Production Sound & Video

Fall 2018

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by James Delhauer 38 There, the work is moved from these temporary storage drives onto work servers, where assistant editors can begin their work. While prominent, this workflow does come with a few inherent drawbacks. Most notably, the process is both fragile and time-consuming. Digital storage, no matter how sophisticated, is vulnerable to failure, damage, or theft. When the media manager receives a card with part of the day's work on it, that card is often the only raw copy of the work in existence. Careers could end in a heartbeat if anything were to happen to it. So it becomes his or her job to create multiple copies. Unfortunately, the time during which data transfers from one storage system to another is the time at which it is most vulnerable. An accidentally yanked cable or sudden power surge is all it takes to corrupt the open files as they are transferring over. This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that transferring files is time-consuming and becoming ever more so. As our industry continues to push the boundaries of resolution, color science, and bit depths, video files are getting bigger and bigger. As such, they require more time to offload, duplicate, and verify, meaning that the period of vulnerability is growing longer. But emerging technologies are creating new workflows that circumvent these drawbacks. Among the most promising is server-based recording. Rather than relying on disparate components that must be passed back and forth between different individuals on a set, server-based recording allows productions to streamline their workflows and unify everything through one interconnected system. All of the components can be plugged into a single network switch and communicate with one another directly. Cameras and audio devices send uncompressed media directly into the switch. The network feeds them into a digital recording server (such as a Pronology's mRes or Sony's PWS 4500), which takes the uncompressed data and encodes the signals into ready to edit files. These files are then sent back into the network, which in turn sends them to any desired On a set, the job of the person who is tasked with acquiring the content that is shot throughout the day is incredibly stressful. Whether we're discussing the tape operators of days gone by or the most modern media recordists, there are challenges that have stood the test of time. Somewhere between hundreds of thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent assembling the production. Countless man-hours contribute to making it the very best that it can be. Literal blood, sweat, and tears are spilled to create what we all hope will be a veritable work of art. Then, after all of that, it falls on the shoulders of the one person who is tasked with handling the media. They are simply given very delicate assets that have been created throughout the day and which represent the sum total of the production as a whole. Just about anything can go wrong. Data can be corrupted. Hard drives can be damaged. Video tape can tear. Fortunately, these risks are being minimized by the advent of a new method of media acquisition: server-based recording. Though different productions utilize a vast array of workflows, every single one since the Roundhay Garden Scene was first filmed in 1888, has come down to the media. And every single production needs someone to manage it. In today's digital era, the most common workflow goes a little something like this. Cameras or external recorders capture video and audio data to an internal storage device some sort. When that unit is full, it is ejected and turned over to a media manager. The production continues with another memory card while the media manager takes the first one and offloads, backs up, and verifies the files on it. This is usually done with an intermediate program such as Pomfort's Silverstack or Imagine's Shotput Pro—programs that can do file comparisons to ensure that what was on the source media is identical to what ends up on the target media. When all of that content is secured on multiple external hard drives, the original memory card is returned to the production so that it can be wiped and reused. Rinse and repeat. At the end of each day, the media manager turns over at least one set of drives containing the day's work to someone who will bring it to a post-production facility. The Rise of Server-Based Recording

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