The increasingly common combination of high shoot ratios and tight deadlines puts pressure on facilities to increase efficiencies across production and post. In an effort to reduce turnaround times and cut down the amount of time spent on non-billable activities, production and post teams are now working together from far earlier into the production schedule, with post houses sending staff to set to ensure footage is logged as soon after the shoot as possible, and DITs performing post-critical functions.
Manufacturers are keen to facilitate this collaboration – AJA seem to have kicked off the scramble to unite the two when they released the first Ki Pro back in 2009, and noone seems to have paused for breath since. But there are dozens of factors to consider when planning your workflow, from whether you’ll be handling HDR footage, to IP integration, to the impact of the incoming 5G connectivity standard. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at a few different points of contact, and how you can make sure your workflow there is mutually beneficial for production and post.
Shooting and monitoring
Accurate metadata can speed up post-production immensely, by making it far easier for artists to match the original scene conditions when compositing, compensate for issues with specific cameras or lenses when correcting footage, and more.
Zeiss are currently setting the standard for incredibly detailed metadata with the new eXtended Data lens, the CP.3 XD. As well as giving your DoP precision, quality and all the other benefits of working with Zeiss glass, XD lenses create a huge amount of metadata about each shot, containing details not just of features like focal length and exposure, but details about the lens itself. In post, tweaking this metadata becomes a quicker, easier way to compensate for lens shading, or to correct for the different distortions of individual lenses used in production. When compositing, the metadata drastically cuts down the amount of trial and error (and therefore time) needed for artists to match on-set lighting conditions. This ultimately drives down the time and money needed for post, and so could even help buy you more time on set.
Monitor and recorder manufacturers Atomos have attempted to bring a similar spirit of cooperation to monitoring with their newly announced SUMO 19 HDR production/grading monitor, which can record dailies, proxies or 4Kp60 masters as needed. This means camera crews can see what they’ve captured in HDR, as it will appear to post teams, and be sure they’re happy with the shot as it appears, rather than having to guess based off a Rec.709 image. The recording feature also means that dailies (or a low res proxy, if you have limited bandwidth/storage) can be send to a post facility immediately, and assembly can begin far earlier than usual.
Solutions like this are making it easier for production and post crews to maintain a common vision of the project throughout, and reduce the time taken to create the final product without limiting either party’s options in that way that, say, Sony baking HLG into footage from some of its lower-end cameras does.
Logging and metadata
Loggers and ingest technicians are increasingly venturing out to log footage as close to set as possible. While data and asset management has been an intrinsic part of post for a long time, it’s now widely acknowledged that by focusing more on this on set, crews can increase the overall efficiency of the project, and drastically reduce the time needed to put everything together in post.
Asset management systems like axle Video are excellent – axle is particularly good if you’re new to this, as you can just point it at your file system and it will automatically index all media files, then update its database automatically in realtime as you add new footage. You can then share low res proxies through a web browser so that people can reject, trim and comment on clips; it’ll even integrate with NLEs so that editors can search new footage without leaving their editing application. It ships with a standard metadata schema, but you can customise this to the requirements of your shoot.
Avid’s MediaCentral | Asset Management option (formerly Avid Interplay MAM) performs a similar function, indexing media in a range of formats and allowing you to add custom metadata in order to make it easier to find. It even allows you to remotely access assets from multiple locations, so if crews at different locations both log footage, all of it will be available for review at the same time. Avid’s MediaCentral system also allows for a high degree of automation when it comes to things like ingest, logging, archiving and sharing footage, meaning you can achieve more in less time, and with a smaller team.
Once footage has been logged, it can be sent back to the post facility, or to a staging post if you’re in a remote location. As the available networks have become faster, cloud delivery has gained popularity, whether that’s ENG crews using in-camera FTP capabilities to send footage back to the newsroom, or crews on location leveraging file sharing services to deliver footage to post as quickly as possible. And with 5G set to make 100Mbps over the air file sharing a reality over the next few years, this option is only set to get more popular.
If you’re collecting or monitoring footage from drones, car-mounted cams and other inaccessible recorders, Soliton’s on-camera encoders and receivers are a great investment – they use a mixture of H.265 compression and proprietary RASCOW technology to ensure you see an HD live stream of your footage even in areas where 3G and 4G coverage is patchy, with delays as low as 240 ms.
For reliable file transfer, we’d recommend IBM’s Aspera service. While it’s pricier than WeTransfer, it uses end to end encryption to to keep your footage secure and, unlike consumer services, doesn’t get slower the larger your files are. Another feature we’re particularly keen on is that it calculates the precise time a transfer will take on your current connection before it begins, so if it says a transfer will take seven hours, you can ring ahead and let your colleagues know when to expect the file with a fairly high degree of certainty.
How does this all fit together?
We can help you develop workflows to maximise efficiency in production and post, and advise on ways to prepare your existing infrastructure for the future, or fold new releases into your existing workflow. As well as providing consultancy, workflow design and specialist hardware, we can provide ongoing support and maintenance for your core kit. To find out more, get in touch with the team on the details below.