutions that facilitate packaging and delivery of video and film content for broadcast, VOD, mobile and the internet. Typically, content services refer to all post-production work including editing, colour correction, localization, VFX, immersive experiences, and marketing, among others.
When are Content Services preferred?
After the pre-production and production stages, once the filming is wrapped. They embellish and enhance the visual and audio materials in the footage, according to the targeted viewership, to deliver a high-quality, ready-to-beam product across multiple platforms and in diverse languages.
The entire process including marketing and distribution could take anywhere from several months to a year, depending on the size of the project.
The art of selecting clips from a film or video shoot, and putting them in a specific order to tell the desired story. It is the most crucial step in post-production services.
Editors take raw footage of the visual content and use techniques like cutaways, crosscutting, parallel editing, continuity editing, and match cuts to reconceptualize the scripted version of a story, and make it come alive in line with the director’s vision.
The process includes both picture and sound manipulation. It could also comprise any lower thirds (such as a speaker’s title or the title of an episode), credits, foley sound, sound effects, and soundtrack
Why is editing important?
Editing makes a good film exceptional. It determines when the audience receives information. Either by holding a shot longer, or purposely withholding information to give the story a twist ending. It dictates the pacing. Slow, longer shots to build suspense, or cut an entire unnecessary scene to up the overall speed.
It times the cuts skilfully so the scenes flow smoothly. This is especially crucial when the film is shot in multiple locations that need to appear like one. It also amplifies emotions. Transitions and shot selection techniques make the viewers experience a range of emotions as they watch the movie.
Content services refer to all post-production work undertaken by production studios after a film or video shoot ends
It is the third and final phase of a production process.
Content services comprise editing, colour correction, localization of content, on-set special effects and video effects, immersive experiences, graphics, trailer and marketing, among others.
The entire process could take anywhere from several months to a year, depending on the size of the project.
It involves individual agencies and ancillary companies in the global content supply chain.
What is color correction?
A post-production process where every individual clip of a footage is altered to match the color temperature of multiple shots to a consistent technical standard of appearance.
It’s about making the whites appear whiter, blacks more black, and everything in between nice and even, to make an accurate portrayal of how the scenes would look if viewed from the human eye.
The scenes can be further enhanced by manipulating colors to create a new visual tone. Referred as color grading, cinematographers use it to emphasize certain types of moods or achieve a stylized look for the story.
Why is color correction important?
Establishes the visual aesthetic of a story and fixes any color-related anomalies that might have crept in during shooting.
Color correction is a post production process where every individual clip of a footage is altered to a consistent technical standard of appearance.
It helps make an accurate portrayal of how the scenes would look the human eye.
Often, cinematographers follow up color correction with color grading to give the story a stylized look.
What is VFX?
Visual effects, or VFX, is a term used to describe imagery created, manipulated, or enhanced for any film, or other audio visual content, after its shooting has ended.
It is a post-production process that integrates actual footage with this manipulated imagery to create realistic looking environments. These environments created are either too dangerous to actually shoot, or worlds that just don’t exist.
Studios use computer-generated imagery (CGI), and particular VFX software to make it happen.
Visual effects are different from special effects (SFX) in that they require a computer and are added in after shooting. Special effects, on the other hand, are realized on set.
An example of VFX would be the dragons flying through the sky in Game of Thrones, or a spaceship flying through space in Star Wars. The superhuman gunplay in the Matrix sequels were also a product of VFX.
When is VFX preferred?
Visual effects are used to make extraordinary additions to any movie or video production in a short time, sans an elaborate setting. They allow the content creators to envision and execute detailed and miraculous effects, worlds, and characters that are impossible to be harnessed by actors on a soundstage.
VFX highlights the minute details of an action, and illustrates how complex and nuanced a scene is. In the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment, this gives content an edge over rivals. Some of the popular VFX techniques are bullet time and doubling.
VFX is a post-production process that integrates actual footage with manipulated imagery to create realistic looking environments.
