Workflow Wonk is a project I’ve had in mind for ages, because I wanted to create a place where asking, “what does this post production workflow feel like?” isn’t ridiculous.

Abstractly the concept is: a cookbook of post production workflows; inspired by the writing style of Cooks Illustrated magazine, and the introduction of The Family Meal, where Ferran Adrià says:

“What is presented here is more a way of thinking about food than a way of cooking.”

The number of professional post supervisors in the United States is probably in the hundreds, and maybe only a few thousand worldwide. Therefore, one of my secondary goals is to write about post production workflows in a way that makes it useful for people in a variety of formats outside of traditional film and television post production. Someone like this who creates software training videos.

I’m also influenced by Richard F. Fenno, Jr.’s book, Home Style. What I like about that book is how Fenno Jr. embedded himself into the lives of U.S. Congressmen, an area that was murky and unknown until his work. Home Style makes me want to interview Post Supervisors and Assistant Editors, in a variety of genres, to understand the uniqueness of each show’s workflow. I remember how charmed I was to learn about Food Network Star’s unique stringouts called BoaD’s (“The Birth of a Dish”).

I’ve also harbored this desire to write about The Real World’s workflow back in the days of BetaSP. When I think about how difficult editing a docusoap series is with today’s technology, specifically Avid’s collaborative editing solution of Media Composer + Nexis, I am in awe of the old school tape-to-tape workflows.

Finally, I want to help shape the future of post production. I believe that Adobe Premiere’s Toggle Proxies Button is a taste of the future of post production, because it abstracts away the file system. “File management is where computer usability goes to die@siracusa repeatedly wrote in his brilliant OS X reviews. As the hybrid cloud becomes reality, and as the price of real estate continues to rise, I think more production companies will opt-out of the costs associated with infrastructure management. Not necessarily the “dollars and cents” costs, but the costs associated with finding and maintaining the personnel required to keep the servers humming. The additional benefits of elastic demand, like infinite storage, are also hard to resist.

So here are the three outlined project goals:

  1. The Past: documenting historical post production workflows, like The Real World in order to preserve the lessons of the past.
  2. The Present: writing about contemporary post production workflows, with an emphasis on describing the decision making process and the experience of working with said workflow.
  3. The Future: hypothesizing about the future of post production workflows based on current technological trends and the needs of working producers and editors.