HPA 2011: A feast of workflows — and new cameras

Posted By Tom Coughlin on February 17, 2011 06:45 am | Permalink

“I think in an event like this, everyone should show their workflow,” says Michael Cioni  of Lightiron Digital.  And so it was at the 2011 Hollywood Post Alliance retreat in February 2011 (http://www.hpaonline.com). The Supersession today called these Snowflake Workflows since individual workflows often seem as unique as snowflakes (and perhaps melt and change as quickly as snowflakes in a Winter thaw).  From Tron Legacy to The Social Network, modern production workflows were revealed by the folks who made the content. Digital production processes included a number of equipment, metadata and asset management approaches.
One of the most interesting sessions on 2/15 was the comparison of Next Generation Prodution (NGP) workflows on test content. Warner Bros. set up a black box creative workflow emulator test facility with five cameras and multiple recorders using one hour of mixed format 2D test content. 20 workflows were emulated with this test content. The NGP near-set workflow went through several action blocks, one flowing into the other.
Asset management software allowed metadata check-in followed by image and data QC and storage in a near-set repository. The content was transcoded and then synched with the audio. Color management and image transforms followed, with the final results used to create deliverables. These deliverables during the emulation were archive backups (.dpx or native camera formats on LTO tape), color corrected master files (when applicable), editorial media (such as Avid DNx HD 115 with/t.c. burn-in), digital dailies (H.265 w/security burn-in) and finally DVDs (w/security burn-in).
Warner Bros. published an internal report on the results and we hope that they will release parts of it for wider consumption later. Interoperability studies on post production equipment are perhaps common with larger production companies, but it is difficult to find information like this. Such interoperability studies can do much to spur development and improvement in post production hardware and software.
In the evening, Sony announced a new OLED reference monitor in 17-inch and 25-inch diagonal sizes, and also showed a new solid state based professional video camera technology. Sony is introducing flash memory cards (looking a bit like SXS cards) with storage capacities of up to 1TB as the next generation SR camera media. They had a room where they showed recorders that could read and transfer content from the cards to digital tapes (or HDDs), and also showed editing stations, including Final Cut Pro and Avid to edit content from the cameras.  
Thomas Coughlin is the founder of Coughlin Associates  ( www.tomcoughlin.com ).