New York facility provides editorial systems and post services for groundbreaking reality series on a real-life police force.
NEW YORK— May 2, 2013— Post production for Boston’s Finest, TNT’s absorbing reality series about the men and women of the Boston Police Department, was recently completed at PostWorks in New York. The New York facility provided editorial and finishing services to Jarrett Creative, the show’s producer, in a project that encompassed eight 1-hour episodes.
Boston’s Finest went to unusual lengths to capture an insider’s view of life in a big city police force. The production team mounted pairs of HD cameras inside patrol cars, with both cameras running continuously during officers’ shifts. In addition, one- or two-person camera crews often rode along with police as they went about their daily routines.
In contrast to the “run and gun” style of many reality shows, the camera crew took a deliberate approach in shooting police activity, striving to avoid excessive camera movement and framing action with care. Supervising editor Timothy Dixon explains that this was done to give the show the artfully composed look of a scripted drama and to draw audiences more deeply into the work and lives of the police officers.
“We wanted the cameras to be settled and for shots to be framed in a beautiful way because, ultimately, we didn’t want to do a lot of editing,” Dixon explains. “We wanted to let moments play out, to let the officers carry on conversations. We wanted the audience to feel that what they are seeing is real—no sleight of hand. We didn’t need to create drama; the material was already funny, scary and tense.”
Dixon adds that one consequence of the show’s shooting style was that it yielded a huge amount of source media, more than 4000 hours in total. It was the job of his editorial team to hone that massive resource to eight 41-minute episodes.
The editorial team set up shop on the third floor of PostWorks’ facility in Soho. Facility engineers assembled a workflow that featured seven Mac-based Avid Media Composer v.6 systems, eight ingest workstations and ISIS 5000 shared storage. In effort to restrain storage requirements, editors worked from compressed SD proxies. (The show was shot primarily with Canon EOS C300 cameras in 50mb 4:2:2 23.98 fps.) At the end of post-production, the show was conformed to HD by back-matching to original camera files.
Despite the use of proxies, storage requirements were enormous and media management, daunting. “The ISIS shared drive comprised 22 media partitions of varying size for editorial and another four partitions for HD material,” Dixon recalls. “Jarrett Creative also had partitions for music and sound effects. As a result, we had four to six editors pulling from 30 partitions all at once.”
Adding the inevitably tight deadlines to the workload, left the editorial team with little margin for error. Dixon was impressed with how well the workflow performed in the heat of production. “It more than handled the pressure we put on it all day, every day,” he says. “The tech support crew from PostWorks performed above and beyond.”
Post work proceeded virtually around the clock. As the editors finished their shifts, assistants arrived. Their job was to import newly arriving footage, prepare exports for delivery to the network, the show’s producers and the Boston Police Department, and to up-res completed episodes for final post. “The work often went on all night so the ISIS system never got to go to sleep except on weekends,” Dixon notes, “and even then there was often sporadic work that had to get done.”
Final color was applied by PostWorks colorist Eli Friedman via Assimilate’s Scratch. “PostWorks was there at every step to help us deliver the show that we wanted to deliver,” Dixon concludes. “This show could not have happened with a lesser team. Everyone did an unbelievable job. Looking back at the numbers—the amount of footage and the hours people put in—it’s hard to comprehend how much people gave to make this show work.”