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Why Good Dailies Matter

Dailies are the bridge connecting on-set production to post-production. During the dailies process, a production evaluates, normalizes, and processes all of the sound and image data captured for each shoot day. 

Good dailies matter because producers, directors, cinematographers, editors, and other key production stakeholders use dailies to make important creative and technical decisions. Errors during the dailies process can cause delays and incur additional costs for both on-set production and post-production departments. Thorough dailies planning during pre-production will minimize such errors.

Dailies are a cross-departmental responsibility.  Good dailies can’t be achieved without communication and planning between on-set crew, Editorial, Visual Effects (VFX) teams, Final Color teams, and the Dailies team. This article provides dailies best practices for several departments during pre-production,  then outlines some best practices specifically for the Dailies team during the dailies process. By following these suggestions, productions can avoid common pitfalls and operating errors.

A note: Readers should understand that this article focuses on common, current best practices for workflow and dailies. Over time, technological advancements and cloud-based workflows will likely streamline many of the practices described in this document (including upload, ingest, archive, sound sync, and dailies rendering) as the industry leverages process automation. This will enhance production workflow collaboration, and more importantly, provide teams with more time to be creative. As these workflows become robust and reliable, we expect the industry to take a cloud-first approach to many post-production needs, including dailies. 

Netflix is available to assist in navigating production-specific workflow decisions in collaboration with key production stakeholders. Please reach out to your Netflix contacts with any questions or concerns specific to your production.

 


 

Table of Contents

Project Startup

Technical Prep

Processing  Dailies

 


 

Project Startup

Good dailies begin with the project startup phase. This section outlines the key steps that should be taken to establish the dailies pipeline.

Workflow Meetings

During pre-production, workflow meetings provide a good opportunity for different departments to discuss the technical requirements for their project. Cinematographers, Post Producers, Editors, Digital Imaging Technicians (DITs), On-Set Sound, VFX Producers, Final Colorists, Final Sound Mixers, and Dailies Technicians are some of the people that should attend these workflow meetings. 

Once the workflow meetings finish, a clear plan should be established that outlines equipment logistics and technical choices. The production teams should then work together to compose a workflow memo.

The Workflow Memo

The workflow memo collects and details a production’s logistical and technical plans so that  production teams can accomplish their work without worry or confusion. The workflow memo should denote key decisions such as:

  • Camera Choice
  • Image Resolution
  • Framing Needs
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Base Frame Rate
  • Audio Frame Rate
  • Audio Sample Rate
  • A Data Management Plan
  • A Color Management Plan
  • Editorial and Creative Review Deliverable Specifications

The workflow memo should be actively shared with the Dailies, Editorial, VFX, Final Color teams, and all other production teams that might need it. 

An example of what a workflow memo could look like can be found here. 

 


 

Technical Prep

During technical prep, the workflow plan begins to become a reality as teams set up and test their equipment. The Dailies team will need to collaborate with on-set departments, Editorial, VFX, and Final Color teams to properly set up their dailies system before they receive any footage.

Color Management Plan

A color management plan ensures that dailies deliverables are consistent with the creative choices made on-set.  In the workflow memo, the color management plan should specify whether or not the dailies operator needs to apply Color Decision Lists (CDLs) and/or Lookup Tables (LUTs) to the dailies deliverables. It’s recommended to only use primary color correction (in the form of CDLs and show look LUTs) during dailies to ensure that the color applied can be reproduced in downstream software.  Any on-set teams generating “secondary” color information (such as power windows or tracking effects) should be warned that this secondary data may not be reproduced accurately in the dailies process since secondary color corrections don’t always carry over to other software platforms. Whenever possible, color information from on-set and dailies should be accessible and reproducible in downstream processes to preserve creative intent.

For more information on Color Management, see:

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert: DIT (On-Set), DIT (Near-Set), DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM

Key Stakeholders: DP, EDITORIAL, DAILIES TEAM, DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM, VFX 

Departments who share this responsibility: DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM, DAILIES TEAM, VFX, EDITORIAL

 

Monitor Set Up & Calibration

Working with calibrated, color accurate monitors remains essential both on-set and during dailies. Proper color management retains creative intent throughout various stages of production and post-production. A “source of truth” monitor should be established and used as the benchmark by which the dailies monitors are evaluated for calibration accuracy. Some monitors may fall closer or further from the calibration target and it may be necessary to review calibration during the course of production.

