Based in London WC1, ITN Productions is the creative and commercial arm of the well-known news organization, ITN, producing bespoke content for broadcasters, businesses, brands, rights holders and digital channels. With a huge and growing output spanning TV programme making, commercials, sport, corporate and branded content, in-house post-production facilities at ITN Productions have grown to 60 edit suites in just five years.
ITN Production delivers hundreds of hours of content each year to key UK and International broadcasters in a wide range of file formats including AS-11, XDCAM50 and DNxHD. Carrying on ITN’s tradition of high-quality programming over the past sixty years, Olly Strous, Head of Post Production says, “We pride ourselves on creating high-quality content quickly and accurately; it’s part of our news heritage.”
“Our typical day may include delivering several shows, many of which require small fixes like a credit change or a legal fix. The fix may be tiny, but the process to correct the issue can be tedious. With every error, we not only export the file again, but then we also eyeball QC the entire file in real-time,” he explains. “Compound this process with a hard deadline for delivery, and these small fixes can quickly become untenable.”
While ITN Productions has almost entirely migrated to file-based workflows over the last few years, its origin as a news organization means that the inability to make a last-minute change to hour-long master files is a challenge. Strous says, “I’m a huge fan of file-based workflows; we’ve been able to automate a massive amount of work that just wouldn’t have been possible with tape. However, we regularly run up against the ‘last mile’ problem when trying to deliver a flawless program. That is, we export the program, run it through automated QC then find an issue during the Eyeball QC which kicks the process back to step one. There just wasn’t a tool that helped the delivery process during the ‘last mile’ for non-UK (AS-11) files until file-based insert-edit with cineXtools.”
With cineXtools now in ITN Productions’ toolset, Olly and his team have been able to solve some frustrations inherent to file deliveries. “We started using cineXtools right away and were able to avoid two days worth of rework needed to make corrections to four file deliveries,” he extols. “All of the changes were small, perhaps even unnoticeable – a credit, title, etc. One of the deliveries needed a credit change for a show that until the last episode had two production coordinators. If we were up against an airdate and didn’t have cineXtools, we may have had to make the choice to leave that error in the file. However, with insert-edit and cineXtools, we never have to make that choice,” he explains. “Insert-editing a correction is a fast, almost instantaneous, process. I can see this becoming something we rely on as we get ever busier.”
Olly explains that ITN Productions’ more challenging deliveries come in the form of high-end documentaries. “We recently delivered ‘Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen’ for Discovery Channel, a 10 part series looking at horrific murders. The subject matter itself was difficult from a legal perspective and required flexibility from the post-production team before final delivery. We needed to change out shots, drop in blurs, etc… aside from the typical issues like spelling mistakes inherent with a UK producer using US English. We were receiving change requests piecemeal so cineXtools helped make the process of delivering this documentary fairly painless by allowing us to quickly and easily drop-in fixes to the final file delivery as they were made known to us.”
“We’ve only used cineXtools for a short time, and only for video inserts. I’m keen to start using cineXtools for some of our more challenging deliveries that include extending files or audio versioning,” says Olly as a final note.