Workflow development and asset management is the unsexy, red-headed stepchild of our industry. Many people see it a boring, tedious thing filled with a lot of numbers, labels, documents and other things that are deemed non-creative. So why should creative types worry about it? Because having a solid, reliable workflow allows us to be more creative in the long run. Instead of scrubbing through clip after clip looking for that great sound bite or that awesome b-roll you can quickly refer to transcripts, tape logs or clip metadata to find exactly what you need. It also provides a road map to follow so instead of flying by the seat of your pants and putting out preventable fires you get to spend more time fine tuning the edit.
The first step to workflow development is getting involved in pre-production. Yes, the “post” part of the name “post production” implies it comes at the end, but if you don’t know your final destination how are you going to figure out how to get there? So, step one is to figure out what the final destination for your project is (web, TV, film, mobile device, Blu-ray etc.,) and work backwards from there.
For example, if your project is destined for a film-out you really don’t want to shoot on a 29.97fps interlaced format or if you are going to deliver to a mobile device you’ll want to use more close-ups and relatively large gfx because your content is going to be viewed on such a small screen. Fine detail that looks good on your computer screen or broadcast monitor might turn into an undefined blob of pixels on a cell phone and the time to figure that out is in pre-production not when you getting ready for final delivery. If your client wants a 1080i60 master but you prefer to shoot in 720p60 do you have the ways and means to do a quality cross-conversion or should you remove one more possible point of failure and shoot in a 1080i60 format? Do you already have all the tools and equipment in house to finish and deliver the project or will you need to rent gear and/or collaborate with a post house? If you are going to need to collaborate with a post house I suggest contacting them sooner rather than later to find out their specifications for when you deliver your project to them.
And we are just getting started. There are a broader range quality cameras out there than ever before and coming with them is a nearly endless variety of codecs, frame rates and frame sizes. There’s also dual system sound, green screen and other visual effects, how do you track and archive tapeless media, etc.,.
I’m not even going to get into all of that here because I would be posting for days and still not cover everything. Many people find workflow development groan-inducing but I love it. To me it’s like a giant, ever-changing riddle that’s just begging to be solved. The sooner you have a thorough game plan in place the faster, and easier, the whole process becomes.