"The time and budget we saved during this pre-edit phase was massive."
Janet Smyth, Head of Production at Dragonfly for ‘World’s Toughest Truckers'.
Founded in 2004 and part of the Shine Group since 2007, Dragonfly’s factual programmes have thrilled audiences, won awards and have been seen in over 150 countries.
Dragonfly’s output mainly consists of documentary series such as the BAFTA award winning ‘One Born Every Minute’. Succeeding this accolade, Dragonfly Productions and GroupM Entertainment were commissioned by Channel Five in the UK and the Discovery Channel in the US to co-produce another innovative factual series, ‘World’s Toughest Trucker’.
‘World's Toughest Trucker’ pitted eight of the world's most talented truck drivers against each other in some of the harshest places on Earth. But it also proved to be one of the toughest productions for Dragonfly due to the sheer amount and variety of footage they captured.
The production team quickly acquired 26TB of footage from globally located, multi-camera shoots on drives and mixed cards formats. Everything from Canon XF305, GoPro, Sony Minicam and Sony XDCam footage had to be ingested into a single system.
Producers were further concerned about how they would handle transcodes, moving and storing the massive amount of media and how they could organise the rushes whilst also making it discoverable; all the while working to a strict schedule.
Dragonfly opted to use Aframe for the project because of the ability to handle huge amounts of multi-format footage whilst making it searchable via the unique tagging and logging service.
From Aframe’s ingest point in London, each episode's raw rushes were ingested, then automatically transcoded into a common H.264 web proxy format so the whole team could access the media online, on any mobile device wherever they were located. The high-res media was backed up in Aframe’s private cloud so that the team could always access the original source footage.
To further expedite the workflow, Aframe’s professionally trained team of taggers streamlined the process of review and approval by meticulously indexing 4,000 hours of footage, incorporating a flexible level of density to suit Dragonfly’s unique requirements - full transcription tagging on all XDCam and XF305 footage, lower density tagging on Minicam and GoPro footage.
To ensure they got maximum value from Aframe's tagging service, Dragonfly worked closely with the tagging team to create a 'Truckers Logging Bible' that detailed the precise way the team needed the footage to be logged. It listed naming conventions to be used when describing the main characters, what kind of logging detail was required for each camera type, time of day, whether the scene was interior or exterior and why the sequence was useful for broadcast.
For example, a typical log might be: 'Daytime. Australia. Red Truck. Interior. Cab. XF305. Discussion. Shane "We're running really low on fuel". Zola "I hope we can make it to the next gas station" GOOD TENSION.' These logs show up as searchable text, accurately assigned to the correct ranges on the timecode, dramatically improving the discoverability of key moments within specific clips. This also served to improve efficiency at the post facility, Evolutions, as editors spent less time searching for shots and more time on editing the actual content.
Thanks to Aframe’s FACT certification, Dragonfly could be confident that their 30,000 clips were completely secure and backed-up in the cloud, so no copyright or IP was likely to be compromised.
“The ability for the production team to start working on the footage right away was amazing because we could start organising the footage as it was ingested at Aframe's ingest point in London. Once this footage has been combined with the logging, we could find everything we needed in an instant. The time and budget we saved during this pre-edit phase was massive.” Janet Smyth, Head of Production at Dragonfly for ‘World’s Toughest Trucker’.