Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello, and welcome to the workflow show, offering workflow therapy, whilst listening to discussions on development, deployment, and maintenance of secure media asset management solutions. I'm Jason Whetstone, senior workflow engineer and developer at Chesapeake systems. And I'm Ben Kilburg senior solutions architect to Chessa today on the workflow show. We'll talk with Ben Metters post-production engineer for Spotify studios. We'll highlight some of the things that Spotify does. In addition to music streaming, we'll cover some of the processes that Ben helped establish for production of video projects at Spotify studios. And we'll talk about how those processes were created. The importance of gathering feedback and earning buy-in from team members and the value of creating and distributing clear documentation of the process. Then we'll get into the workflows of podcast production versus video production. How are they similar and different? But first here are a few reminders. If you have suggestions or feedback on the workflow show or would like for us to cover something, we haven't please let us know email workflow [email protected]
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Speaker 0 00:01:07 It'll help, you know, when new episodes are available and get some more of that workflow therapy you're here for, and now let's get onto our discussion with Ben matters. And so, Ben, um, why don't you tell us a little bit about, uh, tell us a little bit about Spotify studios and then we'll talk a little bit about you and how you got there. Um, what I'm interested in is I think our listeners and a lot of us know Spotify as a streaming platform, right? So been around for a while. Tell us, tell us what you're getting into or what Spotify is getting into these.
Speaker 1 00:01:36 Uh, well, you know, I think we've seen a huge push for a podcast creation in the last year or so you see, so you see Spotify acquiring a Gimlet and Parcast and the ringer, and then kind of dramatically building out the infrastructure to create content. And so I think Spotify is moving more towards creating content, creating that original contract, creating original content, in some cases it's licensing content or creating exclusive content, the Michelle Obama co podcast, um, all that stuff.
Speaker 0 00:02:02 Gotcha. So as a production engineer, what would you say, like describe your role a little bit.
Speaker 1 00:02:08 I oversee post-production technology, uh, infrastructure and services for Spotify studios in Los Angeles. Gotcha.
Speaker 0 00:02:15 Um, so what does the day-to-day look like for
Speaker 1 00:02:16 You? It's kind of like two buckets, right? There's this sort of the day-to-day operational work, making sure the team that I oversee has everything they need the other half is working on design and bill and workflow design, both for, um, video content creation teams and some of the podcast content creation teams, as it relates to both, uh, the infrastructure onsite in Los Angeles, uh, in our cloud infrastructure.
Speaker 0 00:02:38 Okay. So, um, so you're kind of, you're kind of designing the processes of bringing content in and through the organization all the way, all the way up and through delivery and archive. Right,
Speaker 1 00:02:49 Exactly. So I'm, so I'm responsible for making sure our assets are safe from a acquisition all the way to your right archives. Exactly.
Speaker 0 00:02:57 Okay, great. That's a great point make I think, and, and, you know, I, from my own experience, working with you guys and my experience just talking to you, Ben, is that your organization seems to be very well organized. Everybody seems to have their roles and they know what they're doing, the sort of journey that a project takes, uh, seems to be very well defined. So I think it's really worth putting a fine point on the fact that the big reason for that is because you have a resource yourself in place to help the team sort of figure out what all those steps are and then document them, right? Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:03:32 Yeah. That's a big, that's a big thing for sure. I feel really lucky to the team I came into had already done a really great job of documenting every single thing you could possibly think of and making it easy to find, which is really great. I don't think you see that in a lot of places these days, particularly in content creation because it changes all the time. But having all those things in one centralized place has really helped us quickly onboard and off-board people and make sure everybody understands. This is how I, this is where our naming conventions are. This is where we put files. This is where files go. Yeah. That's been really helpful. A lot of our projects, at least on the video side are quick turnaround and there's coming in for two weeks and leave and we'll get another out of there. So there's a, it's like a revolving door of people, right? So as long as we have everything documented clearly and simply there's a lot less hiccups.
Speaker 0 00:04:13 I remember, I remember sitting in a room with you and two of your media managers, you, you guys, you guys kind of had an aha about, I was trying to sort of talk, talk about your process and how you guys do things and you see you all kind of looked at each other and said, Oh, why don't you just show him the, uh, it's the site that it's the internal site that everybody goes. Yeah. And I saw that and I was just like, this is fantastic. I mean, like, this is most of the questions that a person walking into an organization like this, you know, the answers to those questions. So what did it talk about that?
Speaker 1 00:04:45 Yeah, that's great. Um, we actually, this overhauled it, we, we did host an internal Google site and it's just, again, an internal webpage they had for every role. So there's a page for every, there's a page for AEs, a page for the media team and paid for the audio engineers that pays for the colors and just has like a, it's a quick crib sheet of, of everything you'd need to know in terms of like, okay, for the media team, how do I offload, what do I use to offer? Where do I offload to for the AEs it's here, aren't even conventions. Here's where we keep all of our master assets. Here's our proxy file settings for the editors. It's broadcast guidelines for where the bug goes or stuff like that. And just having all that in place just makes it a lot easier.
Speaker 0 00:05:19 Yeah. Very detailed there's screenshots there. There's like you said, just, just all the details about project settings, where the bugs go, all that, you know, it's just a great resource.
Speaker 1 00:05:32 I think that was born out of it started before I arrived. Uh, it was born out of, uh, the video team at the time was pushing out a lot of content per week. They were making videos primarily for the playlist to shows those videos usually had like a week or less turnaround time from the shoot date. So we hit up everything very, very, very tight so that there are no delays in delivery and we just practice ever since. And it's been really, like you say, very, very helpful. Let me up for a minute. And
Speaker 0 00:05:58 Let's talk about the actual videos that your team produces. Where would listeners be seeing those videos? Like let's, let's connect the dots
Speaker 1 00:06:06 Currently if you're watching, uh, well, w there's two like ramps now, right? There's social, uh, we're creating videos for Instagram or tic talker or whenever the bulk of the studios existence, we were making videos for the playlist to show there's three of them. They used to be a fourth, a long time. They'll call it, rock this at some people might remember, but essentially they're all little artists features there's either live performances or sometimes we call them cover stories, which is a piece about the artist and maybe the album they're working on or there inspirations or things they like to do. It's just a way to help people connect more with the music. And that's, that's what those videos are. I see. You're kind of embedded in a playlist as if you're listening to hot country. For example, you'll hear a few songs and you might see a video of, uh, Oh, I don't know, like Midland or I'm forgetting all my hot country artists.
