On the facade of the modern building which is home to its HQ and offices on the banks of the Seine in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, bold lettering declares the presence of Atlantis Télévision. Broadcasters TF1 and Canal+ are close neighbours, as well as France Télévisions on the other side of the river. In this golden triangle of audiovisual production in Paris, Atlantis has become an important location for the creative teams of prominent broadcasters and production companies for television programmes. As the supplier of the company’s main technical installations, Avid has contributed to its reputation.
Atlantis Télévision is the largest post production site in Europe, with an armada of almost 300 Avid workstations used by content designers for all the French television channels. The company actually has four production sites in the area, in Boulogne and Issy-les-Moulineaux. Atlantis has 9000sqm of premises, 140 permanent employees and 450 planned freelancers. There are also several specialised companies, for renting equipment and filming services, externally or in studios, not to mention logistical support for various activities.
Promotional material, documentaries, magazine programmes, reality TV: all types of programmes that feed into the flow of regular broadcasts are brought together here, in the spacious premises of the headquarters.
The Avid logo is displayed on the equipment of the editing suites at all stages of production: editing, calibration, special effects, and sound mixing. In the corridors leading to all editing suites, glass partitions provide natural light with views of the teams and their tools in action.
The success of Atlantis can be seen in the smile of its president, Frédéric Houzelle, despite his tiredness after an evening of unplanned celebration with his teams and his clients the day before (they often have social events after work here, confirming the adage: ‘There is life after editing’).
He takes obvious pleasure in receiving guests and sharing his rich experience as an entrepreneur and pioneer. From a young age he was involved in the world of television, which his father was familiar with in the black and white era of RTF. He first worked as a cameraman, then as an editor, before having the slightly crazy idea of launching his own postproduction company. The company was characterised by this nutty approach and an extended range of associated services, the capacity to host production teams, a popular bar and restaurant (La Paillotte, a favorite venue for media meetings), and all the events and lifestyle features that prompt this master of ceremonies to say that his profession “… is also about hospitality”.
In contrast to other post production companies, whose services focus on making technical tools available, Atlantis sees itself as a provider of complete solutions to production teams: using, of course, the best Avid editing and finishing tools, deployed and maintained in the most suitable configurations for the needs of their users.
With his colleague Hafida Benhamdane as production director, they have coordinated their provision of services for several years using a technical infrastructure installed by Avid, with no less than five ISIS servers that feed the media editing stations on each of the platforms in the building. They also know that efficient technical support, a responsive 24-hour hotline and the rapid support of experts are some of the benefits of their partnership with Avid.
The vast majority of their editing tools are the most recent versions of Media Composer, connected to storage servers distributed by floor. Around 20 Symphony units are used for special effects and calibration, and all the mixing desks are also equipped by Avid with the D-Command and C24 control boards associated with ProTools HDX stations.
The total storage capacity for the technical devices is of a level rarely encountered, in the order of 1PB, and of course a back-up strategy is in place to deal with the unpredictable.
Right from the start, the Atlantis teams regularly used Avid technology, integrating solutions to enrich a range of post production services adapted to the needs of clients who have remained loyal over many years. Broadcast-ready deliverables, cassettes and files in particular are produced on site and delivered directly to the final control room of TV channels for broadcast, sometimes just a few hours after the programme is finalised, particularly for reality TV shows.
“At Atlantis, Avid tools are highly valued; they are integrated into furnishings with optimised ergonomics and are available as a standard model to facilitate editors’ reactions and make the production process more efficient,” says Houzelle.
Over the course of their relationship, Atlantis and Avid have built up a trusted rapport that they have shared with their clients and users. “Operational responsiveness is an essential feature for our producer clients, mainly for programmes based on a live feed, where the unexpected often happens and delivery deadlines are short,” he adds. The teams on site, who love a challenge, address the issues involved in the most complex workflows for producing programmes on a daily basis: a quick look at the prizes awarded to programmes listed on the Atlantis website is testament to this. Their shared confidence means they can ensure a good outcome for the delivery of programmes which can be of strategic importance for the TV channels.
Thierry Navennec, sales account manager, Avid