File-based work flows in video production have presented an incredible amount of benefits to the overall production process, but they have also demanded that video producers/directors reshape the way they move from production into post-production, and finally, to delivery. One of the key members of a tapeless video crew is the DIT, or Digital Imaging Technician. This individual, depending on the size of the shoot, is responsible for many things, but in my opinion, the most important function of the DIT is managing all of the assets while on location. This means taking the memory cards from the DP or camera assistant and transferring them over to hard drives. Once on the hard drives, a DIT will usually back up those files to a redundant drive and ensure that everything transferred correctly before re-formatting the cards for use again on the set. In addition, a DIT will prep each file for use in post-production and will prepare dailies for the director and the client to review.
For projects with smaller budgets, it may be tempting to forego the services of a DIT and simply let the director, DP, or a production assistant handle the duties of a DIT. Although this approach works, consider the side effects of this approach:
- Using the director and/or DP to handle this job could slow down the pace of the shoot considerably. Once the cards are full, the director or DP must stop work, start transferring footage, wait for that footage to be transferred, confirm the transfer, reformat the cards, then return to the set. A DIT can handle all of this while the director and/or DP continue their work of shooting, setting up for the next shot, or working with the client and/or talent. This maintains a good work flow throughout the day and ensures that everything stays on schedule.
- Using a production assistant as a DIT means assigning a less experienced person to do the job. An experienced DIT knows the equipment, knows exactly what he/she is doing, and can properly communicate with the director/DP.
So, even for those shoots that have smaller crews, a good DIT is a valuable asset to the team. However, with the ever-increasing capacity of memory cards, and the ever-decreasing cost of those memory cards, it will become easier for small ENG crews to spend an entire day shooting to memory cards, without ever having the need to transfer and reformat. All of the cards can simply be stored until the end of the day, then transferred at night, and used again the following day. But if the production turn-around is extremely tight, it may be in the producer’s best interest to hire a DIT and allow him/her to transfer all the footage during the course of the day, start prepping for post, and begin work on a rough edit. This will save a lot of time and will allow the producer to get the final video out to the client much quicker.
Ultimately, the use of the DIT depends on the situation, but don’t underestimate the value of that position in the ever-increasing world of tapeless video production.