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Video production workflows: Keeping ahead of the game

Video production workflows: Keeping ahead of the game

Written by
Ollie Graham
Director at Thought TV.

Although on the surface video has gone HD, online and 3D what are the hands on differences between todays workflow and the workflow at the turn of the millennium and how does this impact our clients.


At the turn of the millennium the first ever HD broadcasts were being made on national television. These involved, fundamentally, recording to high definition beta tapes. The cameras were large, and required additional staff to move and operate. The videos themselves would be taken off site and logged, providing a list of their content. The editor would then take a compressed version of the video to assemble into an edit. This was confusingly called an offline edit. Confusing because we are nearing the stage where it will be possible to edit with online applications.

Once the edited video had been assembled on the timeline, the client would come in to approve it or it would be shipped and couriered to their offices. Once approved the editor would then return to the tapes to take high quality video which he would then assemble into an online edit. These would then be recorded back to tape to be sent to the client for final approval. The more rounds of changes were required the more trips the courier would make. The whole editing process would take two weeks, at best, to sign off.

Today there are still a large amount of companies still using these workflows. The majority of the talent pool (35 – 60) are still trained primarily in these skillset. However there has been incredible advancement in shooting HD video and sharing it via the web.


We shoot on two types if cameras. The Sony EX1 provides a high quality HD image. It is light, easy to manoeuvre and can record sound directly onto the video making it a great camera for journalistic video. Further to this it shoots onto data cards meaning an on site camera operator/editor can download the video on site, log its content and edit together sequences on the spot. We have worked with clients that want their event content publishes online on the day and also want a promotional video by lunch time for driving attendance for the rest of the event. Popular videos using the EX1 range from feature films such as “Monsters” (2011) all the way to documentaries such as “Make Bradford British” (2012).

The second camera we use is a DSLR (Canon 7D or 5D). The DSLR revolution is well under a decade old and has created a whole generation of filmmakers producing stunning films. Its large capture chip and photographic lenses mean it shoots high quality but soft videos, ideal for creating style and beauty. We use these to capture general video for promotional purposes or interviews for events where the budget allows. Popular videos using 7D range from the season finale of “House” (Help me, 2010) to feature films such as “Act of Valor” (2010) and “Like Crazy” (2012).

The benefit of shooting with these cameras is that they are more hardware reliant and less man power reliant. This means that they minimize costs to the client and provide the optimum blend of attractive and practical HD video. Thought TV are unique in this sense.


Final Cut Pro has steadily become the most popular editing platform over the past decade. It works on the premise that modern computers can handle high quality video and therefore only an online edit is needed. It simplifies the non-linear editing process whilst also allowing for some extremely professional tools. However last year Final cut released its user friendly editing interface, Final Cut X. This meant culling the professional tools and customizable workflow and creating a one size fits all solution. This dumbing down has caused professionals to either keep using the previous instalments of final cut, which will sooner or later no longer be supported, or jumping ship to its main competitor Premiere.

Premiere provides a unique opportunity in that it is part of the Adobe workflow. What this means is that Photoshop (designing) and After Effects (motion graphics) are innate within the same workflow. This allows for video with graphics and motion graphics easily integrated into the production. Other benefits to using Premiere over Final Cut are that it also allows for native DSLR footage without the need to render, premiere can generate transcripts of video content and also the exporting protocol offers something unique and impressive. Premiere exports using Adobe Media Encoder, a separate piece of software. The benefit this offers over Final cut is that it allows us to carry on editing while the video content is exported in the format of our choice.


The benefit of being an online video specialist is our ability to share video as it is intended. Having said this we share all of our video using the web, regardless of its eventual distribution. We host videos in our Bright cove video platform which allows us to generate previews for clients without committing to publishing in public space. This saves us spending time and money by avoiding hard copies of video content and also allows us to share content with multiple parties worldwide, with very low costs.


We have experimented with various workflows for years to get to where we are now and the self improvement process is continuous. Our efficiency is based around a constant high quality video product optimized for web delivery. Web connection allowing, we can start delivering content, with motion graphics built in, within 1 hour of shouting cut (which we tend not to do for conferences and events). The only way to deliver quicker than this is to live stream direct to the web.

The future of video is online and our aim is not to be the best in this space, it is to be recognised worldwide for being the best in this space.

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