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 Rod Aaron Gammons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A 360 degree view of fashion
Michael Parsons Im often asked, what do you do when the students arent around?, and the simple answer is, as it would be from any university technical support member of staff, I get involved in passion projects and these help me to stay up-to-date with the kit and keep my hand-in with video filmmaking.
Tags: iss127 | 360 | vr | portsmouth | university | nokia | ozo | pxw-fs7 | avid media composer | Michael Parsons
Submitted by Michael Parsons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Plan to be smart at IBC
Peter Savage 2 While chatting with a good friend last week, he told me he was full of foreboding about the coming IBC. It needs no introduction: this conference/exhibition is the largest gathering of broadcast professionals in Europe, and the second largest in the world, and everyone in our world knows about it. Ill give you some statistics later but, for now, lets look at why my friend was dreading it.
Tags: iss127 | azule | finance | ibc | planning | Peter Savage 2
Submitted by Peter Savage 2 Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Atomos Ninja Inferno REVIEWED
Daniel Peters Bristol-based Daniel Peters is one of a new breed of indie filmmakers discovering that you dont need big budgets to create filmic shorts. Often working solo, shooting and editing his own work, he creates the look and feel of bigger productions with only limited resources. His commitment to the craft is so great he had to sell much of his own gear to fund his most recent short film Deserted in Paris, after he went over budget due to lost locations and actors pulling out.
Tags: iss127 | atomos | inferno | ninja | review | prores | dnxhr | gh5 | fs7 | lut | Daniel Peters
Submitted by Daniel Peters Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
50 years in and the show must go on
John Smith -new At IBC we always look forward to meeting old faces and new. For those more recently acquainted with the broadcast industry, you may not realise IBC was born half a century ago in London. In 1967 the show, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, attracted just 32 exhibitors and 500 delegates. However, its popularity grew and the exhibition quickly upgraded with a move to the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, followed by the Wembley Conference Centre, before moving to Brighton.
Tags: iss127 | medialinks | ibc | amsterdam | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Why the IABM matters
Peter White The broadcast and media industry is going through a once-in-a-generation transformation right now. Broadcasters and media companies are facing unprecedented challenges with enormous opportunities opening up for the winners. To grasp those opportunities though, broadcasters and media companies need a new generation of agile, cost-effective technology to power their operations to enable them to spin up new services in moments, to repurpose content and serve viewers on their device of choice, wherever they are and whenever they want it.
Tags: iss127 | iabm | standards | Peter White
Submitted by Peter White Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The party is not over until the video is online
Paul Scurrell When we were introduced to the team behind Sensation dance events in Amsterdam they had one big question for Timecode Systems: could our SyncBac VR wireless sync and control solution theoretically make it possible for a high quality, professional 360-degree video of a live dance music event to be edited in the time it takes the DJ to fly to his or her next gig? Intrigued by what our solution could help them achieve, in July they invited us to film at one of their iconic dance music events. Billed as The Final it was a sell-out farewell party to mark the last Sensation event in Amsterdam.
Tags: iss127 | syncbac | vr | 360-degree | pro7 | 360rize | gopro | dj | timecode systems | Paul Scurrell
Submitted by Paul Scurrell Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5 reasons to use a soft box with LED lighting
James Mathers LEDs are a highly efficient light source, and putting aside any color spectrum issues, (that have generally been improving) they still have limitations for lighting people. The naked illumination coming off a single emitter, or an array making up a larger fixture, such as a panel, is just not the soft, beautiful glow that we seek for human subjects.
Tags: iss127 | led lighting | softbox | soft box | James Mathers
Submitted by James Mathers Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Class - Treat your virtual machines like cattle
Bruce Devlin - new

The AWS Summit 2017 in London

For several years I have felt that I should attend the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in London, but never quite found the time to do it. After an exhilarating and educational day, I will now regret that I didn’t go sooner.

Tags: iss127 | aws summit | azure | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Mobile internet connectivity in the field
Bill Nardi Mobile Internet connectivity is critical to the success of remote news crews. Whether they're doing a reporting assignment for news, sports, or live events, they need a strong and reliable Internet connection. To have an edge over their competition and get content to air faster, crews need to be able to work just as if they were in the studio, but from the field.
Tags: iss126 | dejero | mi-fi | gateway | wi-fi | cellular | Bill Nardi
Submitted by Bill Nardi Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Integrated and automating marketing campaign production
James Gilbert ITV, as an integrated producer broadcaster, creates, owns and distributes high-quality content on multiple platforms. It operates the largest commercial family of channels in the UK and delivers its content through traditional television broadcasting as well as on demand via the ITV Hub. ITV has the largest share of the UK television advertising market and its family of channels attracted a total share of viewing of 21.4% in 2016, the largest audience of any UK commercial broadcaster. ITV's main channel is the largest commercial channel in the UK, delivering 99% of all commercial audiences over five million.
Tags: iss126 | pixel power | itv | marketing campaign | James Gilbert
Submitted by James Gilbert Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP Based Remote Production
Ed Calverley Over the last few years Suitcase TV has been getting involved in remote production at the software layer, and I want to talk about some of the ways we have been getting involved in remote production, including a specific trial that we did last year with BBC Sport for the Euro 2016 tournament in Paris.
Tags: iss126 | remote production | IP | jt-nm | smpte 2110 | suitcase | Ed Calverley
Submitted by Ed Calverley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Infrastructure boost with single node storage solutions
Lee Griffin Like other market segments, the motion picture and video production industry is dominated by smaller productions and facilities. Until now, the only option for this portion of the market to take advantage of the performance, fault-tolerance and ease of management of a modern scale-out storage platform was to invest in a storage cluster consisting of three storage nodes and at least one metadata controller.
Tags: iss126 | storage | san | nas | single-node | efs | xstream | efs200 | efs300 | editshare | Lee Griffin
Submitted by Lee Griffin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The 7 Steps to Saving Film
KitPlus We live in a world where - thanks to everything from smartphones to cheaper professional gear - more and more footage is being shot today than ever before. It's a little known fact, however, that as more movies are made, archived physical film works all over the world are in danger of being lost to the damage of time. The Library of Congress alone has documented that only 20% of U.S. feature films from the 1910 and 1920s survive in complete form, and according to European Parliamentary Research, as of 2014, 21% of European film works were held in archives, yet only 1.5% was digitized.
Tags: iss126 | bmd | film scanner | cintel | blackmagic | goldcrest | davinci | grade | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Implementing an IP workflow
John Smith -new The eventual move to incorporate IP into your infrastructures is an inevitability. However, with justified concerns about interoperability and uncertainty about which vendors are best placed to help organisations achieve their IP media networking and content delivery goals, is it any wonder there is hesitation about moving forward? Broadcasters very wisely, don't want the pain without the gain!
Tags: iss126 | medialinks | ip | mdp3020 | gateway | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Lighting - the stuff you do not see
Tama Berkeljon Lighting is the stuff you don't see that makes a difference in what you do see. How the audience feels about a character and whether the scene is scary, tense or upbeat are communicated by the quality and placement of light. Lighting can take the drama to a whole new level - think about film noir with all those shadows on the wall.
Tags: iss126 | outsight | ghost in the shell | led lighting | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine