The post production process on Zero Hour was driven by ABC to demonstrate that a complete finish on an effects driven prime time episodic drama could successfully take place in the show's production offices, breaking away from the traditional post facility model. Technicolor Hollywood's Location Services group rose to this challenge, and provided a pair of computers and some shared storage - and a pair of experienced technically savvy operators who could handle the demands of finishing the show without depending on the usual menagerie of support and management personnel that can hamstring operations at a large facility.
While the series itself was not a critical success, the workflow that Derek and colorist Gareth Cook devised was extremely efficient and flexible. Working directly with the show's offline editorial assistants, Derek handled the conforms, drop-ins, 2D composite/cleanup work, titling, and workflow management using an Avid Symphony and Avid DS, and Gareth took care of the color using a DaVinci Resolve system, all in the show's production offices in Culver City.
"We started with a DPX-based workflow, to maintain the highest possible image quality, the fastest process of doing drop-ins, and the most fluid color process. After a few episodes, however, it became necessary for Gareth to color the show remotely when his schedule at Technicolor in Hollywood did not allow him to travel over to Culver as often as he was needed - which meant moving media around. Because of this, we switched to MXF compressed media, which had a much smaller bandwidth and was faster to copy."
The MXF process had it's own limitations - actually taking up more storage and taking exponentially more time to deal with editorially, and by the end of the series, the team was already planning how to accommodate a hybrid DPX/MXF workflow on their next job together that would leverage the strengths of both formats.
"While I was able to work remotely from a variety of locations on this project without issue and did so frequently, at this point it's still cumbersome for a colorist to do so without having a local copy of the media - and it's not desirable to be carting hard drives full of media all over town. We believe we have a way to eliminate that in the future and are looking forward to that opportunity."