All rushes are now ingested and stored online, with company looking to add editing function


London-based ITN Productions (ITNP) has made a wholesale move to the cloud for almost every part of the production process.

The company, which produces 10,000-plus hours of content a year, has steadily built up its use of cloud services on Sony’s Ci Media Cloud Platform – which is built on Amazon Web Services – over the past five years, spinning up new services as and when required, to suit client needs.

ITNP now ingests and stores all rushes in the cloud and routinely makes use of cloud-based AI speech-to-text tool Temi to transcribe and log content. Sony’s Ci is then used to share content and work-in-progress edits around the production team for client and legal review and approval.

Comments and annotations are automatically exported as markers for the editor’s timeline, enabling requested changes to be made with a high level of accuracy.

Full-resolution versions of all finished productions are kept in active cloud storage for six to 12 months, in the Completed Programmes Workspace within Ci. For programme sales, this enables the client to get immediate access to the content to download a full-resolution MXF.

ITN head of post-production Olly Strous said the transition to the cloud offers a range of benefits, primarily in increasing flexibility and making efficiency savings across all its operations. Furthermore, all activity is logged, making it easy for ITNP to analyse usage metrics and bill its customers for only the services they have used.

Strous told Broadcast: “We’ve completely embraced the video review and annotation tools. Our lawyers love the fact they can use it to give granular feedback on videos. All comments are timecode-tagged, so you can export all the annotations and comments and take the changes directly into Avid or Adobe Premier, where they are automatically flagged up on the timeline.”

ITNP provides the Ci cloud service to clients across TV and ad production, digital news and its post-production division. External clients are offered it as a PAYG (pay as you go) service.

To further broaden out the use of its cloud set-up, ITNP has invested in two Sony PXW-Z280 cameras with wi-fi dongles. These are used by its digital news team to enable faster turnaround of content.

Natural progression

Strous said: “It’s a natural evolution of our usage. We began with a red-carpet event where we were doing one-minute entertainment bulletins and wanted to get the content out quickly. As soon as each clip was shot, it was automatically uploaded to Ci [as a high-quality H265 proxy] from location. This happens when the pause button is pressed on the camera and made it possible for the edit team in the ITNP office to immediately review, cut and publish content for social and online.”

With the digital team proving the model, the company has “talked about a possible rollout of the same cameras and workflow for our long-form news team too”, revealed Strous.

For now, most productions don’t have a workflow where content is automatically uploaded to the cloud, so ITNP has created an area called The Media Hub at its office, which features a series of ingest workstations.

Strous said: “You come back to base and self-ingest your rushes on these workstations at the end of a day’s shoot. You just have to go to a machine, slot in your media card, press submit and all the content goes direct to the NLE (non-linear editor). It is also backed up and uploaded to Ci, and you can trigger AI transcription of the rushes while they are being ingested.”

This use of AI for transcription has further enabled ITNP to increase efficiencies. “We did an audit of the different speech-to-text providers and chose Temi because the transcript it creates is tied to the video timeline and you can quickly tweak any mistakes it makes. It’s also very fast, churning through around one-and-a-half hours of speech in about 15 minutes, and it’s affordable, at around 10 cents a minute.

“We use it as a logging tool and do a paper edit with the transcript it creates. We previously used an external transcription service and this was not only much more expensive but also took a lot longer to get the transcript back.”

ITNP is now looking at adding a cloud-based editing package to enable producers to do rough cuts in the cloud and “stop them tying up expensive edit suites”, said Strous.