University of Hertfordshire deploys EditShare solutions

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Located in the picturesque Hertfordshire countryside in England, the University of Hertfordshire has a robust film and TV programme with some 400 students.

In 2018, the institution achieved the TEF gold rating by the UK government, the highest standard, for its teaching excellence framework. Thanks to its high-quality vocational content, graduates are ready for real-world careers upon entering the creative market. The popular film and tv program recalibrates its curriculum every 5 years to ensure students are taught the latest techniques using modern filmmaking and video production technology. Just ahead of the Covid-19 shutdown, the university began its anniversary validation, selecting EditShare which supported multiple production and post-production workflows taught at the school, including remote-working workflows. Little did they know what lay ahead and how that investment in the future would enable them to keep the creativity flowing during a global pandemic.

Widening the Opportunities to Learn Principal lecturer, with a body of work that includes major motion pictures, Howard Berry brings a wealth of experience to the classroom. An Avid Certified Instructor, Apple Certified Master Trainer, and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Certified Trainer, Howard is also a savvy technologist who led the campus wide upgrade which coincided with the university’s course re-validation. Berry explains, “When we began the validation exercise, we had three different pathways that students could take: film and TV, documentary, film and TV fiction, and film and TV entertainment. People move from genre to genre, so we revised and consolidated to a unified film and TV production with a heavy emphasis on post-production. The new path would cover the range of productions as well as picture editing, color grading, visual effects, effects and, most importantly, the workflow side of things, giving students a more well-rounded education.” With the various productions consolidated into one track, Berry selected the EditShare EFS and FLOW solution to support the multiple workflows and various post-production tools used throughout the course. The open platform supported the university’s strategy for an integrated workflow that mapped back to real-world productions and provided a central shared storage platform to safely house content and easily manage student permissions from an administration module designed for educators.

Efficiency Through Automation

FLOW automation is key to streamlining the film and TV programme’s submission process. Berry explains the efficiency it has brought to the process, “FLOW hosts folders for all the student assignments. When they submit their QuickTime and finished version files to the EditShare system, FLOW automation scans the file and moves them into a folder only the lecturers can see. If the file is not in the right format, it will be scanned and transcoded. It also timestamps the submissions, so we know that the coursework was submitted on time.” Berry adds, “Some of the coursework is actual paperwork which is supposed to be submitted via the web portal, but students often hedge their bets and send it everything through FLOW, and FLOW automatically filters their PDFs into another folder. It’s a fantastic system where we can see all the relevant submitted files all the time. And it runs in a web browser, making it even easier for me to manage and share with my colleagues.”

Flip to Remote Production Overnight

The EditShare installation had been done just ahead of the pandemic, which enabled the film and TV department to continue its coursework after the world shut down. Key to the success of the remote production was EditShare’s FLOW, AirFLOW and FLOWStory. FLOW media management provided the media management foundation with AirFLOW and FLOWStory providing cloud-based editing, review and approval. Berry explains just how important these features became during the pandemic. “Without FLOWStory, the only option was to have students come into the university lab to work on their edits. During a pandemic the thought of having to go this route was not an option and our labs were closed for half of the year. FLOWStory was a light install that ran on Windows and Mac and would allow the students to edit from anywhere. It was perfect.” Berry adds, “As the students dived deeper into the application, they discovered that it could do 4k multi-camera editing and export the EDL directly into an NLE. And of course, AirFLOW gave us the important remote review and approval capabilities. Just incredible that we could slip into remote working so quickly. Weekly edit reviews, where staff and students would usually have to gather together, became easy with AirFLOW remote viewing and review markers added to the timeline with notes that the students could instantly see and act upon.”

It’s All About Flexibility

For Berry, production has typically been rigid with required specifications and hardware. With EditShare, the restrictions of connecting with other systems and geographic boundaries have been lifted. It allowed them to be adaptable to extremes. One degree project this year, “My Hundred Brothers and Sisters,” has involved students at a partner film school in Poland filming on behalf of Hertfordshire students who couldn’t travel abroad. The footage was sent from Poland over the internet, and the editor of the project was able to save it directly onto their dedicated 2TB EditShare space – instantly making it available to the director to review, the assistant editor to log and add metadata, and for transcripts to be prepared before the cut. The whole team could see the footage remotely any time they wanted to access it. Berry concludes, “We have many students who cannot return to campus because of the pandemic for one reason or another and they are still doing the coursework, they are still doing the training, and they are still able to learn because we are using EditShare. It’s an amazing gift of being able to do what we want and in any kind of way that we want to deliver it now. And I am very grateful.”


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