The tapeless workflow is a term used to describe video production without the use of tapes. That is to say that from the point the material is recorded in camera to the point it is distributed it never changes from being data. In other words television production has become a profession of data managment as some would say.
A few production companies came to give demonstrations of their tapeless workflow system, at least in broad terms. Red Bee and Virgin Media showed how they have collaboratively brought the post production process to being a tapeless one. In order to do this good networking capability is needed and so is storage. They had to digitise over 40,000 tapes as well as face many more challenges.
Some of these challenges have to do with meta data. Everyone is used to dealing with tapes. you shoot your material, you label it for post production and then store them for later use. When dealing with data though the mentality is different. Some productions have shot straight to P2 cards, backed up the day’s shoots to external P2 hard drives before sending them from China to London for example. Of course when doing this everyhting must be planned ahead.
Part of this planning has to do with the compatibility between recording format and editing. If you get this wrong then you either don’t get the quality you were looking for or you slow down the process. That was part of a case study between Panasonic and two of it’s camera’s during a shoot in China.
The second example was between Red Bee Media and Virgin Media in relation to the creative Village. The idea is that when the material is ingested by Red Bee media it’s saved to a central server from which it can be accessed by a number of workstations, from transcribing to tapelogging, editing and producer’s work stations. it also has to be available in two buildings.
There are a number of advantages to this workflow. The first is that the work is available to the producers when they have the time to check the material rather than when everyone has ten free minutes. As a result the editor can edit a rough cut and a number of producers at up to two hundred workstations may check the edit and say whether they like it. If they don’t then it’s quick to make any changes that are required. It also means that there’s far less mess and expensive equipment is not tied up.
When you’re working on post production dubbing to tape used to take a lot of time, real time and with DVD it’s quickly a messy affair. Files in an edit folder are far easier to deal with.
I really like the idea o the tapeless workflow and i’m going to work on that for my own work, first with affordable equipment and then work my way towards more fun alternatives. It’s what we expect. No more ingestion time, no more dubbing time, just straight editing, agreement and finally output to a number of formats. Of course that’s not as easy as it sounds but post production companies are working on making this a smoother process.