The transition of video workflows to the cloud is not new, but it has certainly been significantly accelerated by the global pandemic and the need to enable remote access and collaboration. Video providers need flexible, cost-effective remote production and post-production workflows but how do they manage that transition without sacrificing quality and reliability?
We were joined by Amazon Studios, Vista Studios, and QSR Systems to discuss how they manage those processes and keep things running smoothly. There are a few key takeaways:
- Record to Shared Storage
Doug Cavaliere of QSR Systems discussed how his team is using Cinedeck to record direct to a shared storage. This has been critical for those work from home environments, giving everyone immediate access to the same content and making it easy for them to collaborate on any edits needed. While record to shared storage is a necessity while the team is remote, Doug also highlighted that this workflow also has advantages for traditional workflows. One key advantage is the ability to get both the master camera record and proxy record done simultaneously so they can be available immediately and ready to send to post or hosted in a remote environment.
- Maximize Proxies
The ability to create those proxies on the fly means QSR is able to make either the master record file or a low res proxy available, depending on a number of factors. Also, both will get tagged with the same metadata and give a parent and child relationship, avoiding any potential post-production nightmares or confusion. While there would always be a media manager with high-speed access to the storage, for other users it might be more beneficial to access and edit the proxy file. This is especially true in productions where multiple records are happening at once and quick access to the low res proxy is more important than accessing a large volume of large original record files.
- Quality Control Remains Vital
Of course, with any video production workflow, quality control is going to be important. Doing that in a remote environment can seem complex and it certainly needs the right tools and carefully crafted workflows in place. If content is captured directly into shared storage, this means everyone can review and react in realtime, which is certainly an important aspect. It is also vital that a remote editor can easily test that everything is in sync. QSR gives editors access to the live Cinedeck environment so they can check that in realtime. As Jane Sung from Cinedeck pointed out, both QSR and Vista Studios have a wealth of experience handling large productions and while this always needs to happen in realtime as well, they will have carried out a lot of detailed checks and tests before the camera even starts rolling.
- Multicam needs a carefully planned recipe
When handling a multicam production, there is of course a lot of planning that needs to happen first, regardless of the workflow. Doug explained how QSR works with each show to determine camera count and record recipe and then builds out the storage with throughput to support all of those cameras simultaneously. Randall Heer of Vista Studios cited a similar approach, ensuring all of the necessary resources are in place, such as high security and scalable bandwidth, even before the client is brought in. Considerations such as where to place equipment and how to handle handoffs is all carefully planned way before production begins.
It is also important of course to carefully plan how many Cinedecks are needed and this will also depend on the number of channels and output resolution. One deck is capable of capturing two cameras if Ultra High Definition or four if High Definition, for example. Vista Studios and QSR have been working together, and along with Cinedeck, for a number of years now so the two studios have a very carefully choreographed routine. Randall commented that the simplicity of Cinedeck really helps to make that process much smoother as so many things are just taken care of in advance.
- Flexibility is key
One thing that has been particularly common over the past couple of years is that things can change fast. Cloud workflows naturally bring flexibility but there remain some key considerations. Equally, as Doug pointed out the tools, workflows, and processes will vary from show to show. Flexibility could mean being able to easily integrate other parts of the workflow. It might also be about the ability to handle mixed frame rate shooting or to push video to different types of storage, including LTO. One thing that Doug also highlighted was the flexibility to make quick edits, something not many tools enable. He explained that previously it would require a very time-consuming process of editing and re-exporting. Cinedeck makes it possible to do a very quick insert and assemble edit.
As Tiffany Phelps of Amazon Studios commented, Covid has forced many video companies to quickly move to remote workflows. This has totally changed the way in which video is produced and shifted the need for on-site premises. While it is unlikely that we will ever see the end of physical production premises, we will most certainly see a continuation of remote workflows making it easy for production teams to collaborate from anywhere while delivering huge efficiencies and cost savings. As Randall commented: “we have new tools, new results, another way of doing things. It works and it works well.”
You can watch the full webinar here.