4 Ways to Use Hybrid Cloud Storage for Post Production

In industry circles, the topic of “the cloud” has been broached with doses of both curiosity and skepticism for years. Few post houses are ready to take the full leap to a native cloud approach to post production—and, in many cases, it wouldn’t be practical. But questions around security, performance, and cost have started to dwindle as post teams realize they can blend the cloud with traditional media storage.

A hybrid cloud storage model offers advantages that are critical in today’s post environment: it readily addresses challenges of scale, remote collaboration, redundancy, and security. But what does hybrid storage look like, and how is it best suited for a post-production workflow?

What Is a Hybrid Cloud Storage Model?

This model does what it says on the tin: certain media assets are stored on the premises, while certain assets are stored in the cloud. For example, you might choose to have online storage on prem and a small amount of nearline on prem for parking recently completed projects, while moving archive assets—say, older than 90 days—to the cloud. A hybrid model could also enable a hybrid workflow, where some elements of post, such as rendering, are done in the cloud, while others, including some of the editing and review processes, are still done at a post house’s physical offices.

In a hybrid model, you’ve still got your own servers and machines to manage, but you’ve allocated certain workflows to the cloud. The extent of what’s done in-facility versus remotely can shift depending on the post house and project, but regardless, hybrid storage enables more flexible working environments for post production.

The hybrid cloud storage model has four strengths to offer that a solely on-prem storage model cannot:

1. Scale for Burst Capacity

A well-diversified post house won’t need to bring every person or machine on deck for every project. But there will be times when your on-prem capabilities simply aren’t enough, and a new project will require a nimble storage solution that you can ramp up or down as needed. This is where SaaS-based cloud services come into play: providing the additional computing power and remote access via PCoIP so that editors have secure and reliable access to the same editorial workflows they would otherwise use on-prem machines for. If your on-prem and cloud storage keeps your files on the same system and both storage instances are properly synced, the experience for your team will be seamless.

The best part? Rather than having to purchase and install machines over days or weeks, you can be up and running in the cloud within hours. The cloud also lets you pay just for what you use.

Burst capacity looms particularly large these days. The pandemic interrupted production, but the demand for finished content is still increasing. As the industry swings back into production, it will have to contend with a tremendous backlog of content waiting to go through post. The post houses that can quickly scale operations to handle this backlog will have a massive edge over the competition.

2. Enable Remote Collaboration

Remote editing is perhaps the most valuable feature of the cloud. With the right technology, post can happen from almost anywhere.

Although certain parts of the post-production workflow are solitary affairs, film and TV are inherently collaborative. Employing a cloud approach can bridge the geographical gaps. Feedback is instant, for one thing, and notes can be implemented immediately. Various departments get to see exactly what’s being done at all times, which can inspire a more cohesive creative approach overall, on top of simply making the process more efficient.

A hybrid cloud storage model makes it possible to bring in the best post-production talent, even if they’re thousands of miles away. Post teams can still have it both ways, though, with people working on files on-prem alongside remote team members working on the same project. This is where a hybrid approach can really sing: those who want to be (or must be) off-site can do so without sacrificing the connectivity that collaboration requires.

3. Streamline Review and Approval

Of course, editing can’t be completed without review and approval. There’s still plenty of value to be found in on-prem R&A, particularly in the thick of the edit process. But an increasingly decentralized post-production workflow is pushing post professionals to adjust to remote collaboration—and that includes R&A.

Instead of having to export and host on a separate, secure screener site or physically bring in executives and producers to screen, a cloud solution will allow remote access to media that needs fast approval. Plenty of productions already had to come up with workarounds for off-site producers; having these materials in the cloud simply streamlines the process. It helps teams avoid waiting for physical media to arrive, those well-known “I can’t access this?” messages, and the lag between physical R&A for off-site execs—no more ad hoc approval emails.

4. Better Manage Costs

While an investment in cloud storage can be similar to on-prem, that cost is broken up monthly, quarterly, or annually rather than being a significant up-front expenditure. If this sounds like a distinction without a difference, keep an open mind—shifting this line item from capex to an operational cost can have its advantages if you need to scale quickly. This model also saves post houses from overprovisioning on-prem hardware, which then sits underutilized much of the time. With a hybrid model, you can pay for just what you need at any given time, rather than provisioning for peak capacity (not to mention covering the cost of housing, powering, and servicing underutilized hardware).

