While the rise of remote working in general comes as no surprise to many, especially given the events of recent years, the range of approaches that come into play in any conversation about remote post-production can be surprisingly diverse.
For example, during the IBC webinar, James Bennett, Technical Operations Manager, Post-Production, ITN Productions discussed the post-production setup at ITN and how it has evolved over the past few years. Broadcaster uses PCoIP-based Teradici to connect remote workers to the base.
“We have 30 physical editing suites that are always crowded,” he explains. “We have another kind of about 30 Z4 or Z2 [workstations]which are rack-based only [and] only exist to be removed. Editors use their own equipment, because it’s just easier. Most people over the past couple of years seem to have a home setup in their office, rather than having to send assets from base. In terms of workflow, they just download the Teradici app and then we go through an onboarding process to integrate them into our system. »
The big tradeoff of the current ITN model is that site-specific hardware and remote-access-specific racks are required, increasing maintenance overhead and capital costs. However, as customers and staff currently demand a hybrid model, it is not a short-term option to disable either. Of course, there are other pragmatic concerns as well, as Bennett continues to point out.
“We talked about the offline [workflow]which I think is much easier to do remotely, but when we go into the finish and do a high-end HDR finish, we do Dolby Atmos, those things can’t be reproduced in the cloud.
Cloud plus hybrid on-premises
Another hybrid remote post-production system was detailed by Rod Reding, REL Productions, which operates on a more cloud-based level, but with considerable in-house presence.
“We had to take a hybrid approach,” he says. “We have customers who like to be in the industry, they like to collaborate, eye to eye. And then we have customers who are willing to work remotely. So at this point we welcome both. It’s a little tricky you’re still clinging to hardware and you’re clinging to brick and mortar sequels but we’re also increasing the ability to be remote and reach and use editors that are in outside our metropolitan area.
REL uses a combination of iconik cloud media management, LucidLink cloud NAS, CatDV asset management and Backblaze storage, backed by Google Cloud. There’s also on-site storage to worry about: “Our on-site storage is a Tiger Box from Tiger Technology – we’ve extended the latter [year], and we already have to double it. We shoot in 4K and we shoot almost every day. We bring a lot of footage [and] manage a lot of assets, so we just try to stay on top of that, making sure everything is properly indexed and organized.
However, as Reding explains, working directly with corporate video assets required a flexible approach. “For our three main clients, we currently manage around 5,000 video files, which equates to approximately 590 hours of footage. And these are images that you access regularly. We’re using footage from four or five years ago… We’re looking for that, we’re bringing it into existing projects for our corporate work. It is therefore imperative that we have access to these images in a transparent way.
In the cloud – the virtual experience
Simon Green, Founder and CEO of Green Rock and Edit Cloud also shared some of his industry insights that led to the creation of a product that specifically targets pain points in remote post-production. “We worked very hard to build a complete installation of Post, completely natively in the cloud,” he says. “It’s connected to AWS storage, but what it gives us is total flexibility.
“I wouldn’t say leave the building. [we had in Soho] and the establishment of purely cloud-based workflows [isn’t a process that is] free of charge. However, the flexibility and agility it gives you is brilliant. For example, Green Rock, where we started this journey, used to run half a dozen editing suites in Soho, and now runs about 25 or so. But we didn’t have to buy a bigger building and build more workstations.
“What we found was that we did this [process of virtualisation] to serve us, and maybe pick up some extra stuff along the way. But we also found that the world’s largest broadcasting organizations were experiencing the same problems exaggerated a hundredfold…”
Quality vs Bandwidth, Security vs Accessibility
Inevitably, the conundrum of security versus accessibility was explored during the IBC webinar, as was the perennial question of home vs. remote bandwidth, and the very real impact this has on work. in post with higher quality files.
Although the use of proxies was also discussed, the desirability of being able to work without such limitations was a key theme, with the general caveat that – on the whole – working in HDR or Dolby Atmos requires configuration studio accuracy, making high-end impractical for fully remote operations. In fact, all three panelists agreed that while today’s hybrid models are still in development (both in terms of workflow and technology), the direction of travel is there.
Ultimately, remote post-production will eventually be a convenient and affordable alternative to physically visiting an editing suite – but not by tomorrow.
Bennett expressed the position pragmatically: “I think in the short term, post-production will probably have to stay where it is. [in the studio]. Some technologies allow us to provide high bitrates or 4:4:4 streaming. But the problem is at the other end. If people are on home/domestic broadband… I know mine wouldn’t keep up if I started pumping those kind of file sizes.
“[And] anyone who’s set up HDR knows we’re talking tens of thousands of pounds worth of monitors and scopes. And I don’t think anybody will have any at home and I would definitely be nervous about putting them in a DHL van or something. Then yes. I think it’s quite difficult [to work in HDR remotely] because you need that precision. I am not sure at this time that we can guarantee this.
One final word from Reding perfectly sums up the future of fully remote post-production workflows. “It will eventually happen. Obviously, I’m not a fortune teller. But from what I’ve seen over the years, I never imagined we would be where we are today.
Watch full IBC Webinar: Remote Post-Production on replay now