NO MIRAGE AS OASIS GROWS
The potential for DVD to expand the market for Australian films is no mirage, says Oasis DVD’s David Chambers, but plan early, he advises filmmakers, as his company acquires a Hollywood post production facility in another sign that we’re exporting film technology expertise, reports Andrew L. Urban.
The ‘clever Australian film industry’ image is boosted this month as one of Australia’s leading DVD authoring companies, Oasis DVD, gets a foothold in Hollywood, with the acquisition of a post production facility in Los Angeles by Oasis parent, the Adelaide based Kojo Group. And Oasis producer David Chambers calls for line budgets of Australian films to make allowance for DVD elements.
"a growing market in DVD for Australian
“There is a growing market in DVD for Australian filmmakers,” says Chambers, “but it depends on the producers negotiating an allowance in their line budgets for the DVD. It makes the DVD much easier to market. The most successful recent Australian examples are Chopper and Lantana which had additional material that supports the film in a significant way.” (The Lantana DVD is out now for rental, but the full edition with features will be released in about eight weeks.)
Chambers says all (or most) films already have a budget for an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) “and this can be extended. The EPK is part of the deliverables and the actual allowance will depend on each film.” As he points out, there will never be a better time – or any time - to get a range of cast and crew interviews than during production.
But the star interviews are only one part of the DVD package, and Oasis claims to offer “the highest grade encoding and authoring equipment available and lots of experienced technical staff for audio and video. Our resources are very extensive, being a part of an audio visual company that uses the highest standard technologies for international clients - such as post-production on Scott Hicks’ Hearts In Atlantis, for Castlerock and Universal.”
Oasis has already designed and produced half a dozen DVDs for Australian films, but has also completed over 100 other DVDs, ranging from Hollywood studio films to DVDs for the documentary series Australians At War, Australian War Museum, Screensound and corporate clients. “As part of the Kojo Group we have access to editing tools and special effects such as Discreet Logics Flame, 3D animation , and the multimedia division Clinic builds the interactive components,” he says.
David Chambers says, “Many of the DVD titles including The Shawshank Redemption and Thirteen Days have been receiving rave reviews for their extremely high level of picture quality and audio – we are the only specialist using 5.1 DTS hardware not plug-in software. DVD production is not a single discipline, but rather a process that integrates existing fields such as video post-production, audio engineering, graphic design and multimedia authoring – all in house at Kojo.”
Oasis DVD opened their Sydney office in 2000 to service the national and international markets and as part of the Kojo Group, Oasis‘s head office is in Adelaide with film and DVD production facilities now operating in Los Angeles, with offices in Melbourne. Oasis produces for Australian, U.K and U.S film companies all aspects of DVD: EPKs, value added film material - interviews, special features and commentaries, and interactive DVD-Rom. It specialises in local versioning for Regions 1, 2 and 4.
“Now we own a post production facility in Los Angeles, we can service the Australian film industry to the US, and vice versa,” says Chambers. “We are focused on DVD content, design and authoring; we have already done some specialised work, such as the DVD for Battlefield Earth for Roadshow, in which we reverse engineered the ‘white rabbit’ feature from The Matrix. This is an interactive feature that lets the user jump to a a hidden segment of the movie extras, and then return to the same spot in the feature.”
Chambers hopes Australian filmmakers will meet the creative challenges of the DVD platform. But he urges producers and directors to be prepared. “We want to encourage Australian filmmakers to think ahead and get started early on their DVD plans. That’s my biggest bugbear,” he says. “The Americans have cottoned on to that issue, but it needs to be stressed here. DVD offers a long public shelf life for a filmmaker’s creation.”
"the market for DVDs is rocketing in Australia"
Like many DVD consumers, Chambers has his pet hates, and top of the list is the pan & scan aspect ratio that is still plaguing some DVD releases. “I also hate poor navigation and bad design. It’s a sophisticated issue, but it has to be simple for the user.” Straight EPK footage with lots of padding in the form of clips from the film are “just lazy content” he says. As for locked in trailers at the start of the film that have started to appear on some DVDs, Chambers is adamant it’s a betrayal of the consumer. “If I buy a DVD I want to be able to skip any trailer …”
But the good news is that the market for DVDs is rocketing in Australia, and Chambers believes more and more Australian films will end up on the digital platform. Driven by rentals that help consumer confidence on the one hand, and the higher effective entertainment value of the DVD over tape video, the market is headed north. Best of all, it offers filmmakers an unparalleled creative opportunity to engage with their audiences.
Published May 2, 2002
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