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Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed

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Haydn Nilson
Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 16, 2008 at 3:09:41 pm

Hi guys,

Please need some pointers from wise old heads, Ill try to keep this brief.

Synopsis;

Im an experienced designer with a wide skillset (design, editing, vfx, some 3D) and good understanding of workflows & processes.

I recently took a role as a graphics guy in a small, newly created, video production team within a large entertainment organisation whose core business is sports and broadcast with all that entails; satellite feeds, ob vans and whole bunch of other stuff which flays way above my head.

Fortunately I work within a small group (about 6) which takes care of non-live; promo videos, occasional DVD, stings and some broadcast work. With have a few FCPS and an Avid (which is gonna go) and my AE/3D workstation for graphics.


Now here's the rub.


All the other members of the team, with a couple of exceptions, are Producers who have come from traditional broadcast TV backgrounds and are likeable people with genuine skills for putting together programming in a TV station environment, headed up by a guy with a similar background.


But thats not our current environment, we are working desktop, and the culture clash is putting huge strains on me; There are only 2 of us who have any understanding of the technical aspects of video production; namely the two of us who came from the multimedia world.Ad


To illustrate my point:
• Many of the TV guys cannot use a computer.

I dont mean they cant install a BlackMagic bridge, or cut a quick edit in FCP, I mean they cant install software, copy dvds, use a CMS, install drivers, change the resolution of their monitors...

Many are willing to learn but the top guy is worst of all, so no mechanisms are in place for them to learn;



• There is no understanding of workflows;

an obvious consequence of the previous point really, but crippling for the company; ProRes? FCP or AVID? Go Tapeless? Ingests?

They have a (dangerously) superficial knowledge (at best) of any of these; our Producers know how to log clips, but we then have to bring in freelance staff to digitise, edit and do pretty much anything else; this is obviously costly, massively inefficient and puts huge strains on the one or two of us with any technical skills; This is exacerbated by the fact that roles are not clearly defined and we are a "team", which basically means 2 of us doing the work of the others.

I have tried, in vain, to change the culture, and largely have the support of the other members of the team, as they have started to see the wisdom of my words. But our boss just will not delegate; his insecurity is tangible and my best efforts at "doing this the easy way" have not worked.


So, its the hard way. Ive managed to secure the ear of the Top guy; our boss' boss. He's a smart guy who is open to change and knows that our current processes are archaic, slow and costly. I have meeting scheduled with him soon in which I have to convince him to yield certain areas the business to me so that we can start to implement some processes and work in more systemic way and start bringing our production staff into the 21t century.


Please, please, please if anyone can give me any advice, facts, machiavellian tips which will help my argument I would be very grateful, this is a critical time if we are to progress,


Thanks in advance,


Haydn








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Dave LaRonde
Re: Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 17, 2008 at 11:17:48 pm

It's pretty plain to see that if this team is to progress, they need the training necessary to do their jobs, and the team needs some guidelines as to who does what.




"...I mean they cant install software, copy dvds, use a CMS, install drivers, change the resolution of their monitors... "

Well, how much of that stuff should they actually do? I've only installed the driver for a new printer at home. I wouldn't dare touch the networked printers here at work.

You need to define who does what. The IT guys take care of this, the producers do this, the VFX guys do this, etc.

This is a new outfit, and there are bound to be growing pains. So identify what actually hurts so the doctor can fix it.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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Haydn Nelson
Re: Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 19, 2008 at 9:18:17 am

Hi Dave,

Thanks for that - I guess I new the answer anyway; start at the beginning:

define who are, what you do and then match tasks with skillsets and arrange training to plug the gaps.

Re. Installing printer drivers et al.

Fair point, and i too would rather have the IT dept take care of those kind of woah's, but my point was rather that I question the wisdom of leaving someone who doesnt know how to change their monitor resolution in charge of what is basically a a purely desktop/IT workflow...

The consequences are not hard to imagine; no clear workflow, acquisition of innapropriate or incompatible materials, costly & inefficient processes which put a strain on other areas of production (creative/editorial)...


..but then I guess that brings us back to the beginning; horses for courses, clear allocation of responsabilities based on competence and skills,


Ta

H




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Dave LaRonde
Re: Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 20, 2008 at 4:57:04 pm

[Haydn Nelson] "...I guess that brings us back to the beginning; horses for courses, clear allocation of responsabilities based on competence and skills..."

I don't know if you have to go THAT far. If you've got a producer who knows how a sequence of shots should look -- but doesn't know how to run the edit software -- you teach the producer how to run the software.

Once the appropriate person establishes who's supposed to do what, and how projects need to proceed from capturing footage to delivery, you can identify gaps in knowledge and fix it.

Furthermore, it sounds like you're coming into this with a preconceived notion that just because not everyone you work with is a tech head, they can't learn anything about a different process of video production. If you keep it up, life is NOT going to be fun for you.

After all, how tough can it be to teach a producer -- in a one-on-one situation -- how to capture video, the pitfalls to watch out for, and how to recover from the inevitable mistakes? What, a day? Is a day of patient guidance, hand-holding and lost work worth it to you?

Besides, if you can help them out, you may be surprised by how willing they'll be to help YOU out. You're not the sole possessor of the world's knowledge either, y'know.


Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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Mark Suszko
Re: Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 20, 2008 at 9:34:21 pm

You don't have a tech problem, you have a human relations and corporate culture problem. Which you are about to magnify by going over the boss' head.

Consider updating the resume in any case, because you have no power to negotiate this issue or push your agenda unless you're willing to walk, and if you tick off enough people, they may *ask* you to walk. Being a change agent is not a role that ensure security. You must at all costs refrain from making this at all personal in any way - keep it a simple numbers issue: time and money. You jumped on the tiger's back, better dig in and ride it best as you can now.

Please fill us in later as to how things worked out, I am very curious.


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Haydn Nelson
Re: Workflows & The Black Art of Politics: Advice needed
on Mar 25, 2008 at 10:37:43 am

Hi Dave/Mark,

Thanks for the words of advice/caution, and I take your point(s).

In spite of the apparent vitriol of first post, I am capable of some tact and am fundamentally a solutions-oriented (yuk) kind of guy.

Im certainly no tech-head, but video production is a technical process, I think you gotta live with that or find another profession. And I completely agree with you on training of non-tech staff; theyre willing and enthusiastic and it doesnt take too long to pick up these basics but, without going down Rumsfeld lane, if you dont know your knowns and unknowns its difficult to address them; that "appropriate person" of whom you speak is not doing his job and the knock on consequences are debilitating.

I guess sometimes, when all avenues have been explored, bases covered, processes implemented, proposals written and concepts explored... you realize that the solution is for the workers for to seize control of the means of (video) production...


...and yes, be ready with your resume if it all goes wrong ;)


Thanks again, ill keep you posted,

H








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