Speaker 0 00:06:49 Yeah. Yeah. Just to give, just to give the listeners a little bit of context on where they might see, uh, some of these videos. Let's talk a little bit about you really quick. How did you get to, to the point of becoming production engineer at Spotify studios? We can just tell us a little bit about your, you know, your education, maybe some of your previous experiences.
Speaker 1 00:07:06 Yeah. I started in the post-World at a company called arc media in New York. They make documentaries for PBS things like finding your roots of American experience shows was really, really, I really love that job as a great time. I learned a lot about those production, kind of like old school documentary filmmaking, those production, which is really great from there. I met, moved to a company called <inaudible>. They're a full service digital cinema camera company, where I was the, um, integrated services manager and helped to run the integration department. We built out studios and post-production facilities and almost anything we could, we could build, you know? And then from there on Spotify, I was a senior AP engineer for awhile until this role popped up in LA. Awesome.
Speaker 0 00:07:45 So what are some of the challenges that you, you were kind of presented with right away when you started there?
Speaker 1 00:07:51 The first one was, um, they were completely on an external hard drive workflow. Ah,
Speaker 0 00:07:57 We've never heard this story before. Have we Kilburg
Speaker 1 00:08:01 This story? Never once. Nope. I can remember how much something like, I want to say around 600 terabytes of raw assets. Oh wow. Because we shoot at a 3.2 K on Ari, Alexis for that latitude and all that stuff. So, you know, everything is beefy and we backed up in two places. So suddenly I had like my walk that first day, I don't Jason, you never saw this room. I don't think there was just a room with like four cabinets of hard drives. The biggest challenge was, and that they have a whole workflow centered around duplicating things to hard drives and making sure things are backed up and moving things to AA drives and edit their drives. So the first thing was like pulling all that apart and understanding how they were working. And then I think I called Peter Price and said, I need some help.
Speaker 1 00:08:45 It's not a one-person job. That sort of transition. So that the big challenge first was just me wrapping my brain around their workflows and understanding they were making how they're making it soup to nuts and then saying, what can we do one to get them on the shared storage? Like we're wasting too much time and money on external hard drives. Like, can we put it in a man that would help? Cause we have terabytes of B roll, right. Where we shoot all over the country, but we have no quick way to find it. You know, a creative producer, wouldn't say like, Oh, you know, we had to shoot in Nashville. We got this thing of this forest. If you can find it, somebody on the shoot might say, Oh yeah, that was like in February of 2017, like, we'll go back to this drive.
Speaker 0 00:09:23 Sure. All of our listeners are like, Oh yeah, you know, this is, this is the story.
Speaker 1 00:09:30 So that those were the two big challenges were at first, like understand what was going on. And then, and then figuring out what the plan would be to kind of push them into, I don't know, the new world. What do you, where do you want to call it? You can't scale out and, and produce quickly if you're copying things that drives, right. It's not going to work.
Speaker 0 00:09:46 No. Right? No. So editor a needs needs footage B that's on drive C and that DRA editor B is using drive C and yeah, we get it. So, I mean, how big of a work group would you say, you know, is working on this content? Like how many people did you need to figure this out?
Speaker 1 00:10:07 Um, the video creative team and post-production team is probably around when we're at full tilt, probably 30 to 40 people max. Okay. Right now it's a little lean as we're, you know, independent at times it's harder to create content as I'm sure we all are feeling.
Speaker 0 00:10:21 Yeah. Well, so speaking of that, like that's a, that's a great transition into like, what are you guys doing about that? What's your, yeah.
Speaker 1 00:10:29 Yeah. I think, I think like everybody else in March, we were scrambling to figure out what to do. Right. Particularly around video. I mean, I think for the, primarily the podcast folks could keep working, you know, without too much trouble. It's more on that side. It was more like figuring out what Mike's do you use? What room treatments do you use? If there's an interface we should get, if there's an online service we should use on the video side, it was, Oh, well we have this server at the office that nobody can connect to. What would we do?
Speaker 0 00:10:56 So
Speaker 1 00:10:56 I think for the first month while we were figuring it out, cause you know, it kind of got like most people just start happened all in a day. Like suddenly it was, I already worked from home right away. Right. So for the first month we went back to an external drive workflow while we figured out what to do.
Speaker 0 00:11:08 Okay. That, I mean, that's, uh, that's uh, that's the devil, you know? Right. You know what the challenges are there and you've done it before. So that's
Speaker 1 00:11:17 Econic in place at that point. Okay. So we can still have our review and approval process. They just, and you're right. Like they all knew how to be users working on external drives. So it was less stress for everybody we're in eventually hit a point of like not working anymore. Whereas we were currying drives around every day and you know, like, you know that the courier couldn't get in touch with somebody, but you know, there's so many more delays introduced in those workflows. So while they were doing that, I was kind of digging around with different remote work flows. Um, we looked at bebop, which was really cool. We go spinning up machines ourselves. Um, in the cloud, eventually we landed on was using jump desktop. Okay. It just works great. You know, like I don't have any complaints. It has two factor authentication, sound travels over it pretty well. It's not, you know, it's not frame accurate, but we haven't had really any complaints from our editors on like they can't do fine cuts for the most part. Sometimes it gets really hard. Sometimes it's some of the signals they cut are very, very in line with the music they're using in the bed. So sometimes that gets tricky, but for the most part it's been really great. And so we were able to just make use of all of our computers in the office for all our users. It's no different than sitting at the office.
