PlatformZA comes online with Robe
PlatformZA comes online with Robe
South Africa’s PlatformZA is a digital pay-per-view service that was launched during the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown. The brainchild of Christiaan Ballot from technical supplier Blond Productions and production manager Pieter-Jan Kapp (Kappie) from PJK Project Management, it is a completely new concept for South Africa. To facilitate it, they have transformed the Blond Productions warehouse in Midrand near Pretoria into a fully functional high production value pop-up recording studio, stocked with a large inventory of Robe moving lights.
The pair would usually be working together extensively during the arts festival season which has effectively been cancelled this year like almost every other live event as the country fights the pandemic. PlatformZA started with a series of Zoom chats between connected industry people and influencers, during which, explained Ballot, “It became very apparent that there was the need for a mechanism other than streaming to which artists and producers could bring their content.”
With the whole industry affected, they wanted to proactively offer artists like comedians, singer-songwriters and bands, plus other performers and presenters working in all genres of visual entertainment – from vlogs to games shows to cooking demos – “the chance to produce high-quality new material cost-effectively with full and professional technical production facilities and crew,” explained Ballot, in addition to be able to host quality content that is made elsewhere.
The studio’s goal is to be as adaptable and widely accessible for those wanting to use it. Flexible staging and a lighting design by Ryan Lombard – with 12 Robe Esprites providing all the front and key lighting – are included in the package together with audio, LED screens and video/media servers. The six-camera system and PPU is supplied by Alfacam SA.
Additional Robe lighting includes LEDWash 300s for back washes, 12 miniPointes for beams and effects and 24 LEDBeam 100s which kick in for side light. Other specials can be added as required. The Robe PATT 2013s are also said to be a big hit, particularly with artists and singers wanting scenic style back-of-camera props.
The studio has also been used for streaming since it was set up, but now with the added flexibility of pay-per-view access via PlatformZA, Ballot andKapp feel that artists, creatives and producers working in multiple different sectors have so much more scope to reach wider audiences. In addition to the studio shoots, the house team also works on location, with full technical packages to suit.
Creating Platform ZA and recording the initial “house” produced shows has provided work for over 200 technicians, camera operators and artists, which has been desperately needed since events and entertainment came to an abrupt halt in March. The platform is designed to work on a revenue share basis, so everyone involved can benefit from more people viewing and enjoying the content.
“Quality is absolutely the key,” emphasised Ballot, adding that artists are now starting to approach them to re-shoot homegrown content in the studio and have access to improved facilities.
“The intention is to appeal to as diverse a spectrum of people, talent and entertainment as possible,” commented Kapp, as well as promoting a house channel where “people can launch their own projects with very little resources and with assistance from our technical crews – from a cell phone movie to a stand-up comedy festival. We are providing a forum for engagement where they can get started.”