Post-Production Solution

Distributed, multi-tenant post-production from ingest through pre-processing, editing, dubbing, subtitling, mastering, finalising, approval to eDelivery.

What are the challenges in today's post-production?

The technical quality and capabilities of equipment for content creation has changed a lot over the years and will continue to improve. Movie scenes, content footage and news items are recorded globally and expected to be available almost immediately, worldwide. Resolutions and color depth are increasing quickly which causes data volume to increase. Graphics, backgrounds or complete scenes are animated by specialists at places where the movie industry wasn't present in the past. Directors and editors, as well as music composers, language dubbing studios, subtitle translation contractors, are located all over the world. Consequently, you require a post-production ecosystem that addresses such challenges. It has to be accessible from where your teams are. It has to offer all the tools that are required for a particular production. It has to expand according to your material and data throughput needs. It has to reflect your teams production workflows and interaction. It has to support all your delivery targets. And essentially it has to keep all your assets safe and secure. 

How do we address your needs for streamlined post-production?

Our answer to address the needs above is by using a "software guided and accelerated creative production workflow". Based on the products we have in our portfolio we´ve built an end-to-end solution for post-production environments. It supports a centralized as well as a fully distributed team setup. This is achieved by integrating the technical production elements at various facilities, in the cloud or abroad to behave as one ecosystem. Non-creative processing steps are automated as far as possible to make your business more efficient. The innovative products we offer help to build a modern system architecture by respecting and integrating already existing software and hardware at your company.

What are the building blocks that our end-to-end solution is composed of?

Within post-production, we distinguish between purely creative work and operational business processes that can be machine-assisted or even fully automated.
Concerning source material ingest please have a look at our Ingest Master-Solution.

Once sources are available to the creatives, the core post-production workflow starts with colour grading, graphics, animations, editing, sound, dubbing, mastering and finally subtitling. This might happen in multiple interations as supervisors, directors or customers request changes prior to a final approval. While this workflow is based largely on human interaction, we can still support it via our software that offers shared access to source material, intermediate work results and finally, mastered videos across teams and locations. Furthermore, it enables fluent communication again across internal and external teams as well as timezones.

Post Production Solution e2e Workflow post

Delivery workflows are usually standarised to make sure production of magazines, episodes, movies or news are being delivered in the highest and constant quality, and speed. Depending on your customers' desires, you might deliver immediately or at a defined point in the future. Our solution offers both as fully automatic processes, driven by a human operator. Once a delivery is set up, the deliverables are packaged from the master clip, optionally additional audio and subtitle files as well as pictures, descriptional and technical metadata can be added. Some end-customers might request an automatic QC report to be delivered along the video.

Who are the product partners for our Ingest Solution?

Post Production Solution Product Partners

Capella: File transcoding
FlowWorks: Production asset management system
MXFserver: Editing storage management system
Signiant: B2B file transfer
Woody: File and metadata ingest
x-dream-media: Ingest file processing

An example of a typical network architecture.

Post Production Solution Network Architecture

Ingest
Ingest is a topic itself. Our "Ingest Master Solution" addresses all kinds of ingest. The complete solution or relevant elements from it can be an integral building block of this Post-Production end-to-end Solution. We focus here on typical ingest needs in fictional productions.

Central Ingest Station
The Central Ingest Station is the main place for ingest operations. It's usually located in a room where all new content is brought to. A number of dedicated workstations are used by a team of ingest specialists to bring files from various storage devices into the sales and delivery environment. While doing so, files are previewed, selected, pre-cut and stitched. Technical metadata is automatically generated and descriptional metadata is added manually. The product used for this function is Woody in2it. It can transcode and re-wrap the files to the platform-internal format.
A variant of central ingest is offered when the source devices are attached to a server or files are being moved there in advance of the ingest operations. In this case, X-Dream-Media's Ingest Browser is the right choice. It allows you to remotely browse, preview, select and segment video files. Compared to Woody's in2it, the X-Dream-Media Ingest Browser sends the files for processing to X-Dream-Media's Workflow Manager (WFM). WFM orchestrates transcoding, re-wrapping, QC, virus scanning and other operations. It's usually used to manage larger amounts of material.

