Getting the Most from Metadata in Post Workflow
By Miles Weston
As good as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro and Avid production and workflow systems are, they're never totally complete.
You know it. I know it.
For example, a couple of years ago, we were visiting a friend shooting a documentary out in the middle of nowhere.
In the evening, a young lady was sitting with a pen and pad next to the stored content. We asked our shooter what she was doing.
"Our film producer requires us to log all of the segments from the day's shoot. We're on a shoestring budget and it saves paying an assistant editor - at a higher rate - to log the media when we get back and start production," she replied.
Source - The Catania Group
Detailed Work - While filmmakers quickly embraced the benefits of digital technology, data logging with pen and paper have carried over from bygone days. Automated meta data capture eliminates the error-prone work.
Now there are tools for that.
Philip Hodgetts, president/CEO of Lumberjack Systems and Intelligent Assistance Software was one of the speakers discussing them at the recent HPA Tech Retreat.
In addition to making focused solutions for Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects users, he and his partner, Gregory Clark, have gained a reputation for being two of the industry's leading experts in technical and content metadata.
Hodgetts noted that Lumberjack was developed when they were working on one of their first reality TV shows.
"We finished our first day's shoot, stored all of the media on our OWC storage system and suddenly realized there were no tools that allowed us to log critical information as we shot," he explained. "Immediately after the shoot, someone had to meticulously and painstakingly capture all of the vital information that would then follow the production's media throughout the post workflow and then back it up and archive it in case they wanted to repurpose the show later.
"Our only constant between that first project and today is that we have used OWC products to store projects from beginning to end," said Hodgetts. "The company and its products have simply never let us down."
Source - The Catania Group
Click, View - Philip Hodgetts, president of Lumberjack Systems, reviews the results of one of the firm's latest software releases. He quickly draws content from one of his many OWC storage devices to test upgrades, document all of the results and restore the results on his storage units.
Before their next production project, they had perfected a system that automatically synchronizes keyword ranges logged for a batch of media based on timecode and has become one of those tools you have to use for a non-scripted feature film, doc, reality TV show, or live event.
During the shoot, Lumberjack works as a real-time keywording and pre-editing tool for FCPX. The system captures content and technical metadata automatically by creating time ranges during the shoot and applying a keyword to the time range.
One producer, Chuck Braverman of Chuck Braverman Productions became a believer while working on The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story. Patrick Sutherland, the company's assistant editor, noted that on the O.J. Simpson project Lumberjack made it 10 times faster for importing keyword ranges into Final Cut Pro. "And," he added, "we simply wouldn't have been able to find some of the quotes if we hadn't had transcripts inside Final Cut."
The solution has since been used in DirecTV's original programming, BKB (Big Knockout Boxing) and other documentaries.
For feature film work, the Hodgetts/Clarke team produced Batch Synchronizing and Change List Tools that were used on many productions including "Gone Girl," "Focus" and many more.
"The algorithm improvements made for these two films showed us how we could transfer enhancements to both environments," Hodgetts recalled. "The tools became richer and more useful to everyone in post-production."
As productions become more complex and post production schedules get tighter, Hodgetts and Clarke say the value of automating the metadata process is becoming critical.
Source - ProVideo Coalition
Pinpoint Scenes, Audio - When noted David Tillman, an award-winning producer, editor and writer, began work on "Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words" with her own voice narrating the film, he had amassed a lot of film segments and audio recordings/news reports. In addition to just reviewing all of the material, he used Lumberjack to marry a transcript to a particular film clip to deliver award-winning pace and style to the film.
While the M&E industry is undergoing dramatic changes, there is extreme pressure on the production team to deliver new content on schedule and preferably, ahead of the deadline.
Testing and learning new (and perhaps better) tools and workflow techniques are fine when you have free time between projects; but good-enough habits/routines are hard to change.
"That's one of the reasons Media Composer is still the leading NLE in film and TV," Clarke noted. "No one wants to put his or her job on the line to change anything in the workflow that 'might' impact schedules.
"Adding metadata can make the editor's life a lot easier and it isn't until you see what it can do for you that you see what you've been missing," he added.
Hodgetts recalled BKB's Mark Bach saying, "Buying your apps is like buying sleep."
Source - SMPTE/HPA
Tomorrow - Hodgetts (l) explores some of the potential for AI to assist and enrich the production process in the future during the recent HPA Tech Retreat. Also, on his panel were Rachel Payne, founder of Prizma and John Motz, CTO of GrayMeta.
Hodgetts is especially excited about adding AI features to the products and integrating the knowledge to dramatically assist production teams.
"We already have speech-to-text, keyword extraction, story building and facial detection/recognition technologies" Hodgetts noted. "And we're aggressively pursuing solutions that will automatically capture and use metadata, even to the point of using sample images and coming back with keywords to describe the image contents. Ultimately, the computer could bring a finished project together in a single pass.
"We're moving in stages because there is so much potential," he continued. "Right now, we're able to extract words and help users build stories. By 2024, we think AI solutions will take the less glamorous tasks out of video production, so people can focus on the creative.
"Things like Lumberjack Systems will ultimately take us into the future," he added, "and it will be a natural part of workflow production. It will be a totally different visual storytelling environment."