February 14, 2024

Client Spotlight: The Dynasty

“Imagine two decades of sports history lie before you, a colossal mountain of visual and auditory memories waiting to be curated into a narrative,” recalls Jeremy Zerechak, VP, Head of Post Production at Imagine Documentaries. “We were staring down the barrel of something that we had never seen before in terms of its sheer size.”

For over two years, a team of more than fifty film professionals across the country - editors, assistant editors, loggers, producers - worked tirelessly to sift through tens of thousands of hours of footage to create The Dynasty: New England Patriots. Produced by Imagine Documentaries and directed by Matt Hamachek for Apple TV+, this ten-part series includes interviews with the biggest names in the Patriots franchise including quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, as well as prominent sports personalities and high-profile fans. It's set to be the definitive chronicle of one football's most iconic teams, covering their wins and scandals during an NFL dynasty that lasted twenty years.

With an unknown amount of archival footage starting to arrive in November 2021 and a two year editorial calendar, this monumental project needed the ability to scale and to be remotely accessible. Director Matt Hamachek recounted, “When we started editorial, we were still in the throes of Covid. We knew we were going to have to function remotely as there was no way we could place 50+ people into a building in Manhattan.”

Zerechak recollects, “The obvious solution based on our experience was Frame One, but we also knew it was going to be a project the likes of which Frame One had never seen.”

Preparing custom, powerful remote workstations in their New York City data center, Frame One provided Hamachek and his team with the flexibility to craft The Dynasty using familiar tools like Avid Media Composer with bin locking. With shared storage on Frame One’s 100Gb/s fiber optic network and load balanced across multiple 10Gb/s internet connections, the team had 24/7 access to the edit. This centralized editorial infrastructure allowed the project to scale limitlessly while ensuring that the project could meet Apple’s strict content security requirements.

A Mountain of Archival

With Robert Kraft’s participation, the team had full access to the Kraft Sports Productions archive, a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage covering decades of gameplay and interviews. Imagine Documentaries worked with Indiana archival specialists Memnon to receive the archival assets and deliver digital files to the editorial team.

It took two 18-wheelers to carry all of the tapes dropped off by Kraft Sports,” recalled Alex Soffron, the post-production supervisor. Packed into those semi trucks were pallets carrying a library of Beta tapes, XDCam discs and LTOs.

Processing the physical assets and uploading 24/7 to Frame One’s Media Shuttle, Memnon transferred hundreds of terabytes while shipping additional footage on external hard drives directly to Frame One. This produced a steady stream of data, immediately accessible to the editorial team. As lead assistant editor Patrick Miller recalls, “I was extremely impressed by the continual ability of Frame One’s infrastructure to keep growing and growing as more footage arrived.

Miller and his team of assistant editors were able to transcode and back up the footage as it rolled in over the span of 18 months.

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The Waterfall Effect

Post supervisor Alex Soffron assembled a team of 16 loggers, working in shifts around the clock, to catalog and take notes on the footage as it was ingested.

“It would have taken our loggers years to watch just the Kraft Sports Productions footage. Forget about the NFL Films and ESPN material,” elaborated Soffron, “They were logging it at 2x playback speed just to get through it. But one of the great benefits of working remotely is that you can build a team and a schedule across different time zones. You aren’t asking people to work a graveyard shift or compromise their personal life just for your project.

Using a robust system of abbreviations, naming, folder structure, and color coding, the loggers meticulously sorted through the archival footage, marking key moments and emotions. With the media living on Frame One’s shared storage, the loggers were able to immediately hand off footage to the editors.

Soffron described the process as a “waterfall effect,” where the project’s scope and complexity flowed seamlessly through the production stages, moving from one focus to the next.

“As filmmakers, we don't want to miss anything, and we don't want to leave stones unturned,” emphasizes Zerechak. “We saw it as tantamount to the success of the series to utilize all of the archival that was available to us, since the dawn of the New England Patriots, and Frame One made that possible for us.

Seamless Editing & Location Flexibility

With over 40,000 hours of archival and more than three million Avid media files, the editors had their work cut out for them. “While I’ve worked on projects with a lot of archival material, The Dynasty was definitely on a different level,” recalls lead editor Dan Koehler. “Sometimes it felt like we were testing the limits of Avid.

“Creating a cohesive documentary series about the unique chemistry that fueled six Super Bowl wins, out of mountains of footage, made it feel like we were scaling a steep incline,” recounts editor and lead graphic designer Nick Biagetti.

Despite the distance, the editors had the opportunity to work like a traditional team. “Our editors could still engage in a weekly meeting, have a few beers, chat, and review footage together,” continued Hamachek. “That culture was critical to building a strong team that could collaborate on such a long term project.”

“Having everything available at your fingertips, passing sequences around, and having it all feel seamless, you forget that you are operating remotely. You’re simply engrossed in the edit,” Biagetti shares.

“The day-to-day work flexibility was wonderful,” elaborates Koehler. “It allowed us to assemble an all-star team from across the country. Although there are plenty of challenges to working remotely…when it comes to the day-to-day tasks of reviewing footage or cutting a scene, I find that I work faster and better in the uninterrupted peace of my own home.”

Sharing a poignant moment, Hamachek recalled, “I was in the Delta Lounge at Logan airport after shooting some interviews, and I suddenly had an idea for music in a scene that we were working on. Hooked up to the wifi, no power plugged in, no hard drives stacked next to me, I was able to log into Frame One and test the idea within minutes. That’s the future of editorial, and there’s no going back.

Frame One, to me, is as significant a development to workflow as the move from editing on Steenbecks to working on Avid. It's revolutionary technology.

- Matt Hamachek

A Petabyte Of Source Footage

As the edit wound down, the team prepared to deliver episodes for the conform and color grade. However, a new challenge presented itself: the backups of the original source footage totalled over one petabyte and were stored across 26 external hard drives. Requiring a seamless way to consolidate that original media and deliver it to their post house, post supervisor Soffron reflects, “Doing that manually would have been a massive undertaking that would take weeks for each episode, so we enlisted Frame One to come up with a solution.”

Frame One created a custom application with a fast database backend to catalog all of the files on the external drives. Assistant editors could upload EDLs (Edit Decision Lists, text documents that represent a timeline) to the application and automatically retrieve only the files they needed, while filtering out duplicates and proactively searching for issues. It also allowed the assistant editors to trim the lengthy 6K RED interviews, grabbing only the required segments and saving them hundreds of terabytes over the entire conform. All 26 hard drives were hosted on dedicated servers on the Frame One network, allowing the assistant editors to simultaneously pull footage from them around the clock.

What was once a labor-intensive process that could take days was reduced to a task that could be completed in minutes,” Soffron explains. 

“The Frame One support team was with us every step of the way,” says Miller. “We were never really able to stump them.” 

A Remote Editing Revolution

Reflecting on his skepticism at the beginning of the process, director Hamachek laughs, “Honestly I just didn’t think it was going to work! But Frame One exceeded every expectation.” 

Hamachek continues, “Frame One, to me, is as significant a development to workflow as the move from editing on Steenbecks to working on Avid. It will change the way editorial teams can collaborate and work together. Geography no longer offers restrictions. It's revolutionary technology.

Biagetti echoed this sentiment, “I was blown away by what Frame One was capable of. This was an incredible opportunity for storytelling, and to have everything in front of you and accessible from anywhere, is a testament to the capabilities that Frame One gave us,” reports Biagetti.

Zerechak summarizes the experience, “Without the engineering and the ingenuity of Frame One, this series would not have happened as seamlessly as it did. It simply couldn't have.”

The Dynasty: New England Patriots, the highly anticipated ten-part documentary series from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries and directed by Matthew Hamachek, is set to premiere on Friday, February 16, on Apple TV+.

About Frame One

Frame One is a next-generation remote editing platform. It blends the cloud's resilient, highly available infrastructure into a custom, bare metal post-production environment to create a one-of-a-kind editorial experience with unparalleled reliability, security, and scalability.

With data centers in Los Angeles, New York City, and London, Frame One enables production companies, universities, and enterprises to edit collaboratively across North America and Europe with low latency and dedicated post-production support.

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