postperspective roundtable: dft’s coo talks remote workflows

dft talks remote workflows in recent postperspective roundtable

dft recently had the honor of being invited to a virtual roundtable in which randi altman’s postperspectivereached out to a variety of users to talk about how they made the transition to remote. We also talked to manufacturers, which have either introduced or adjusted their technology to help post studios build robust production pipelines.” dft ceo nancy jundi detailed how we transitioned ourselves and our clients to remote work literally overnight in March of 2020, what we learned from that process, and how we’ve evolved to meet the industry challenges of 2021 and beyond.

Read an excerpt below:

Have you been working remotely during the past year?

DigitalFilm Tree has remained fully operational, 100% staffed and open to serve remote needs while still available to receive physical media. That said, 85% of our staff did immediately pivot to working from home because we have the network security and infrastructure in place to secure unaired media in the home/on consumer Wi-Fi.

How have your remote workflows evolved from March of last year until now?

We’ve deployed hundreds — and approaching well over a thousand — network security routers to protect remote editors, colorists, VFX artists and more. The threat to those working on unaired media in the home was and remains real. To work from home had always been a luxury. Overnight it became a necessity, and hackers were incredibly quick to capitalize. Our router inventory skyrocketed overnight, and our network security team was awake for a good, long stretch ramping up in those early weeks.

After security, it was really a matter of helping to get others back to work. We really just had to increase inventory to keep up with demand for remote review stations and on-set/camera-to-cloud GeoDailes pods, and then we hired more previz artists to help productions visualize cast and crew safety protocols.

What are some of the tools you’ve been using?

We’re pretty agnostic across the board, but for previz we use Unity and Unreal. Dailies work is mostly Blackmagic Resolve, but we do have a couple FilmLight Baselight shows. Editorial is Resolve and Avid Media Composer. Color is Resolve. VFX is Foundry Nuke and Adobe After Effects. All departments have their bevy of organizational tools, like ftrack and Shotgun, Trello and Slack. Signiant and Aspera are used for file transfers. The list is endless, never mind what’s proprietary.

Have artists been dialing into your servers or working locally?

Both. We’ve reached a point in our safety threshold where if staff wants to work from home or the office, they can choose. As for clients, we’re still servicing all needs remotely. Only now have we begun discussing on-prem offerings, but only as a means to prepare. There has yet to be a demand from clients to get back in the bays, which might suggest we’ve set them up a little too well at home

What are some pain points of working this way?

Home internet. We’ve spent a large chunk of the last year in conversation with just about every internet provider you can imagine to either offer better solutions, beta their idea of a better solution, deploy/test/architect edge computing for last-mile internet options — you name it. We’ll keep trying because there’s no reason some portions of Los Angeles should still be seeing up/down speeds that are reminiscent of dial-up.

What about the positives?

Endless. Quality of life can skyrocket in these conditions. When it’s an option to work from home or the office, you can plan your life a bit more organically. Again, our building is a tool to serve a greater whole; it’s not an office in which we seat people for eight hours a day. We’ve got a mixed bag of folks — some prefer the office, some prefer the home and some prefer a hybrid. There’s also a lot to be said for productivity. Proximity doesn’t always equal fast answers. The dilly-dally here and there or the constant interruptions prevent focused work. The office days can eat up a lot of time for some folks. For others, the home is less productive, or they are protective of their time, so flexibility has really only increased output and efficiency and has clarified how we communicate with one another.

What would help make remote workflows easier in the future?

Better home internet.

Check out the full roundtable here!