Speaker 2 00:12:21 Gotcha. So that's a VNC client that does tunneling with two factor authentication over the internet. So like you said, there isn't any great visual resolution. You're going to deal with pixelated weirdness, but at least people can get access to their machine. They can get access to the shared storage, um, and people can get their jobs done, albeit, um, not in the best of quality remotely.
Speaker 1 00:12:49 Right. So, you know, for the editors, they're not doing the color grade, so it's not super important for them to have color accuracy. Right. But the color has to be worked at a remote grade. So he has a resolve system at home with a Flanders monitor at home. We have an identical system without a monitor at the office. They're both on a VPN duped to the media at the, all of a sudden at his house. So he can just send off the remote render when he's ready. Got it. Just save some time. We still have to get him the media at the top of the sheet. Um, but that's way better than sending around like four or five drives a day. Oh, for sure. For sure. Uh, it also made me so nervous to this dry send drives around, you know, you never know what's going to happen. They get lost, they fall off the truck we've delivered to them
Speaker 2 00:13:28 And that's a liability for your assets as well.
Speaker 1 00:13:31 Yeah. And we only do this for maybe a few three or four weeks, um, and no, no hiccups or anything, but it was still quite, you know, I'm paranoid about that stuff. Um, I think it would be so anyway, uh, yeah, it's been working out pretty well. I think we've been doing that since April. Yeah. That's great. That's great. I'm glad.
Speaker 2 00:13:48 Yeah. Cool, great. That's great. I'm the DNC for our, for listeners is a virtual network computing just to typically that's kind of like the, do that. That's the one when we think of VNC, we think of screen-sharing essentially or not really screen-sharing but you're, you're, you're actually, you're actually controlling remotely, uh, another desktop machine. So, um, how often do you guys get together and really just kind of re refine the process or revise the process, right.
Speaker 1 00:14:18 Yeah. That's actually a really important thing to do. Um, I think, I think that's the only reason like iconic implementation went well, right? Is that we got in front of the stakeholders and asked them what, what problems they have in terms of like checking in. So I have a, uh, a every month I have a check-in with our post-production coordinators and our media managers and our AEs. And they just say, please tell me, what's working. What's not working. That has been really useful. We also do a quarterly software review. You know, I, I liked that. You mentioned ease. Um, I feel like AEs are, are your secret weapon because one, they're usually very tech savvy. They're also the ones that assist the out of directly. So if an editor is going off course or off the guide rails, they ease, hopefully know enough, uh, and have your back to support them and get them back on the right track. So I try to build a very close relationship with all of our AEs, both me and the immediate team. This is where we're all in alignment all the time. That really helps us.
Speaker 0 00:15:13 And then I, you know, so, so talk about your media team, because this is another, uh, you know, I, I think obviously every post production organization has editors and producers. Most of them hopefully have AEs, but your media team, what is a day like for them?
Speaker 1 00:15:28 They like for them, um, it consists of a lot of different things now. So everything from well before pre pandemic, you know, they were ingesting media from the field. Okay. That be part of their day. It still is to a certain extent. It's something that's been automated now, but a lot of their time now is spent onboarding production partners or onboarding new editors or AEs into the processes that we have. If there's a request to gather assets for a sizzle reel or something like that, it's me as job to go find those assets and deliver them. Okay.
Speaker 0 00:15:56 Gotcha. And they don't necessarily, they are your, your process, uh, evangelists, I guess,
Speaker 1 00:16:02 Right? Yeah. Yeah. You're right. That's exactly what,
Speaker 0 00:16:04 So they're, they're the ones kind of in charge of making sure that the process is actually happening and that, you know, people have what they need to keep the projects rolling, keep the process rolling. Um, and then feed back if there's anything missing or, you know, basically provide those people with what they need, whether it's training or documentation or whatever.
Speaker 1 00:16:22 Exactly. Sometimes it's just, it's just kind of jumped quick call and yes. Now it's like calling, showing like, Hey, this is how you do this process and iconic or like the catch all for any issues.
Speaker 0 00:16:33 Right. Right. So I think that's a really good thing to call out is that, um, you know, these, these guys are great at doing their job and there, there are resources there to make sure that things, it sounds like in your organization, they're a little bit of a mix between what we would traditionally call like a media manager, an asset manager and a post-production scoop.
Speaker 1 00:16:53 Yeah. They, I would say they kind of mix between your traditional asset management and more of like, like a tier ones help. Gotcha.
Speaker 0 00:17:00 Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:17:01 Absolutely. You have to be tech savvy enough to support workflow, but also be attentive to detail around asset organization. Absolutely. Yeah. And they're, they're great at that. I love my team. I am not as detail oriented as they are.
Speaker 0 00:17:17 And that is definitely, I will say from my own experience a bit, you know, having, having that role that you really do have to have attention to detail. You have to, you know, you have to be willing to ask questions and, and, and push back sometimes and you know, really get those details. So what are some of the challenges that you've had with, uh, so, you know, you have your group that you work with, the video team that Spotify studios, I mean, what are some of the challenges you've had working with other aspects of the organization? So, you know, there's also podcasting, that's a different, completely different team of people, workflow, different applications, different support, different building, different side of the country, different country, and some in some respect.
Speaker 1 00:17:57 Yeah. Well, yeah. In fact, in our global markets, yet we have podcasts all over the world now, which is fantastic. Um,
Speaker 0 00:18:04 So let's talk about that a little bit. What's it like to work?
Speaker 1 00:18:06 Maybe I should break down like the structure real quick. Okay. So Spotify studios is, is what I would call the umbrella organization around the five studios that currently sit underneath it. There's the ones I mentioned earlier that Spotify acquired, uh, again, what are cast and the ringer. There's also the video team we've been talking about. And there's also an unnamed studio four, which is also making podcasts. A lot of those, particularly the, those three podcasts, a company's game with podcasts and the ringer. They already have very well established ways of working. They're all quite successful and they're all really good at what they do. So, um, you know, we didn't want to come in and we still haven't come in and, and said like, we don't want to change the way you work. They all know they work for the best, right? So we're trying to disrespect that and standardize and unify across all five studios where we can on the same time, the nice thing is like none of these studios have an established asset management system.
