A groundbreaking Final Cut Pro workflow designed by Ramy Katrib and his team at DigitalFilm Tree and Erik Whitmyre, co-producer for the CBS/Paramount Television series Everybody Hates Chris, recently netted the post facility and hit show the Hollywood Post Alliance Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation. Launched this year, the HPA Judges Award recognizes innovative thinking in the areas of new tools, workflows, and ideas that enhance the postproduction process from a technical, creative, and/or efficiency perspective.
“It’s an honor to receive recognition from both our peers and competitors,” said Katrib. “We are totally thrilled. It’s a nod to the unique and non-traditional work we have been doing. I am so proud of the creative and technical team that is behind DigitalFilm Tree. We believe these data-centric workflows are extremely beneficial.”
Despite the success of the process, introducing a new FCP-based workflow was not the easiest thing to achieve. And with never enough money in his post budget, Whitmyre knew that once he overcame the resistance to change, he would have a more cost- and time-effective workflow. Katrib and his team experimented and tested the new offline and online workflow through the second and third seasons of the show, until the studio finally approved it.
The cost savings realized made it possible for editorial to acquire additional, specially designed, DigitalFilm Tree edit stations with Intel quad core Mac Pros complete with Kona cards and 46” HD monitors. The data sharing and storage network consisted of Apple X-San and Apple X-Serve Raids. These high-end systems, the most advanced on the Paramount lot, allowed editorial to cut in DVC Pro HD at 1080p—essentially to work with online resolutions, while cutting in an offline environment.
“The use of a fully file-based workflow not only streamlined all online, color correction, VFX and titles,” says Whitmyre, “but it profoundly changed the offline editing environment for the better. Assistant editors were no longer just digitizers. More workstations meant far more useful participation.”
Down the pipeline, the online environment at DigitalFilm Tree allows for 11 episodes in full, uncompressed resolutions to remain on the server and be shared by various artists during final sound, visual effects, titles, color-timing and other post finishing. Contributors along the pipeline can view, change, and/or comment on all episodes. CBS and Everybody Hates Chris became the first network and show to utilize this new HD workflow.
“Using one piece of software, Final Cut Pro, for the entire workflow was far more efficient than moving media between different versions of the same software and using other proprietary boxes” says Whitmyre. “This is a workflow that actually flows.