Studios use computer-generated imagery (CGI), and particular VFX software to make it happen.
VFX highlights the minute details of an action, and illustrates how complex and nuanced a scene is. In the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment, this gives content an edge over rivals..
Popular VFX techniques include bullet time and doubling.
What is an immersive experience?
Experiential content borne out of a compelling story uniquely blended with sound, visuals and technology to create an imaginary world that pulls viewers and engages them with extraordinary interactives.
Immersive experience relies on two types of technology: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The former enables the customer to wear a VR headset and plunge into a computer-simulated world far from real life.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, keeps the user in the real world but enables him to look through transparent smart glasses and experience a unique story, digitally augmented or enhanced in some way. Great immersive experiences make the user discover the story themselves. That’s really the key to creating a compelling immersive experience.
When is an immersive experience preferred?
When entertainment companies decide to create content that makes the viewer a part of the story, rather than just a spectator.
Immersive experience is experiential content borne out of blending a compelling story with sound, visuals and technology to create an imaginary world that pulls viewers and engages them with extraordinary interactives.
It relies on two types of technology, VR and AR.
Immersive experience is preferred when entertainment companies wish to create content that makes the viewer a part of the story, rather than just a spectator.
What is localization of content?
A process of adapting original content to a targeted market in a culturally-sensitive way so that the viewers in the new territory relate to the content as though it was primarily created for them.
Localization services focus on three main areas of content production: language, format and design, and cultural sensitivity.
The most requested languages for local adaptation include Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hindi, German, Canadian French, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Korean and Japanese.
When is localization preferred?
When entertainment companies cross geographic boundaries and beam their existing content to diverse world audiences.
Demand for localization services increased manifold after the onset of the pandemic last year when viewers around the world flocked to the 100-plus streaming-service providers, and demand grew for global fare in a local form – complete with nuances.
What are the different types of localization services?
Subtitling: Written translation of spoken dialogue in an AV, simultaneously placed on screen with the audio. A textual translation, it keeps voices and sounds of the audio-visual intact. It is popular in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Greece, Croatia, Portugal and some non-European countries such as South Africa.
Dubbing: Dubbing, unlike subtitling, replaces the original dialogue with a simultaneous spoken translation. Voice actors are used as dubbers to replace the original actors’ voices. Post-production editors then try to synchronize the voice-over with the lip movements of the screen actor. Often, they have to change the translation or the word order in the target language for a better fit.
Dubbing is the norm in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Turkey, as well as India and Japan
Transcreation: In certain markets, localization of content does not end with straightforward translation. The script has to be modified in keeping with the cultural sensitivities of the target audience. Transcreation is a creative process of adapting video content from one language or region to another, while maintaining the original theme, intent, tone and style, to evoke emotional connect with target audiences in their preferred language.
Localization is a process of adapting original content to a targeted market in a culturally-sensitive way.
Localization is favored when entertainment companies cross geographic boundaries with their existing content.
Different types of localization services include subtitling, dubbing, flipping, transcreation and reversioning.
What is Content Marketing?
The San Diego University defines content marketing as a process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and build customer loyalty among a clearly defined audience with the goal of generating profitable actions.
Infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, books, thought leadership articles, webinars, white papers and blogs are some tools of content marketing.
When is content marketing preferred?
When there is a need to raise awareness about solutions and educate consumers about a product they may have never considered before.
Content marketing also provides additional benefits in that it supports diverse digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good written and visual content on the product’s website that gets found in search engines.
Publishing noteworthy content is not enough. To succeed, content marketing needs a consistent publishing cadence, along with the ability to repurpose existing material across multiple platforms.
A multifaceted amplification strategy must also be in place.
Content marketing is a process of creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire and build customer loyalty among a clearly defined audience with the goal of generating profitable actions.
It is favored when there is a need to raise awareness about solutions and educate consumers about a product they may have never considered before.
To succeed, it needs a consistent publishing cadence and a multifaceted amplification strategy.