Speaker 1 00:18:57 They all have their own ways of tracking step, but they wouldn't have what we would all call a man. Right. Gotcha. Gotcha. That's kind of the nice thing about iconic and Iconix hybrid workflow and the capabilities of the storage gateway is that we can slot in BISG and iconic where it makes sense for each of these studios. So for the video team, um, iconic is very embedded in the day-to-day workflow or they're using, reviewing and commenting and transcoding and transcription and all that stuff. But for other teams, we might just use iconic as an index of their final master assets. It's like the bare minimum for each of these studios is that we need to be able to see your final master assets so we can back them up to the cloud and hopefully tag them as well. That would be ideal. Okay.
Speaker 0 00:19:34 So you have very, very detailed well-documented process for the people that you work directly with and for that, for that part of your job and your organization and your work group, but you just have some pretty high level requirements goals in terms of using the tools and the process for the overall organization, get your masters in there. This is the way they get submitted. And
Speaker 1 00:19:54 Right. So it's a lot of, and we're, we're in the middle of this process now. So I don't have too much to say about it. Other than that, we're trying to pull apart each, each team's workflow and understand it, and then that'll help us guide on what to do next. And part of that is talking to the stakeholders, understanding if there's gaps in what and what they need, or if they don't want anything new. And, you know, it's aligned to walk sure.
Speaker 0 00:20:15 If what they have is working for them and you
Speaker 1 00:20:16 Know, there's yeah. And why would we want to change that? Right. Like it's working as long as it's scalable. It's good to go. Yeah. We just want to make sure everything's safely backed up and secure. Yes.
Speaker 0 00:20:28 Yes. Especially in this day and age of everybody has to be able to get to their stuff. You know, everybody who should be able to get to their stuff should be able to get to their stuff and no one else. So why don't we talk a little bit about podcasts and the workflow of creating podcasts and producing podcasts. I want to talk about this because I think it's something that, you know, when we talk about podcasts, obviously we're really talking about producing an audio master, essentially, you know, on the show here, we talk a lot about producing video. I mean, we, we ideally would talk about producing all sorts of media, but we focus a lot on the video workflow. There's so many different like categories of video in terms of like all the different parts of the industry that we talk about, news, sports, you know, episodic, TV, film, all this different stuff. But let's talk about the audio workflow a little bit in the podcasting workflow. One of the things that strikes me is just difference in the content in terms of file sizes. So like a workflow that may work really well. Well, let's, let's, let's put it this way. Let's talk about it from a video perspective. So, you know, some of the considerations that we talk about for say remote video editing, they're not really like as big of a deal when you talk about, when you talk about an audio.
Speaker 1 00:21:37 Right. Totally agree. Yeah. In some cases they're not effected at all. Any anybody can, all you need to cut up on guests is a laptop and a good pair of headphones. Right, right. You have a good capture. Um, everything else is just nice to have sure. On the video side, you just need a lot more stuff, you know, story short of it. Right. I think also maybe one thing that colleagues that a lot of people like, you know, there's differences between video and audio production right there, everybody sort of understands. But what I think what's important call out about it is that as you try to scale out, because video production is so much more resource intensive, it, you got to kind of pay more attention to it when you're getting ready to scale out. Right. Cause like things like storage space transfer time, you know, bandwidth needed how long it's going to take to upload a file export time project, file size, all that stuff like is exponentially larger with the video production just by nature of adding video. Sure.
Speaker 0 00:22:26 Yeah, absolutely. So let's, let's talk a little bit about the application when we talk about video production and we're talking avid premiere, you know, resolve, you know, there's all these different, different video applications that we've, we've talked about a lot on this show. We don't talk as much about the audio stuff like pro tools, for example. Um, so I I've been approached as user for like, I don't know, almost 20 years now. And, uh, actually I think it's more than that. It is more than that. Darn it well, uh, pro tools doesn't render, that's something that, you know, when, when you have this giant video project in premiere, for example, your application is not opening all those video files at once and playing them all back at once, right. It's rendering those, you're playing back a render, essentially when you play back, the timeline protest doesn't do that.
Speaker 0 00:23:11 So, so it works a little bit differently than, than some of these video applications just by virtue of the fact that it really does need to have access to all those audio files on the timeline. And when you're, when you're working on say a film score, uh, or a, uh, even even a post audio production, it's a little bit different. You may end up having to, depending on how big your session is, you may end up having to make stems, which is kind of the equivalent of doing a render and premiere. But that's something that, you know, that's, that's something that sort of sets these applications apart quite a bit is just the fact that there's no rendering involved in these audio workstation
Speaker 2 00:23:46 There's DSP involved, right. And there's real time processes. And then when we're bouncing files to disk, certainly that's a render, but you're right. There's no massive frame buffer. We're not worried about, you know, having a gigabyte worth of aggregate bandwidth or even multiple hundreds of megabytes per second, for each individual workstation because, um, some videographer decided or DP decided that they wanted to use the biggest Kodak that they had available to them because they wanted to,
Speaker 0 00:24:19 That means that that ProTools, uh, as opposed to premiere may need to have like many, many, many, many, many files open at once. Uh, which, which means that performance over, uh, a network connection could suffer, even though, you know, you've looked and you've seen like, Oh, you know, by the numbers, we're just playing back audio. So this should work just fine. But that's one thing to, I think, to call out, um, in terms of the differences between, uh, a video and an audio workflow.
Speaker 2 00:24:47 I mean, it's really, it's the immediacy of the need to play back those files, right? Depending upon how, how low the buffer settings are in your digital audio workstations, right? If is it, is it set to two 56? Is it set to, um, five 12? Is it set to 10 24, right? Cause the greater, the buffer setting, the more streams and the, the longer essentially the computer has to make sure the audio plays out correctly. And if that's coming from shared storage over a network and the network is saturated. Yeah. It can cross problems as opposed to coming directly from an internal SSD or envy me drive, which is wickedly fast and can just, you know, like Spitfire deliver unto you a hundred audio files without issue.
