When it comes to mastering multiple delivery formats, corporate video production teams need to find an efficient workflow that saves them time, money, and effort.
That workflow starts with production, and the choices made there can have a serious downstream impact on the creative options available for post-production, which in turn impacts the quality of the final project as it is experienced on multiple different channels. At every step of the journey, organizations need to make decisions that will allow for optimal multichannel delivery.
So how can corporate video production teams, who are often tasked with producing content that will be used on a variety of delivery platforms with unique specifications, work most efficiently?
Shoot with the End (Frame) in Mind
Video production teams should take into consideration all of the final deliverables required for the project when framing up their shots in camera. For example, will the image and framing still work in a vertical or square crop? Which delivery channels and aspect ratios should be given priority when filming?
If the most important delivery format is the traditional 16:9 image, then continue as normal. But if an important component of the project is Instagram promotion, for example, then that delivery format should be taken into account when shooting.
Also consider what will be added to the frame at a later point, and make sure there's room for it. For example, does the framing allow space for burned-in subtitles at the bottom? Or should close-ups be filmed a little looser so subtitles don't sit on people's chins in the frame?
To make sure these considerations are factored in during shooting, there needs to be good communication between production and post-production. Before starting a project, make sure everyone knows which of your delivery formats is the most important, what each format's specifications are, and how to frame shots to accommodate these specifications. This will set post-production up to be a much more efficient process, as there will be less fiddly re-framing necessary.
Aim for the Highest Resolution
While the mobile-first streaming platform Quibi ultimately didn't survive, it did do one thing right: the organization had to shoot in a way that allowed for multiple full-frame deliverables. How did it accomplish this? By shooting at a high resolution format.
As Director of Photography Catherine Goldschmidt explains about the production of Quibi original Dummy "...the team decided to shoot using a 6K Sony Venice camera cropped to a 4K square frame, containing both 16:9 and 9:16 aspect ratios."
The benefit of this is that it results in a much better looking final image than the alternative, which would have involved zooming in on a 16:9 frame to fill a 9:16 frame, resulting in a much tighter image. A secondary benefit is that there is also much more latitude to re-frame each individual deliverable if needed, as there is far more padding in the source image to work with.
The approach of using a higher resolution format does mean that your team will need much more drive space to store the footage and faster, more capable machines to handle it. That said, it is not necessary to shoot everything in 6K unless you're attempting to extract a vertical and horizontal 4K image. Shooting in 4K will allow you to extract HD full-frames.
Work in a Shared Space
As the project moves into post-production, working on a shared media-centric storage system, such as Avid NEXIS, will greatly increase the efficiency of the workflow for a number of reasons:
- It enables everyone to work from the same media. As there is only need for one accessible copy, this means each project will save on storage space. Conversely, there is no need to take extra time or consume extra storage space duplicating media to be used locally by other members of the team, as it can be referenced by the whole team at once.
- A shared media storage workflow reduces the risk of assets being misplaced, stolen, or leaked in transit, as they can all be securely stored in-house. It also reduces the amount of time and money invested in complex asset management systems.
- The whole team can potentially work in parallel. For example, sound and color can get started working from the same media if they want.
Design Once, Repurpose Multiple Times
Motion graphics and subtitles are two elements of a video project that commonly need to be manually re-worked when creating for multiple delivery formats. Being able to design these elements once and have them work consistently across all delivery formats can save a tremendous amount of time and effort.
For example, with subtitles, maintaining a single consistent style that is restricted to a condensed layout can let post teams quickly reuse them in both a vertical and horizontal frame without having to adjust their placement, font size, line-length, etc. Therefore, establishing a specific preset for all subtitles will deliver a huge efficiency boost.
However, there are some elements that can't be given a preset. Things like title screens and name strap graphics typically need more work to repurpose, as the placement of text, background motion graphics elements, and the like often only work sensibly in one aspect ratio. To improve efficiency here, it's best if the same motion graphics artist can be tasked with creating the appropriate layouts for each delivery spec at the same time. Then, the editor can quickly slot them in without needing to try to composite something together from the original master themselves.
Transcode Faster with Specification Accurate Presets
The final stage of actually producing multiple deliverables from a singular source project can be made more efficient by leveraging specification-accurate transcoding presets in your encoding software of choice.
Setting these up correctly once and distributing them to everyone else on your team will save team members time and effort otherwise spent looking up and confirming the specifications. It also ensures a more accurate encode, as there's far less room for unintended errors to creep in.
The Business Case for Efficient Workflows
For corporate video production teams repurposing the same source content for multi-channel delivery, working in the most efficient way possible delivers significant business benefits.
Being able to quickly deliver superior-looking projects to all video platforms at once not only increases the potential impact of the project by greatly increasing the size of the audience it can reach, but it also enables a faster time to market. Teams gain the speed to outpace competitors or react to crucial news cycles promptly.
Not only that, but investing in shared storage and filming at higher resolutions delivers noticeable improvements to the final image quality, as well as improving the whole team's ability to collaborate more effectively and efficiently.
More efficient workflows are always a win unto themselves. In the case of multichannel video delivery, the wins are compounding, enabling organizations to do much more with their video content.