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Broadcast TECH In association with

‘It can often seem attractive to bulk-buy cheap media once a format is decided, but it can be troublesome’

We are also seeing an increasing number

of high-end solid-state recording devices being used to circumvent the compression applied to all digital video cameras. Cost- effective and high-quality recorders from companies such as Atomos and AJA that will record variants of ProRes and DNxHD are allowing production companies to increase both the speed and quality of their lens-to- post workflow, as well as increasing the lifespan of tape-based cameras. At the Hollywood end of production and

post, an increasing number of uncompressed, or ‘visually lossless’, recorders are being used to capture high-quality digital film pictures. Options include the Blackmagic HyperDeck, Codex, OB1 and the Cinedeck. The Codex family of recorders is currently being used on many multimillion-dollar features, allowing its digital intermediate technician (DITs) to go from camera to on-set dailies manage- ment just minutes after the shot is complete.

Blurring the lines The role of a DIT is becoming increasingly important, given the breadth of options avail- able for digital recording and the on-set man- agement of assets. It is vital that the shoot has a well designed and efficient workflow from the start that can be flexible if required, but in principle should be adhered to by any- one involved. This makes the entire process of moving from production to post quicker and easier than ever before. With software products such as Color-

front’s On Set Dailies, Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve and Assimilate’s Scratch Lab, the DIT has more tools than ever to bring crea- tive decisions to set and take that informa- tion through the entire process so the direc- tor and DoP’s vision can be carried into the grading and finishing suites.

Even more important than bringing

creative decisions to set is ensuring that content is safe. We can introduce LTO tape back-up systems to the DIT station and have multiple copies of every shot created on sep- arate data tapes minutes after shooting fin- ishes. This allows our clients to tick those insurance boxes quicker than ever and be safe in the knowledge that there are multiple copies of the digital data. For additional security, these tapes can also be encrypted in the same way as disk drives; the access can then be limited just to the people who need to move the data into a post-produc- tion environment.

Space Digital VFX supervisor Simon Blackledge says of the advantages he’s seen with modern digital work- flows: “On-set grading and data management is beneficial in multiple areas. It gives the DoP the confidence that the look is achievable, while giv- ing the client a feel for the direction of the grade on-set through dailies/offline. Good data management assures integrity and redundancy, as well as helping to speed up organisation in the edit – saving time and money. A phrase producers don’t like to hear is ‘re-shoot’.” We see the benefits first hand for Simon and many of our other clients. One in partic- ular who deals with a lot of on-set data man- agement and near-live compositing is Clap- ham Road Studios DoP Matthew Day. He says: “For Channel 4’s Random Acts, we shot on the Sony F3 with a Cinedeck to record straight onto a solid-state drive with the ProRes 4:4:4:4 codec. When we got a good take, we transferred the footage onto our on- site grading suite, so the directors Tim and Joe at Colonel Blimp could watch it back on a 30-inch Grade 1 broadcast monitor in a controlled environment to check it was tech- nically perfect and tweak the colours. This information is then passed straight to the company providing final post-production.” Anyone following the developments in

television technology will realise there is a huge movement towards watching VoD

services from both set-top boxes and web services. This trend is set to continue, which means more channels and platforms on which to deliver content to a more tar- geted audience. Television broadcast standards are moving

forwards with some pace. There are digital standards emerging for broadcast delivery, which will mean a transition towards more digital server-based MCRs and away from HDCam and Beta tape deliverables. There are more digital delivery services

Date by which all major UK broadcasters will have moved to digital deliverables


than ever before, with easy hooks into off-the- shelf systems such as NewTek’s TriCaster with in-built web streaming. Systems such as this offer the ability to broadcast live and recorded events straight to services like Ustream or embed them to your own site, giving your captive audience the best possible experience of your production. Technically, however, you must always ensure the qual- ity of your online content. We always recommend running tests with multiple codecs and

bit rates on both audio and video to find the happy medium between com- pression and file size.

When you then consider the incredible

ability that social networks have shown for sharing content quicker and faster, we are seeing less and less reliance on traditional routes to broadcast. The Digital Production Partnership (DPP) has announced standards for both SD and HD delivery to network broadcast, which the BBC hopes to be trialling in 2012, and all major UK broadcasters will have moved to digital deliverables by 2014. This will mark a huge change for those who felt that delivering to broadcast was costly and complicated. The new standards can seem compli-

cated, but the requirements can easily be adhered to with standard video trans- coding and asset management tools. With the correct system, it will be possible to out- put your broadcast master, web version, mobile stream and archive master with a single click.

January/February 2012 | Broadcast TECH | 29

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