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May/June 2019

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Page 13 of 43 12 POST MAY/JUNE 2019 EDITING EFFICIENCIES 've written before about the inherent value of automating processes in order to increase efficien- cy and in doing so, improve a media company's bottom line. Several readers have contacted me on this, questioning just how much of the production and post production process can be auto- mated. The answer to that is: More than you might think. There are many creative processes in the media workflow which do not offer the opportunity to automate (at least as of yet — let's see where AI takes us in that regard). In the meantime, though, these processes require creative people to ply their craft. EDITING — THE CRAFT OF STORYTELLING Editing — be it long-form, short-form or news — is the perfect example of a creative process that does not lend itself to automation. The whole point is to stitch together video and audio elements in such a manner as to tell a story in the most compelling way pos- sible. Often, this means that decisions made later in the edit may require that decisions made earlier in the edit be re- visited — to tighten up a shot, perhaps, or to remove a reference that is better made later in the story. It's hard to see how automation can be applied to this process, other than the mechanical "bag and tag" replacement of a final phone number in an ad. So here we have the situation where the process basically "takes as long as it takes" (within reasonable bounds, of course). In addition, the process requires the use of dedicated equipment and even real estate in the form of edit bays or suites. These are expensive, single-purpose assets (which are extremely well suited to their single purpose), and media companies must maximize the time when they are involved in the creative process in order to justify the expense. Given this highly-specialized work and environment, the obvious question is: Can we still improve the efficiency of the whole process? IF NOT AT THE CORE, LOOK TO THE EDGE While we may not be able to apply tech- nology to automate the central, core editing process, if we look at the overall editing workflow, we find that there is indeed room to increase efficiency through automation. All edits start with the gathering of the source material required for the project. This is often not as simple as it sounds — files (clips) might be in any of a number of locations, in any of a num- ber of formats. The first requirement is to gather up all of the needed clips, convert them into the house edit format, and ingest them into the nonlinear editor's (NLE) local or network storage (and potentially register them in the NLE's database). In larger organizations, you may have a pool of edit bays all "pulling" material from central storage. Even in this case, the gathering, converting and registering steps remain as a requirement. Clearly, this is an area we can improve — it makes no sense whatsoever to have an expen- sive creative individual spend valuable time on the ingest phase. Some com- panies use less experienced operators to perform this action for this very rea- son, but they are still tying up an expen- sive edit station just to get the material in for the edit. An obvious solution is to offload the gathering, transcoding and delivery of the source material to an external system — preferably one which has the ability to watch for new material and automatically perform the ingest process. One exam- ple of this is Telestream's Vantage media processing platform working in concert with Avid's MediaCentral platform. In this case, the Vantage system can watch an ingest folder for any incoming media. Once media arrives, the Vantage system will automatically transcode the media to the required format for editing and transfer it the MediaCentral system while simultaneously registering the assets and all associated metadata into the MediaCentral database. We may still find that we're ingesting too much "junk" media that will never be used up front or that there's too much footage to go through for assistants and editors. For reality television and their crazy shooting ratios, it's import- ant to try and reduce media that is ingested. These productions typically employ "loggers" to watch footage and tag areas of interest and otherwise filter useless clips out of the process. For that, we need a lightweight client application that can browse footage and add additional metadata for the editor before it gets into the automated IMPROVING EFFICIENCY IN THE EDITING PROCESS BY PAUL TURNER CONSULTANT TURNER MEDIA CONSULTING NEVADA CITY, CA TURNERCONSULTING.TV HOW MUCH OF THE PRODUCTION AND POST PROCESS CAN BE AUTOMATED? I

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