Last year Cartoon Network Studios acquired a 2-channel Cinedeck ZX20 to help streamline their on-line & deliverables workflows. We recently caught up with the Head of Post Production & Editor, Tony Tedford, to see how things were going.
“Here at CN, all of the pre-production materials originate in Burbank and are sent abroad to be animated. We get back a set of QuickTime files that are rendered as DNxHD 175x, 1080p, 23.98. Everything is edited and finalized in each of our seven Avid edit bays with each editor taking one or more shows from work-print through delivery.”
“One of the major hurdles I wanted to eliminate was our HDCAM-SR workflow,” explains Tedford. “We were outputting to tape and sending the tape out to a third party for QC. If there were issues with the show, we punched in changes to the tape, then re-ingested the tape to the project in Avid. Then we would make a QuickTime reference file of the final sequence with all the corrections. Finally, we would render the master from QuickTime Pro or would use an encoder to re-wrap and upload to a watch-folder for delivery to Turner in Atlanta. It was a complicated multi-step process that took a long time. Even using the encoder to make the final file was arduous.”
“I heard about Cinedeck and File-based Insert Edit from a colleague and immediately thought it would help us replace our tape workflow. I got a test unit, hooked-it-up and was able to start working on it right away,” says Tedford. “It’s a sophisticated piece of machinery and I admit the UI was a little daunting at first. But once I realized it operated just like a tapedeck, I quickly figured it out,” he explains.
“Now, when a show is done, it’s a simple matter of outputting to a master ‘blacked’ file on the Cinedeck. We preset the files with all of our usual programming parameters – ProRes 422 HQ with bars, tone, 10-16 audio channels and timeline. It’s a no-brainer. Whenever we send anything to the Network, including pitch reels, promos and pilots, we use Cinedeck.”
“With Cinedeck, we’re now sending out files for QC and using the Insert Edit feature to quickly ‘punch’ in changes – there’s no more tapes, couriers, re-ingests or re-exports. The editors also love Cinedeck because their new workflow is similar to our previous tape-based workflow. They just copy the master ‘blacked’ file into their show’s workspace and record into the file.”
When asked about tangible benefits Tedford comments, “Not only does Cinedeck save us money in tape stock but it also saves us about 1.5 hours in post for each episode. It has greatly simplified our workflow, helping us to eliminate a lot of headaches and wasted time.”
Tedford concluded, “The support has been awesome. When I’ve needed help, the response has been faster than any other manufacturer I’ve ever worked with. Support is super-sharp and fixes are made in just hours or days.”
Cartoon Network uses Cinedeck to deliver shows such as: “Mighty Magiswords”, “Steven Universe”, “Adventure Time”, Clarence”, “Uncle Grandpa”, “We Bare Bears” and the upcoming U.S. debut of “Ben 10”