Post-production facilities: getting it right

Making your technology future-proof isn’t always about buying the latest kit. It’s about buying the right kit.

As Head of Post-Production, I’m responsible for making sure that we have all the kit that our team and our clients need, and that we’re always several steps ahead of the game in terms of new technology.

First and foremost I’m the main editor at Clean Cut Media but I come with the added bonus of having a broad understanding of broadcast standards, experience in technology and maintenance, and a proven track record in problem solving.

I essentially built the edit set up at Clean Cut Media and the main emphasis was to create post-production facilities that can grow as the company grows – and as our clients’ needs change.

Edit systems for everyone

Edit systems need to be reliable enough to cope with anything that’s thrown at them. Avid Media Symphony 8.4 is our edit suite of choice as it has a proven record in broadcast. We’ve had huge success running it on Mac Pro systems and this gives us the added bonus of being able to run other NLE (Non Linear Editing) software like Final Cut Pro X.

I haven’t experienced any of the issues that some other production companies have had with similar set ups. I think that’s down to making sure our systems are regularly maintained.

State-of-the-art post-production facilities in London

A server you can rely on

From the beginning we’ve used a 32 terabyte Ardis Dynamic Drive Pool server to create a shared edit setup. This stores all our media and projects and allows editors to work on different elements of a project at the same time.

I can’t remember a time the server has been off for more than few hours since 2011, and the fact it’s been on full tilt as well goes to show how reliable it is. Root6, a long-standing Soho-based broadcast technology supplier, provided us with the DDP, and also helps answer any queries and update our licences.

Smart media management

We use a tiered system for our media, so that ongoing projects are always easily available, while completed projects are safely archived. The DDP acts as our main storage for current projects. We create new client partitions as and when they’re needed, which ensures that clients’ media is stored and managed securely.

We archive projects on 2.5 terabyte LTO drives, which preserves media long-term without degrading, and Pegasus2 Raid stand alone drives act as middle ground storage. We’re currently moving into 4K high-resolution broadcast projects which involve a high bit rate, and for these, Thunderbolt cables are a bonus as they allow extremely fast data transfer. (We use Thunderbolt on our 2015 Mac Pro’s in conjunction with the Pegasus drives, as earlier Mac Pros aren’t compatible.)

Getting creative with colour and graphics

I’m currently designing a new phase of expansion, with scope for building a purpose-built edit and high-end colour grading suite. This can be used for grading larger projects that are shot in Sony S-Log and other raw camera files.

Currently, we have an HP Z820 workstation with a Quadro K5000 GFX card installed for our higher end graphics work which has been put to good use for a number of exciting projects.

We also use Blackmagic design in / out hardware to get HD signals in and out of Mac systems, alongside Blackmagic Ultrascope software for colour correction and to legalise pictures for broadcast.

One other point worth adding is that for fast turnaround creativity in each suite, we use Magic Bullet Suite software by Red Giant for quick colour looks. Two suites use sapphire effects for more sophisticated treatments and we’ve also begun experimenting with look-up tables, with fantastic results.

Reliable, flexible solutions

The industry evolves all the time, and my job is to keep up with it, researching, testing and finding the best possible solutions. With the kit we’ve got at the moment, I’m confident we are able to adapt to any changes it might throw at us.

So far, so good. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and am excited for the future. In the 19 years since I’ve been in the industry I’ve witnessed the progress from analogue to tape to digital to HD and now to 4K Ultra HD. What’s next? Watch this space.

Find out about our post-production facilities

If you’d like to know more, there are details about our post-production facilities here. Or get in touch and let’s chat about how we could work together.