There’s been a lot of discussion about what our new normal might look like once we get to the ‘other side’ of the global crisis. As far as we can tell at IPV, we’re living the new normal right now and have been for several months. On the surface, it looked like the media and entertainment industry were unencumbered by a sudden pivot to work from home and entirely remote workflows, but looks can be deceiving. We had a suspicion that these organisations faced a number of technical bottlenecks associated with this pivot, so we set out to get to the bottom of it!
Our free report, The Future of Video Production: How Leading Video Pros Are Responding to Remote Workflows takes a look at the challenges facing media organizations as they deal with distributed teams and remote workflows in working from home (WFH) environments. The report looks at various sectors, from media and entertainment to sports, publishing and retail to deliver industry-specific insights and illuminate broader trends within the field of video production.
Below, we share our key findings from the media and entertainment sector. We sat down with video professionals from Warner Media, the Cincinnati Bengals, Sesame Street, IMG, and more, who spoke about the steps they have taken to secure and stabilise the future of their video production. They shared with us the specific challenges they were facing, how those could impact their business and bottom line, and how they quickly addressed those challenges with solutions that will last them well beyond the crisis.
Challenge: Accessing archive material remotely
Within this industry, editing is a typically a creative and iterative process. As Memo Salazar, senior editor at Sesame Street explains, “What happens is someone will come up with a run-down, but then when you start assembling the show, you realise it’s too long, or this doesn’t quite fit, and so you have to go find another.” So it is essential for entire teams to have straightforward and seamless access to archive material. However, ease of access is not quite so straightforward when team members are locked down in different parts of the world, with varying internet speeds, files are being inputted from multiple places, and file names are inconsistent or contain mistakes.
Solution: Deploy media tools with easy remote access and search functions
The benefit of a modern MAM platform is that it exists in the cloud. This means that there’s no longer any need to be in the same room, let alone the same country, when the same digital archive can be accessed from wherever your team happens to be. Curator, for example, also plugs into existing editing software, eliminating the need for specialized staff training or additional admin.
Challenge: Generating useful metadata
With tight deadlines and fast turnaround rates across the industry, speed and searchability are key when it comes to archive access. As Eric Lund from Warner Media Studios says, “If I have to cut a 40-second piece for tonight, speed is of utmost need.” The clock is always ticking, and it doesn’t stop for Covid.
Solution: Using advanced metadata creation upon ingest
Advanced metadata creation means that all of your content is automatically logged for easy search and discovery. Advanced features such as speech recognition enables you to search your video files via dialogue – words, phrases, and sentences. Object and facial recognition allows you to search your archive footage for precisely the clip you need. Combining emerging technologies like this with established methods of non-linear editing creates exciting possibilities for innovative broadcasters.
Challenge: Coping with variable home internet speeds
With everyone having to rely on their individual home internet, varying and poor internet speeds can really slow down a remote workflow. And, as we have already pointed out, there is very little room for time delays in this industry. At the beginning of the pandemic, as Memo Salazar puts it, “It really was all about the internet bandwidth. That just slows you down.” Kevin Maude from Social Video agrees, “Our internet bandwidth definitely became a challenge.”
Solution: Streamed, frame-accurate proxies
We hear it all the time: slow internet speeds disrupt workflows. Most MAMs offer a proxy-editing function, which eliminates the need for massive file uploads and downloads but steaming rather than downloading proxies takes remote and collaborative editing to a professional level. Streamed proxies make it easier to edit files even on a 2Mb home Wi-Fi connection, automatically syncing to the larger version, even if someone else in the house is watching Netflix.
Challenge: Enabling creative review of material for broadcast
Collaboration is the name of the game within broadcasting, media and entertainment. This has been made more difficult when, instead of being in the same room, team members are all in different locations, and small problems can quickly escalate. James Ganiere of Rio Vista Universal points out the necessity of assembling the right team and “finding an editor who is really intuitive and gets the shorthand you have.”
Solution: Streamlining the review process
With permission-based access, team members, producers, and other stakeholders can effortlessly review in-progress or completed projects, and any notes or changes can be implemented immediately. For Eric Lund and Jacob Anderson’s team at Warner Media Studios, they had already begun to lay the groundwork with a new MAM system, and realised its true value when the pandemic hit and they could pivot fairly smoothly to the new normal.
Using the Right Tools
They say that a bad workman always blames his tools, but IPV disagrees. We say that If you haven’t got the right tools for a project, how can you expect to succeed? That’s the realisation that many people within the media and entertainment industry have come to during this time as they’ve had to adapt to changing workflows and acknowledge that working from home requires a new approach. And with the relative ease that these companies have been able to switch to remote working solutions, it seems inevitable that these changes are set to stay.
What we are all realising is that, while a pandemic may be a temporary (if not overlong) situation, having a remote and distributed workforce isn’t; and neither are the solutions we have enabled. Covid-19 has propelled the media and entertainment industry into the future quicker than anyone could have anticipated, and there is no going back now. The future of video production is still uncertain but the ability to adapt has already proven to be invaluable.
You can read more from IPV’s full report here.