For more on monitor set up and calibration see: 

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert: DIT (On-Set), DIT (Near-Set), DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM

Key Stakeholders: DP, EDITORIAL, STUDIO, CAMERA, PRODUCTION, RENTAL HOUSES

Departments who share this responsibility: DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM, DAILIES TEAM, VFX, EDITORIAL, VIDEO

 

Framing Charts

It’s standard practice for the Camera team to film a framing chart during technical prep. Doing so ensures that the combination of sensor configuration and lenses achieves the intended final framing. A pixel-accurate digital framing chart can be created digitally and printed onto large-scale paper to be captured with the camera. Both the digital framing chart and the media of the filmed camera chart should be delivered to the Dailies, Editorial, and Final Color Departments as a reference to determine scaling of the captured image.

For more information on how to create and utilize framing charts see: Framing Charts Best Practices.

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert: DP, DIT (On-Set), DIT (Near-Set)

Key Stakeholders: DP, EDITORIAL, STUDIO, CAMERA, PRODUCTION, VFX, DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM

Departments who share this responsibility: CAMERA, DAILIES TEAM, VFX, EDITORIAL, DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM

 

Timecode Sync Generator

During technical prep, Camera and Sound Departments should ensure the timecode generator selected during the planning period functions properly across cameras, audio mixers, and smart slates. Proper use of timecode sync generators will help automate the process of audio and video syncing during dailies, allowing for more efficient workflows from set to final delivery.

For more information on Sound Department technical prep see: Production Sound: Best Practices.

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert: SOUND MIXER, CAMERA DEPARTMENT

Key Stakeholders: SOUND, CAMERA, DIT (On-Set), EDITORIAL, STUDIO, PRODUCTION, RENTAL HOUSES

Departments who share this responsibility: SOUND, CAMERA, DIT (On-Set), PRODUCTION

 

Data Management

Workflow memos should clarify whether or not the Dailies team will be responsible for archiving original camera files (OCF), original audio files (OAF), or any other specific media. The workflow document should also specify how the dailies lab should store the files. Common storage formats include RAID storage, LTO, and Content Hub.

As part of the data management plan, camera and sound teams should communicate a precise and unambiguous process to clear camera and sound cards for reformatting. If the dailies team is responsible for archiving media, they will be a part of this process. Failure to clarify data management responsibilities can have serious consequences. Entire scenes or audio files can be lost. 

A data management plan should also include a standard for renaming files with redundant file names. Some non-approved cameras don’t generate unique camera rolls, sound rolls, or clip names. This leads to media with duplicate filenames. Duplicate filenames can cause extensive problems during the downstream VFX and color finishing processes.  

Data managers and/or dailies operators should coordinate with the editorial team to establish a renaming standard. The renaming standard should include the original file name in conjunction with a prefix and/or suffix with unique identifiers. Camera roll and date should be included.

 

Example:   [cameraRoll]_[clipName]_[date as YYMMDD]

Before - redundant names:

  • Day 1
    • Clip001.mp4
    • Clip002.mp4
    • Clip003.mp4
  • Day 2
    • Clip001.mp4
    • Clip002.mp4
    • Clip003.mp4

After - unique names: 

  • J001_Clip001_210323
  • J001_Clip002_210323
  • J001_Clip003_210323
  • J002_Clip001_210324
  • J002_Clip002_210324
  • J002_Clip003_210324

Production and Dailies should coordinate and decide together whether duplicate file names will be changed on-set or in the dailies lab. If dailies processing times will be affected by this additional task, the dailies team should alert production.

It’s good practice for productions to make a copy of the original files before renaming in order to reduce the risk of either corrupting or losing the original source files. If retaining duplicate files impacts storage dramatically, then the dailies team should ensure all duplicated files are identical to the source and conduct a technical QC of the duplicated media before deleting any original media.

Drive Handoff and Card Clearance

During technical prep, the Dailies team should also connect with whoever is managing data offload on-set. Drive handoff procedures and checksum/hash type should be clarified. The process for clearing cards for reformatting would ideally be re-stated. Clear and consistent folder structure and file naming conventions should also be agreed upon.

For more on data management, see:  

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert(s): DIT (On-Set), DIT (Near-Set), DATA MANAGER, DIGITAL LOADER

Key Stakeholders: CAMERA, SOUND, DALIES TEAM, DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM, POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR

Departments who share this responsibility: POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR, PRODUCTION, DAILIES TEAM, DI LAB/FINAL COLOR TEAM, STUDIO

For more information on how all of these technical prep tasks would be accomplished on set, and who would implement these measures see: On-Set Digital Imaging and Data Management: Roles and Responsibilities.