As the industry shifts more toward flexible, hybrid work environments, the cloud will become all the more indispensable. Technology will continue to enable new storage opportunities that post teams need—the only question is whether they embrace the cloud head on or opt to weave it into parts of the workflow.

Plan Your Journey to the Cloud

Planning to migrate workflows to the cloud? Here’s your roadmap.

How to Streamline Digital Distribution in a Broadcast Newsroom

The pandemic hit the advertising ecosystem hard: linear TV ad spend shrank 41 percent in the first few months, according to the IAB, and gains in the second quarter were limited. But while it may take a while longer for traditional advertising dollars to resume their normal flow, the IAB predicts a quicker recovery for digital video advertising. After the 2020 election cycle, and with the future of live sports in doubt, local broadcasters will have a much-needed opportunity to diversify their revenue—and that means leaning into digital distribution.

On a higher level, we’ve discussed best practices for digital distribution. Knowing how to tailor your content to various platforms, being selective about the platforms where your station shares content, and integrating digital video creation into your workflow does quite a bit to push distribution along. Now we’ll explore the foundation needed to enable a smooth digital and social workflow for broadcast newsrooms.

1. Think Digital First

The gap between Americans who prefer to get their local news via TV and those who prefer to get it online is shrinking, according to Pew Research Center. Fears about cannibalizing one’s broadcast audience may have made sense a decade or so ago, but today, digital distribution is a vital tool in every newsroom and it deserves recognition as a crucial part of the broadcast workflow.

This mindset is extremely helpful when it comes to breaking news. After all, the next major news event might be just around the corner, and you can’t simply hold stories for the 6 o’clock newscast.

Thinking digitally first doesn’t mean jettisoning the broadcast mindset; the two can work hand in hand. And sometimes, they need to—if a reporter is on the scene of a protest that begins to produce some news, your newsroom needs the ability to immediately share that footage via social and other digital channels, or stream it live.

Think of CNN’s Go There, an entire show with staff devoted to the Facebook Watch platform. Or, instead, think of smaller stations like Louisville’s WAVE 3—their footage of a reporter being shot at with pepper bullets live on air immediately spread across social media. WAVE 3 repackaged the clip for digital distribution while the reporter, Kaitlin Rust, wrote about the experience for the website.

In the event that news breaks on a live stream, the broadcast team needs ready access to this footage. This requires that both teams work from a common shared storage and asset management system so that everyone has instant access to what they need and can deliver it as fast as possible to any platform.

2. Empower Your Digital Video Team

Whether you reallocate current personnel or make new hires to fill out the team, it takes a separate group of people dedicated to digital to properly execute a digital distribution strategy. Many broadcasters already have this kind of team—RTDNA reports that 60 percent of broadcasters aim to implement a digital-first strategy—but as budgets contract, it becomes a component of your newsroom worth fighting for.

And that separate, dedicated team should be in constant contact with the broadcast editorial team. They need to be able to see what footage is coming in and understand what’s happening with that footage for broadcast. They also need to have the authority and capability to edit and publish the footage on their own.

These team members will pull their footage from the same sources as your broadcast edit team. However, the graphics they use will need to be different, both on an aesthetic front and from the technical side. The tech specs for digital video vary quite a bit from those required by broadcast, so easy access to source files is crucial.

3. Simplify the Distribution Method

Having to go through a host of steps just to access source footage slows things down. The surest way of keeping these workflows organized is to connect your digital publishing tools to your central media management system.

To ease digital and social workflows for broadcast, there’s increased demand for the ability to turn live broadcasts into a vertical format that’s friendlier to mobile, while offering more monetization opportunities. A plug-and-play service like this can go a long way toward earning a digital audience and the digital ad dollars that go with it.

For instance, French public broadcaster France Télévisions, which airs massive live events like the Tour de France and the Olympics, decided to offer an equally large suite of digital channels for those events to French viewers. They used technology from Wildmoka to feed dozens of live channels to an app, web browsers, and connected TVs. From there, viewers could watch different angles of live matches at France’s French Open tennis tournament and catch up on what they missed—both highlights and full matches. Most newsrooms won’t need quite as robust a solution as France Télévisions uses, but the fact that the tech is out there to deliver these capabilities speaks to the scalability of a cloud-based product.

