Deadline looming? Here’s how to handle remote approvals

Getting sign-off from clients can be a challenge, especially if you’re dealing with stakeholders in multiple locations. We’ve helped set up remote editing, grading and approvals systems for some of the UK’s largest agencies and post houses, and can help you make sure your editor or colourist gets access to the feedback and equipment they need, wherever they are, and even if they’re working with 4K or HDR footage. Here are a few of our top recommendations…

 

The Avid way

Whenever you’re trying something new, it’s best to use as many familiar tools as possible. End users are less likely to be confused, adoption will be quicker, and chances are you’ll see fewer silly mistakes. Which is why we’d recommend any Avid house take a look at Avid’s cloud tools as their first option for remote editing and approvals.

Media Composer | Cloud Remote has already proved popular in journalistic circles. It allows reporters in the field to log in to Media Composer over the internet, and combine their locally stored footage with media held in central storage back at base. Multiple editors can collaborate on a project in real time, so teams in the field can work seamlessly with producers back at base to get footage ready for air.

Editors in Media Composer | Cloud Remote can combine local and central footage in the same timeline. Cloud Remote intelligently manages uploads and downloads of the necessary footage in the background, and you can even submit a H.264 proxy version of your footage for approval, so it’s being reviewed and signed off before the day’s footage has even finished uploading.

For larger workgroups and more demanding workflows, Avid offer MediaCentral | Cloud UX. This browser-based interface does what it says on the tin – gives remote workers access to a full MediaCentral environment, so they can edit projects, review them and publish them, all without needing to set foot in HQ.

We’ve already seen clients establish successful remote workflows with Cloud UX. Silverglade, the post house for Channel 4’s long-running reality series Come Dine With Me, used Cloud UX to allow the producers and directors of any given episode to review rushes, flag footage, add comments and sign off on cuts, all without having to come into the facility. (In fact, given that Cloud UX works on any browser and most mobile devices, they don’t have to come into their own office.)

However, giving a producer access to Cloud UX doesn’t mean they can run wild through your facility’s Avid environment. User licences for Cloud UX come with four levels of access – View, Browse, Edit and Full – and you can assign the correct permissions to any client or collaborator who’s connecting remotely, so they never see any applications or storage volumes that they shouldn’t.

 

But what about Adobe users?

Well, MediaCentral does offer some support for Premiere Pro and After Effects projects. However, if you’d prefer to steer clear of Avid, you could try Strawberry, an asset management system we've praised before. Strawberry has a robust proxy workflow that makes it easier for editors and VFX artists to work with media on storage in various locations, and an on-set editing tool, Preditor, that allows you to assemble a shot list or rough cut on location and send it back to base, where Strawberry will automatically link it to hi-res versions of the assets you need, wherever they're stored.

Another good bet is IPV’s Curator. Originally conceived as an asset management solution – and a particularly effective one for anyone struggling to manage media in an Adobe workflow – it also enables proxy workflows that let editors at different sites access each other’s media for more efficient project assembly. And because everyone is working with proxies, an edit can progress quickly and be shared easily, even in areas with less than stellar connectivity.

To save even more time, pair Curator with ContentAgent from our friends at ROOT6 Technology. Once an edit is completed, editors can use ContentAgent’s direct API integration to automate tasks like exporting content in different codecs for different platforms, so they themselves can get on with the next project.

 

The independent approach

But let’s say you’re not looking for something this involved. Maybe you just want clients in one place to be able to comment on footage that’s being edited in another, without giving them access to your back-end systems or encouraging them to involve themselves too much in the editing process. In that case, take a look at Antrica.

Antrica’s range of IP cameras, encoders and decoders allows you to share a live H.264 stream of your timeline output with a client, which they can then view and annotate in real time, providing live feedback to an editor. We’ve known clients to combine this functionality with a live IP camera in the edit suite and one at the client’s office, so the editor can ask questions about any feedback, and turn around a new version while the client waits.

Another option here is Make.TV, an online playout service developed by ex-Avid technicians. The service allows you to capture feeds from cameras, encoders and online sources, and use a browser-based interface to route the various signals in real time, whether you want to publish them live to social media, or connect them to your traditional broadcast network. This is a powerful way to give clients quick, no-frills access to a final cut, which they can then stream on any device, regardless of location.

 

But what about image quality?

Until recently, one of the main barriers to the wide adoption of remote workflows in post-production was the fact that encoding, transporting and decoding compressed footage meant you’d lose vital colour data. Now, Streambox have pioneered a solution that ensures data streams retain their original colour data, making remote viewing colour-accurate grading a reality.

How does it work? The key to Streambox’s success is the ACT-L5 codec, which handles multiple popular colour profiles all the way up to 12-bit, 4:4:4 RGB. ACT-L5 offers more efficient, higher quality encoding than other options, improving the speed of both encoding and file transfer, and reducing the processing load on your systems, so it’s easier to work in the field. Streambox use Low Delay Multi-Path Protocol to balance the load of your transfer between available network paths, giving you the highest possible transport rates – enough to support realtime collaboration with minimal latency. The result of all this is that they’re currently Netflix’s choice for remote editing and grading approval viewings between the UK and California.

 

Can’t have your footage leave your facility?

This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck. We’ve worked with clients whose stringent data security agreements meant that footage couldn’t be stored in the cloud or on a third party’s storage. However, they needed to grade ultra high resolution versions of a project, and didn’t have the capability to do it in-house. We were able to use a Dark Fibre connection to link their storage to workstations at a nearby DI screening room, where they could perform real time remote grading over an encrypted connection, without the project files ever leaving their original storage volume.

 

Want to know more?

There are a variety of solutions for remote editing, grading and approvals, whether you want a vendor-specific solution or are looking to build a hardware-based workflow of your own. To find out more or discuss potential workflow designs, drop your details into the form below, and our team will be in touch.

 

Want to know more? Fill in the form below, or get in touch with the team on 03332 400 888 or at broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest  news, ollow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Want to know more about remote workflows?

Pop your details in the form and our team will get in touch. Alternatively, call us on 03332 400 888 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com.

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