Shooting Star Wars VII in the Abu Dhabi Desert: The local production team that made it happen

People filming Star Wars in the dessert of Tunisia.

twofour54 Film & TV Services supports a growing media industry in the Middle East

Film production in the Middle East is growing. And nothing proves that more than J.J. Abrams’s decision to film the latest Star Wars in the Abu Dhabi desert. The expansive desert dune landscape known as the Empty Quarter is harsh, but exactly what the director wanted.

“Filming in Abu Dhabi was an incredible thing. Star Wars is a Western and a fairytale…shooting in Abu Dhabi was just that,“ said Abrams.

But finding the perfect location was perhaps the easiest part of bringing the planet Jakku to visual life. Abrams and crew needed a local and extensive production infrastructure, and twofour54 Film & TV Services was there to pick up the opportunity.

The technical challenges of international filmmaking

However, more big budget international movies being filmed in the region has created technical challenges for twofour54 (which endearingly sounds like a droid name). Their FTP system could no longer handle their need to send large video files across the globe like, in the case of Star Wars, back to the States for post production. A recent article on BroadcastPro Middle East detailed the problem:

With the growth of production in the Middle East and increased demand for high-resolution video including 8K, twofour54 had two functional issues to solve. It needed an easier, more reliable way for customers to upload and download files. It also needed to overcome potential bandwidth challenges both in the region and in the customers’ locations.

twofour54 adopted Media Shuttle to transfer big files quickly

“twofour54’s goal is to provide services to support the growing media industry in the Middle East today, and to help the industry continue to thrive in the future,” said Jamal Al Awadhi, Head of Commercial at twofour54.

“Media Shuttle provides us with the confidence that we can help our customers get their files where they need to be – anywhere in the world – in advance of production deadlines.”

At Signiant, we are really happy to be working with such an impressive company, one that is set to help the entire region thrive. Seeing our customers in clips like the one above makes everything we do worth it, and we hope to enable much more international camaraderie around the great art of filmmaking.

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Essential security considerations: Get everyone on the same page and work together. Your first step, and best place to start. Educate yourselves, your clients, your coworkers and management on the risks and options. Recognize that every production is different and unique. Access, functionality and security are all important. Success requires all three, not just two. Recognize there is a technical side and a very big social side. Recognize that security protocols cannot hinder productivity. Put teams together that collaborate well. There will be a lot of learning on both sides. When choosing technology, first find a partner with a security-first mindset.

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