How Frame.io Helps VICE Give All the F***s They Want
- VICE Media produces hundreds of hours of content across multiple media outlets, including daily news broadcasts and other time-sensitive programming.
- Frame.io has helped them significantly streamline their review and approval processes which involve 36 offices across the globe and hundreds of team members and collaborators.
- The “aha!” moment for VICE? Eliminating the review bottleneck for programming with same-day airings.
- VICE calculates that using Frame.io has helped them save roughly 100 eight-hour business days per year.
As we continue our series of behind-the-scenes articles spotlighting Frame.io’s enterprise clients, we look at another of our largest-scale content creators, VICE Media.
Like BuzzFeed, whose workflow we featured last week, VICE faces many of the same challenges: highly complex workflows involving contributors from all over the world, the need for securely sharing footage, and short deadlines—particularly with news-based content that airs same-day.
For VICE, however, Frame.io became an indispensable part of their workflow and infrastructure when they discovered that it allowed them to standardize and streamline their legal review process. Once they started using it for one of their daily programs, they discovered more ways to integrate it into their organization—and found that it’s saved them hundreds of hours over the course of a single year.
The way they were
Founded in 1994 as VICE Magazine, VICE Media has grown to include a news division, a documentary film division, a TV channel, and numerous online properties.
VICE News, dedicated to the kind of immersion journalism one rarely sees in the mainstream media, produces 30-minute programs that air on HBO four nights a week. With correspondents covering stories from the front lines on the Syria-Lebanon border to the attempted coup in Venezuela, streamlining their process is essential to timely delivery.
Beyond that, their television channel, VICELAND, regularly produces original shows that run from 30-60 minutes in duration. Along with hundreds of additional “micro pieces” that run on their websites and on social media, they produce more than 200 hours of original programming per year.
With 36 offices across the globe and 400 team members with approximately 1,600 external collaborators, VICE Media’s biggest challenge was to optimize their workflow processes. And with subject matter that is both cutting edge and timely, their need for speed and accuracy drove them to embrace Frame.io as their cloud-based video review and approval platform.
Raffi DerGhazarian, Director of Post-Production, and Dee Wassell, Director of Media Operations, took us inside their workflow in a Frame.io presentation at our booth during NAB 2019.
Both agree that although they “got a lot done” prior to implementing Frame.io, they wouldn’t wish to return to the way things were. A “mish-mash” of different tools and applications made their process “messy,” according to Raffi. Security was an issue with so many external collaborators, and they experienced severe bottlenecks when producing content that aired on the same day.
The aha! moment
A particular pain point for VICE was waiting for approvals, especially on shows that were at once time-sensitive and contained “hot-topic” material. Their “aha!” moment came in 2016 when they needed to get speedy approvals to comply with standards and practices guidelines. Some of their shows contain archival footage and expletives, both of which can really slow down the approval process. Dee explains: “The standards and practices review process was a real time-killer. You might not believe it, but we only get a certain amount of “f**ks” per episode. So it was about getting each segment into Frame.io and having standards and practices review it.”
BecauseFrame.io was able to help them meet their air times, it led them to use it across all VICE programming for standards and practices reviews and archival clearances.
VICELAND’s newest show, Dark Side of the Ring, a documentary series about infamous events from professional wrestling history, uses approximately 250 archival assets per episode, which means that the legal and archival departments needed to work together to review footage in order to get clearances, and they had to work fast. Using Frame.io, they were able to easily see how the archival footage was being used, find the duration of the clips, and get timely approvals.
Heading into the cloud with Frame.io
Today, VICE uses Frame.io as their overall post-production platform across all of their offices. Company-wide, they have 35 TB of active projects in the cloud totaling 16,000 hours of content, with 333,000 total assets uploaded and 45,000 review links created.
As was the case with BuzzFeed, the Asset Lifecycle Management feature, which automatically deletes old assets on a user-defined cadence, makes it easy for admins and team managers to set limits on the number of days an asset will remain in Frame.io, ensuring efficient storage usage.
Frame.io has also made it easy for team managers to control users and permissions, which has solved the access and security problems VICE used to have. Frame.io was the first vendor entirely built on AWS to be assessed by the Trusted Partner Network (TPN), which is a recent joint initiative between the MPAA and the CDSA. The TPN’s mission is to create a new global standard for content security. Frame.io is SOC 2 Type 2 compliant, as well.
Building toward the future
Dee streamlined VICE’s infrastructure by defining who in the production workflow is assigned to perform the various tasks. At the top is the Frame.io administrator, who directly oversees the media tech coordinator. The media tech coordinator is responsible for managing the global shared space and users.
Team managers approve who has access and manage the users within their teams. Those include the post-production coordinator and assistant editor (who are both VICE team members). The post coordinator manages links, assets, and team-member access. The assistant editor uploads cuts for review and approval.
The collaborators (often freelancers) include the editor and producer. Editors have permission to upload cuts for review and approval, and exchange and address review notes. The producer, however, is unable to upload cuts, but has permission to review, make notes, and approve cuts.
Having improved their processes significantly by implementing Frame.io, VICE is continuing to customize the platform to make additional improvements to their cloud-based studio by:
- Implementing local watch folders on the desktop for exports to directly upload to Frame.io so they can eliminate the need to drag-and-drop into the web UI.
- Sub-clipping content to help show legal/licensing how a bit of archival footage was being used in context, which would result in even faster response times.
- Using the Frame.io API to automate standards and practices notes.
- Integrating with caption and transcription vendors to make those processes more seamless.
- Using the resource management platform to create and archive projects and task resources with necessary action items.
Dee and Raffi have witnessed the difference in their production process since Frame.io’s implementation. The bottlenecks in same-day airing workflows have been markedly reduced, and the legal review process has been standardized. There’s now one centralized place for review and approval across all 36 offices. And the team finds the interface simple to use, with minimal onboarding for collaborators.
Dee did a little math. If each VICELAND episode needs to go through four feedback versions and they save one hour on each episode over 200 episodes per year, that means that since VICE Media implemented Frame.io, they’ve saved roughly 100 eight-hour business days a year.
But VICE’s favorite thing about Frame.io? Being able to bring all collaborators together to keep the work moving forward quickly and more efficiently. What was once chaotic is now unified into a functionally improved effort that better enables them to deliver the kind of cutting-edge content that defines their uniquely adventurous brand of journalism and entertainment.
As everyone who administers a large-scale ecosystem knows, saving time translates to saving effort, which ultimately translates to saving money.
And who doesn’t want to do that?