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Five Minutes with Jai Cave, Technical Operations Director at Envy

Olivia Broadley
May 1, 2024
5 min read

Since opening in 2006, London-based postproduction house Envy has acquired a wealth of experience working across a wide breadth of projects including documentary, entertainment, factual entertainment, scripted plus commercials and VFX with Absolute Post which they acquired in 2022. It has scooped the Best Post Production award six times making ENVY the most decorated post firm in the history of the Broadcast Awards as well as being voted Top Facility by Producers in Televisual’s annual facilities Top 50. Its creative staff has also been honoured with prestigious recognition with numerous awards including RTS, BAFTA The Grierson Awards and Broadcast Awards.

Jai Cave has been with the facility for nearly all its existence, arriving as senior edit assistant in 2007, elevated to head of operations in 2013 and technical operations director since 2019. 

Could you tell us a bit about Envy?

We are a full-service facility offering everything from Envy Capture on set managing project records and DIT services to ingest and offline, finishing, grade, VFX, mastering, QC and delivery. Envy operates five facilities buildings, with the main mother facility being in Rathbone Place, North of Oxford Street. This houses the majority of our online, grading and audio facilities including a Dolby licensed studio. It's a bustling hive of creativity, swimming around state-of-the-art kit. 

How do you stay on top of changes and know when and what to invest in?

It is constantly changing. Every project we do is different and has different requirements, which is what makes the job interesting! We are constantly evolving and spending a lot of money on kits each year, whether upgrading existing kits or coming up with new ideas and workflows that might make our clients’ lives easier.

That cycle is constant. We go to trade shows, talk to a lot of people and we have lots of deep relationships with our suppliers. We start from a baseline of ‘what is the capex we’re spending this year?’ Delivering that change as well as managing everything else that goes on day to day in the facility is the challenge. Ideally you try as much as possible to get ahead of the technology curve but that takes a lot of time and investment.

Where does AI fit into your facility workflow today and where might it be in 18 months?

Ultimately, AI will be used everywhere and in every tool. Vendors are rushing to add AI into their product, sometimes spuriously when it is really just rebadged automation, but quite a lot of it is genuine AI. The technology will pervade every area of post from scheduling to creative tasks such as making grading easier or helping editors choose shots or discovering what they didn’t even know they were looking for.

I don’t think any facility is going to own their own AI model. Among other things, the data we have on media is not our own. Where it fits in will be in products that help us improve productivity, speed, and efficiency. There’s no escaping that it will enter both the creative and operational process making things faster and more efficient.

We are though an industry of talented individuals are still going to be needed in that creative process. Creativity that initiates ideas, makes decisions about what story we want to tell and how it is best told, will always come from humans but there will be tasks that can benefit from automation enroute.


What skills do you need to bring into Envy and what do you look for in new recruits?

We are fortunate that we have the ENVY Academy which we use for our recruitment as well as for educational purposes. Over the last 10 years as an industry, we have moved rapidly towards file-based integrated workflows, merging the skills traditionally found in IT and systems backgrounds and combining it with video and audio specific knowledge. Add to that the pandemic where new recruits didn’t have anyone physical to train with and you have a challenging environment for finding new staff and training existing teams. In the past year we have met this challenge by adding the new role of staff development manager, who is a member of the team solely dedicated to staff training and development allowing us to accelerate in these areas and ensure we can promote from within for almost every role.

Whilst a technical background is always an advantage, post production is a people business so soft skills are often more important. The ability to work effectively as a team, explain complex workflows to colleagues and clients and crucially be approachable is absolutely key.

Are you finding that knowledge of AI is a specific requirement?

Anyone that has relevant AI experience will be very attractive to many companies. - In a post facility an awareness of how you can connect to different AI tools and how you might use them will be valuable. There is going to be so much AI related product out there that selecting, testing and integrating the ones that work effectively could be a full-time job.

How have you changed working practices over the last four years?

Cloud has enabled distributed working in a way I never thought anyone would need or want. Having people in dozens of different countries working on our platform at one time is quite a change – but the desire from clients for hybrid hasn’t changed. Most people tend to want both remote and on premise.

Completing final grade, picture online and sound mix outside of a professional equipped and calibrated suite is not routine but there’s no technical reason why an offline editor can’t work at home for the whole project. Most production managers want their editors in all the time and most editors want to be at home some of the time, so it’s a push and pull. Remote reviews are being used more but it’s not currently the norm to have a project where a client doesn’t want to come in at all.

The need to offer a true hybrid solution is why we use private cloud, connected by Envy Remote. A client can be in a suite then go home and use the exact same technology from their bedroom. It is the same pipeline. They are able to access the same project, view updates and high-resolution files all instantly accessible via an on-premise system or a system that we host in our data centre.

How do you connect your facilities?

Envy sits on the Sohonet Media Network (SMN) which provides our managed internet connection between our five sites. It means we sit on the same SMN connection as dozens of other facilities and studios around the world. Another benefit of being with a company like Sohonet is you can vary that connection month to month, so you don’t have to make a multi-year commitment for a fixed amount of bandwidth. When it comes to file transfer and capture on set, the connectivity that you will get will vary from job to job. Sometimes there’s zero, sometimes there’s a lot so having that flexibility is really useful to flex up and down when needed. 

We also have the opportunity to change how that is carved up, for instance by changing some of our bandwidth to AWS Direct Connect if a project requires this. That’s all included with Sohonet. There’s no additional charges no matter the cloud provider you want to connect to. That flexibility is really useful.

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