5 ways to speed up your workflow

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Photo credit: Robert Voets/CBS

The post-production workflow is inherently time-consuming. There are dozens of tasks to accomplish before footage even makes it onto the editing timeline. Then there’s the editing process itself, on top of sound design, visual effects and motion graphics work. Then, once you finally have a cut you like, the review, revision and approval process guarantees to take more hours out of your day. The more people involved, the more time it takes. Luckily, there are some simple tools and strategies you can use to get your post-production work done faster.

This article will cover five ways to speed up your digital production workflow using Sony’s Ci® Media Cloud. Let’s dive in.

Optimize your data for search and filter

Our first tip for speeding up your workflow is to optimize your metadata as soon as you get your footage. At first glance, this might seem like an added step that will just slow you down. However, being able to easily search and filter your footage will help you find the take you need faster. And this will save you time in the long run. Not only will you be able to hunt down the perfect shot more efficiently, but thorough metadata also prevents the distraction and frustration of digging through endless footage in search of that one special shot.

While metadata can save you time during the editing process, it can be a pain to input all of that information by hand. The time it takes to add relevant information needs to be balanced against the time it will save when looking for that footage. Ideally, you want to streamline the metadata input process as much as possible. That way, you can add all the information you need to easily find your footage when you need it — whether that’s next week or next year — without bogging down your workflow.

Here’s where Sony’s Ci can help. You can create searchable custom metadata fields and templates to enable team members or external contributors to submit footage with complete metadata easily. No more footage lost to inconsistent labeling.

Ci’s built-in MediaLog app allows you to add searchable, time-based metadata as you ingest your media. After logging the media, you can use quick search and filters to narrow down your options in the Ci media library. Then, preview each shot and create new clips directly from the search results.

Centralize data storage

The next way you can speed up your workflow is to keep your media all in one place. Implementing a centralized data storage solution is a great way to streamline your post-production work, especially when working with a remote team. Because Ci was built for media workflows, teams can preview professional file formats including RAW directly from a web browser. Using centralized cloud data storage means everyone working on the production will have access to the data they need, when and where they need it.

Of course, there is a downside to cloud storage — slow transfer speeds due to bandwidth limitations. However, Sony’s Ci addresses this roadblock with built-in high-speed file transfers powered by IBM® Aspera®. When transferring files and folders with Aspera, users can quickly upload and import entire camera cards. Aspera also allows users to manage bandwidth use with options to prioritize files, pause and resume transfers based on bandwidth availability.

For an even smoother production process, Ci also supports camera-to-cloud workflows. With a network-connected camera, you can send footage directly to Ci as it is captured. Sony recently announced an integration with Teradek’s Prism Flex and Serv 4K encoders. This integration will enable productions to upload directly to Ci. Set-up for camera-to-cloud workflows is simple – users can configure with a unique 8-digit code. Footage will be uploaded to a predefined folder in Ci and available to anyone on your team.

For collaborative projects, Ci’s File Request tool allows you to gather footage and metadata from external contributors. To keep remote file gathering workflow easy and fast, contributors do not need a Ci account and Aspera transfers are built directly into File Requests. To keep your files secure, contributors will not have access to other files in your Ci account.   

While we’re discussing sharing content, security is another concern for media producers relying on cloud storage, especially when sharing footage between multiple collaborators. However, with Ci’s MediaBox share links, recipients can preview clips and assets securely. If the footage needs to be downloaded, Aspera is built-in to MediaBoxes to keep transfers fast. For additional protection, you can send MediaBox links with dynamic visual watermarking applied to your shared files. Sony’s Ci offers end-to-end encryption on all content, both in transit and at rest.

Automate your workflow

After optimizing your metadata and centralizing your data on the cloud, the next step toward a faster production workflow is automation. As we mentioned at the start of this article, there are several tasks editors must complete before newly imported footage is ready to be used. In addition to adding metadata, transcoding and proxy creation are tedious but necessary steps. The reward is properly prepared footage that’s ready and waiting for you when it’s time to place it on the timeline.

Actually creating these files, however, can be a serious time suck. Establishing a system to automatically transcode footage and create proxy files on import can save you hours of pre-editing work. Sony’s Ci allows you to automatically transcode your footage and create custom proxies immediately on upload. 

Ci also helps you save time in your production workflow with automatic file backup and offers a storage management feature that lets productions automatically push files into ‘Archive’ to save on storage costs. Production teams can also leverage Ci’s API to automate production workflows like packaging files gathered in a Ci folder to automatically send a MediaBox link to editors. These APIs allow developers to directly integrate Ci’s cloud storage to support complex workflows without manual intervention.  

Automating the more repetitive and time-consuming parts of the production workflow both speeds up the production process and frees up more energy for creative work.

Centralize communication

Just as you centralized data storage for easier file access among team members, you’ll also want to centralize communication. Good communication between collaborators on a production ensures a smoother, faster production process. Plus, once a cut is ready for review, keeping all comments and approvals in one place means nothing gets overlooked.

Starting with the acquisition process, Ci’s File Request tool lets you easily gather footage and metadata from remote collaborators, complete with automatic notifications to let you know when footage is ready.

MediaBox links and email notifications also help streamline file delivery and sharing, including sharing of metadata and associated media elements like screengrabs and thumbnails. Automatic email and in-app notifications on all inbound, outbound and file activity help the production team know which files are ready and which they’re still waiting on.

As more people are involved in the approval process, it becomes more important to use tools that support clear communication. With Ci, your team will have access to frame-accurate and time-range commenting and annotations — vital for effective collaboration on a creative project. 

For collaboration with external partners or real-time collaboration, Ci users also have the option to launch a LiveSession in the browser-based VideoReview app, which supports live markups and synced preview. After collecting all the necessary feedback, Ci allows collaborators to export comments as a PDF checklist with timecodes and preview thumbnails or as NLE markers.

Simplify administration

Our final tip for speeding up your production workflow is to simplify the administration process. That means you need a straightforward admin interface with easy-to-use management tools. A simple administration process is essential to maintaining a smooth workflow, especially when working with a remote team distributed around the world.

Different users will require different levels of access, and this may even change over the course of production. Production administrators need an easy, reliable way to manage users and content without disrupting the production process. The faster you can give team members access to the media they need, the faster they can get to work.

Fortunately, Sony’s Ci provides an intuitive interface and promises fast and easy setup, ensuring the right people always have access to the right files. This includes simple user management, content management, sharing and distribution. Rather than charging per user, Ci’s pricing model is usage-based which makes controlling and predicting costs easy and allows productions to scale quickly and flexibly without multiplying costs. Usage analytics enable administrators to monitor and track usage, then charge back productions based on usage metrics. 

More about Sony’s Ci

In this article, we explored five ways to speed up your workflow, from optimized metadata and centralized storage to automation, clear communication and simple administration. While these are all powerful tools, Sony’s Ci does even more than what we have discussed here. To learn more and see how Ci can work for you, visit https://www.cimediacloud.com/