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A Step-by-Step Guide To Building a Reliable Remote Video Production Workflow

We all had to go remote on short notice when the pandemic hit last March. The question is, what will happen as more and more societies…
A Step-by-Step Guide To Building a Reliable Remote Video Production Workflow

We all had to go remote on short notice when the pandemic hit last March. The question is, what will happen as more and more societies gain herd immunity and the lockdowns eventually end? We’ll speculate on that soon. In the meantime, this second article of our deep dive into remote video production explores how companies and freelancers are managing remote video production workflows. Read on to learn about the tools and technologies you need to navigate an increasingly hybrid remote production future. (Want the basics on “remote video production”? Catch up on our first article here.)

Pre-Production: Planning

You can use Asana, a project management tool, to set strategic goals and track progress in one place, build video production calendars, and monitor workload across projects. Discovery Inc’s Digital Studios content team has moved away from tracking video production on spreadsheets and email threads. Instead, it uses Asana to conjoin and track more than a dozen workflows. Check out Asana’s guide to managing remote video production using their platform.

Rock is a productivity platform that’s “purpose-built for remote work.” It markets itself as a better alternative to Slack and Trello. Its slogan? “Stop slacking, start rocking.” The company says it “combines real-time messaging and video with more asynchronous ways of communicating like tasks, notes, and files and makes this available in one space.” Rock also works with Google Drive and has an integration with Zoom, making it easier to tap into your existing workflows.

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Photo Courtesy of Rock

Pre-Production: Hiring and Crewing Up

Once you have your idea finalized, the next step is hiring the right team. If you’re looking to discover and hire premium creative talent anywhere in the world, particularly for content services, video, and animation, then Storyhunter is your solution. Businesses of all sizes are also turning to the platform’s on-demand, full-service production marketplace, Storyhunter Select, to work with an elite group of producers, videographers, directors, editors, and content strategists.

Production: Communication

Your project is in motion. Now, how can you stay on top of all the moving pieces and efficiently communicate with team members? You can invite people outside your organization into your “space” using Rock mentioned above. Slack, a business communication tool, also offers a way to bring external partners into your Slack team in a shared channel. Bauer Media Group, for example, owns TV stations and hundreds of print magazines and digital products. When their digital division Bauer Xcel Media brought on Stroer, the companies connected their existing Slack workspaces, which allowed them to keep projects moving as their teams evolved.

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Photo courtesy of Slack.

If you’re communicating with remote teams internationally, Whatsapp Messenger is a simple, fast, and secure way to send messages and make free calls all over the world. The service is used by more than 2 billion people in 180 countries and supports the transfer of a variety of media such as photos, videos, and documents.

Production: Hybrid Workflow

The industry is going towards a hybrid remote production future, which involves a limited number of people on-set while others direct from a remote location. Frame.io, the cloud-based video collaboration platform, just made it a lot easier for production companies to implement this workflow. The company announced the Camera to Cloud (C2C) service that allows instant proxy uploads and live streaming from a production set. C2C-certified devices such as the Teradek Cube Model 655 can capture and encode camera images to low-bandwidth, high-quality proxies. The cube then automatically uploads footage to frame.io and immediately delivers them to teams anywhere in the world for review and editing. Production members who are not on set can view the live stream on a computer, iPad, and even iPhone.

In addition, production companies are using OpenReel, which has seen explosive growth during the pandemic. The app gives clients a “whole new way of producing content remotely” by allowing cameras to be controlled remotely and feeds to be uploaded directly to the cloud. ViacomCBS uses OpenReel to film digital programs and award shows at the same quality as in-studio shows.

Photo courtesy of OpenReel

Post-Production: Transferring Large Media Files

It is vital to have the infrastructure to support the transfer of massive amounts of media assets. IBM Aspera is a specialized service that offers a “fast alternative to FTP server software” to deliver files securely. CinePostproduction, a leading post-production facility in Germany, uses IBM Aspera to transfer encrypted, high-resolution Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) from their data center servers to participating cinemas in nearby countries.

MASV is a browser-based software offering videographers and creators a fast way to transfer time-critical files. It offers a pay-as-you-go model with a cost of $0.25 per downloaded GB. There are no subscription fees or file size and bandwidth restrictions. The company is also the only file transfer service with Cloud Connect. Its integration with frame.io means you don’t “need to spend time downloading files only to reupload somewhere else.” You can connect your MASV Portal to frame.io and directly receive the files in your frame.io account.

Photo Courtesy of MASV

Post-Production: Editing

In 2020, production companies scrambled to equip editors to work from home. This year, companies are leaning into remote editing workflows. And it is no secret that cloud technologies are playing a critical role in this realm. Editors use video editing software Adobe Premiere Pro to line up multiple streams using a free plugin as part of NDI tools. The NDI VLC Plugin lets editors present multimedia content to the network as IP sources directly from the VLC Media Player and encodes the output from each instance of the free player to NDI in real-time. Video files of any format are thus ready to use in live production. Editors can also use Adobe Premiere Pro’s Team Projects collaboration tool to work on video projects from anywhere by syncing changes through the cloud.

Then there’s Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, which combines editing, color correction, visual effects, motion graphics, and audio post-production in one tool. In terms of remote workflow, editors have found the integration of frame.io and DaVinci’s video editing platform valuable. “There is a direct import into DaVinci Resolve which downloads a low-res proxy file that users can immediately edit,” according to Simon Hall, a post-production specialist at Blackmagic Design. He added that “At the same time this is happening, the source file downloads in the background. Once completed, the proxies are replaced with the original content.”

Photo Courtesy of Da Vinci Resolve

Post-Production: Project Review

The days of huddling in conference rooms or popping into an edit bay to review video projects are long gone. Post-production teams are using frame.io to watch and provide detailed feedback on video campaigns. Award-winning entertainment company Caviar and their post-production branch Loom used frame.io to communicate with creative directors and clients such as Starbucks on multiple commercial projects. Last year, InsureTech Connect discovered and hired Storyhunter Select producers to help their insurance-tech event go digital. Storyhunter producers created 250 media assets for the event and integrated frame.io in their post-production workflow to keep the projects on track.

Ftrack is a creative project management and media review platform used by companies such as PBS and Cinesite. Content creators, filmmakers, and studios can upload their videos and receive clear visual feedback using Ftrack Review. In keeping with the WFH revolution, the company has teamed up with cineSync, a software tool designed for viewing video content in sync with anyone, anywhere in the world. In addition to performing synced review sessions, teams can also export notes, drawings, and saved frames back to ftrack with a single click.

Photo courtesy of ftrack

Post-Production: Payment

PayPal is a popular payment system available in more than 200 countries and 25 currencies. It offers free payments from linked bank accounts and charges about 3 percent from a credit card. It’s a fast, easy, and secure way to transfer money globally.

If you have hired production companies or freelancers on Storyhunter, you already know it is a pretty simple way to get them paid. Did you know that some of the world’s leading brands use Storyhunter as a freelancer management system to onboard and pay their existing freelance network? The platform can handle micro-payments or larger payments to your creators in 200 countries. Storyhunter even manages sending tax forms like W8, W8Ben, and 1099 and even files for you and your creators during tax season.

Photo shows Storyhunter’s FMS interface.

By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories