Warner Bros. Shares Insights From Workflow Report

As production and postproduction move toward digital processes, there have been questions of workflow.

An overview of the recently completed Warner Bros. Next Generation Production Workflows Report — the results of testing 20 digital workflows, with more than 30 vendor participants, during a six-week period — was introduced Tuesday at the Hollywood Post Alliance’s annual Tech Retreat in Palm Springs.

As production and postproduction has moved toward more advanced digital processes, workflow has become a hot button topic.

“Workflows share an important goal: how to replace the function called the lab,” said HPA president and Disney exec Leon Silverman, who moderated a panel discussion. “There seems to be countless variations.”

So Warners tested a variety of workflows and tools — including different cameras and postproduction systems — for a range of required tasks including the creation of editorial media and digital dailies.

“We’ve been hearing that digital will be more efficient, but it hasn’t really panned out (yet),” said Sean Cooney, vp advanced production technology at Warner Bros. “The good news is the tools are there. (The next step) is proper integration.”

The takeaway for Jonathan Smiles, digital production supervisor, is that in the future, there might be two or three fairly standard workflows that will be developed for each camera system.

Cooney added that conversations are already occurring about what will be the new production roles.

He emphasized that no matter what the workflow, a key issue for a producer is to begin planning as early as possible. “You have to have these discussions almost at the point where you get the green light,” Cooney said.

Editor Nathan Gunn added that the editor also needs to be brought in earlier.

“The cutting room becomes a centralized hub where all the information comes in and gets disseminated to the various departments,” he said. “The role of the cutting room becomes more integral.”

Cooney added that post facilities are starting to behave as a data hub.

 “The win is we are preserving the filmmakers’ creative intent,” he said. “That is a huge benefit, and that is some of the promise of digital workflows.”