7 min read

Published 03/31/2021

Remote Production Tools: Proving a Script-to-Screen Workflow with HPA’s “Found Lederhosen”

By: admin

Remote production tools have become more necessary as productions stretch themselves globally. The 2020 pandemic served as an accelerant to its adoption process.  Riding that momentum is the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA).  The organization made it one of their 2021 HPA Technology Retreat goals to explore and prove what is currently possible to achieve.  Recruiting 100s of artists, creatives, media professionals, and technology companies around the world to participate in their “Found Lederhosen” project, they debuted the successful results as a part of two Super Sessions this March.

A collaboration of six global short films, the “Found Lederhosen” productions were based around the globe as far away (or as near) as Mongolia’s capitol city of Ulaanbaatar, Dubai, London, Brisbane, Mexico City, and Los Angeles.  As a participating technology company, 5th Kind provided the workflow backbone to the Mexico City production, La Inquilina, while supporting localization on the Dubai and Ulaanbaatar productions.

Joachim “JZ” Zell producer of the overall project and leader of HPA’s two Super Sessions talked about just how viable remote production and especially the post workflows are today.

La Inquilina (The Tenant)

The final film is coming soon. Please check back here.

THE GOAL

The goal of these productions was to prove the viability and effectiveness of global remote productions. For La Inquilina, there were 11 technology partners (this number does not include production partners), working across six locations, and two primary languages, though the film contained three languages and was also translated into a fourth for localization.  Providing asset management, collaboration, and workflow support, our task was show the value of a script to screen production asset management solution.

WHAT IS PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT?

Production Asset Management is the idea of organizing information in a way that’s findable, usable, and maximizes its value.

In the case of studio projects and media productions, a Production Asset Management tool centralizes, secures, and streamlines the files, content, and associated data created by the production.

CORE by 5th Kind is a Production Asset Management solution that takes productions to the next level by supporting media productions Script-to-Screen.

Beginning with ideation and creative development in pre-production, through production and post, all the way to distribution, 5th Kind’s CORE not only supports asset management, it streamlines and facilitates production workflows and communications at every stage of the process by providing easy to use collaboration tools for the cast, crew, vendors, and other associated stakeholders, which you’ll see here as a part of the workflow for La Inquilina.

Production Asset Management from Script to Screen.

PRODUCTION CHALLENGES

The production faced two major challenges. Notably, the ongoing pandemic and varying internet speeds in some of the international locations.

1. The Pandemic

The Mexico City production started with an entirely different director and script. However, due to related illness, she had to drop the project. Around the same time, half of the identified production crew took ill with COVID and had to be replaced. Thanks to a great producing team, they replaced the director, script, and crew quickly.  We supported their efforts by quickly integrating the new team into CORE and sharing Bernardo’s vision with the rest of the team.

2. Slow Internet Speeds

While nothing truly makes up for slow internet speeds, when some of our Mexico City and Colombia team members were facing speeds as low as 10kbps, we were able to help them manage their uploads and downloads through our Aspera integration until better speeds were available.

Film Workflows and Processes

From La Inquilina’s script to screen, CORE by 5th Kind supported digital collaboration, asset management, and workflow at every stage of the filmmaking process.


PRE-PRODUCTION

The CORE by 5th Kind workflow started in pre-production for La Inquilina.  Here we set up users, distribution lists, and access controls for the production teams and crew.  The director used it for his conceptual materials to inform the crew about his desired aesthetics and approach to production design. The producers used it for casting communications, sharing the script reading, keeping people informed about the latest versions of the scripts both Spanish and English versions.  The production team also used it to manage recce materials and assets like legal documents and contracts in preparation for the shoot.

PRODUCTION

CORE pulls together all the elements from remote production setting the stage for a successful post process.  La Inquilina was a 4-day shoot in one location. The team shot on an ARRI Alexa Mini LF Cam with Zeiss lenses. They hooked the feed into a Teradek unit whose 10-bit LL-HLS feed we ported into our system with Dolby. Through our CORE Live feed, remote producers in the US were able to observe and monitor the shoot.  With this same tool, they could also meet during the shoot and give feedback directly to set. We additionally captured the stream in recorded 5-minute intervals with accurate timecode, which could be used as a reference tool, such as for continuity.

At the end of each shoot day, DIT uploaded all production files including sound, dailies, ProRes, reports, and RAW files. Our integrations with ALE and ScriptE enable us to import associated metadata, like those Zeiss lenses details, that different teams and decision-makers need during post. The ALE’s for this production were created from Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve.

The metadata that’s gathered in pre-production and here during production really shines in post-production.  CORE’s faceted search translates this metadata, so users can easily find the shots and information they’re looking for.  It’s one small tool that can make a big difference with all these moving parts.

“I think it’s fantastic to have all the information in one place. It’s easy to see.”

~Sandra De Silva De La Torre, Producer & Cinematographer, La Inquilina

POST-PRODUCTION

In post, CORE centralizes assets for easy findability by different team, enables feedback and notes directly on cuts and other assets, and offers an approvals workflow that makes it clear what version is most current and approved.