Some media management systems also offer the means to integrate social and digital publishing into their workflow. Look for products that automatically connect to (and utilize) your organization’s NLE. It’s a way to give editors the flexibility to work well in the formats—i.e., vertical, square—that social video in particular requires.

Some of these changes are easier said than done, and they take time. If you’re not ready for a dedicated digital team yet, for instance, focus on how technology can ease certain challenges, or vice versa. Even incremental mindset and technology shifts will go a long way toward upping your digital distribution strategy, and will leave you better leveraged to handle the inevitable ebbs and flows of ad spend over time.

Accelerate Your News Workflow

Break stories first across every audience channel, from anywhere, using any device. From story creation through content distribution, MediaCentral provides the most comprehensive end-to-end solution for news production.

Tailoring Broadcast News to Digital Channels: 3 Best Practices

The TV and online worlds continue to converge, and that gives local broadcasters a unique opportunity: even as people head online more and more, they still trust local news, reports the Knight Foundation. And while the TV ad marketplace may be choppy, online ad revenue is set to continue growing, says AdExchanger, even amidst a global pandemic.

Accessing this digital revenue stream could be crucial to the long-term growth of broadcast organizations, and that access relies on effectively tailoring broadcast news to different platforms. Driving audiences back to your own website means adjusting how you package the news content you’re already producing, not just for your website, but for all the social platforms where viewers can find you.

As you repackage your broadcast news for digital and social use, keep these best practices in mind.

1. Know Your Audience and Your Platforms

You can’t simply put the same video on different digital platforms without some tweaking. For instance, YouTube’s aspect ratio is not the same as Instagram’s, and in any case, the people scrolling through Facebook want something different from people clicking on your YouTube video (namely, captions). To get the most out of your social and digital efforts, you have to know who you’re trying to engage. Does your audience skew female? Male? How young? Do they watch with the sound on or off? Is the platform’s content discovery haphazard, curated by the user themselves, or guided by an algorithm?

Beyond your audience, these video platforms also have their own demographic skew to consider. Some, like Facebook, tend to think of themselves more as walled gardens that want to keep users on their platform. Remember: You don’t want to build an audience just on these platforms, but rather you want to direct them back to your website. Make that as easy as possible; if you post bite-size social video, accompany that with a link leading to the full-size video on your site.

2. Play Where You Know You Can Win

After you’ve gotten a good look at the audience composition of each platform, start being choosy. Don’t spoil your newsroom’s resources on platforms where videos just aren’t getting views. An example: Digiday reports that some news outlets, like the New York Times, have abandoned Snapchat because they’ve found that their content just isn’t what Snapchat users want.

As you dig into your analytics, it’s worth noting that what counts as a view varies widely from platform to platform. On YouTube, a “view” is 30 seconds; on Facebook, it’s 2 seconds. Other metrics, like “engagement” through shares or comments, or average watch time, will tell you a more complete story.

3. Make Digital Video Part of Your Workflow

Your social and digital video strategy can’t just be an afterthought. Once you’ve chosen your preferred platforms, integrate the production of these videos into your digital distribution workflow.

Tailoring broadcast news for social distribution can be a bit of a chore for your employees if you don’t have a software solution where this capability is baked in. A solution that makes it simple to automatically publish videos to various social channels could increase compliance and lift some of the burden from already-busy editors and producers. You also need a solution that enables multiple people to collaborate on the same videos for maximum efficiency.

What do these best practices look like in reality? Here are some examples from digital-first news organizations that could inspire your strategy.

Business Insider’s So Expensive Series

Each episode of Business Insider’s video series So Expensive explains why a particular consumer good is, well, so expensive. The series is designed to attract an audience that may not necessarily be hungry for news. The prominent Business Insider logo creates a relationship between the outlet and its viewers on that platform, driving them to other content not only on the platform but also on the Business Insider website.

The videos’ aspect ratios differ between YouTube and Facebook. Captions are endemic to videos on Facebook, since 85 percent of Facebook video views happen with the sound off, according to Digiday. Calls to action also vary slightly. Episodes also have different release dates on different platforms—the Instagram release of one episode came a few days after its YouTube premiere.

