On Location: Digital workflow / by Glenn Dixon

Fun fact of the day: There is nothing even remotely sexy about workflow charts. Although, what they lack in sexiness they more than make up for in saving creative energy for the sexier aspects of production.

I hope this short article can help you plan and/or refine your current on location data management/post-production workflow. A solid strategy allows you to forget the logistics while in production mode and focus on creating wonderful content while in the field.  Below is the one I currently use while on the road shooting for my documentary and corporate video clients. Note that it does change slightly on a project by project basis.

Step 1: Data Management

Once we wrap filming for the day I hurry back to the hotel room and transfer the rushes from the SxS cards onto a laptop. This is done via a SxS card reader and the Log and Transfer window of Final Cut Pro 7. I then backup the entire project folder on two 500GB external drives. (This gives me three copies in total one of which stays with me at all times).

Step 2: Sequencing

I get all the interviews transcribed as it allows me to work very quickly with my collaborators and create text based rough cuts and share via email. Clients also love them as our process is very visible throughout post-production and they can use these documents for other purposes.

I will then create a new timeline/sequence for each interviewee in preparation for the transcript service. I drag in the rushes and bring up the audio waveforms using the keyboard shortcut (command + option + W). This allows me to see at a glance when the subject is talking vs the interviewer. As the subject is much closer to the microphone than the interviewer, the subjects dialogue is represented graphically by the large waveforms. I can now very quickly cut out all the undesirable pieces visually without having to watch in real time (a massive time saver).

Screenshot:

I want to remove the sections of the clip where the interviewer is talking. I can quickly locate and remove them (gaps in the waveforms) at a glance without the need to waste time watching the interview in real time.

Step 3: Return to mission control

By the time our team fly back home the interviews have usually been transcribed and are waiting for me on the smartdocs server. I will transfer the current FCP project file and footage to the mothership workstation at my desk and back it all up. Now I can email the text based transcripts to my collaborators/clients and they will provide me edit notes right away.Now we get to work! Amazing!