Blackbird drives massive workflow efficiencies for production of Gold Rush

Blackbird drives massive workflow efficiencies for production of Gold Rush


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Gold Rush is one of the highest rated TV shows of all time. Produced by Raw TV, this gritty reality show focuses on a group of ambitious gold miners living off grid in the brutal wilderness of Yukon, Canada.

Each season of Gold Rush consists of 22 episodes produced from over 2000 hours of footage using a large setup of cameras. For Season 1, rough-cut footage was transferred to XDCAM Pro disc on location with the discs transported to the nearest town and then sent to leading post-production house, ENVY, in London by airmail.

The ENVY team had to wait approximately 2 weeks to receive each set of rushes. This significant delay between shooting and viewing the footage created communication challenges between the Yukon and London based teams and difficulties in structuring stories. Managing and updating video files on portable hard drives for the editors’ Avid systems was time-consuming and with infrastructure expensive, the hardware-dependent workflow just wasn’t scalable.

Before work on Season 2 began, Raw TV and ENVY researched the market for a cloud-based video editing platform that could make their international workflow much more efficient. After a thorough analysis of available systems, they chose Blackbird.

Using the Blackbird cloud platform, rushes can now be delivered from Yukon to London overnight. The on-location film crew uploads XDCAM proxies generated by the cameras to ENVY’s server by FTP each evening. The following day the ENVY studios ingest the proxies into Blackbird’s codec enabling the Raw TV post team to view the rushes in Blackbird.

“This end-to-end solution gives us a much more efficient pipeline and a production that has really benefitted as a result.” -Jai Cave, Technical Operations Director, Envy Post Production

Using Blackbird in a browser, even on very low bandwidth, all project media can be accessed remotely from any location. Blackbird’s logging capabilities enables the production team to simultaneously sort through footage using keyboard shortcuts and expansions, transcription, spellcheck and metadata search.

Having instant access to the rushes enables Gold Rush’s producers to start putting story ideas together before the editing process begins. The edit team can easily inform the shoot team of editorial decisions and request story pickups due to Blackbird enabling real-time communication.

This new proxy workflow was the first of its kind in the world. The introduction of Blackbird reduced the viewing of rushes from 2 weeks to just 2 hours whilst the transfer time of files was reduced from 2 minutes to 10 seconds.

ENVY is a member of the Blackbird Productions Partnership Program. This program collaborates with post-production facilitates to provide Blackbird to TV programme creators globally.