The Details:
Title – “Catching Hell”
Network – Weather Channel
Production Company – Stick Figure
Executive Producers – Bill Pruitt, Poll Brien

After 12 weeks of production with over 24 Terabytes of footage moved I’m finally home and have had a chance to reflect a bit on the challenges this show presented. I was the DIT/Data Manager on the 3 month shoot- we had:

  • 27 Cameras (5x EX-3, 4x EX-1/Nanoflash, 3x 5D, 1x FS700, 1x C300, 13x GoPro Hero3)
  • 127 Memory Cards
  • 2x 12TB Raids
  • 3x 6TB Shuttle Drives
  • 2x 500GB 788t Audio Drives
  • Assorted Lacie Rugged and Thunderbolt Drives for the EP’s

Needless to say, some organization required. A little background- this show followed commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t get into much more detail than that due to my NDA- but it’s a really exciting show with some jaw dropping visuals. Generally we had two crews out on any given day of land shooting. When the boats were out we’d have two crews out on the water and one on land either doing B-Roll or interviews. I used a 3 bin system to organize the incoming cards- the heaviest days would see 70-80 shot cards coming back to the production office. I kept them organized in parts bins by crew/camera/type. This allowed me to quickly grab what  was needed to be expedited for a quick turn around or just to prioritize for what card reader was available. At any given time I was moving a minimum of two cards at a time. The heaviest days would see around 2.5TB of data moved. Camera logs allowed me to quickly reconcile any missing shot cards with the physical count.

Besides the usual offload/checksum verification I used a Premiere and Sony Clip Browser based spot check system. Just by importing the clips I was able to determine if there were any broken/corrupted clips. Actually looking at the clips allowed me to quickly verify the footage stuck and browse for any glaring technical issues. I was also able to identify timecode issues and bring them to the attention of post on the daily offload logs. WaveAgent was the tool used for my checks of the audio coming of the Sound Devices 788t’s that were being used for location mixing.

The offload system for this job was tailored around speed. I knew this was going to be a high volume/short turnaround show, with that in mind a Thunderbolt/ USB 3.0/ Esata/San system was put together to allow me to dump 3 cards at one time to a shuttle RAID 0 and the master RAID 5 array concurrently.

The ability to review footage for the EP’s was important. We didn’t utilize this frequently, however it was critical when we did. I had a secondary 24″ review monitor and a pair of Rokit audio monitors for those needs. A backup 17″ Macbook pro was used for paperwork/logs at all times, but it’s main job was to be the backup machine should the primary Macbook Pro fail. This was never needed as the Retina Macbook Pro performed flawlessly. For all the gear on site I was able to wrap it out in 5 cases. At any time I could have skinny’d down to a two case field system as necessary.

Ultimately we never missed a card on the whole shoot. The assistant camera and tech assist both found a few shot cards that were not reported, which was key in this. Both AP’s were excellent with their camera logs as well. Everyone contributing to the organization made the system work. At wrap our L&D was two microSD cards. All the expensive cards made it back from the 90 day shoot.

The shoot was not without it’s challenged and hiccups, however in the end it looks like there is a great show to be cut from the work done over the last 3 months.