NowThis News Focuses on Social Video

Shorty Award-nominated NowThis News was created with the express purpose of producing news videos for social platforms. It takes the same story and tells it in different ways across the platforms.

One example: Its Twitter video about Florida breaking a record for COVID-19 cases begins quite differently from the Instagram video on the same subject, because the audiences are looking for different things. The Twitter version puts you right into the action, with raw user-generated footage from the scene, while the Instagram version takes a stats-driven, polished approach.

While these case studies offer valuable insights, digital-first news organizations don’t have a monopoly on social or digital video. There’s more than enough room for broadcasters to play—and they need to, if they’re going to flourish as ad dollars shift from TV to digital.

Your High-Performance Newsroom Starts Here

The modern newsroom thrives on end-to-end workflow efficiency, from the field to the studio to the viewer’s screen. Get ahead of the competition with insights, education, and inspiration for future-focused broadcasters.

How to Gauge Shared Storage Requirements for News Production

We need to talk about shared storage—the combination of easily accessible online, nearline, and archive storage that sets the foundation for multiple daily broadcasts in every station. It’s what helps to make the modern broadcast newsroom possible.

It’s challenging to assess your storage needs of today, and it’s even harder to make predictions for several years down the line. The broadcast landscape is rapidly evolving—however, so are the tools built for newsrooms. As you search for a long-term shared media storage solution, here are four factors to consider:

1. Reliability

The nightmare of drive failure is real. It’s not uncommon for a broadcast tech to have their own campfire horror story about drives crashing while putting together a show (and another, equally harrowing tale about the corrupted or simply vaporized media that resulted). A shared storage solution, particularly one that uses a large RAID, mitigates this risk of failure.

The broadcast world at large is already familiar with RAID, but not all RAID solutions are created equal. The more drives on hand, the better prepared a system is to deal with failure—if media is striped across 10 drives, the array can handle two drives going kaput.

The ultimate protection, though, comes in a system that creates more than one mirror of the media and has the intelligence to switch between copies in response to demands and drive failures. That may sound like overkill, but a shared storage solution that creates two separate mirrors of your media ensures that even if drive failure or corruption reaches into one mirror, your workflows stay clear.

With a 24-hour news cycle comes the need for storage that performs all day, every day—even when demand is high.

2. Performance

The demands placed on storage are on the incline. More footage needs to be available to more people, producers need to find the right footage right away, and your storage has to be equipped to deliver smooth feedback to every person working on the broadcast. That requires not just tremendous, scalable capacity but also drive performance and bandwidth.

A shared storage solution that enables your producers to search footage for phrases can be a tremendous value add, particularly if it enables real-time collaboration. Giving producers and editors the ability to edit the same files at once lets the whole team save precious time in a crunch.

Some of the “smaller” perks of shared storage may also have a surprisingly big impact. A gesture as simple as giving everyone access to the right graphics can boost your broadcast’s professional feel. Plus, having the ability to share teasers on social media directly from your software offers new ways to engage viewers.

3. Scale

Scalability is crucial to both operations and price. How many hours of footage can your system handle? How many streams? And how much will it cost to expand these capabilities? Graphics are complex and only becoming more so as time goes on—tech like augmented reality, while still not widely deployed by local stations, may well make its way into more broadcasts in the near future.

An end-to-end solution offers the ability to scale by automatically adding bandwidth along with capacity. This ensures that not only do you have increased space when you need it, but that more of the team can work concurrently on media.

Not every shared media storage solution offers this, however. Always ask about whether increased bandwidth automatically comes with increased capacity.

4. Price

Price should never be the first priority when it comes to storage, even if you’re under a severe budget crunch.

There are, of course, plenty of lower-cost options out there that can keep the newsroom running. But in an environment with constant breaking news, these solutions aren’t as reliable. Breaking news often requires immediate access to archived footage. With siloed storage, a human being has to manage and deliver archived media that is no longer in the nearline or online storage. The newsroom can’t afford to rely on humans for these duties—time is of the essence, and you certainly can’t be sneakernetting in these situations.

