JANUARY 27, 2022

Post Café: Long-Distance Technical Support with Susan Rayborn-Miller

1862x1040A remote video editors workspace

Technical support for post-production workflows is challenging enough. But when you mix in a pandemic that forces nearly everyone to work remotely—facing different circumstances and using vastly different equipment—it feels like someone turned the challenge dial up to 11.

This is the new reality for many in the post-production world. At Avid's Post Café,We recently spoke with Susan Rayborn-Miller, Technology Manager at The Production Hive, about how her team made the shift to providing long-distance technical support and the lessons she's learned from the experience.


Facing a New Normal

At the start of the pandemic, The Production Hive had to act fast. "We had no remote infrastructure in place," Rayborn-Miller said. As she developed a plan for remote work, the first things she had to consider were the local circumstances and specific needs of each of The Production Hive's offices—the home office in Knoxville, Tennessee and additional offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

The pandemic shut down New York offices almost immediately, requiring Rayborn-Miller to figure out how to transition employees to remote work. "We had hard drives, edit systems, monitors, everything going home with editors in cabs, on subways, through couriers, every way we could get it there," she said.

A week later, the Knoxville office faced a similar situation when that city shut down, too. Again, employees were sent home with equipment and got to work.

Making the Change

All of the company's editing systems were now in peoples' homes, where they needed to be set up and properly configured. "We scrambled," Rayborn-Miller said.

First, she needed to track inventory. "We had to make sure we knew where each specific system, monitor, speaker, keyboard, mouse, everything went," Rayborn-Miller said. She also had to manage the licenses for the software.

Once she knew where everything was, Rayborn-Miller and two tech assistants on her team provided support to help staff connect equipment in their homes and gain remote access to their media.

Looking Forward

Clearly, The Production Hive—like many in the production industry—worked hard to rapidly adapt to the challenges presented by long-distance technical support and remote post-production workflows. "By the end of May," Rayborn-Miller said, "we had upgraded our 1-gig pipeline to a 10-gig fiber pipeline. And right now we have about 160 machines in-house here in Knoxville that our editors remotely connect into."

So what's next for The Production Hive? "I think we're probably at our new normal," Rayborn-Miller said. "The remote workflows have been a boon for the company, really." While The Production Hive previously had been restricted to working with local editors simply because they lacked the infrastructure for remote post-production workflows, she said, "now we have editors everywhere from LA to the UK and down to Uruguay. So it's expanded our workflow. I don't see that changing."

  • Jonathan Thompson headshot

    Jonathan has worked as a journalist, director, cinematographer, editor, and screenwriter. In 2017, Thompson started Signal Film Company, a video production and consultancy firm in the Southern United States, with his wife. 

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