What makes the perfect DIT station?

With digital workflows becoming the norm and increasing frame rates and resolutions pushing up the size (and number) of files your production team has to deal with, the role of the DIT (Digital Intermediate Technician) is more crucial than ever. Luckily, there are an increasing number of tools at your disposal, capable of handling everything from automatically logging shot metadata so that it can be taken through to dailies, approvals and editing, to on-set pre-vis, colour grading and LTO backup.

The workflow

DIT stations are increasingly blurring the lines between production and post, and the functionality they offer now goes far beyond simply keeping the insurers happy. You can now perform operations such as grading, auto-transcoding and delivering key content wirelessly to mobile devices. There’s even the potential to link your DIT station to a post facility’s SAN over the internet, meaning instant access for your post team or even clients.

 The hardware

DIT stations can be built around anything from a notebook computer to a bespoke mobile rack. The advent of Thunderbolt and the increasing capabilities of mobile solutions means that you can now get the requisite power and throughput from the latest MacBook Pros. You’ll need to work exclusively on OS X to maintain that 10Gbps data transfer rate, but this setup’s power to form factor ratio is hard to beat. That Thunderbolt port opens up the chance to daisy chain up to six devices including hi-res displays and high performance drives. You’ll struggle to find that level of speed and power combined with the flexibility of a notebook anywhere so it’s a really good hub for your DIT station.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a decent card reader (the Sonnet Qio is a safe bet if you’re working with multiple formats; Sony’s XDS media readers are great if you have multiple users feeding in XDCAM footage at the same time). It’s also worth picking up a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for added assurance and to smooth out any irregularities in power on set, and of course, some local storage – although your exact requirements are going to vary from project to project, you’ll generally need more than you anticipate. Your best bet is to work out a flexible setup that can change as your requirements do, adding preview monitors, read and write support for different formats, LTO drives, links to storage and more as needed.

If you want an even more mobile solution, it’s worth considering on-set iPad delivery, which allows you to share footage around the set immediately after it’s been shot. With a local server and mini Wi-Fi setup, you can push dailies and approvals out to iPads given to the director, DoP, producers, lead actors, and anyone else you need to show them to. In the spirit of collaboration, everyone can then apply notes to the clip, which are then collated on the DIT station for review. Because the footage is streamed, no one will be able to move or copy it and everything’s password-protected. Best of all, you can remotely wipe the iPads at the end of the day or set a timer for the footage to become inaccessible.

The software

The software that you need on set is dictated by what you want to achieve. If all you need to do is keep your insurers happy with plenty of offsite backups, you’ve got several options. There’s PresSTORE, which lets you copy to two tapes simultaneously; simple but reassuring Shotput Pro, which stops you deleting uncopied files; or XDCAM Pilot, which lets you manage the metadata associated with XDCAM footage wirelessly.

However, if you’re tied into post-production and need to produce preliminary cuts and grades, we can build you a station with enough power to support software as robust as the DaVinci Resolve grading system, REDCINE-X PRO and The Foundry’s newly-released VFX workflow design tool, Heiro, meaning you can begin planning your post decisions the second your footage is shot.

Want to know more about creating the perfect DIT station? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest news and offers by following us on Twitter @JigsawVideo or ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw Video Facebook page.

Call us: 03332 409 306