So, when breaking news hits, prioritize collaboration. After all, producers and editors need to be able to work shoulder to shoulder (even if working remotely) within a piece of media to deliver the news as quickly as possible. Beyond that, they all need to be able to see what their colleagues are doing. Not every shared storage solution has this capability, but it’s worth investing in.

Shared media storage managed via a central smart hub is one way to save time and money over the long haul—both in person-hours and ad-hoc panic storage buys

Media Storage for News Production Buyer’s Guide

Determining the right storage solution for your news team can be complex. This guide will help you get started.

Debunking 3 Myths about Cloud-Based Services for Post Production

Change is hard. But often a difficult transition pays off—learning to edit via NLEs was an adjustment, for example, but it brought about new efficiencies and helped democratize the film industry. Brace for another shift: Unlocking the potential of cloud-based services could spell big changes for post production.

“The cloud” as a term can feel a little amorphous, but it describes using networked computing power accessed through an internet connection. Some of the positives of a system like this might be clear at first glance: the cloud seamlessly enables remote collaboration, scalable computing power, and a digital-first media production workflow.

That’s why it was somewhat surprising that a 2020 DPP study found 70 percent of respondents simply didn’t trust cloud services. Of course, there are valid concerns with any technology, but many cloud-based fears go away with a closer look.

Here are three myths about the cloud that could be preventing you from revolutionizing your workflows, and why they may not reflect the current reality of cloud-based services.

Myth #1: It’s a Security Nightmare

A few high-profile leaks in the past decade have major media companies on high alert when it comes to security, and understandably so. But these vulnerabilities generally aren’t related to an issue with the cloud itself. Take the case of some leaked Netflix programming: a post house simply had an old computer with a security flaw on their own system, and it happened to be connected to the internet.

Traditional workflows’ reliance on shuffling media around presents its own security nightmares. The more media that’s transferred between departments and subcontractors, the more vulnerabilities.

The cloud can reduce opportunities for problems by flipping the script. Workflows are brought to the media rather than the other way around. Think of it like this: Instead of multiple targets with varying degrees of security, bad actors only have one target—and that target has far better protection.

The security that comes with a product like Microsoft Azure is decidedly robust. Major Hollywood studios already use the cloud for post production on some of their films. If companies of that magnitude are comfortable with the level of security they’re getting, that’s a sign of strength.

Myth #2: Connectivity and Performance Issues Are Rampant

When you’re working with massive post files, you don’t need another layer of possible disruption in the form of an unreliable connection, or a system that you think you can’t manually control.

But this isn’t the age of dial-up (or even broadband). Chances are that most major post houses have already invested in fiber infrastructure that can deliver reliable gigabit connections. The foundation to support a cloud-based media production workflow is there, but post houses are still working out the best way to use these new workflows.

After all, not every worker is guaranteed to be on a fiber line. While this isn’t ideal, it is workable, particularly with protocols like PC-over-IP. Because the cloud is constantly making backups of the work being done, in the event of a disrupted connection, the cloud simply begins uploading from the local machine where it left off before the connection dropped out.

In fact, plenty of productions have gotten into the habit of finishing post work remotely, especially as COVID-19 closed many offices. Opus Post Production, Israel’s biggest post house, chose an interesting setup, using HP computers configured as virtual machines and running Media Composer over Teradici’s Zero Client. The process of shifting to a somewhat remote edit process has been smooth for Opus largely because it had already been experimenting with remote processes for years.

Opus is an example of a house that prepped for having to go remote. The novel coronavirus pandemic has thrown into stark relief just how well that kind of planning can pay off.

Myth #3: It’s Too Expensive

It’s true that the cloud doesn’t guarantee an immediate expenditure shrinkage. The central question regarding cloud services and expenses for most major post-production houses, though, has shifted from “Can you afford to use the cloud?” to “Can you afford not to?”

This is a calculation each post house has to make for itself. Cloud-based technology may require investments in infrastructure, such as a dedicated line to ensure uninterrupted data flow, so weigh the possible investment against all of your costs toward cooling and electricity bills, software and hardware updates, and the resources required to maintain all that infrastructure. Cloud-based services can reduce many of those costs, since you only pay for what you use.