Speaker 0 00:25:32 And so that a lot of that plays into it. But then on the, on the flip side of it, just by virtue of the fact that the files are small and the project itself, the overall project itself is probably small. You can take advantage of workflows that you wouldn't necessarily be able to take advantage of with video things that we, I don't want to say we won't, we wouldn't even think of doing. We think of doing them all the time. It's just, we run into limitations, like use the Dropbox workflow. You use the Dropbox workflow, which is like, Oh, I'm going to throw this project in Dropbox. And it's just going to show up on your machine. Sure. That's great. If you're talking about a few hundred audio files, but if you're talking about a few hundred video files, it's a little different.
Speaker 1 00:26:09 Yeah, exactly. And that Dropbox workflow is something that we're totally using right now, uh, for the remote or remote production. And it's been great.
Speaker 0 00:26:17 Yeah. And it almost works like shared storage. When you look at it, it's it's
Speaker 1 00:26:20 Why did we have to stop doing this when the pandemic is over? Right. Like why not make every user's workstation there, their editing workstation as well? Like why do we have to be dragged into this storage ever? Right. That opens up a lot more possibilities, at least on the audience side
Speaker 0 00:26:34 That's that's certainly, um, that's certainly the case with things like proxy edit workflows. Like, do you guys use those workflows as well in your
Speaker 1 00:26:43 Edit, proxies in the workflow? Just because we shoot such a high resolution are open drive systems we have could, could likely stand it, but just for ease of scalability, it's better to just use those. I think we use Premier's proxy, Kodak. I think that's what we use. Okay. Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah. Essentially an offline, online workflow has made it so easy these days. So I've got my core horrors from having to read Lincoln avid. I'm sure you guys are familiar with, uh, how finicky avid can be. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:27:11 Oh yeah. Um, yeah. I mean, all of the NLAs are a little bit tipsy around the edges. It just depends on, you know, what their sensitive spot is and whether or not you like, Oh shit, don't talk about his parents and it'll just flip out whatever it is. Right.
Speaker 1 00:27:27 Um, I've actually found that resolve has gotten pretty good these days. I had a crazy idea a month ago or two months ago, like maybe we should just all cut and resolve.
Speaker 2 00:27:35 A lot of people have been having that idea. I
Speaker 1 00:27:37 Think it's a great idea. And I think the Fairlight system is good enough for some audio work, you guys, but it was good enough for basic. It certainly has a good pedigree. Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
Speaker 2 00:27:47 So one of the things I want to come back around to, let's talk a little bit about that drop box workflow, just cause it's good to define things for people if we're just whizzing past it. Right. I think what we're talking about is essentially cashing files locally to an internal hard drive based upon a cloud network share, right? Yeah. Thank you. Kilburg for breaking this down. I did want to, right. Yeah. And so that allows us to have our cake and eat it too, in some ways, because there's a central location where everybody can get to what they need and to push back what they need. And then they also have the benefit of working locally and having it, um, right in front of them. And internally, even though it might chew up internal space on their drive, essentially the files in their drive become expendable after, you know, you've finished your final master and you can just upload things again. Is that what you guys are doing on a regular basis?
Speaker 1 00:28:46 Yeah, I think, um, some of our studios are using Dropbox. Uh, others have their own, uh, file sharing systems. Like, you know, your boxes, your, your P clouds, but essentially that's what you're describing is correct. Right? Like there's a, there's an ass share onsite that things get recorded too. And those get those things get shared out via Dropbox or whichever collaboration tool that team is using. Um, and you're, it makes it so much easier. Right? You don't have to sneak her in anything if you're flying on a plane somewhere, uh, you know, your files are with you, you don't have to be online to keep working those. Yeah. Those are all really beneficial
Speaker 2 00:29:16 For sure. Let's talk a little nitty gritty about some of the podcasts stuff in terms of how you guys and what the standards are for what people need to deliver to you. And if you're sharing stuff back around is that, um, you know, broadcast WAV files or the final renders and threes, like I'm just curious, you know, obviously being an audio guy myself and, you know, doing the workflow on a regular basis, it's just fascinating to be able to chat with you.
Speaker 1 00:29:44 Yeah. Um, I can speak to, um, assets we received, like from, from finished productions, if that's helpful. Yeah, sure. Always ask for the session stems, uh, in the session files as well as the final output as an MP3 and as a wave. Okay. Pretty standard stuff. You know, we have some, some delivery specs, but the nice thing is that each of these studios has already been delivering to the platform for a long time. So they, they handle all that stuff. We just make sure it's all backed up and safe. Gotcha. Which is great. It would be a, I think a large bottleneck if we were receiving and uploading all of the, all of those shares for
Speaker 2 00:30:17 Sure. So let's dig into the stems a little bit because I know stems means one thing to some people and another thing to others, right. I mean, typically when we talk about stems in the music world, it might be, I want all of my drums, at least maybe the overheads and the Tums sub mixed into a stereo file and then a separate file for the snare and the kick separate file for the bass and vocals, and then maybe everything else for guitars and keys, all in different files. So that a mix engineer or somebody else, even in the video world, they might want to say like, Oh, I want to drop the lyrics out of this because I just want it to be this awesome fight scene or into the background dialogue. How does that translate into the,
Speaker 1 00:31:02 Yeah, I think it's show dependent at minimum. Typically we get the stems as a music as the music bed and the dialogue. Okay. Okay. Sometimes we'll get every individual talent as a STEM. Uh, it totally depends on the show. And if we have any plans to cut social with it afterwards, as far as I know got it.
Speaker 0 00:31:17 Yeah. So it's that ultimate use of, uh, uh, reuse, I should say with that in mind. Um, what's, what's going to give us the most flexibility
Speaker 1 00:31:25 In the future. Exactly. So it's always looking backwards and saying like, well, what if we need to kind of sizzle six months from now?
