The Real Requirements for Meaningful Remote Production Workflows

The return of conferences and exhibitions in 2022 has finally given us all the opportunity to sit down and talk to industry professionals from around the world to discuss what’s working and where the current challenges lie.

Many of the conversations I’ve had at these events relate to the industry hot topic at the moment: remote production. This topic takes on many forms depending on the needs of the production and so to tackle them in a single blog would be ambitious (for me to write and for you to read). So instead, I thought I would cover a more specific scenario to show the sort of challenges I’ve heard and illustrate some of the techniques that can be applied to other scenarios.

Take for example a production company responsible for a popular reality TV show. Let’s say it’s set, and shot, in the south of France, although the production company itself is based in Paris, 500km to the north.

Like all reality shows, it generates a huge amount of content from many cameras running non-stop. It also has an extremely fast turnaround, with audiences expecting high production values in programs reflecting the action that took place on site within the previous few hours.

To meet these two requirements, the production company could have set up a large server network on site. Let’s explore some of the implications of this and what alternatives could be used to improve the workflow.

On-Site Production Challenges

In a single storage network scenario the program would have to base a team of editors at the location. This would add  substantially to the production budget: these editors, edit assistants and edit producers would need accommodation and food over the months that the program was in production. Space would have to be rented to house the edit suites. Travel costs would be high because editors may not want to be away from home for extended periods of time, therefore they would be constantly rotated in and out.

What the production company needs is the ability to edit story packages, and packages into programs, within the facilities they already have in Paris (close to the homes and favorite restaurants of the editors and producers). However, the content is hundreds of kilometers away.

Bring On The Proxy

I’ve written before about how you should embrace the proxy. When content is ingested into EditShare storage nodes it can automatically generate a proxy, at a bitrate determined by you, but small enough to be regarded as portable.

This means that users anywhere with the right privileges can log in, view the proxies, add comments if necessary, and manage the content. In this application, producers responsible for each story strand could log in, from Paris for example, whether from a computer or tablet, and review all the footage available. They could very quickly identify what material to use and drag it into an appropriate bin. This can all happen in a web browser using the FLOW media asset management system. We are nowhere near an edit workstation yet.

An edit assistant could then go through the selected sequences for the story and set up the bin structure for the editor. Again, this is still in a web browser, at any location, using the proxy.

When everything is ready, the relevant clips are loaded into the edit software. We are completely agnostic: we can preload bins and projects into Adobe® Premiere® Pro, Avid Media Composer and Da Vinci Resolve. The editor can start cutting straight away.

Stay In Sync

With EditShare EFS we recently introduced a new feature called Swift Sync. This is designed to synchronize content between multiple locations. It incorporates file acceleration which can move media files, over a leased line or a VPN tunnel, as much as ten times faster than Rsync.

It also is extremely flexible in what it synchronizes. In an application like the reality show example, there may still be too much raw content to reliably move, even after the selections have been made. We have smart segmentation in mind during this process as it’s not necessary to synchronize absolutely everything. The key is to synchronize what’s required, automate and optimize. So the editor can cut on the proxies, and only when the story is complete, will Swift Sync move the required clips with handles. It can even conform the edit in the server node at the location and just move the finished story as one file.

Savings Abound

This is the architecture that can deliver huge operational savings for the reality show, while maintaining quality and boosting productivity. The same ideas are applicable for other situations too.

You do not need to have physical storage nodes in both the remote location and back at base. One or both of them could be in the cloud, using EditShare FLEX software and the AWS Backbone to move material as needed.

If you are shooting a drama in 4K Ultra HD, or even higher resolutions using RED cameras, it might even be most efficient and cost-effective to edit using proxies and deliver the selected raw clips back to base on disk drives using FedEx.

At EditShare we see our mission as supporting producers to create amazing everywhere. Proxy workflows are a practical and very flexible way of achieving that. 

Want to find out more? click here to book a demo, or a chat with your local EditShare team member.