It’s near impossible to work on a modern major film production without using some form of cloud-based services. Shoots and reshoots happen in various locations at different times, and all of the footage needs to be accessible to multiple parties regardless of where they are. Projects with tight deadlines can’t afford the time delay of shipping drives. To that end, you’re likely already using a hybrid approach that uploads footage to a central server only certain people can access. Making more of your process dependent on the cloud is a chance to introduce more efficiencies.

Not every company has the resources of a major studio. However, sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for most post houses. The cloud calls

Plan Your Journey to the Cloud

What media production workflows could your organization migrate to the cloud, and how will you make the transition? Start building your road map today.

How Subscription Models Are Reshaping Broadcast Technology Decisions

Busy broadcast newsroom with employees and tech

The broadcast world, like our broader reality, is undergoing seismic change. Organizations are having to pivot quickly to meet competitive threats, and they need their broadcast technology to keep pace. Meanwhile, capital investment budgets are shrinking and M&A activity is ramping up.

Yet, the industry hasn’t completely embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS). This is somewhat understandable: broadcasting is a colossal, always-on undertaking, and industry-wide change can feel like trying to turn a massive cruise ship. However, enterprise subscriptions can lower costs, provide much-needed flexibility, and are often easier to deploy. Let’s break down the core benefits of a subscription model.

Lower Costs

Technology is a massive cost center—absolutely necessary, but a cost center nevertheless. It’s also one of the hardest budget items to argue for in tough economic times: if the tech still works, can’t an upgrade wait? The SaaS model lets you mitigate some of those costs by incentivizing multiyear subscriptions, but even yearlong or month-to-month subscriptions can save money.

A subscription model will automatically upgrade as long as you’re subscribed. That circumvents any need to ask for more money to invest in the latest upgrades, or, in the worst-case scenario, missing out on some of the new features that your competition already uses to great effect.

Flexibility: Technology

The broadcast technology landscape tends to change rapidly, so predicting needs even a year out can be difficult. With that said, it might seem odd to recommend looking into multiyear software subscriptions. However, a SaaS model provides faster access to new releases and a much quicker activation process.

Even if you end up deciding that a yearlong or monthly subscription is better for your news organization, customization with a subscription can be a smoother way to adapt and stay ahead of the curve.

Flexibility: Scale

TV viewership is on the rise, according to Nielsen figures reported by Broadcasting & Cable. But this demand doesn’t always translate to a lift in bottom lines; you may need to be prepared to meet that demand with fewer resources.

A software subscription can maximize the use of licenses for colleagues, not just in-station but also for those working remotely. No more buying individual licenses that go unused if the team shrinks. The economics for this kind of scaling up—or down—makes a compelling case for our current times.

Compatibility across Organizations

A 2019 EY report says mergers and acquisitions are a key focus for executives in the media and entertainment industry this year, according to IBC. This comes after broadcast TV M&A hit $8 billion in 2018, according to FierceVideo. While the pandemic may affect priorities, M&A will remain a fact of industry life and come with their own set of operational hurdles, like getting everyone on the same system. For example, when Sinclair bought 21 regional sports networks in 2019, that meant integrating thousands of new employees into existing systems. This can be a particular challenge for broadcasters, who generally work across multiple departments with tech that may have been acquired ad hoc, without a cohesive strategy.

A SaaS model can suit this situation because the software can be deployed to any system, as long as the hardware and operating system meet the minimum requirements. There’s no waiting, nor is there any need to acquire specific, proprietary equipment.

Workflow Efficiency

Plenty of productions have had to integrate remote processes into their workflows amid stay-at-home orders, and ensuring remote access to assets and workflows is crucial to making these changes work. The right subscription model can solve a host of these workflow issues.

For example, SaaS is a viable option for a team that needs an asset management system to integrate with their NLE and graphics solutions, or for a newsroom that needs one workflow to remotely manage digital content on top of the on-air content. Though a general cloud solution is essential to this approach, an end-to-end software solution is what will empower your team to create and inform.

A SaaS model will offer agility where traditional models tend to stumble. Whether others in the industry have yet switched to SaaS or not, a subscription model can help your organization outpace the competition in the face of unexpected changes.

Accelerate News Production

Avid offers the most comprehensive, scalable, and integrated solution to handle every part of your news workflow.

