PlatformZA is an ambitious newly launched digital pay-per-view media channel which was germinated, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. A small subscription fee covers an amount of free content and, the pay-per-view price varies for other material. The concept was introduced by Christiaan Ballot from Technical Supplier Blond Productions and Pieter-Jan Kapp (Kappie), Production Manager, PJK Project Management.
Like so many new COVID-era inspired projects PlatformZA
started with a series of Zoom chats between connected industry people and influencers, during which Christiaan, explained: “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 being 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. Christiaan stated: “The chance to produce high-quality new material cost-effectively with full and professional technical production facilities and crew.”
To facilitate the former, they have transformed the Blond Productions warehouse in Midrand near Pretoria into a fully functional high production value pop-up recording studio, and to stimulate the latter he and Kappie energised their enormous and diverse client and contacts base. With a large inventory of Robe moving lights in stock, the studios feature plenty of Robe products on the lighting rig. 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 are supplied by Alfacam SA. Additional Robe lighting includes LEDWash 300s for backwashes, 12 x miniPointes for beams and effects and 24 x LEDBeam 100s which kick in for sidelight. Other specials can be added as required.
The Robe PATT 2013s are also a big hit, particularly with artists and singers wanting some scenic style back-of-camera props, while the raw warehouse backdrop brings a signature dash of edgy-industrial DIY style.
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, Christiaan and Kappie feel that artists, creatives and producers working in multiple different sectors have so much more scope to reach wider audiences. There are currently four categories of content – music, stage, sitcom & comedy and lifestyle. Already, Platform ZA has over 2500 minutes of premium material available – a mix of footage produced in house and elsewhere, all of which will be available on the platform for periods of up to 3 months and sometimes longer.
The aim is to grow the range of artists and dynamics of the material on offer in the process encouraging all involved to hit the ‘quality bar’ every time. Kappie commented: “The intention is to appeal to as diverse a spectrum of people, talent and entertainment as possible. 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.”
The overall Platform ZA vibe is very much collaborative, with music programmes like “Stroom” which brings artists together to perform two new songs and then spontaneously create a fresh new work with another artist. Fishing and cooking programmes are already proving popular, while cancelled 2020 art festivals like Aardklop have utilised the studios to record and release new stage works that would otherwise have been scrapped altogether. With numerous possibilities ahead, this enterprising and still embryonic venture has a huge, amount of marketing activities ahead to get established – but the seeds are firmly sown and, the interest is growing!
Photo Credit: Courtesy Blond Productions