The pandemic has blown the production industry apart, but now it’s starting to pick up the pieces and join them up. Working remotely from other production colleagues needs a new approach. ioGates-user Blake Jones explains how ioGates’ combination of ease of use, functionality and security has transformed his workflow – and there’s no going back.

Conventional production workflows

Until recently most Production, Editing and Color Grading workflows were “conventional”. This was fine until the Pandemic forced us to rethink and adapt due to the strict limitations imposed on us. We needed to devise a workflow that allowed the same degree of interaction between the Producer, Director, Editor and Colorist – even though they were in different countries or cities. Combining various online tools turned out to be the key in solving this issue. However, there were three obstacles that needed to be addressed:

Post production workflows are changing
Post-production workflows are changing

Sharing cross country

The first was how to get the media from the location shoot to the other members of the crew – some of them in different countries. We achieved this by using ioGates, which is an extremely flexible cloud-based storage and media transfer platform. It’s extremely secure and automatically generates lower resolution proxy copies of the original media during upload. Having these lower resolution media files is great as it allows the editor to use them instead of the full resolution media: obviously an advantage when working remotely. It’s also a simple task to generate login credentials for each member of the crew who might require access to the data.

Too old/small computers

The second obstacle was that several members of the crew were not totally prepared for the prospect of working from home. Many had computers that were not good enough to run applications like Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve. To solve this, we turned to cloud computing.

Cloud computing is essentially a virtual computer based in the cloud. There are several providers available, including Shadow Tech, Eclipse Tech or Bebop Technology. When using either of these providers, you simply login to their system and you’re greeted with a computer desktop. You can configure your virtual computer and install the applications you want to run. This method means that even though you might be using an older and less powerful computer on your desktop, your virtual computer is totally up to date. Another advantage to cloud computing is that cloud-based storage becomes even faster to work with as waiting for downloads from the cloud becomes a thing of the past.

The human touch

The third obstacle is the actual human interface. Zoom has become extremely popular for interaction between people separated due to the Pandemic. However, there are some companies that have expressed concerns about security. We opted instead to use a platform called DooZZoo. DooZZoo is in many ways similar to Zoom but allows you to easily see everyone’s desktop with the click of a mouse. We decided to use this service for maintaining the human interface. This meant that everyone could work together and share their ideas as the production is developing.

Cutting time in the editing room

We used our new workflow for a documentary to be shown on French Television. The director, Blake Jones, summed up beautifully his thoughts about the production.

“Our 52-minute film about the Italian comic Totò for the French channel Ciné+ Classic let us put our ideas into practice thanks to a system called ioGates. Our idea was to establish a central exchange of rushes, archival extracts etc. where everyone could easily find what they were looking for. Suddenly we realized that even the editing room had become irrelevant as the pandemic restrictions forced us to stay at home. The ioGates system allowed the editing to continue. By letting everyone access the material, our physical presence in the editing room was reduced to a mere 6 days. 

There is a story about Stanley Kubrick who had fifty rolls of the same scene and would ask “let’s see number 35, and now 41” – etc. ioGates provided a tool where the director could do just that himself, without “asking”.

The pandemic and the restrictions imposed upon us have simply accelerated a technological change in the editing process that was long desired. Quite honestly, a hidden fear lurks in the minds of most filmmakers who enter the editing room – that a lack of computer skills will deprive them of control over their creation. Even if this fear is compensated by the so-called “director’s cut” in documentary film making, sloppy editing can skew a message or even destroy the film entirely.”

A new production normal

We decided to expand the usage of ioGates to not only look after the Raw media from the project but in the end also the rendered deliverables. It means that we can easily have all the versions for different regions available as well. It’s extremely simple to create unique share links for customers with or without watermarks and it’s fantastic that ioGates even supports DRM.

As our ioGates storage is composed of multiple volumes, we opted to reserve one volume for an archive. This allows us to move the source material to this volume after the completion of the project. Managing our media in this fashion allows us to free up the other volumes for the next production. We found that this process worked so well it has become our new standard for future production and post-production projects.

Told by Blake Jones, Director French Television