Fixing it in parallel


Daniele Siragusano TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Daniele Siragusano
Issue 97 - January 2015

Whenever something went wrong in television production, the cry was always "We'll fix it in post". Except that there was rarely enough time, in a broadcast schedule, to fix anything.

Today we expect every programme - even routine television programmes like daily dramas - to look and sound perfect. But we still do not have enough time to correct everything in post. The only answer is to find a better way of working.

Two technological advances have brought about an improved workflow. First, as we all know, content is now stored, manipulated and managed as digital files rather than a linear stream. We can move content around more simply and often more quickly, and we don't have to transfer a huge batch of content when all we want is a single shot.

Second, the continuing rise in raw processing power means we can do more things to a picture in real time than ever before. That means we do not need to wait for anything to render: our standard hardware will show us our edits, transitions, effects and colour grades at the moment of replay.

The obvious benefit of real-time playback is the saving in render time, but there is a more subtle point. It means everything we do is non-destructive. We are not "baking in" anything, and we can reverse out with limitless levels of undo if we need to.

That, in turn, means we no longer need to ship large quantities of content around - we just need the raw material. After that, all we are doing is building sets of metadata that tell the processors what to do with that raw material: edit decision lists, colour decision lists and so on. That makes moving jobs from room to room quicker, too.

All of these advantages make for a faster, more reliable and more creative workflow. At FilmLight we achieve this seamless, render-free workflow by matching our Baselight grading systems with Baselight Editions, which are plugins for popular software: Apple FCP and Avid editors and NUKE visual effects, with more to be added in future.

Consistent

The plugins achieve two things. First, if there is colour grading information in the metadata that arrives with the content then they impose it. That means editors get to see graded shots as soon as the colourist releases them.

One advantage, which is not obvious but makes life much better for busy producers and directors, is that they can look into the colour suite and see how the grade is going. Then they can walk next door into the dubbing suite and not be surprised by the pictures: the audio room can have the same plugin, so will see exactly the same graded images. It sounds like a luxury but in practice it saves time and frustrations.

The second thing that Baselight Editions do is to put the Baselight grading toolset into the host software. If, say, an editor needs to make a small adjustment to the grade to make a transition look right, the whole sequence does not have to go off to wait for the colourist - the editor can make the adjustment in moments.

Remember that all the editor is doing is updating the metadata. This is a non-destructive change. The colourist can roll back, or finesse it still further, if they need to.

It will be easier to appreciate the benefits of this render-free workflow if we look at a real example. Coronation Street is the longest-running continuing drama in the world, first broadcast in 1960 and a popular feature of the UK's television scene ever since. Currently it is broadcast five nights a week, so the producers are effectively making a full-length movie every week, not counting the additional online content.

At the beginning of 2014 ITV Studios, the makers of Coronation Street, moved it to a new home, with four studios as well as a carefully reconstructed - and subtly improved - outdoor lot. The move also allowed the producers to upgrade its post technology and workflows.

Editing is on Avid, with dubbing and track-laying on Pro Tools. All are connected to a core Avid ISIS shared storage system, along with the Baselight ONE grading system. The Avid stations - including those used to display pictures in the sound rooms - each have the Baselight for Avid plugin installed.

Parallel

While colourists and editors can work in parallel, in practice a first cut of the programme is made before the colourist starts to work. In general the look of the show is warm and welcoming, although steelier looks are sometimes used for dramatic emphasis. Outdoor scenes often need matching, given the changeable nature of the weather in Salford.

The colourist picks up the AAF edit file and sees the content on the ISIS. As the grade is worked on, more information is added to the AAF file. When the programme is opened again in Avid - for more work, for finishing or for viewing - Baselight for Avid interprets the grading information, including shapes, tracking information and keyframes, and gives each shot the same look that the colourist created.

No render is required, and a full, complex grade is applied in a matter of seconds. If the producer wants to extend a shot or trim something, there is no need to regrade as the colour information follows the edit. If a director wants to tweak the grade, the finishing editor can do it through Baselight for Avid: the finishing suite has its own Slate control panel, which is a smaller footprint version of the Blackboard panel in the grading suite, but with the same high-quality controls.

An episode can be completed - edited, graded, dubbed, finished and signed off by the producer - without a single render having taken place. All the post information is metadata, imposed as effects in real time. The only time you need to flatten the file is at the point of delivery.

Over the course of each episode this workflow saves hours in terms of processing and moving large files around. That makes a huge difference when you are working on television timescales and budgets. And at the same time as making savings, it also improves quality by making the decision-making fluid.

Collaborative post-production has been something of a buzzword at the top end in recent years. What broadcast production facilities like ITV Studios have discovered is that there are real benefits in applying the same principles to television. Even under the pressure of very tight timescales, you can still boost the quality and control the budget by applying smart technology.


