The Insider's Guide to Production: Cooking Lessons - Sponsored by Avid

A post company's systems require efficient mediaflow while retaining the purity of the original idea - rather like a top-level restaurant.

Whether hobnobbing in Soho or enjoying canal-side life in Manchester and Birmingham, restaurants play an important part of our lives. But look a little deeper and there's actually something to learn from them.

The essence of any production starts with an idea. The idea will formulate and strengthen until it is good enough to transform into a commercial, or whichever genre makes sense.

Film and TV production is, by its nature, a collaborative process and if everything goes well, the creative process will further improve the idea, but it should never detract from it. Parallels can be drawn to the experience a diner might have at a restaurant.

Imagine you, a producer or director, are the diner, and the post facility is the restaurant, the head chef is the post supervisor/head of post, and the other chefs are the creatives. Avid supplies the kitchen equipment and offers a design and installation service.

Your idea is to have a fantastic meal in pleasant surroundings. You know that there are certain rituals that must be performed for an evening of good food and wine. You will need to book, arrive on time, wait to be seated and then select from the menu. If all goes well, you will be served with your choice of food and wine; this will be of the anticipated high quality, arrive promptly and with polite and efficient service, and will all be within your budget, of course!

What goes on behind the kitchen doors is only of interest in as much as it delivers great food. As far as you know, or care, it might be just as serene in the kitchen as it is front of house; indeed you would like to think it is.

Avid ensures that the chefs have the equipment and processes in place to work their magic and that the ingredients (the media) are delivered to the right chef at the right time. Each chef also needs the right tools to carry out their particular task. Avid has also provided the amazing ability for the chefs to work in parallel, accessing the same ingredients at the same time, so speeding up the whole process dramatically, allowing extra time for creativity.

Our aim is to enable our customers to run the best restaurant in town, but also to be so efficient that the scene behind the kitchen doors is just as peaceful as that which the diner experiences.

As a solutions provider, we aim to deliver workflows that allow the creative purity of the programme to be maintained throughout the post process. Productions are becoming increasingly complex and also have huge time and budget constraints. Our job is to ensure the systems and workflows we provide - for capture, logging, storage, networking, editing, onlining, VFX and finishing - smooth the creative process, rather than hinder it.

The purity of the idea should never be diluted because of compromises brought about through workflow bottlenecks and difficulties.

Technology providers in film and TV generally talk of workflow in terms of system connectivity, with implied workflow. Their workflow diagrams will show a process by which systems providing various functionality can link, and the job progress from one to another. This, in effect, is a mediaflow.

When Avid talks about workflow, we are talking about the way a job gets from A to B - from the very beginning to the finished product. That means it must include the flow of media, the products, but most of all, the people.

While many working in production have become used to seeing workflow represented as mediaflow (largely because they have had to), it doesn't communicate how it will help them turn a concept into a great programme.

Avid has been innovating in professional post-production for 20 years. From the first occasion when a video image was digitised and two shots spliced together on a computer, to Peter Jackson and his editing team having immediate access to more than 100,000 shots stored on 14TB of storage for King Kong, Avid has consistently delivered technology that meets the needs of the creative process.

This year sees the unveiling of our latest innovation, Avid Interplay, the first step in truly delivering non-linear production workflows. Challenged with handling ever-increasing volumes of digital media under tight deadlines, with no room for increasing equipment or staffing levels, post facilities and broadcasters are being stretched by the sheer volume of content, complexity of projects and turnaround pace demanded of them today.

Avid Interplay is a non-linear workflow engine for the Avid Unity shared-storage environment, designed transparently to derive built-in productivity from every shared asset, all tasks and each connected system. It releases everyone in the production workflow from cumbersome technology so they are free to create.

So wouldn't it be great to have tools to plan the menu in collaboration with the chef before you even get to the restaurant? Or to have a home-delivery service, where you can enjoy your starters before you leave because you're running a little late?

Sometimes, though, mistakes happen (perhaps the food is too salty); how wonderful it would be to be able to roll back to the stage of production at the click of a button, before the salt went in? This is how we will change the way that work flows.

Avid supplies the backbone and customer-facing systems to provide an efficient and flexible workflow so that you, the production client, have a positive experience and your idea ends up as pure at the end as it was at the start.

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