Watch the full NAB Show 2023 session “Why Sustainability In Media Matters.”
- The 2023 NAB Show put a spotlight on the M&E industry’s efforts to rise to the challenge of climate change with the inaugural Excellence in Sustainability Awards and Main Stage panel discussion, “Why Sustainability In Media Matters.”
- Moderated by Kibo121 CEO Barbara H. Lange, panelists included Creative Visions president and CEO Pat Chandler, Accedo VP of Strategy and Business Development Bleuenn Le Goffic, Susan Sanchez from the Senior Sustainability Program at Amazon Studios, and MediaMonks SVP of Innovation Lewis Smithingham.
- The pandemic helped drive many of the sustainable practices that have become common in today’s production ecosystem.
- The role of COVID coordinator could evolve to that of IT sustainability coordinator in the next-gen studio of the near future.
As the most recent UN report warns that the planet is in real danger of missing critical targets to reverse climate change, sustainability has become one of the biggest touchpoints across media and entertainment. This is evidenced by initiatives such as the Greening of Streaming industry effort, BAFTA’s albert, and the PGA’s Green Production Guide to certify green productions, but these programs are merely the tip of the literal iceberg already melting into the sea.
The 2023 NAB Show put a spotlight on the M&E industry’s efforts to rise to the challenge of climate change with the inaugural Excellence in Sustainability Awards recognizing individuals, companies and products/services for media technology innovations that promote conservation and reusability of natural resources and foster economic and social development. The Main Stage awards ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion, “Why Sustainability In Media Matters,” to examine the state of sustainability in media today, and what it means for the future. Watch the full NAB Show session in the video at the top.
Moderated by Barbara H. Lange, Principal and CEO of sustainability consultancy Kibo121, the panel included Pat Chandler, President and CEO of Creative Visions, the nonprofit organization selected as a recipient of the proceeds from this year’s awards nomination process; Bleuenn Le Goffic, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Accedo; Susan Sanchez from the Senior Sustainability Program at Amazon Studios; and Lewis Smithingham, SVP of Innovation at MediaMonks.
Smithington recounted how production practices have slimmed down, reducing travel and reliance on big broadcast tracks running on generators for days “down to something that takes less power than a refrigerator.” he said. “We’ve heard that just reducing the flights reduces our carbon footprint by, like, 83%.”
Single-use plastics and set builds are two areas Amazon Studios is focusing on making more sustainable, Sanchez said. “You have a crew of 200 people on set for eight weeks. That’s a lot of single use plastics. So, we are facing that coming out of COVID and also set, build, construct to deconstruct and reconstruct. So reuse should be first and recycling should be last, right? And disposal hopefully not [at all].”
Le Goffic, pointing to use cases for merging resources on live productions such as the recent BBC/ITV collaboration during the World Cup, asked if this could become a trend. “We’ve seen a little bit of that particularly around virtual stages where instead of having, like, eight single stages for a single event, you have a single LED stage and the set just changes over and over and over again,” Sanchez noted.
Reuse of shared visual assets and engineering resources, said Le Goffic, are both key to developing sustainable practices. “Having common resources that we can use for exactly what you need instead of having this constant battles or, you know, developing your own IP, having something that you built yourself, I think there is a transition that we’re seeing.”
From a creator’s perspective, said Chandler, it’s vital to examine the impact a production will have. “Part of what we do is from concept to, you know, the story and distribution, but we also help them with their impact campaigns and looking at how they’re going to go about building the teams and telling those stories.”
The pandemic in particular helped shape a number of sustainable practices, Sanchez noted. “There was a lot that went on during the pandemic that was a positive for sustainability in production,” she said. “We work very collaboratively with the other studios and the organization called the Sustainable Production Alliance, borne out of the PGA and working with the Green Production Guide and really bringing that up to speed to be a more global guide.”
Collaboration on tools and even education also increased during the pandemic, Sanchez added. “There was a lot of education that started happening on set that was really blurring the lines. So COVID coordinator guys were naturally seeing things on set that they said, ‘You know what, I’m going to take care of this.’ And so there was a lot of collaborative work that hadn’t happened before.”
Lange asked if the role of IT sustainability coordinator might eventually replace the COVID coordinator. “I think there’s a lot of cross-training,” Sanchez said. “There’s also a lot of upskilling. I don’t think there’s replacement of jobs. I think we’re looking at a whole new world, kind of a next-generation studio.”