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Digital Technologies!
Digital Dailies
What the heck is that?
By Mark J. Kapczynski


So what are Digital Dailies anyway? Every Post House, every film industry magazine, every technology provider thinks that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Let’s slice in to the proverbial loaf of Digital Dailies and see what we can find inside…
In case you have no idea what dailies are—these are the seeming endless VHS tapes that we collect during production and store on shelves; just in case one day we need them. More realistically, dailies are a film print, video tape, or now digital format or the footage shot during the day of production. If you are from Europe, you might call them "rushes". Because laboratories "rush" to have them developed overnight so the creative team can view them during production.
There is a basic workflow: You shoot film on the set each day, and then have a lab process the film overnight. After processing, the lab will make a one-light print and/or telecine of the footage.

The output of the telecine is to tape and/or digital format. From this "master" tape coming out of the telecine, many lower resolution duplicates are made; and then shipped out to various recipients. When you are ready to watch dailies, you arm yourself with pen/pad of paper, remote control for the VHS deck and TV; and can navigate countless VHS tapes.
There are a number of different types of digital dailies technologies. Before we can start to figure these out, we must identify user communities for these dailies. Each one of the following groups has its own unique requirement and expectations for digital dailies.
1- Directors – need to use dailies to check performances, framing and cinematic looks
2- Cinematographers and Camera Crew – ideally want to see a print of the dailies to check colors, lighting and focus
3- Producers – want to see the production coming along, and the shots in dailies that match script, budget, and schedule
4- Studio Executives – want to see their "baby"
5- Editors – need dailies as a source format to ingest into an Avid or other non linear editing system to begin making edits
6- Others – potentially investors and people related to the film may request copies of the dailies footage

There are some key technologies which must also be remembered when choosing a digital dailies solution:
1- Hosting – Streaming vs. Downloading – How are the digital dailies made available to you? Do you have to stream the online? Or download them to view them? Or do you have to be connected to a "private" network to access them? Depending on where you are in the world, you might have access to high or low amounts of network bandwidth. Today – you can even bring a portable high-speed internet connection with you when you travel to remote location, using a satellite dish to connect back to the network. Other times, you might be stuck with a dial-up modem connection and have to watch low-res proxies of your dailies using consumer grade streaming technology like Real Networks.
2- Security & Digital Rights Management – how secure are the digital dailies files? Are fillies encrypted using a DRM technology? Do they include a watermark? Using DRM will ensure that if someone wrongfully receives the digital files, that without a digital license, they will not be able to view the dailies.
3- Security & Access Controls – Sometimes you do not want certain user communities within the production team to see dailies. Sometimes the director wants to see all the dailies first, before the studio execs or the producers can see them. This is done out of control or done out of quality assurance. SO make sure that you can define a set of access controls so that only the specific people that you want to see dailies, and when…can see them.
4- Physical Media – CD, DVD, Tape – How do you want your digital dailies delivered to you? You might want them on a DVD so that you can watch them at home on a standard DVD player. In this case, the post-house might even include a simple menu to navigate the DVD. In other cases, receiving the dailies as digital formats on high-end tape formats can make it easy to ingest for your editors to begin cutting scenes.
5- Application Services – Workflow and Collaboration – what kind of software comes with your digital dailies? You might want to annotate the video or even type in some notes regarding the dailies, and make sure the team gets those notes. A good example of this workflow capability is circle takes – you need to let the editors know which takes to use. The integration of workflow, collaboration, annotation, and email provides rich new services that cannot be achieved with tape-based dailies; you can only do this in the digital world.
6- Display and Control – TV & Remote Controls – as part of working in the digital world you have so many new capabilities. One of which is to view digital dailies via a DVD player, computer, or Digital Set-top box, while ensuring secure delivery, rich collaboration tools and an easy to use interface. Think of having an integrated digital dailies system that allows you to watch your dailies, take and share notes about the dailies, and prepare the dailies for editing.

Digital dailies can be a great tool to enable further creativity while offering new capabilities for collaboration, security, and access to dailies. Most post-houses can get digital dailies to the production team faster than delivering them on tape formats. This becomes especially true on remote locations. In this case, it takes too long to ship the tapes back and forth. Using digital technology via computers and the internet, you can access the dailies from anywhere. This universal access to secure digital dailies can have a cost impact, and save up to $150,000 on larger productions depending on footage shot. This amount does not factor in the amount of money saved via the software collaboration tools.
The key thing for you as a producer is to not settle for what someone gives to you as digital dailies. Most often – digital dailies will cost more than VHS tapes. So make sure that from a buyer’s perspective you have the knowledge as to whom on your crew needs digital dailies and in what manner should they be viewed or received.


Contributing writers

Mark Kapczynski
President and CEO of MESOFT. Mr. Kapczynski has over eleven years of computer technology experience and thirteen years of Media & Entertainment experience, most recently as Principal for the Worldwide Media and Entertainment Solutions Group for Microsoft Corporation. While at Microsoft, Mr. Kapczynski developed the Microsoft Digital Content Solution Strategy/Framework and managed the development of key applications/solutions for the media industry including Video on Demand, Digital Dailies, D-Cinema, and Digital Distribution. He was instrumental in securing key wins from EMI Digital Warehouse, Disney Digital Dailies, Sony Movielink VOD, and CBS newspath. Mr. Kapczynski is a prominent speaker in the media industry and has given numerous presentations at such top venues as NAB, IBC, Comdex, Digital Hollywood, FilmIT, and the Cannes Film Festival. He is on the Board of Advisors of Galvanon Inc. and Digimine Inc., and is an SMPTE member, active on the W25 Metadata/Wrapper Technology and N26 File Management and Networking Technology committees. He has a B.A. in Film from UCLA.

Freddy Goeske
Mr. Goeske has over decade over a decade of experience in both computer technology and post-production. He is currently the Vice President and Director of Technology for MESoft Partners, LLC. a media and entertainment software development company. Most recently Mr. Goeske was contracted by Microsoft to help develop Digital Dailies and Digital Assist solutions using Windows Media technologies.
In 1996 Mr. Goeske confounded Engram Digital and served as its Chief Technical Director until early 2002. During his tenure at Engram he was responsible for resolution independent digital postproduction services including 2D composting, 3D animation, and non-linear editing. While at Engram Mr. Goeske consulted as a Visual Effects and Postproduction Effects Supervisor on several feature films and Television shows. Additionally, he Executive Produced the feature film "Postmortem" staring Charlie Sheen and several direct to video productions.
Since early 1999, Freddy has concentrated his efforts on developing the post-production environment of the future. He has collaborated with fellow filmmakers to help create the "Hi-Def Alliance Studio Group" an organization-committed advancement of Hi-Def filmmaking. Working with the alliance members, Steve Bratter of Bratter Broadband & David Effress of Smart Films, he was instrumental in delivering HDCAM tape-to-film output to the 2000 Sundance Film Festival that was unrivaled in its filmic quality.

Digital Archives

State of the Union 11/10/2002
Technology for the Independent Film/TV Producer
By Mark J. Kapczynski

The Digital Intermediate

By Freddy Goeske 11/23/2002