Speaker 2 00:31:30 I imagine part of that's licensing too with the music right. Being like, Oh, I want to make sure we have clearance for this before. That's, you know, we play that anywhere else that we might not
Speaker 1 00:31:38 Are allowed to. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That's a big, that's a big part of it. Usually there's always a licensing review as part of any, any asset that goes out,
Speaker 2 00:31:46 Fricking lawyers, man,
Speaker 0 00:31:51 Let's talk a little bit about, I know this is, this is an interesting, um, I want to talk about a feature request that, that, that we talked about Ben, you and I, Oh yeah. It was the, the watermarking of the videos and being able to have that sort of appearing on demand and, and I'd like to get, I'd like to get from you the reason why that was so important. Um, well it's part of, as part of your review and approval.
Speaker 1 00:32:14 Yeah, exactly. Right. So part of the review and approval workflow, one stage is getting the artist team to review the video and they get, they get to, you know, give us, give us their feedback sometimes, uh, we'll send out, we send out a video and then it ends up a rough cut of a video I should say. And it ends up on a social media.
Speaker 0 00:32:32 So it's, it's a not finished, not finished, not approved, not fully
Speaker 1 00:32:37 Unfinished work, going out the door to be reviewed. And sometimes it's, it's getting put out on social media. Uh, so we just decided the best way to do it. So it's been a huge watermark across it
Speaker 0 00:32:47 Because people are being savvy and like going into whatever tool you're using and pulling out the source code and pulling out the URL, like what are people doing?
Speaker 1 00:32:56 And people were just screencasting it, you know, this happens all the time with social media, divorce, screen, camping, Tik TOK video. And, um, I think, I think that's why I, this before I was at, at this role, but it's happened enough times that we, we decided to just watermark everything is you probably know Jason, like it's, it's a bummer to have to watermark those files and you have duplicate files just sitting around porridge. Um, so the request to iconic was can we make it been on demand on the share or the shared lane?
Speaker 0 00:33:22 Yeah. And that's, that's not, uh, that's not an easy request to fulfill it's. Um, it, it kind of involves digging into the actual code for the player and all that kind of stuff. So, um, a lot of times these, some of, some of the digital asset management platforms use, um, they might use code from another player. They might have licensed a player that they use in their software and that's perfectly legit, but, um, it means that they can't get in there and actually dig into the code of that because it's something that they've licensed. So, so that's, that's always a challenge. And that's just something that I gotta say, it's a Testament to the fact that people want something. If people want something and they want to share something, they're probably going to find ways to get around whatever measures you've tried to put in place.
Speaker 1 00:34:02 Yeah. It's an uphill battle all the time. We're trying to keep it as safe as we can on our end. And that includes things like, like numbering, those shares, making sure nobody external can view those shares, all that kind of stuff. That your typical, like this little shut it down and we can air gap. It that's even better. Right.
Speaker 0 00:34:19 So this is a, this is a shout out to our listeners. Please check, please check and make sure you are able to share something before you share it. And if people are screen capping, I have to believe that they know they shouldn't be sharing things. Yeah. So that's a good hint. If you have to use a screen capture tool, you probably should not be sharing it. Uh, Oh,
Speaker 2 00:34:43 One thing I wanted to circle back around to, and we were talking about how documentation has really helped define and speed up internal processes and onboarding a question that came to mind was how soon to do people receive the documentation? Like if, if I'm, um, a freelancer coming to do some work for you guys, how quick do I get access to how it, how it is and how you guys do work?
Speaker 1 00:35:12 Uh, the general answer is as soon as we possibly can, right? So if we're starting a week from now and we have their personal email address and they're willing to read stuff ahead of time, we'll send them the link to the site. We have a way to share it out securely without it being behind single sign on. Um, so the sooner, the better, and then we on their onboarding day, we say like, you know, do you want to go through this in depth? Do you have questions just to make sure they understand it? And then we also make sure that they have access to that written documentation. What we've started doing recently, having little like two or three minute video guides. Awesome. Curious how you share a link. Here's how you tag metadata. Here's how you transcode something. You said you requested transcription. Just having that a little video with a little like red circle that goes off on the mouse. Whenever you do something, I found it to be really helpful. I'm sure you absolutely can tell it that you were getting less questions about it. Oh yeah.
Speaker 2 00:35:57 Yeah. And that speeds up workflow immensely. And it speaks to the power of documentation in that if people don't have to wait for an answer on how you wish for them to do things, if they can find the answers themselves, just like we talk about with media asset management, spinning up search process in terms of work production, if people can just jump into what they need to do, and if that's already been well-defined and even better that you guys have immediate team that can support people to do that, it seems like you guys are just really helping to get things done in a timely manner, even though there's extra work that goes into making sure that all of that.
Speaker 1 00:36:39 Yeah. It's worth it in the long run. Ultimately it means less work. Yeah. I think also just to add some color to that, and the other important point is that everybody's bought in to the system, right? So we have documentation and they don't think it's going to help them or the system's not going to help them. So we've spent a lot of time getting user buy-in. Right. So right. That's everything from like before we moved to iconic, it was talking about iconic asking people what their pain points were and then claim back and saying, here's how this is going to solve your problems. Does that work for you or not? And starting that out like six months before we started implementation, really helped get everybody on board, right?
Speaker 2 00:37:12 You guys are excited. You really wanted to jump in and get and get into it. But you took the time to sort of roll out bits and pieces and, and, and
Speaker 1 00:37:20 Communicate and get feedback about how, how that, how that was actually, in some cases, they're the silver lining to the pandemic was we got to slow down a little bit, uh, and uh, really step fill of those things. And it, it was a great chance to sort of talk to every stakeholder individually, talk through their concerns, um, and then say, Hey, well, let's look at this and tell me what you think about this and getting them excited and saying, this is how you're going to save time. This is like, remember how build system number, how, how, uh, convoluted it was to final assets. Now it's like a three button click thing. Let me show you how it works. Right. And that gets people excited so they can run up the little, I have all these other ways I can use these assets now. Right. And that sort of grows and spreads. And then people hear about it. It makes it much easier to get people to adopt. For sure.
Speaker 2 00:38:03 You got first, you gotta give them the reason to believe. Right. You've demonstrated the value. That seems like a huge part, right? Selling the story and making it meaningful for them.