 

Editorial and Creative Review Deliverables

During technical prep, Dailies teams should ensure they understand the deliverable requests from Production and Post-Production. Deliverable specifications will depend on the creative review platform and editorial infrastructure (storage capacity, transfer speeds, monitoring, etc) and the production’s workflow.  For editorial and creative review deliverables, the workflow memo should specify:

 

  • Deliverable File Specifications
    • Codec
    • Resolution
    • Frame Rate
      • A plan for processing variable and off-speed frame rates should be outlined.
  •  Framing
    • Framing charts should be provided to the Dailies team in order to properly map the OCF to the desired aspect ratio.
  • Burn-Ins
    • If burn-ins are required by creative teams for either editorial or creative review deliverables, then the burn-in positioning should be specified.
    • If there is information burned into the proxy image, when possible, it should be positioned outside of the active image area. Productions unsure about burn-in requirements should reach out to their Netflix representatives. 

1_s0gGhU48vcdElWMO6oMQZ7eoNLiTXsZfwVo9kI.png

Figure A: An example of an editorial deliverable file with burn-in information outside the active image area.

  • Editorial Projects and Bins
    • Editorial should specify how they would like shots named and organized in projects/bins.
      • In some cases editorial teams will prefer to receive AAFs or XMLs in place of projects/bins.
    •  
  • Delivery Method
    • For creative review dailies, the workflow memo should state the platform where the dailies operator should upload these dailies and how they should be organized and released for review.
    • For editorial dailies, the workflow memo should state whether media will be delivered via point-to-point connection, hard drive handoff, or any other methods.

Common Roles & Responsibilities:

Subject Matter Expert(s): EDITORIAL TEAM, DAILIES TEAM

Key Stakeholders: STUDIO, PRODUCERS, DP, EDITORIAL TEAM, DAILIES TEAM

Departments who share this responsibility: EDITORIAL TEAM, DAILIES TEAM

 


 

Test the Dailies Pipeline

Once project startup and technical prep have been completed, camera tests and framing chart footage should be rendered through the planned dailies process and delivered to downstream teams. Doing this helps to ensure the image and sound pipeline functions as expected and can help teams identify potential issues and make adjustments before on-set production begins.

Generally, the following elements should be run through this pipeline test: 

  • Original Camera Files (OCF)
  • Original Audio Files (OAF) 
  • Editorial and creative review proxies
  • Color information & metadata (LUTs, CDLs, ALEs)
  • Color still reference images
    • Project backup files
  • Sample VFX pulls

Each team should actively participate in this pipeline test and sign off on the final pipeline. Any changes to the pipeline or production changes that occur as a result of the pipeline tests should be reflected in updates to the workflow memo.

 


 

Processing Dailies

Once prep has completed, shooting begins and all the planning pays off. It’s time to process some dailies.

This section outlines the steps typically taken by a dailies team during dailies processing, while providing best practices along the way.

End to End Overview

The actual order of operations for the dailies process can vary from production to production, but all dailies processes should include these stages in one form or another:

  1. Ingest & Verify Media
  2. Process Media in Dailies Software
  3. Technical QC 
  4. Rendering Deliverables
  5. Sending the “End of Day” Email

These stages can also occur simultaneously. For example, while a camera roll renders for the deliverables stage, a dailies operator could move on to audio syncing and processing the following camera roll. As the dailies team becomes more familiar with the workflow, they should be able to complete various tasks in tandem.

1.  Ingest & Verify Media

After media arrives from set, all assets should be ingested and backed up per the workflow memo’s requirements. Checksum verifications should be used to ensure data integrity. 

Once media has been safely copied, image and sound files should be loaded into the designated dailies software. Shots should be visually inspected to ensure there are not urgent technical issues that require immediate attention from Production or that would hamper the completion of dailies. 

Media should also be cross referenced with on-set reports: script notes, camera reports, and sound logs. Dailies operators should immediately report any missing or corrupt media to production that is not already explained by the on-set reports, and then report the issue again in the “end of day” email. 

