7 Essential Tools to Streamline Media Productions

Want to streamline your studio’s media productions? Ensure you are leveraging these seven tools, or ones like them, to upgrade your workflow to the next level and create media more efficiently.
Digital Production
October 27, 2022
7 Essential Tools to Streamline Media Productions

When a production has over twenty visual effects studios and 1,500 VFX artists working on one season, like the Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power television series, efficient tools are necessary to stay on schedule and deliver quality shots.

But what tools are the most popular among vendors, creatives, directors, and studios? To help you streamline and optimize your workflow, we have curated this list of seven of the most important software tools used in media productions right now. Here’s a quick preview:

  1. Box, for simple cloud-based file sharing
  2. Aspera, for high performance file transfers
  3. SyncOnSet, for managing physical production assets
  4. Avid Media Composer, for sequence editing
  5. Maya, for visual effects design
  6. Scenechronize, for media production office automation
  7. 5th Kind, for digital asset management (DAM) and collaboration

One challenge to keep in mind when using many different types of technology is that they rarely communicate or integrate with one another. This can leave important assets and metadata siloed in various digital places. Hint: That’s why tool #7 is so crucial to making the other six work well together.

Let’s get started with one of the most famous tools used in the media and entertainment industry.

1. Box

Box hardly needs an introduction for those in the film industry. Box basically replaced what used to be a file share on-premise workflow. With Box, files are shared in the cloud, and it’s very easy to use.

It can handle files on the business side of media productions, like bid packages, budgets, and your schedules. Box can only handle files up to around 32GB in size, which is why this production tool is not commonly used for virtual effects.

There is also no attached metadata when a file is uploaded to Box, unlike if a media asset was uploaded to a DAM platform.

2. Aspera

When it comes to a media production’s asset and high-quality shots with visual effects, how can studios and vendors transfer files?

That answer for many is Aspera.

While Box has limitations on large files, Aspera has none. This platform helps move terabyte-sized files around the world, and at a fast pace.

And as beneficial as Aspera is for many productions, it’s not a permanent file housing tool. When teams need to share files with multiple vendors and crew during media productions, then it’s perfect. But not many people would ever store files permanently in Aspera.

Aspera is really a digital highway to share your large files from one point to another. One thing to keep in mind is that Aspera will get complicated with all of those files and relationships – so it’s best when integrated with a DAM platform.

3. SyncOnSet

Remember that infamous Game of Thrones scene that had that Starbucks cup in the background?

Game of Thrones Scene Featuring the Starbucks Coffee Cup
Game of Thrones Scene Featuring the Starbucks Coffee Cup

This example is exactly what SyncOnSet is used to help prevent. The platform manages physical asset management and continuity across all departments, vendors, and more.

It’s a tool that acts like a workbench for every physical production department to break down what they do for each scene. It ensures it all makes sense when the scenes are put together, such as:

  • The costume department
  • The hair department
  • The makeup department
  • Set decoration department
  • Set dressing
  • Vehicles in scenes

If an actor has a black shirt for one scene, then is wearing an orange shirt in the next scene that’s intended to take place during the same minute, the audience will notice. Keeping that continuity of assets during media productions is what SyncOnSet specializes in.

While powerful, SyncOnSet can't support videos, 3D or VR/AR assets. It acts as a digital asset silo, which is why a DAM could supplement, or even replace it, as a hub for media management. This is crucial for physical asset collaboration in pre production, production, and even post.

4.  Avid Media Composer

The gold standard in film editing software has been used by editors in the film and entertainment industry for decades. While competitors make feature enhancements to gain a foothold in several sectors, including advertising, small business, and agency productions, Avid is still the chosen non-linear editing solution because of its well-established stability and versatility.

Why do so many editors believe in Avid? Start with cloud-integration, on-premise server support, import and export to every type of file, granular control of file attributes, frame-accurate remote editing using proxies, in-application sound management, and keep going. The level of experience an editor has is the only limitation.

Plus, Avid has worked to simplify its toolsets and user experience to attract new editors, including students and independent filmmakers. No matter what editing tool you use, having a DAM integrated with your editing system elevates its usage, and provides value in three areas:

  1. Selecting WIP media to cut in on the inbound side.
  2. Keeping track of all of the versions of cuts you have created, reviewed, and used.
  3. Having an OTS or in-app remote review of sequences you are currently in the midst of cutting.

5. Maya

Maya is a 3D animation and visual effects design software. Basically, it’s a 3D content creation package that’s a lifesaver for those in media productions. It helps studios create realistic effects, animated characters, and 3D models for objects and scenes.

Maya Creative Sample of 3D Rigging
Maya Creative Sample of 3D Rigging

Autodesk just launched Maya Creative – a more affordable and accessible version of the platform for small studio artists. It’s but one of the many tactical desktop software tools used by artists – and these digital assets need somewhere to live.

That’s why having a DAM integrated with these artist’s tools gives their WIP assets a place to live, evolve, and archive for future use.

6. Scenechronize

Scenechronize is a media production office automation software. Overall, it streamlines information workflows and crew communications, which reduces the need for paper materials in production.

The platform organizes various elements of production:

  • The script
  • Locations
  • Casting
  • Breakdown elements
  • And schedule.

Each team has access to their department, while the unit production manager or line producer maintains an overall view, with the option to share that information with other crew members on an as-needed basis.

This platform is not everyone’s favorite, however, and so many have been rallying to a new solution that can integrate, or completely replace, Scenechronize. The UI is outdated and it doesn’t support images or videos, even though it’s the industry standard.

That's why integrating it with a DAM is essential to have continuity between the ever-changing assets and production documents, like the script.

7. 5th Kind – The Glue of Media Productions

Up next is the Digital Asset Management platform, often called a DAM. With COVID-19 causing productions to switch to remote work, this real-time collaboration software was vital.

When directors, artists, location managers, visual effects vendors, and more all contributed to workflows and approvals, and were not even physically on set, things got chaotic. That's why production teams needed a remote collaboration tool, and many turned to systems that had been fully-tested by other major studios. That’s where DAMs, like 5th Kind, came in.

Not only does 5th Kind allow for robust and instant media collaboration of all different digital asset types, including files, videos and 3-D images, it also does this in a performant way using Aspera. Plus, 5th Kind’s DAM has helped major studios leverage custom watermarking to ensure absolute content protection.

Plus, a DAM can integrate with every single application or tool mentioned above. Having one tool as the single source of truth for media productions is better for your team – one less application means more security and one less new thing for someone to learn.

Don’t Wait to Streamline Your Future Media Productions

5th Kind’s CORE platform has helped speed up media production workflows even before the pandemic. How? Through a strong taxonomy, a metadata foundation, and the ability to integrate into countless tools and applications used throughout production.

What other platform can claim the same?

Whether you need a daily solution, a remote media collaboration tool, or an integration for all of the tools listed above, then consider testing out 5th Kind’s CORE platform. Get a demo today!

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