By Simon Ray
Head of Operations & Engineering
Goldcrest Post Production On the train on the way to Amsterdam for IBC 2013. What is the point of this visit? This seems to be an interesting time to look to be investing picture post. File-based workflows are much more mature and there are lots of vendors competing for your business. Having the opportunity to visit them all within in few hours of each other is a great way to help you make informed decisions. Also, it is fun to look at expensive shiny boxes with flashing knobs on.
Budgets are being cut, schedules squeezed and the pressure to turn out high quality results increased. How can a facility carry on competing with these “race to the bottom” pressures? Some of the main areas I will be looking at are storage, workflow, and data management tools. A quick study of workflow shows that any kind of data duplication and needless file copying to move from one workstation to another is an inefficiency that we should look to avoid. A SAN is an obvious way of making sure that all workstations have live access to data when they need it, but there is always a danger of not having the bandwidth to keep all machines able to playback live. To what performance level would you specify a SAN today? One able to play 8 streams of HD? 4 of 2k? 2 of 4k? How many streams of 4k HFR? Should the SAN be media aware?
Another way to increase efficiency might be to look at systems that can do more “in the box.” Rather than looking for the best grading system, the best compositor, the best conform station, is it better to take a larger view and say that the box that can do all of these things well enough and saves me file duplication and import/export time is the best solution overall for a facility. Having looked at a lot of the systems that are available in this area, I like the solutions offered by Quantel and SGO Mistika. From the point of conform, these systems keep the project ‘in their world’ and can handle a lot of the small tasks that crop up along the way as you get to delivering your tv programme or feature. They both offer integrated storage solutions and have functionality in the software that enable you to move projects between systems and therefore operators and rooms. It will be interesting to see the demonstrations and any product announcements from these companies.
From a sound perspective, it will be interesting to see the new S6 console from Avid. Will this be a console that addresses previous complaints about other Pro Tools controllers? It is hard to get too excited about what is essentially a keyboard and mouse, especially when we used to get to look at 80 channel analogue behemoths that sound ‘warm’ and had ‘character’ but if it has stem select, pec-direct panels and bus/tape metering that will be a great start.
Anything else? These shows are really useful for finding out what certain products actually do! In the days of the internet where everything is described as ‘leveraged’ or some other nonsense marketing term, it is great to talk to the people behind the product who can tell you what you really need to know. Looking forward to some interesting chats and demos.
The thoughts and opinions here don’t necessarily reflect those of postPerspective.