What is a Production Workflow?

By in News Production, Tech Talk

We’ve all seen the old movies about the broadcast news business. It starts with a plucky news reporter given an assignment or following a hunch for a story and then heading into the field with a camera crew to capture a news event or interview a subject. From there, the footage is returned to the station, edited and makes it on-air with seconds to spare! And there you have your typical production workflow.

Joan Cusack in Broadcast News (1987)

When we refer to a ‘production’ workflow, what it means is starting with the visualization of an idea for a show, film or song and going through the production process until there is a final product that is ready to share.

Our goal in QA at Avid is to try and emulate, as close as possible, our customers’ real world end-to-end production workflows in our test labs to identify and fix bugs before the software is released. With a customer base that spans the globe and covers many kinds of project types, unfortunately, we cannot test all of the specific workflows that exist and are in use day in and day out. However, if you want to share what your workflow looks like with us, we should be able to incorporate aspects of it into our production workflow tests! See how to reach us at the end of this article.

In general, a production workflow can be categorized into 5 stages. While they can often overlap throughout the course of a project, we can categorize these general stages as: Ingest or Media Acquisition; Media Staging, Search and Logging; Editing and Collaboration; Asset Management; Delivery, Broadcast and Distribution.

 

Ingest or Media Acquisition

This is where it all begins with the creation of the raw media. The media can come from professional grade video or film cameras, a graphics system, cell phone, a musician recording a song in their home studio or a production crew recording a live sporting event.

 

Media Staging, Search and Logging

In this stage, the acquired media is prepared for the editing process. Assistant editor’s, producers, loggers, interns or other staff begin to review and log the raw media for the editing process. This could include searching for a particular quote from a speech, sound bit from an interview, the best take from an actor’s performance, a guitar riff in a song or spectacular play on the playing field. Notes of the wanted sections are logged and given to the editor.

Editing and Collaboration

As they say, this is where the magic happens! All of the logged and annotated raw media starts to come together in a final product. This is also an iterative process in which a rough cut is made then sent for review and approval. If changes are required, the changes are made then sent out again for approval. In the case of a live sporting event, highlight or ‘melt’ reels can be created while the game is in progress.

 

Asset Management

In this stage, the managing of assets is done. This can range from archiving media, placing watermarks on the media so that it is not stolen and assigning digital rights. It can also include sending media to affiliate station or production houses for their use.

 

Delivery, Broadcast and Distribute

When the project has been completed, the last step is to make this available for consumption by the end user. For a news broadcaster, it can be airing a segment during a newscast. For others, it could be posting to an “Online Video Platform” (OVP) such as YouTube or Vimeo. Another option is making the project available to other outlets like such as HBO, Hulu or Netflix.

While most production workflows can be categorized into these stages, there is no general way in which any stage is done or the sequence in which a production is completed. With the various programming formats such as broadcast news, live sports, and scripted and unscripted reality shows, each production workflow has its own unique quirks and style.

 

Avid’s Role in Your Production Workflow

With tight release schedules at Avid, what we have to do within our workflow QA organization is find the top 3-5 common denominator for each of the stages that can be used in our manual and automation testing. (Note: We’ll take a closer look at the automation testing we use at Avid in a future blog). For this information, we rely heavily on our product designers, program managers and sales teams for their input.

As a current or new customer, we welcome any and all information about some details of your production workflow. If you can provide sample media, screen shots of your timeline, or bin information that would be helpful. Please send your production workflow feedback and examples to social@avid.com. All of this information helps our QA organization get an even better understanding of how our customers use our software in their workflows. In the end, it helps us empower you to create more enriching content!

CTA Workflow Techtalk

Share Your Production Workflow

Send us your production workflow details and supporting examples. Your feedback will give us the ability to help you continue to create more enriching content!

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I am a Team Lead and Principle Test Engineer at Avid. Prior to joining Avid, I had over 13 years of experience in various positions in TV Broadcast, including camera operator, on-line editor and Technical Director.