Outlook: How cloud-based editing strengthens collaboration & creative workflows
Dan Tundis
Issue: November/December 2022

Outlook: How cloud-based editing strengthens collaboration & creative workflows

When you work for a production company like Hometeam, with a global footprint, it’s essential to have an editorial roster of folks from all across the world to pair the best talent anywhere to a project. One of the first things I wanted to do when I was hired as director of post production at Hometeam was establish a workflow where everyone could still work remotely effectively, but keep the collaborative spirit that makes our work outstanding. 

Remote post solutions are now more commonplace in our industry than ever. This is how we do the job, not the why. The benefit of having a global post staff is not that they can work from anywhere, but that we can hire based on specific creative abilities and make it feel like they are working in the bay next door. I wanted to leverage integrated solutions that would allow agencies and clients greater visibility into the post production process, and invite more input from our creative team. I strive to create a real sense of clarity, communication and realtime collaboration for the best project results. 

In this, I am a perpetual advocate for live-edit sessions, and live color and audio mixes, and I also invite agencies and clients to participate as often and as frequently as possible. I do this to save editorial time, “cut to the chase,” as it were, and lock down the best edit as soon as possible. In this, clients feel more involved in the process and understand the repercussions of production decisions in the edit bay. 

Ultimately, it ensures that our incredibly talented post production team has a chance to advocate for their creative position in a format that can turn into a dialogue. It’s to help reaffirm the decision to bring in these talented editors, colorists and visual effects artists when the best decision for the project wins, and not a mandate from the person with the highest title.

To succeed at this level of collaboration, we employ low-latency, live-streaming services and remote workstations for our staff to remote into anywhere. We keep media stored in a virtual NAS with cloud-based backups, ensuring that we can take a project from prep/ingest to online/delivery, all while working remotely, with never a trip to the post office to mail a drive. This makes us nimble on tight deadlines, scalable for a larger project, and more focused on the content than the media management aspect of remote post.

As for moving quickly, recently Hometeam conducted a production in Spain for the USMNT before the start of the World Cup. We had to finish spots with heavy VFX before they were due to air prior to the start of the World Cup, in a very busy social calendar for our client. To help expedite this, we were able to digitally receive raw media back in Los Angeles for our editors to begin working hours after production. 

In the days following production, and after an initial rough cut, we would meet with our clients (located in Miami) to stream the edits and walk them through the best takes, angles and options to cut together a highly-dynamic spot. We were able to walk them through ingest to color correction — the complete post production process — and keep our director closely involved to ensure the initial creative ethos was kept intact. 

In the end, while no stone was left unturned on the cutting-room floor, we delivered our spot before the most significant match for USMNT and kept our relationship with the client full of trust and transparency. 

As an example of a project in full motion with this process, we recently delivered six short docu-style pieces for a non-profit organization focused on empowering female leadership for their awards night. This whole post project was only given a four-week timeline, with interviews with featured talent located across the globe in places like Ukraine, Brazil, Atlanta and more. The latest production occurred only one week before delivery. We staffed a full roster of predominantly female post production staff, some of whom needed to be able to edit content in local languages to keep the stories of award recipients as authentic as possible, and who could offer their unique perspectives on these stories. 

True to form, we set time to stream edits with our director, so they could give realtime feedback on content and help shape the edits into great stories about the triumphs of many different women, of different backgrounds, across the globe. We were able to open up portals to our interview subjects for them to upload photos, videos, and important documents to help enrich the content production had captured, and we were able to quickly and effectively manage our clients feedback, all while keeping them apprised of developments on a swift and very intense four-week period of post production. 

When it came time to finish, all six of our editors were able to hand over their timelines with all of the media previously organized on our server. It was easy to prep for our colorist, VFX artists and sound mixers, and have them jump right in and deliver in time, not just for the event, but 24 hours before to ensure the videos had a proper QC for playback. We never lost a beat on a late hard-drive delivery, missing media or relinking issues that would have sunk a typical project of this timeline. 

There are several solutions to do this kind of remote work, but the ethos of all of those tools remains the same: clarity and communication; keeping our talent at the forefront; and leveraging the technology not just to solve a problem, but to add value to a project. 

In this, our editorial staff feels emboldened and that they can give their opinions and work with a client rather than push buttons against the clock. Clients and agency folk love the dialogue and seeing what works and does not in realtime to help expedite the post process. Everyone can work from the comfort of their home, wherever they are geographically. We can match the right talent to the creative brief wherever they are in the world and ensure that the workflow is a seamless hand-off at every step of the way. 

Based in Los Angeles, Dan Tundis is Executive Producer and Director of Post Production for Hometeam. Headquartered in Austin, TX, Hometeam’s (www.wearehometeam.com) core mission is to change how production is done, for the better.