How to Defeat Pesky Post-Production Bottlenecks

The demand for content has exploded over the last decade. Meanwhile, shooting ratios are ballooning, and that footage is at ever-higher resolutions. These factors leave post-production teams managing fiercely tight deadlines, massive files, and complex workflows—a perfect editing storm.

As industry pressure bears down on post-production teams, many may have grown used to simply making it work. But tech solutions may ease these pain points. Here are some common bottlenecks in video post production, along with some ways to open up the flow.

Cross-Team Collaboration (From Anywhere)

The current pandemic may have accelerated remote collaboration, but post-production teams have always required some degree of collaboration between post facilities and on-set crews. These teams must stay agile to match the pace of most productions’ condensed timelines. Delays due to slow uploads/downloads of dailies or waiting for a shipped drive aren’t going to cut it. There are a variety of ways to facilitate content sharing, even while it is being shot, such as streaming proxies or file-based transfers.

Efficient collaboration, whether within a single facility or amongst a distributed workforce, remains important farther down the post pipeline too, driving home the need for a common environment where users are able to work collaboratively on the same projects and bins. A hybrid cloud/on-prem model offers a convenient solution for users to access content from anywhere and edit and publish at low res, while synching with high res content that lives in on-premises storage.

Time-Consuming Transcoding

Transcoding is still mercilessly time-consuming, even when it’s possible to check that little “transcode in background” box. Although camera codecs are increasingly friendly to the post process, and NLEs now intrinsically understand camera card structure, the technology is still a ways out from promising a proxy-less future.

Establishing a “project codec” is one way to cut back on bottlenecks that stem from back-and-forth transcoding, including the potential loss of metadata. Using a common format and codec for the production wherever possible will significantly cut down on the time spent waiting around and fretting over missing metadata.

The codec you choose should depend on the team’s needs. For heavy visual effects, for example, consider something that can cross operating systems, like Avid DNxHD® HQ.

Logging, Tagging, and Transcribing

When an editor can’t find a specific take for a director, either because it hasn’t been tagged properly or it ended up in the wrong bin, it’s a dispiriting moment at best.

Ingesting massive amounts of footage (and subsequently logging and tagging it all) is essential, but with the increase in shooting ratios, it’s become a borderline Herculean task. However, there are ways to automate this process.

Seek out tech solutions that enable productions to log and tag footage as it’s being created. For instance, phonetic indexing can automatically sync each source clip to its associated line in the script. Similarly, dialogue search, which enables users to browse footage by words or phrases, can save hours of time—not just for junior team members who would normally have to complete that task, but for everyone working on the project who no longer has to wait or sift through footage.

Or take transcribing: automated transcription won’t perfectly replicate human transcription, but the time tradeoff is often worth a slight decrease in quality. Alternatively, for productions that need word-perfect transcription, beginning with an automated transcription is a massive head start.

Security Leaks

Leaks of high-profile projects can wreck years of work and cost a hefty sum. For Larson Studios, the smaller post-production house that handled post for Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, leaks were financially devastating and led them to implement an entirely new (and less efficient) workflow.

After their servers were hacked, Larson paid a $50,000 ransom to avoid the release of the fifth season of OITNB, according to Variety. The season leaked anyway. The weak link in the chain was an old computer that was running Windows 7. Even so, Larson Studios spent six figures on a new security system and began separating audio and video files, even though it caused a major workflow slowdown.

It was an extreme solution to an admittedly extreme situation. But most security measures recommended by the Content Delivery and Security Association will lead to some amount of bottleneck, so it’s necessary to budget for the extra time these steps require. Easy precautions, though, like running up-to-date software and operating systems on all machines, can save the whole team from some of the biggest potential headaches.

Don’t Panic

It’s worth accounting for post bottlenecks, because some will come at you no matter how well you plan. (There’s always a chance a sequence just won’t work and will need to be reshot.) Scan your video post-production workflow with a critical eye and make note of where inefficiencies are most likely to occur. If better teamwork alone can’t smooth out those bottlenecks, take another look at how you can expedite the processes themselves.

Ultimately, an end-to-end tech solution that enables efficient collaboration, automates time-consuming tasks, and remains secure all the while can take strained post-production workflows and open them back up.

The State of Video Production 2020 Report

What technology’s game-changing, and what’s all hype? Is the current talent pipeline sufficient? Industry professionals share their expert views on these questions and more.