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Tv workflows - 2012. A Review of Production & Post Production Workflows from the current TV Season. Quick Look Back…. Spring / 2009 – SAG threatens to strike AFTRA alternative – but only if you shoot on tape, not film Studios shot 90% of their pilots on tape under AFTRA

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Tv workflows 2012

Tv workflows - 2012

A Review of Production & Post Production Workflows from the current TV Season

Quick look back
Quick Look Back….

  • Spring / 2009 – SAG threatens to strike

  • AFTRA alternative – but only if you shoot on tape, not film

  • Studios shot 90% of their pilots on tape under AFTRA

  • And the studios learned that 24P worked & saved $$$

  • 2009/2010 season – a lot of film cameras sat on shelves

  • 2010/2011 – 80% shooting on tape (even Alexa)

  • March 11, 2011 – Tsunami hits Northeast Japan

  • Current season of 2011/2012 – 90% shooting onto files

File based production post 2011 2012
File Based Production & Post 2011-2012

  • By Aug 2011, tape was still in short supply

  • Many shows adopted the Alexa or Red camera

  • Once the efficiencies of file based production became obvious….there was little reason to go back to tape

  • Saves time > processing & ingest is faster than real time

  • Processing > uses computers instead of dedicated hardware: vtrs, routers, etc…means lower capex cost

  • Saves archiving space & costs > 1 hour Episodic > 30-35 hrs, > 6-8 LTOs > replace 50+ SR tapes

Tv file based workflow
TV File Based Workflow

  • Color Management

  • Data Management

  • Dailies Processing

  • Conforming

  • Archiving

Color management
Color Management

  • For best results we shoot LOG

  • Trending away from hands-on dailies colorist

  • How to make it relevant for on set & dailies?

  • Need to choose & apply LUTS or Looks while shooting the scenes.

  • Choosing LUTS for on-set….& for dailies?

  • Currently there seems to be 4 specific approaches

The options
The Options

  • Lut box tethered to camera(s) – email the luts to lab

  • Apply luts during data management (Red)

  • Use one single default lut - rec709 or custom

  • Create a collection or set of luts or looks in advance ….apply them accordingly.

    • LUT – color look up tables applied to dailies – typically for editorial & general distribution

    • “look or looks” – the generic term

    • Arri Look – color as applied to the viewing outputs on Alexa using Arri tools

Spt we leave this to the dp
SPT – we leave this to the DP

  • Breaking In – DIT plus Truelight box

  • Justified – on set DIT creates looks w/ DP during data backup (Red Epic)

  • The Big C – one lut

  • Unforgettable & The Client List – collection of preset luts

Arri looks
Arri Looks

  • Introduced in version 4, Alexa firmware

  • Allows for loading 16 Arri Looks into Alexa

  • Arri Looks are 1D luts and designed for Alexa’s on board color processing capabilities

  • No external color boxes required…as Arri Looks can be called up in camera & applied to outputs

  • SxS recordings can stay native LogC

  • Embeds the name of the chosen Look into the file for tracking later in the post workflow

Early experience w arri looks
Early Experience w/ Arri Looks

  • Pilot shot > well known graphic novel

  • As such > extreme looks

  • Director wanted to preview looks on set

  • DP shot test material & created a number of looks he might use…. 23 in fact.

  • Ended up using only 7 during actual production


  • In August, 2011 – no tools for translating the LUTs created on Baselight to an official Arri Look

  • Peter Postma (Filmlight-LA) worked to translate….

  • Variances crept in to the exercise due to differences in decoding - legal vs extended ranges – required “tweaks”

  • Ultimately we ran tests to make sure what was seen on set was what was being delivered to Editorial and in the Studio & Network Dailies

Six months later
Six Months Later

  • We now have tools from Arri to build these Arri Looks & to generate matching compatible LUTS

    • Arri Look Creator - application

    • Arri LUT Generator – online web app

  • We also now have third party tools that will generate compatible Arri Looks from LUTS

    • Pomfort’s LiveGrade - beta

Data management
Data Management

  • Original Camera Negative exists as files on card

  • Cards are expensive > transfer the files to a shuttle drive > lab

  • Need to have multiple backups

  • Need to have a workflow system in place to assure no files are lost

  • Need supporting software to confirm transfers on a bit by bit basis

  • Need to QC or review each days material that flows – SET > LAB

    • 1) On set data wrangler

    • 2) Dailies operator and manager

    • 3) Assistant Editor

    • 4) Archivist at the Lab

File based dailies processing
File Based Dailies Processing

  • File based > faster than real time - transfer & conversion

  • Syncing Sound to Picture > w/ proper onset timecode management > quick and easy

  • Logging > sound recorders label wav files - SC/TKs

  • Color > applying luts from set or from a colorist working in parallel on the same networked system

  • Systems > process dnx + mpeg2 (dvds) + h.264 (stream)

  • Reference > Original codec or a mezzanine codec

Codecs compression
Codecs & Compression

  • Concerns re: compression seems to be reduced

  • Many shows are using dnx175x for conform – especially popular at post houses….

  • Several shows are even using dnx115 – popular with in house post workflows…. SOUTHLAND (TNT)

  • SPT’s goal > conform directly from the native codec or a codec that maintains 444 quality.


  • Avid file based conforming (MC 5 +) references “sourcefiles” plus timecode vs. tape roll plus timecode

  • Each sourcefile or clipname is unique

    • Camera Reel/clip number/date/camera serial #

    • Example >

  • Each clip or sourcefile is usually one take of one scene….

  • Decision to conform with a mezzanine codec instead of the original file is typically driven by the devices being used to complete the conform and grading


  • Final vetting of files for name and substance

  • Hard copy onto LTO5 x 2

  • Working copy of each episode’s OCN footage on a portable RAID for transport to the “online” or conform – transfer via eSata or SAS

  • In House – files move via network transfer to the studio’s TV Repository

Workflow examples

Workflow Examples




  • shoots RED, Canon 5D, GoPro

  • Dailies – all footage color timed by a dailies colorist & processed into dnx115 on Fotokem’sNextLab

  • Show is then cut on Avid in dnx115

  • Final cut IS the edited master (w/color)

  • Output as files > grading takes only 3-4hrs

  • Southland IS a stylized show and thus can sustain artifacts created by this workflow


  • Shot on Arri Alexa – using collection of luts

    • OCN (ProRes 444 LogC) is collected and held on an episodic raid for conform

    • Conformed on Avid Symphony – uses AMA transfer of ProRes – transcoded to Avid RGB 444 – then conformed & pushed…

    • To Colorworks where it is graded on a Baselight from scratch… only referencing the original onset looks

Other workflows being used
Other workflows being used….

  • Tape > The Good Wife / CSI-NY / Weeds / Modern Family / Dexter

  • Red > many Red shows are conformed from Quicktime files instead of the R3D originals

  • Alexa with dnx recording has been demo’ed and tested and will be available soon….

  • Some post houses were using dpx for the conform…

Workflows not being used
Workflows NOT being used…

  • ArriRaw for TV > just not required….

  • What happened to all of those file based recording devices introduced at the last NAB ?

    • Convergent Design’s Gemini

    • Sound Devices PIX 240

    • ATMOS Samarai

    • Along with – CineDeck, KeyPro, Nanoflash

New options coming that will impact future tv workflows


Sony F65 – 4K & HD

SR Memory – 440/220

DNX440 – 444 version of Avid’s DNX