La Inquilina’s post kicked off with Bernardo the director making his Circle Takes which appear in CORE as dailies files with easy to understand colored statuses. The Asset Manager then shared these with the broader post team to keep everyone in the loop.

All the post partners worked closely together to establish a solid pipeline coordinating each of their workflows:

Production Team – Directing the Creative Vision

  • The creative team and producing team were actively engaged on CORE throughout the Script to Screen pipeline. In post, the producer and director sent through CORE their annotations and notes to the editor directly in each of the cuts, as well as hopped on live review session through CORE’s Dolby integration.

Black Magic Design – Processing, Editorial, and Mastering

  • Black Magic Design was the editorial hub for VFX and Sound, and all cuts and files for review passed from them through CORE for sharing, feedback, and approvals.  As soon as the materials were available from production, Black Magic imported the Dailies along with Bernardo’s selects, the ProRes files, Sound files, and reports, while the RAW files were transferred directly from 5th Kind’s S3 to their S3 via AWS MediaExchange.  All cuts were uploaded to 5th Kind’s CORE where they were shared with the larger post team giving down-the-line teams, like Localization, insight on the status and scope of the project.

AWS – S3, FSx, MediaExchange – File Storage and Transfer

  • AWS MediaExchange offers a good option for transporting files directly between S3 buckets while maintaining the respective bucket owners’ privacy.  Black Magic Design and Arch Platform Technologies also used their FSx interface to manage their S3 files.

Arch Platform Technologies – VFX

  • While La Inquilina was a fairly straightforward shoot, it had a number of VFX shots that required additional lift.  The team from Arch Platform Technologies worked primarily in NukeStudio. Though they did the renders in AWS Deadline.  The VFX process was much like the review process for the cuts, where the VFX artist pushed the shots to CORE for the producer, director, and editor to review and approve.  They used CORE’s approvals package workflow and quickly finalized the shots for incorporation into the final edit.  

Skywalker Sound – Sound Design, Sound Music, and Score

  • The process for VFX was replicated in the sound design and sound mix as well.  CORE’s collaboration tools also helped the teams to develop together the sound design direction. La Inquilina’s sound recordist and the sound designer from Skywalker Sound used CORE to work through the script annotating exactly where they wanted to create specific sound aesthetics and define their approach to the project.

Once approved all final assets passed through CORE, which Black Magic Design pulled from 5th Kind’s S3 on MediaExchange in order to Master the files and prepare the deliverables for distribution. 

LOCALIZATION

As a dialogue-heavy Spanish-language film that includes French and English in the story, La Inquilina was the perfect candidate for localization.  Taking the picture lock from Black Magic via MediaExchange, SDI Media crafted the dub tracks and subtitles. through a process that included casting, scripting, recording and transcribing, as well as automated titling. Their final assets, including an English dub and subtitles in Spanish, English, and Chinese were dropped back into CORE for the Black Magic team, where our system captured the vendor company and languages as searchable metadata.

DISTRIBUTION

Distribution is one of the last steps in the Script to Screen process; however, final workflow stages could also include licensing, acquisitions, and distribution library management. Much like its production process, La Inquilina’s last workflow steps were also straightforward. The film’s final deliverables were slated to go to Ownzones, an IMF packaging tool and distribution solution.  The deliverables passed from Black Magic Design to CORE, then on to OwnZones via MediaExchange. Black Magic prepared a DCP to spec for Ownzones’ IMF packaging that would go to a distributor like Netflix. 

Easy to use like CORE, Ownzones makes packaging and distributing IMFs simple.

Remote Production Lessons Learned

This was a great opportunity to validate remote production workflows, and prove how viable and cost effective they can be.  Producers didn’t have to travel to the shoot site.  Drives didn’t need to be shipped internationally to editors.  Dailies were distributed globally in a couple clicks.  Meetings could be held, live in person, on camera, while securely reviewing production content in real-time.  And preferred vendors, no matter where in the world they were located could participate because they could easily access, interact with and share files to other vendors or parts of the pipeline.

What’s more it gave us the chance to identify where there are still gaps between tools that would further smooth the process.   

La Inquilina showed just how valuable a metadata-based Production Asset Management system can be for a production’s end-to-end workflow.  Connecting partners, locations, assets, information, and people, CORE by 5th Kind is the Script to Screen workflow backbone for media production.

“I really like [CORE]. I think it’s really friendly….I’ve been recommending it to some production companies here in Mexico that do things. I keep telling them, ‘Use this! It’s really good tool.’…Even though Bernardo, the director, lives really close by — he’s my neighbor so it’s really funny. Art. Life. Life is kind of funny sometimes. — We’ve been communicating also by phone, and it’s easy just to say ‘Ok, get in and then click on this clip…’  It’s fantastic to have everybody see what everybody’s watching.” 

~Sandra De Silva De La Torre, Producer & Cinematographer, La Inquilina

Learn more about CORE by 5th Kind

To learn more about CORE, Production Asset Management, or how 5th Kind products can help your productions, contact us through our form here on the site or give our offices a call at 310-405-0895.