• United States

Digital dailies speed movie production

Jan 15, 20033 mins
Data Center

There may be a lot of hype around digital video and PC-based editing on the consumer front, but Hollywood has been slow to adopt an end-to-end use of digital video for major productions (with a few exceptions, of course.) One area where digital is starting to take root is digital dailies, raw footage shot in the previous days available to directors and studio management to review the project in near-real time.

When shooting on location, getting dailies can be a hassle. If the film is sent somewhere for development, it could take two days to get back using overnight delivery and courier services. By digitizing the film after its developed, it can be sent back within the same 24-hour period, allowing the director to review what he shot the previous day.

MatchFrame, a post-production house in Burbank, Calif., offers this service to its clients. When film is received, it’s dropped in a telecine device for conversion to digital format, then sent over the Internet to the director, wherever they are located. The one problem that MatchFrame had to overcome was transferring the large (four to six gigabyte) files quickly and efficiently over long distances.

FTP was out. With multiple hops in the network, speed was slowed by latency and dropped packets, making online delivery as slow as the courier method. MatchFrame turned to DigitalFountain to help. The company, which got its start in multicast technology, develops products for transporting large files over the public network, says Mike Levy, general manager of MatchFrame.

DigitalFountain’s Transporter Fountain product uses a set of mathematical equations to describe bits of the data being sent and then randomly streams those equations out to the intended recipient. Instead of needing to collect each piece of the original file, all that is needed is certain number of these equations, regardless of order received, to rebuild the file being sent on the receiving end. This method eliminates the need to resend packets that are dropped because the receiver just keeps collecting equations until its got enough to complete the transfer.

Levy says this allows his company to send the dailies back to the remote location much quicker. “We can send about 4 gigabytes back in about 6 to 8 hours,” Levy says, referring to a project where files were sent from California to Miami, a 1.5M bit/sec DSL line at connecting the filming location to the Internet.

“In a perfect world, I would endeavour to get a faster pipe [at the receiving end],” Levy says, hoping to increase the delivery time. “The big attraction [to the technology] is that the transmission time becomes quite predictable. The system delivers at the rated speed of the line, so if you have 1.5M bit/sec connection, you get 1.5M bit/sec.”

Film may still be king when it comes to the actual shooting of a movie, but digital is making headway.