Speaker 1 00:38:13 You also have to understand like their specific pain points. If you're trying to solve the problems you think they need that need to be solved, but it solves none of their problems. Like you're not going to get anywhere. Uh, I think it's happened to me in the past. I've seen it happen in the past and it's just way easier to like, double-check right before you move forward.
Speaker 2 00:38:31 Right? Yeah. I mean, it's basic salesmanship, right? I mean, well, it, it should be basic
Speaker 0 00:38:36 Salesmanship to not talk at people, but talk to them and to, you know, help them solve their problem rather than try and give them more work to do exactly. Exactly. It sounds like we're, we're, we're, we're, we're talking about the Phoenix project. If anybody hasn't read the Phoenix project, it's, it's, it's a book about how to get lots and lots and lots of work done with a process. I'm reading it now. I highly recommend it. So let's ask you a few fun questions. What are a few of the coolest workflows you've seen that have really been instrumental in helping people get their work done either at Spotify or somewhere else? That's a great question. And it could be in relation to the pandemic, or it could be just something that you, that you saw that was cool. And you just thought it was awesome. Right?
Speaker 1 00:39:18 I mean, w one thing recently is just the ability to do, uh, the new resolve, uh, 15, 16 has that new project manager. They allow us for much easier remote rendering. I think that was a big, powerful thing. I don't know, guys, all I've been looking at is his podcast tools recently.
Speaker 0 00:39:32 What's, what's cool in podcasts tools.
Speaker 1 00:39:35 Well, yeah, there's so many cool things. I think there's a, there's a product. This is a good answer. Um, there's a product called descript, which is really cool. You know, I think the pandemic triggered a lot of innovation in remote workflow. Absolutely. And a lot of companies were kind of caught on awareness and other ones that are more cloud-based and AI based were kind of rubbing their hands together, going finally.
Speaker 0 00:39:55 Right. Everybody's taking us seriously.
Speaker 1 00:39:59 Yeah. There's a need for us. And I think that's really true. And descript is, is a really cool tool. It's I think to any pro tools user, they'd be pretty adverse to it cause it's not, but at the same time, it has everything you need to kind of podcast, right. It has built in transcription, uh, even has this new cool feature where if it has, I think something like about 10 minutes of audio, of a, of a guest, it can then use AI to generate that guest, uh, saying a word that you didn't get recorded. Uh, sort of that it's sort of like machine learning, deep fake sort of, I'm probably spending it in quarterly, but you know, like let's say like, you're like cutting a sentence together and you need like one word that will have, right. It, it will generate it for you based on like a profile of that voice. Gotcha. A sound print. I'm not an audio engineer, so I'm probably explaining it, but it is that sort of stuff is really powerful. I think we're gonna see more and more of that.
Speaker 0 00:40:50 It's interesting. Um, so you, so you said about how pro tools users probably would hate it. Um, and, and I laughed, I laughed because I know exactly what you mean, but also I was the, I was the one I I've done a lot of dialogue editing and in my, in my professional time as a, as an audio engineer, and one of the things that I found myself telling people is I would get an email from, from a project manager or a producer and they would say, Hey, um, so the client made a change to the script and they need to cut this part of this. They needed to cut this part out. So if you could just kind of like, you know, and, and they would give me a couple of cut points and I would have to tell them like, you know, editing, editing, recorded speech is not like editing a word document.
Speaker 0 00:41:33 It's, you know, there's inflection and there's, you know, all kinds of different things that make it, you know, it, I can cut it there, but you're not going to like it. You know? And, and I think, I wonder, I don't know if you know or not, but I wonder if, if, if this tools like descript actually play with that, if they have the, I got to believe if they have the ability to construct a word from recorded speech that they would, that they would be able to like say, Oh, you know, change the inflection so that I can actually edit here,
Speaker 2 00:42:01 Isotope, RX advanced already does that. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:42:05 There's a lot of cool things out there. That's like one of the new, big trends in audio, I'm not an engineer again, but like in the plugins I've seen in my guys using, uh, that's one of the, those are the sort of the new things they're excited about. I think that makes their jobs a lot easier is my understanding.
Speaker 0 00:42:21 That's great. So Kilburn Kilburg and I are big fans of, um, of, of isotope, um, and their had their suite of plugins there. They're very cool. Um, but RX is there, uh, it's there like noise reduction suite. I, it there's so many different tools as part of our ex that, um, you know, it just, it, it, it does a lot of really cool stuff. And there's also an advanced version that the surround and all kinds of other surround yeah,
Speaker 1 00:42:45 Very powerful. I think primarily our teams use the post-production suite, which I think is our heaven and ozone, I'm probably getting this wrong. No, you're right. You're right. Uh, but it's, it's very, yeah, I think it's, at some point we wanted to try and standardize the plugins everybody was using. And I think the plan was to just use isotope. I think actually that planks, we didn't want to impede too much on creative technique, but, um,
Speaker 0 00:43:09 The things that I love about alloy they're, they're plugging alloy. It's a channel strip plugin and, and I mean, it's, it's a great plugin. Um, I'm sure I'm, I'm going to be proven wrong here, but it's, I wouldn't say that it is that much more wonderful or fantastic than any other track channel strip plugin, but the fact that you can, uh, produce the fact that you can run a track of audio through one single plugin and get all of your processing done, just really streamlines workflow I've found. And you know, that plug and actually allows you to like, change the order of the signal chain and all that kind of stuff. So you can actually treat it like you would a patch Bay or whatever.
