Some people have this misconception that film production somehow means “have camera, will shoot.” A production company is not a videographer, a one-man band, or a lone person self-styling themselves as a filmmaker. Film production, like most businesses, has a lot of facets. There’s the obvious stuff, of course: knowing lighting, composition, and that just so angle for a shotgun mic that makes will record audio. It’s knowing the difference between 4:2:2 and 4:2:0, and how to craft a compelling story. But it’s also a business. And, to make everything smoothly, there’s IT.
If we’ve interacted at all, you probably know me as the lead editor and colorist at New Sky Productions. What you probably don’t know is that I’m also the IT department. In that role, I’m in charge of three (primary) things: Data management, NAGA development (I’ll get to that), and VidVue development.
Data management is no easy task at a production company. A typical shoot may land us anywhere between 50 and 200 GB of data. We don’t just unload that on a teetering stack of hard drives—oh no. We run a dedicated SAN with terabytes of this year’s projects. Our storage server runs proprietary software I developed to track changes and create backups. And we mirror all of that securely in the cloud, with 99.999999999% data integrity. (The average desktop hard drive has only about 95% data integrity, based on annual failure rates.)
With so many projects, and so much data, keeping track of it all has to be automated (at least a little bit). There are plenty of existing project management apps out there (see: Asana), but there isn’t much that’s specific, or can be made to be specific, to production companies. Rather than cobble together half a dozen existing technologies and trying to keep track of it all, I developed our own proprietary project management software called NAGA. (Don’t ask about the name; it’s just what sprang to mind.) If we’ve sent you a rough cut of a video, you’ve seen part of it. What you don’t see is how that video review system integrates with our client database, project tracking, time tracking, file sharing, and more.
I’m also the developer for VidVue. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check it out. I’ll wait… Good? Cool. Developing VidVue has been a two-pronged battle. On the one hand, I’m developing physical boxes that play video on a loop. Pretty simple stuff on the face of it, but those boxes integrate with the other side of things: a series of distributed servers in the cloud running the real show.
Data management, programming, running git pushes in my dreams… My days are busy. I did mention IT isn’t my main job, right? I wear a lot of hats. And I’m just one person here at New Sky Productions.