How Aframe helped Arrow Media
Arrow Media is one of the UK’s most ambitious creative forces. A fast-growing independent production company, Arrow Media specialises in creating high quality and innovative content across TV, film and digital media from long-running series to big ambitious projects such as Live from Space, Ultimate Airport Dubai and World’s Busiest…
Established in 2011, the company was founded by Tom Brisley, John Smithson, and Iain Pelling and operates in the UK, US and other key international territories, where all three partners have extensive experience.
The latest Arrow production to benefit from the Aframe Platform is Ultimate Airport Dubai,which airs this autumn on National Geographic. The show provides viewers with unprecedented access to one of the world’s fastest growing airports and follows some of the 60,000 staff responsible for moving 57 million passengers and 344,000 flights a year.
Great picture quality means large video files, which are hard to move around and work with. Distributing rushes is a slow process that relies on couriering drives from place to place or using slow and unreliable FTP. Production crews try and work round this by creating a proxy file – a smaller compressed version of the original footage that can be sent more easily and quickly online – which is transcoded locally.
To begin with Aframe designed a workflow that would best improve the automation of media movement for 10x 60 minute episodes. Productions of this scale often use standalone dailies systems that are costly and hard to use. Aframe’s cloud video platform allowed cuts to be uploaded daily, stored securely in the cloud and made ready for review immediately to a geographically dispersed team of professionals – without the need of expensive on-premise software.
The Proxy First workflow involved sending the camera-generated proxy file straight to Aframe. The accelerated web uploader and desktop app are able to deliver over 15x faster uploads than FTP and with far greater reliability; with the ability to pause and resume and intelligently handle connectivity issues to avoid corrupt files and frustrating restarts. This became increasingly valuable, as the production crew were often reliant on airport or Hotel Wi-Fi connections.
This speed and agility then enabled the production team to pull the proxy files into the edit and assemble stories while the original could be relinked for the main edit after arriving by hard drive. Dan Carew-Jones, Post Production and Workflow Consultant, Arrow Media, says: “The production of series two of Ultimate Airport Dubai was a great example of this. We were able to receive footage quickly, which gave us more time to compile stories and feedback to the shoot. The files were always uploaded quickly and efficiently and it meant that the post production house had more time to spend working on the content, ultimately resulting in a better show.”
This process saved Arrow Media huge amounts of time and money compared to the previous archaic distribution that involved content being couriered from location on a weekly basis. When reviewing the footage, Arrow Media were able to provide accurate timecode based feedback on changes that need to be made on a daily basis. This permitted the shows editors to generate a faster turnaround in decision-making and deliver a more cost effective edit.
In addition, Aframe reduces Arrow Media’s storage costs as only the content they want to use needs to be downloaded locally. The remainder of the footage remains securely stored, with high redundancy, in the cloud.
Nick Metcalfe, Executive Producer, Arrow Media, concludes “Aframe helped us to deliver Ultimate Airport Dubai, season two on time, on schedule and on budget. We were also able to achieve significant cost savings and the process was much more efficient, compared to the previous slower process that involved content being couriered from location. We were able to receive footage quickly, which gave us more time to compile stories and feedback to the shoot, and because the files were always uploaded rapidly, it meant that the post production house had more time to spend working on the content, ultimately resulting in a better show.
All in all we were able to save 20 weeks on the edit, equating to about two weeks per episode, which is a phenomenal saving.”