Dealing With Non-Standard Media

During the ingest and verification stages, Dailies teams may find unexpected media or footage that does not comply with specifications designated in the workflow memo. Examples may include:

  • Material shot at variable frame rates or at frame rates different than planned or communicated.
  • Material shot with compression different from what was planned or communicated.
  • Material from alternative cameras not designated in the workflow document (iPhone, GoPro, etc).
  • Sound files that don’t adhere to the specifications in the workflow document.

When a dailies team encounters non-standard formats, operators may need to create intermediate files. Intermediate files are transcodes of the original, non-compliant files, re-rendered to meet the production’s workflow specifications. These intermediate files become the new masters of those assets for the rest of the production’s lifespan and should be used to generate dailies deliverables. Intermediate files should be backed up to long-term archival (i.e. LTO, Content Hub) along with the OCF.

1tLMGspoUBRs_0ROblqxWxXhy4W5SFiOvkPubNFE.pngFigure B: Non-compliant OCFs are rendered as intermediate “new masters” before being processed in the dailies software and rendered as editorial deliverables.

 

Creating Intermediate Files

When generating intermediate files, the goal is to preserve the quality of original footage and only change problematic characteristics of the OCF. To accomplish this, dailies teams may need to use different intermediate formats depending on the source being transcoded. The main variables to account for in this transcode process are: 

  • Image
    • Bit-depth
    • Color space
    • Source-file resolution
    • Frame rate
  • Sound
    • Sample rate
    • Bit-depth
    • Preserving iXML/Bext metadata

Color space, resolution, and frame rate should ideally be translated in a 1:1 relationship to the source footage. If the non-standard footage does not have a constant frame rate, then the dailies team will have to identify the rate at which the footage was captured and then “bake-in” a constant frame rate for the intermediate file.

Below are best practice specifications for generating intermediate files:

Color Space*

Transfer Function*

Original File Bit-depth

Intermediate File Format

Scene-Referred Color Space 

(i.e. camera native color space)

Logarithmic

10-Bits or more

16-bit DPX (.dpx)

10-Bits or less

10-bit DPX (.dpx)

Linear

10-bits or more

Uncompressed

16-bit Half-Float OpenEXR (.exr)

ZIP Losslessly Compressed

16-Bit Half-Float OpenEXR (.exr)

PIZ Losslessly Compressed

16-Bit Half-Float OpenEXR (.exr)

Display referred Color Space
(sRGB, Rec.709, P3-D65)

2.4, PQ

10 bits or less

Quicktime Prores 4444

*Color Space and Transfer Function should not be altered from the original file to the intermediate file.

 

Intermediate files can be named similarly to the original files, retaining the original filename and including a file extension that properly identifies them as intermediate.

For example:

  • Source File: G001C001_210819 
  • Intermediate File: G001C001_210819_int

Note: For productions using Content Hub, a new MHL must be generated and imported after duplicate files have been renamed.  

 

2. Processing Media in the Dailies Software

Once the Dailies team has loaded all required files into the designated dailies software, they can begin mapping the image, syncing audio, adding metadata, and applying color metadata according to the workflow memo and framing charts.

Image Mapping

Sensor resolution for each camera should be mapped in accordance with the framing charts created during technical prep. Attention should be paid to any specific mapping requirements. Editorial deliverables sometimes require different image mapping than creative review deliverables.  Reference the workflow document for specifics.

 1E870Lz1C6nUMJGAtJp14PUE9nl_sluZgq-ImZkY.jpeg

Figure C: Example of the active image with 5% safety framing (4226x2114 - 2.00:1) within the originally captured OCF frame (4448x3096 -1.44:1).

 1OU9JcPhFsn9oqYbAoxB2FRtfYFd-3ugXdgAURmE.jpeg

Figure D: Example of active image (4226x2114 - 2.00:1) mapped to an HD (1920x1080 - 1.78:1) container for dailies.

 

Video and Audio Synchronization

Most dailies software can automatically sync multiple video source files to their corresponding audio using embedded source timecode.  Sometimes, timecode drift or improper jam-sync on set can cause improper audio sync. The dailies operator may need to refine sync by shifting video. Any files that do not automatically sync will need to be manually synced by the dailies operator. Shots without audio should be indicated in the editorial metadata (e.g. ALEs, Bins, AAFs). 

Some software can match the waveform of “scratch audio” (lower quality, in-camera audio) with the waveform of OAF. If scratch audio tracks are present, this can be a timesaving tool when syncing several files with timecode issues. 

