Continuous Integration for Video Production

People who follow me know that I’m more the “nerdy” kind of a video producer. I work a lot with technology-focused companies. These are always at the forefront of innovation, trying to push the border of the things we once thought are not pushable any further. I’m also a relatively passionate follower of the software development world. When I look at new innovations made in these realms I’m often fascinated and wonder how I could adopt them for video production, prototyping, motion graphics, and the other things I provide as a service.

One example is Continuous Integration. With continuous integration developers speak of a system that automatically builds an app when some significant changes have been made, and checks whether the app is still running. If the app doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do anymore, then the system notifies about it, so that developers can fix it immediately.

I would say that’s quite a neat system because clients always have the freshest version of an app.

Previous State

When I say I look at the software development world, I do this purely because I want to take some of the good parts and transfer them to media production. In regards to continuous integration, I find the idea really attractive that clients get:

  • regular updates
  • always have the latest version of an edit

I felt like we could lend some things from the development world here, but how did we do it?

Well, to start off, I first have to mention that customers of zCasting 3000 did get regular updates already. When we work on a video, we sent out a new version at the end of every day. Customers told me that they really like this “feature”. I’ve implemented this feature, because I’m selfish. It saves me time, potential trouble, and the clients’ money. Clients always have the most-current version, and if an edit is not as they want it, they can request a change quickly. At most I lose a day of work. Now, typically that’s not always how it fans out, because mistakes occur.

With continuous integration, however, my goal was to send updates much more often than “once a day”.


There are a couple of potential issues with this workflow though:

  • The production environment needs to be able to render that fast.
  • Editors, and designers who are able to work these systems.
  • Automation, automation, automation.

Let’s talk briefly about the first point. The production environment needs to be modern, and fast enough to support this kind of workflow. Ideally when an export is made, the “app” should not block its interface, and it should still be usable, so the editor can continue his or her work. To make a long story short: checking out industry leader software led to the conclusion that they are not there yet. They are not interested to make editing faster, just add more features. The groundwork is not done. Something Apple takes care of by ruthlessly cutting off old technology. In the end, every minute lost in production, is money lost by the client. I like lean, I like small, I like fast.

Modern systems make continuous integration for video production possible. Encoding hardware built into MacBooks, can take advantage of this technology in the continuing editing process. Videos render at an insane speed. And the rendering all happens in the background. Cloud providers such as Dropbox make sharing a link to always the newest version a breeze.

Second point, editors. Students learn outdated workflows. They are really good with the things they learned, but not many think outside the box. In regards to such workflows there is always a learn curve involved until someone who is not used to the technology groks it.

Automation is a pain point, but it’s not a huge one anymore. With technological improvements on the internet, new workflows like this can blossom. There are lot of good things we can utilize. There’s always someone, who built something, with an API. I don’t like to reinvent wheels that I don’t ride. I only take what’s available and attach it to my bike.

This bike is not your standard bike. It has some fancy stuff on it. As far as I believe it is the future of bike riding/customer experience though. And soon we’ll all ride on like it.

photo credit: All Hands on Deck