Speaker 2 00:43:46 Yeah. I mean, most of the good dogs out there allow you to save channel strips as presets as well. So if you've got your favorite EQR or compressor or reverb or whatever it is, you can save that as essentially a chain of effects. That'll just pop in for any of the channels, which is pretty cool too. But I'm with you in terms of having, um, an ease of use in inside of a single interface where it all makes sense to your brain, whatever makes sense to your brain obviously is going to work
Speaker 0 00:44:15 The best. So my workflow, you guys will appreciate this, my workflow for doing dialogue. A lot of it, a lot of the time, it was that I had a script that was divided up into blocks and what I had to deliver very small, like not even high quality MP3, they were going to be linked to like a learning management system or some type of presentation guided presentation. So, um, I needed to deliver all of these audio files that were chopped up into little bits, the best way to do that was to run them through a single plugin. And that way you end up with, you know, if you've got a a hundred clips on your timeline, you've got a hundred audio files. Then at the end of that, that are all processed through that plugin. Having the channel strip was really essential to doing that. Otherwise it would have been several passes and, uh, I digress Hindi, so that's cool. So how do you predict innovation in the, a industry? Um, so really what the heart of that question is kind of like, w what do you, when you look at what's out there, what do you think is really going to catch on and,
Speaker 1 00:45:16 And be cool? I think like in general, and then he is the last to come to the table when there's a new tech idea. So, um, things like machine learning or AI or cloud based computing, like the other it industries are already doing it before eMoney is so in general, I just look and see what other people are doing outside of M and a and go, this is going to come to eMoney. Eventually. I also really liked talking to systems integrators and manufacturers, and saying, what are you guys working on? And those two things kind of help me get an idea of what's going on the pipe. And then, and then, uh, how we might be able to use those tools.
Speaker 0 00:45:48 I think a lot of people that do what you do, and a lot of people that do what Ben and I do have some great answers for this question, but what's been the hardest part of your own growth in the eMoney field.
Speaker 1 00:45:58 Wow. That's a really good question. When I was, when I was starting out, I think it was not, there's no like central place to learn anything, right? Like you've learned things as you go, you learn things from people that haven't been doing it more than you you've been, you learn it from any manufacturer training. Um, but there's no like centralized wealth of knowledge, I guess. So that, that was really hard. I think in the last couple of years, it's gotten a lot better. There's things like Netflix partner help page, which is amazing. NAB is helpful. I think even any it'd be going remote this year really helped a lot more content got pushed from, from that show floor into the cloud. Right.
Speaker 0 00:46:34 Hmm. I think you, you also have, uh, I've, I've noticed too that you also have a lot of, uh, a lot of companies, a lot of organizations are putting out like, you know, blogs for education, like frame IO has a great blog on their site. Yeah. And there's that, that's just one example. There's, there's all kinds of other ones there, there were some before that, but they were really hard to find and you really had to know what you were looking for.
Speaker 1 00:46:58 Yeah. It was mostly forums. Right. I think they created Calvins. It's like one of the pinnacles of knowledge for a long time. It still is. I think if you're troubleshooting an avid problem, it's probably the best.
Speaker 0 00:47:08 Um, I actually think I owe creative cow for, for where I'm at now. And what are some shows or movies that you've been watching or you think are really cool these days?
Speaker 1 00:47:19 No, I just watched a few weeks ago, we finished watching mythic quest on Apple TV. I thought that was really great for a few reasons. One was they, they, they have integrated the unreal engine, uh, into like cinematic storytelling, which is wild. The Mandalorian is doing that as well, uh, in a different way. But, um, indeed I, which is really cool. Uh, but just, you know, this, the way they've integrated, like was essentially a world of Warcraft ESC game, uh, into the storytelling was fascinating. I think the other thing that was really cool was their quarantine episode, uh, where they sent out iPhone kits to everybody and shot a whole episode remotely. And it didn't look like a zoom call. Right. Which at the time, uh, was very different than everything else coming out during the, this was like probably April, something like that. Um, so that's just been really good. I think it's a really smart humor.
Speaker 2 00:48:09 Yep. Okay. So same question. But for songs, composers, albums bands only pull up my Spotify.
Speaker 1 00:48:20 I got back into, uh, small progress, rock albums, new bands. I don't know, listening to a band called Saint Seneca, uh, is one of my favorite bands on the come the indie scene. My music I'm exposing my weird music tastes. Yeah, that's what we love. Uh, my, one of my favorite bands is the mountain goats with John Darnielle served by a, I don't know how you'd describe their music is quite good. He just had an album that came out well months ago called songs for pier Chavon. And he was basically, he read a book about the fall of the pagans in the Twilight of the ruminant Roman empire. Wow. Fascinating. He wrote a bunch of songs about them. And, um, I don't know, it was just a jam. He did record them on a, on a boombox, uh, when she was like, when he used to do back in the day. Wow. Wow. I, I love stuff like that. And he's an American treasure. His way with words is really Bob Dylan ask, I guess, I don't know. He's much more of a, sometimes I was a musician in other life, so I like listening to stuff. I played, I was a jazz bassist for a long time. So, you know, all of us have like some, some sort of big band music on, in the background. Sometimes that's awesome.
Speaker 2 00:49:23 The wiring I find in your brain, being able to think in music, right. Being able to essentially like have a feeling and have your hands connect to a chunk of wood and some metal and, um, make that come out as a tangible emotion that somebody can connect with is magic. And it is literally, yeah.
Speaker 1 00:49:47 So getting language, you have to keep practicing it. Otherwise you lose it very quickly. Just like if you're in shape or not in shape.
Speaker 2 00:49:54 Yeah. Actually, there, there is a line. I, I can't recite it. I might have to look it up. And, uh, there is a, there's a line of name of the wind about music being a fickle mistress. Like if you give her, if you, if you give her the time and the attention, she'll always be there when you call. But, but if you don't, she'll never be there when you, when you come calling. Right. Um, yeah. I butchered it, but it's true, but it is true. Yeah. Very good. Well, it's been great to spend time with you today. Ben matters. Post-production engineer for Spotify studio.
Speaker 1 00:50:24 Thanks so much for having me guys. It's been great. And with that I'd to thank our listeners
Speaker 0 00:50:28 For listening to the workflow show. I'm Jason Whetstone, senior workflow engineer at Chessa
Speaker 2 00:50:32 And I'm Ben Kilburg senior solutions architect.
Speaker 0 00:50:35 Email us your [email protected]
or shout out to us at workflow show on Twitter. The workflow show is a production of Chesapeake systems and more banana productions. Thank you for listening and enjoy your day.