Any timecode issues should be reported to Production in the end of day email in order to:

  • Address the issue in subsequent days
  • Avoid delays in the dailies process
  • Prevent issues in sound and picture finishing downstream

Applying Color

The dailies operator should reference the workflow document in order to properly apply the color pipeline to the dailies.  Any required CDL values and LUTs (output or input) should be applied to the dailies and also logged in metadata for downstream teams.

Metadata Sync

Any metadata from on-set should be applied to editorial deliverables so it can be used downstream to conform offline editorial files to original source media. Relevant script notes, camera and sound reports, or important VFX notes should also be added to editorial deliverable metadata as well. 

Metadata critical for downstream picture and sound finishing include: 

  • Tape Name (a.k.a. Reel Name)
  • Source Timecode
  • Start Timecode
  • End Timecode
  • Sound Roll
  • Sound Time Code
  • Audio Track Mapping
  • Color Metadata (CDLs, LUTs, etc.)
  • Lens Metadata

 

3. Technical QC 

Once OCF have been prepared within the dailies software, the dailies operator should ideally spot check each shot by moving through the timeline and checking for technical errors. This technical QC should be completed in a controlled, dark viewing environment, using a debayer setting that matches the capture resolution, at least up to 4K. The review monitor should be able to reproduce the full dailies color space and be professionally calibrated as outlined during Technical Prep.

Any technical failure should be noted in editorial metadata to be passed to downstream teams and should be communicated to Production in the end of day email.  Common technical failures include:

  • Image
    • Sensor tearing
    • Image banding
    • CMOS smearing
  • Sound
    • RF interference
    • File corruption

If unwanted items are found in frame (boom mics, crew reflections, etc.), they should be logged in editorial metadata and in the end of day email.

 

4. Rendering Deliverables

Both editorial deliverables and creative review deliverables should be rendered, QCed, and distributed to all relevant stakeholders within 12 hours of wrap each day (unless agreed upon otherwise). Be sure to reference the workflow memo to ensure the correct format, framing, frame rate and burn-ins for each deliverable type.

Editorial Delivery 

An editorial delivery generally consists of:

  • Editorial Proxies 
  • Original Sound files
  • AVID Log Exchange File (ALE) 
  • Project and/or AVID Bin files with synced clips and properly named shots. 
  • Shoot day reports, such as: 
    • Data management reports
    • Camera Report
    • Sound Report
    • QC Report (On-set and Dailies)
    • Script Supervisor Report

 

Processing Editorial Proxy Files

Once editorial deliverables have been rendered, the new files should be QCed. Some common issues to look out for include:

  • Metadata: Metadata embedded in the header of an editorial file should correlate to the OCF. 
  • Correct Codec or Wrapper:  Files should open correctly in the designated editing software.
  • Image and Sound Errors: Files should be spot checked for glitches and artifacts.
  • Incorrect Color: LUTs and CDLs should be correctly applied. 
  • Improper Framing: Masking should be applied correctly.
  • Missing Audio Files: Muxed files should be checked to see if they rendered audio correctly. Ensure all audio MXFs get stored in the proper folder.

The contents of the editorial project/bin should also be checked in the editing software by:

  • Cross referencing shots against script and camera reports.
    • Ensuring all shots appear in BINs
    • Ensuring shots are named correctly
  • Checking that editorial proxies link successfully
  • Ensuring metadata fields are populated correctly via the ALE

 

Editorial Proxies Delivery Method

All editorial deliverables should be delivered to the post-production team in the manner and folder structure outlined in the initial workflow document. If there will be a delay in delivery, the operator should alert the post-production team.

Creative Review Dailies

Once creative review dailies have been rendered, they should be transferred to the review platform designated by the workflow document and organized according to the production’s needs. Material should be checked after upload to ensure all files are playing on the platform correctly.

 

5. Sending the End of Day Email

Once all deliverables have been processed, delivered, and QCed, the operator should send a final email to Production. The email should include:

  • Verification that all production assets have been safely backed up in line with the data management plan outlined in the workflow document.
  • Verification that no assets are missing.
  • Delivery status of all deliverables and assets.
  • On-Set reports (camera, sound, script, DIT, etc).
  • Shooting Day Report or Clip Report (if exported by dailies software)
  • Notes specifying any technical issues encountered during QC.

 


 

Upfront planning and ongoing communication between departments can minimize issues in dailies and avoid downstream delays. Good dailies start before shooting beings with clear cross-departmental involvement.

 


 

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