Tape Ingest
Despite the fact that tape might be dead, archives often still consist of tapes. Sometimes tapes are still used in production or for transportation. Consequently, our ingest solution addresses this by making use of Rohde & Schwarz Venice servers in combination with Woody's in2it. High volumes of tape ingests are controlled by the THS ingest scheduler.

Remote Contributors
External contributors might require high resolution video files if they are providing special effects, graphics, or low resolution for subtitles or translation. In return, they will send their work results as a source to post-production. Some contributors may have a permanent engagement while others may provide essences only occasionally and in smaller volumes, but the number of individual contributors might be very high. Therefore, a simplified way to up and download video files with related metadata is required. Tools have to be accessible globally and intuitive to use. We address this need by "upload and download rooms". Technically these rooms are a website that takes or provides the essence file and requests or provides mandatory and optional metadata. The contributor either has access to his up or download room as they are a permanently registered user or they get invited by an operator to a temporary room. The essences, qualities, and functions within their room can be limited and all activity is logged.

Processing
After files and metadata have been ingested, fully automated actions can take place under the control of our Workflow Manager (WFM). Transcoding and re-wrapping to house formats or browsing proxies, quality control, audio processing (e.g. normalising), video processing (e.g. standard conversions). Finally, assets (files + metadata) are handed over to the production management system (Flow PMS). Optionally, assets can be sent and checked in to a media asset management or archive management system.

Post-Production
Post-production is a creative process that cannot be automated but can be streamlined by software assistance. Various production steps such as colour correction, animations, graphics, editing and audio mixing are performed. Flow PMS keeps all essences, that are part of a production, under control.

If required, it sends and retrieves files and metadata to and from the individual production systems (e.g. Avid Interplay PAM). But it also provides a so-called 'panel' for Adobe Premiere and acts as a production asset management system (PAM). Others system might not allow this. As such, our post-production solution offers freedom of choice in selecting creative tools by using MXFserver as a storage management system (SMS). In addition, MXFserver allows you to strictly separate content of different clients when accessing it from the creative applications.

Certain productions strictly follow a well-defined production process that consists of manual creative work, automatic processing, and human interaction. Such business processes can be "implemented" within the Flow Workflow Manager. An operator collects all essences that belong to a production and kicks off a production workflow job. The system will then notify the operators about work to be performed and will take over again with automatic actions once manual work has been finished. It will notify other operators about the next bit of manual work to be performed, will continuously inform supervisors about the progress and will finally ask directors for the final sign off. Notifications usually take place via email but can happen within the system as well. For user interaction, other rooms to comment, review, approve and present are available. All interaction is tracked within the system.

Content Delivery
Ultimately, approved productions have to be delivered to the B2B customers. As customers might differ in what formats they accept, some require more file processing (e.g. transcoding, loudness correction) prior to files being sent. Some might request a QC report as part of the deliverables. Finally, a high volume of video files and metadata needs to be sent via a safe, secure and guaranteed method. Within our post-production solution, we use Signiant's Managers + Agents to orchestrate and control all file preparation and delivery actions.

And what about geographically distributed production environments?

Post Production Solution Flow to Flow Architecture

Remote Facilities
Staff in remote offices or production facilities require tight integration into the systems of the main facility to be as productive as possible. Larger facilities can be equipped as the main facility. Smaller facilities are provided with a fully featured but smaller scale system. In both cases, the users interact with a local system. Assets can be searched and actions can be triggered globally. The system will take care of the users commands in the background by sending and retrieving the files and metadata to and from the main or smaller facilities, in or out archives, and then to the final customer.

How does the service architecture of our Post-Production Solution look?

Post Production Solution Service Architecture

The Production Management System (PMS) is the heart of content aggregation within our solution. It acts as the Media Asset Management System, Workflow System and Traffic System. The PMS we've selected is FlowWork's FlowCenter. For customers with distributed organisations, the PMS can be deployed at every facility and connected to act as one global system via the flow-to-flow module.

The Storage Management System (SMS) is the engine behind the scenes. To a certain extent, it acts as a production asset management system (PAM). It manages the relationship between files, customers and editing suites. Consequently, every customer can access his files from every editing suite from with every creative application. This is true freedom!

The Workflow Manager (WFM) is the gearbox that connects all the building blocks and makes them execute business processes fully automatically when applicable. Furthermore, it allows integrating with any other already existing or software that may be implemented in the future.