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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

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Digital Asset Management

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By Carl Marziali
Not long after Lions Gate Entertainment started to digitize the studio’s dailies, stills and other assets, VP of digital media Tom DeLuca received a profusely grateful email.
The executive who wrote the email had been drowning in cassette tapes and other hard materials related to Lions Gate productions. Now, all that information is at the other end of a broadband connection. The executive can log on and access a production’s dailies, scripts, rough cuts, in fact almost any document, photo or video.
“He thanks me and his family thanks me because he no longer has VHS tapes all over the house,” says DeLuca.
Lions Gate opened what DeLuca calls its “digital post office” in September 2002, becoming the first Hollywood studio to convert its entire production process to digital asset management. The main post office, at the company’s facilities in Marina Del Rey, is full of scanners, copiers, servers and other machines ready to convert hard assets to digital. Smaller post offices accomplish the same tasks at other company sites and on location.
In Toronto, where Lions Gate is shooting a Robert DeNiro feature, dailies get converted during telecine. A couple of hours later, the film editor in London can download the dailies and get a 3-4 day head start on the editing process.
Agents and others who do business with Lions Gate can no longer request a script by courier. Instead, they are expected to download the script and print it—on their own paper.
Other studios and production companies are taking a hard look at the system, designed by local upstart DAX Solutions. David Brookwell, executive producer of a TV movie for The Disney Channel, used DAX while shooting in Hawaii.
“The film had to be sent back to Los Angeles for development and by the time telecine, tape burning and overnight couriers were done, we were four days behind,” Brookwell wrote. “DAX’s solution enabled us to see our dailies in just a few hours after telecine. Every morning before we went to set, we logged into DAX and reviewed the dailies right over the Internet.”
DAX spent two years designing a system tailored to studio needs. The company says that its staff includes an executive producer with over 1000 hours of film and television experience, and another executive with more than 600 hours.
“There are definitely some wonderful solutions out there,” says DeLuca. “However, the DAX solution was engineered for the entertainment industry specifically. These guys came in and built a custom solution based on what we do because they understand the business.”
Patrick MacDonald-King, DAX president and CEO, says the system can digitize almost every kind of studio asset, from scripts, dailies and production reports to soundtrack elements, purchase orders and legal documents. He estimates that a studio could save from $30,000 to $150,000 per two-hour feature. A leased DAX system runs between five and ten thousand dollars a month for one production, says MacDonald. Systems that are bought outright, like Lions Gate’s, start at $100,000.
Lions Gate won’t say what it paid for its system. But, says DeLuca, “We’re saving a ton of money.”

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