Tags: iss097 | editing | post production | workflow | filmlight | coronation street | visual effects | Daniele Siragusano
Submitted by Daniele Siragusano Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Submitted by Yaniv Ben-Soussan -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Sennheiser Digital 6000 review
KitPlus Originally founded in 1945 from a university research lab Sennheiser is of course a globally respected brand and have recently launched the Digital 6000 series as an addition to its pro wireless range. KitPlus were invited to a take a look together with a live music event featuring the system in Hannover last month.
Tags: iss123 | sennheiser | d6000 | microphone | d9000 | digital 6000 | em6000 | dante | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Driving the Bandwidth Conundrum
Dick Hobbs - new At the time of writing, there is a story on the IBC website with the headline "In five years the problem won't be bandwidth, but knowing what to do with it". That seemed to me to be an interesting assertion, so I read on.
Tags: iss123 | dick hobbs | bandwidth | ibc | ngmn | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Who really benefits from the Cloud?
Jayson Tomlin - new The transition to "the cloud" in our industry has been challenging. Why is it so important to have cloud technologies? What do customers really expect? The term "cloud" has been used to such an extent that it has diminished the real and actual importance of what's really going on - off-premise compute power.
Tags: iss123 | cloud | daw | tv solutions group | off premise | dolby | audio | Jayson Tomlin - new
Submitted by Jayson Tomlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
What is the future of video contribution?
Mark Andrews - new Live Streaming is a generic term and can apply to any part of the process from capture on the camera where video is immediately streamed, to the process of playout on any device. Playout is a huge subject in itself. However "video contribution" is considered the terminology used to capture at the camera end, and to deliver live video from the camera to where ever it needs to go.
Tags: iss123 | soliton systems | streaming | hevc | telecaster | 3g | 4g | h.265 | lte network | Mark Andrews - new
Submitted by Mark Andrews - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
New workflows floating on the horizon
Lee Sheppard - new The way in which we consume content has fundamentally changed. We want to watch what we want, when we want, where we want and how we want, and we want to find programmes quickly, preferably in HD or increasingly UHD. Content is king and in order to satisfy consumer requirements it is essential media companies can locate their material quickly and easily.
Tags: iss123 | mam | pam | sgl | Avid | Grass Valley | Marquis | SAM | VSN | CatDV | Lee Sheppard - new
Submitted by Lee Sheppard - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5G Streaming - The Rollout
Steve Plunkett - new 5G will bring significant improvements in bandwidth per device, capacity per network and reduced latency per session. These are all very important features for video both today and going forward. The growth of new formats such as UHD, AR, VR and 360 video place much greater demand on the networks that serve consumer devices, so 5G will be essential to accommodate this demand.
Tags: iss123 | vod | 5g | ott | ericsson | virtual reality | vr | 360 | Steve Plunkett - new
Submitted by Steve Plunkett - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How to illuminate a better shot
Chuck Edwards LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology built for the general lighting market is designed to meet very different criteria than the critical lighting requirements for image capture. While LEDs may be a suitable lighting option for some photography and videography, critical applications, such as feature film, production requires users to understand the limitations, capabilities and advantages of the many types of LED technologies and fixtures available on the market today.
Tags: iss122 | led | lighting | cct | rpt | remote phosor technology | Chuck Edwards
Submitted by Chuck Edwards Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Future of Bournemouth Air Festival
Georgia Tolley For the past two years I have had the opportunity to present live at the Bournemouth Air Festival (BAF), which, as a Television & Broadcasting student from the University of Portsmouth, was a fantastic way to see first-hand how an outside broadcast works...whilst getting paid!
Tags: iss122 | portsmouth uni | citv | baf | bournemouth air festival | Georgia Tolley
Submitted by Georgia Tolley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec HFMP out of the box review
KitPlus Just before we all broke up for Christmas we took delivery of a new 'thing' at KitPlus HQ. Our first reaction was surprise and a little curious as to how it was going to make itself useful. What's the point?
Tags: iss122 | libec | hfmp | monopod | idx | hands free monopod | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transistion in Audio Monitoring
Shane Toven As signal chains have become increasingly complex, the challenges involved in managing and monitoring these paths have multiplied exponentially. Over the past few decades, we've migrated from handling a single channel of content using composite video and analog audio pairs, to elaborate multi-channel facilities routing HD video with embedded audio over SDI or in many cases discrete AES pairs. These audio signals are often a mix of 5.1 and stereo programs and in many cases encoded to or decoded from Dolby at some point in the chain.
Tags: iss122 | aes | ebu r128 | atsc a85 | aes67 | Shane Toven
Submitted by Shane Toven Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Polecam user review
Phil Vinter When it comes to filming from above, drones have dominated in recent years. But restrictions on where and when they can be used means there is still a demand for traditional style jibs.
Tags: iss122 | polecam | review | Phil Vinter
Submitted by Phil Vinter Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec TH-X Tripod review
Nick Robbins It is worth highlighting that I am primarily an Editor. Like many of us, over the years I have regularly been involved in the entire creative process in some capacity but increasingly I am asked to go out and film the simpler corporate jobs such as exhibition stands or a 'piece to camera' for YouTube, Vimeo etc. and embedded into the customer's web site. These tend to be the jobs which wouldn't happen at all if the client had to pay for the whole package; camera, sound, director, kit hire, etc.
Tags: iss122 | libec | th-x | tripod | Nick Robbins
Submitted by Nick Robbins Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A transformation in aquisition technology
Malcolm Harland KitPlus spoke with Malcolm Harland of Garland Partners to find out how the requirements and capabilities of acquisition technologies have changed since the early 2000s and what the state of play now is.
Tags: iss122 | garland partners | liveu | lu600 | h.265 | hevc | Malcolm Harland
Submitted by Malcolm Harland Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine