At first glance, the Big Five (Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros.) seem like their workflows are the best in the industry. This might be true, as combined they all own a dominating 79.2% of the market share.
However, in the media and entertainment industry, one workflow is not necessarily better. This was seen when the global disruptor COVID-19 occurred, as the industry-standard media production and management workflows were thrown out the window.
While no two production workflows look the same, major studios do have elements of their production workflows in common that helps them reach the notoriety and revenue streams they are known for. One key factor that spans across all studios, vendors, and crew is modern technology. Specifically, the technology they use to manage media assets during the production lifecycle.
So, how do major studios like Marvel handle their millions of assets through their pipeline? What impact did COVID-19 have for studios like HBO? Read on to discover the answers.
A Snapshot of Netflix’s & Marvel’s Media Production and Management
With thousands upon thousands of digital assets being created for productions, major studios have created their own unique systems of handling such assets.
For example, Netflix and Marvel maximize their digital assets’ potential with metadata. This allows them to categorize each one and continuously pass them all the way down through marketing and consumer products.
These digital assets are even used in games, merchandise, theme parks, and other parts of their studios. Even Amazon, as seen in the latest Rings of Power show, is heading in this direction with their media production and management workflows.
How do major studios categorize these hundreds of thousands of assets? They leverage one source of truth, or one system, that everybody draws from. This source of truth is usually a foundational Digital Asset Management System (DAM). Different departments may have different software and workflows layered on top of it to do in their own processes.
This singular hub of assets, files, and documents acts as the managing director of all the digital assets across their entire studio and down their pipelines. That’s why Marvel and Warner Bros. use a DAM platform, such as 5th Kind’s CORE, before, during, and after production.
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Netflix’s success at production asset management comes from automation and various software integrations. They realized that a DAM system has the enterprise, standardization, and scalability qualities they need, but it would be too hard to adopt with their various workflows, filmmakers, crews, and projects. With Netflix releasing 129 original content titles in the last quarter of 2021 alone, this hesitation to change their workflows is not a surprise.
Netflix’s philosophy in 2022 revolves around continuing to automate and feed into a large, connected digital asset manager. However, they’re not going to necessarily build that from scratch for the production crew to interface with.
They either have a portal for them to log into, called a Content Hub, where they upload assets and metadata which is a lot of manual work. Or they have started to integrate their assets back to their most used tools, like Box or Avid.
Different studios use different methods to manage productions…
But the challenges spanning across productions stays the same.
Major studios have learned to let the creatives and other production crew use their favorite tools, change them, be dynamic with them, and even be fragmented across departments.
Some studios can't manage their media assets as well as others. For example, every production uses different tools that don’t talk to each other, like Box and Scenechronize. Studios without a single source of truth end up with stranded assets across various platforms, devices, etc. And people can't sort, search, or index them, which means that when they try to find a specific digital asset later on, it takes way too long, or they never find it.
Every major studio walks a tightrope with their media production and management processes. They’re trying to balance letting the filmmakers and creatives do whatever they want, like using their favorite media production tools because that's part of their secret sauce, and keeping workflows efficient.
A good example is when someone commissions a painter to paint their portrait. When the painter comes to their house, the homeowner wouldn’t go into their garage and get their paint brushes and paint and tell the artist to use them. The artist who is accustomed to creating their art their own way is not going to like that. That is what these technologies are to creatives during production.
So, the real challenges these studios face is having that single source of the truth, which gathers all the assets and metadata, but also let the famous artists have their own paintbrush, watercolors, and easel.
How did major studios' media production change during the pandemic?
Marvel took advantage of remote production tools in order to keep productions afloat. They started doing over the shoulder reviews with a live media collaboration tool and platforms. However, Marvel was already in a solid position to pivot due to the COVID-19 pandemic because they already had a Digital Asset Management System integrated into their workflows.
What about other major studios? During the pandemic, HBO’s production had virtual editorial workstations in New York. In fact, HBO was about a year and a half into a certain project. They had built various virtual editorial workstations out of their facility at Hudson Yards in New York. When the pandemic hit, they weren't thinking about it for remote work. They were thinking about virtualizing it so that when people came into the building, they could work in any office and didn't need a full system because they were accessing it virtually.
By putting those virtual stations and a DAM together, plus a lot of other tools, are what really helped people get through COVID-19. Those that were further into the process of establishing modern technology platforms were just better prepared.
Create Efficiency in Your Media Production & Management
In this article, we dug deep into how major studios, including streaming giants such as Netflix, handle their modern media production and management. While production went remote and had major changes due to COVID-19, streamlining technology has become vital for modern productions.
For major studios with a DAM, like Marvel, the files and metadata are just naturally organized because it is the single source of truth. Other major studios leverage a DAM, like 5th Kind, for their media production and management processes because it is the only DAM that can be useful before and during production.
For smaller studio or production teams, you can have your cake and eat it too – you can do it Marvel's way, you can do it Netflix’s way, or you can create a new and improved process with the help of 5th Kind.
Let your creatives be creative while also giving them the structure they need to deliver – learn why some major studios have leveraged 5th Kind for over ten years.