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Looking For a "Standard Practices" Document, Workflow, Redundancy, etc.

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Chris Lawes
Looking For a "Standard Practices" Document, Workflow, Redundancy, etc.
on Nov 26, 2012 at 6:30:18 pm

Hi Everyone,

Would really appreciate some help on this matter. I am designing a production-wide unified workflow document so everyone is on the same page and important redundancy/safety/checklists/etc are being followed.

My first question is does there exist any "official" set of documents on procedures and best practices in the film industry?
Somekind of ISO 27001 or ASC published documents? I know some of these exist for physical safety like OSHA but what about things like when a memory card is offloaded, how many redundant locations it's copied to, how files are named according to camera/operator/production, etc.

My second question is can anyone recommend a document, book, guide, etc. of written best practices for film production or share their own practices?

I know there may not be "one way" that's agreed upon but at some point you need to decide on a "one way" for a specific project at least.
I am looking for thought-out procedures and practices on both field production and post production workflows.

Thank you very much in advance for your shared experience and expertise!

- Chris Lawes

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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Looking For a "Standard Practices" Document, Workflow, Redundancy, etc.
on Dec 4, 2012 at 10:30:39 am

There isn't one. Even when a body ratifies a standard, it cannot be legally imposed on anyone. Furthermore, there are conflicting standards based on different technology, goals, constraints, etc.

For some guidelines I recommend the papers by SMPTE and the EBU. Broadcast systems are more rigid. Cinema is evolving at a rapid pace and even the standard bodies concerned can't keep up.

For a backup strategy I can only share my own: - Workflow information and support for filmmakers, photographers, audiographers and videographers.

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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Looking For a "Standard Practices" Document, Workflow, Redundancy, etc.
on Dec 4, 2012 at 10:52:38 am

There are no widely accepted methods. So far as I am aware, everything seems to be unique from organization to organization and there is, generally, very little written about it.

As Sareesh mentioned, SMPTE and EBU will have some whitepapers that are worth reading. You may also find some of the BBC's resources useful.

I do offer consultancy services for things like this but it usually breaks down into the following considerations:

- How diverse are the efforts in the organization in terms of production. Does in-house mean Alexa/Red production as well as webcam/handheld/mobile/other acquisition.

- Are you working with freelancers or other productions who may not organize footage during principal.

- Is the production department governed by a backup policy from IT or is it flexible enough to implement their own?

- Deliver time frame.

- Budget.

- Need for short-term and long-term backup vs need for constant access.

- In the field it comes down to available equipment and time. Do you have a DIT card with a RAID rackmount unit or a laptop and some portable hard drives? There may be slight strategy shifts for each.

- What is the sign off process for asset/revision approval within management?

- How much/can you afford some IT help in terms of automating backup.

- Questions ad nauseam...

I like using DIT and script supervisor logs as the first step when reviewing footage. Properly logged stuff can be a life saver. During the last days of a feature shoot I was a DIT on, the directors asked me to create a spreadsheet of the scenes we had filmed to compare it to what was left of the shooting schedule. I was able to use the logs, metadata, and a little bit of formatting help from Excel to give them the report without much headache and within an hour.

In terms of organization of footage, I suggest a path of least resistance. Keep camera original names and footage structures (very important in terms of just keeping some footage working like RED and P2, for instance). Even if you transcode footage, keeping the same name allows easier reconforming during finishing.

Talk to your editors, see how they naturally organize footage. If that doesn't feel right (like the organize by scene) then keep it simple: job# > video > camera# > card/tape/roll# > footage. If you work with many editors, with a large amount of footage, or need a robust management/logging system then look into CatDV.

In terms of backup, major productions get at least two working hard drive (RAID or otherwise) copies, an LTO backup of camera originals, and an LTO backup of the finished program. TV productions will also usually keep backups of the broadcast master on whatever format they deliver in like HDCam.

My partners and I use an internal wiki to keep some of our policies in written form. This allows use to edit and make comments on our policies as the need arises. Technology will keep policy in constant flux.

Angelo Lorenzo

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