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Re: Markers or Metadata - The Debate!

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Markers or Metadata - The Debate!
on May 2, 2017 at 5:41:41 am

[Joe Marler] "I just don't think this organizational method is efficiently scalable to larger productions and higher shooting ratios, esp. docs. The fact these were previously done using primitive methods doesn't validate this workflow in the modern era. It would actually be good to have more info on what asset management methods are being used today. This aspect is usually given little coverage in these "behind the scenes" accounts."

On the reality shows and large (in terms of footage) docs I've worked on the workflow is fairly similar to Vashi's with regards to using a wall of index cards to outline the story on a macro level and Google docs/spreadsheets to track things at the micro level and the minutiae. Looking a wall of index cards is a totally different experience than looking at a screen and I think this change in physical perspective can help facilitate a change in mental perspective about the project at hand.

And the nice thing about using Office 365 or Google Docs is easily accessible and up-dateable by anyone that's part of the production. For example, on one doc I worked on we had a huge spread sheet that tracked everything from shoot dates to status of exports to whether or not the director had finished a paper cut of a specific interview. The spreadsheet also had links to other documents like field notes, transcripts, logged 'scenes' (verite as opposed interviews), logged broll, releases, etc., that were in Google Docs.

Jumping back to reality TV for a second, in my experience with that the editors rarely start from raw footage. Typically story producers are taking notes during production and start building the story during the shoot. They'll then create a stringout for the editor (maybe 8-10min of footage for a 3-4min scene). Usually if editors went back to the raw footage themselves it was for somethings specific. For example, one time I was working on a scene of someone making an upholstery pattern for chair. As I started building a small montage of him working I got the idea to do it in such a way that of the craftsman's motions would fluidly chain together (as opposed to having a chop-chop-chop feel) so I went back to the raw and looked for footage that had the movements I was looking for. There's no way anyone, including myself, could have key-worded for that prior to editing because I didn't know what I was looking for until I'd after I'd started editing and the idea came to me.

I think deep and thorough asset management is more useful in some instances than others. For example, on reality TV shows I don't think it's that paramount because the lifespan of these projects is so fast. In a matter of months it goes from nothing to finished product so it's easier to get away with having lots of info only living in people's heads. Sure, a few months after wrap people would have forgotten things, but a few months after wrap the show's season is probably over. It's just not really a thing that's ever green.

On the flip side, for someone like NFL Network, who has decades of game film with thousands of different players, yeah, you need top tier asset management if you are ever going to keep it all usably accessible. Especially since editors and producers are going to be cycling in/out on a somewhat regular basis so you can't depend on institutional knowledge to get you by. Places like this usually have dedicated media asset management programs because their needs eclipse what can be done inside of an NLE.


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