Data wranglers back up files on a location shoot. That might sound straightforward enough – but they have to keep a cool head because if they don’t do it correctly, all the work that’s been done to capture the action could be lost.
On a shoot using digital cameras, data wranglers take the cards containing the raw files (known as ‘rushes’) from the cameras and sound recorders. They transfer and back up data on to memory drives. They check the data, label and log them, making sure there’s no data loss or corruption. Data wrangling is usually done to at least two external hard drives.
Then they transfer the data to the post-production department of the unscripted TV production. They keep a log of who has received what footage and what copies of the data exist.
Depending on the production, data wranglers may have to perform runner or logger duties too. More experienced data wranglers might also be involved in setting up the cameras and adjusting the live pictures in a shoot. In those instances, they are might be called a ‘digital imaging technician’ (DIT). Some data wranglers might also be expected to maintain the camera kit when out on location. Then they might be known as ‘loaders’.
Video assist operators (VAOs) take the images generated by the film or digital cameras and display them on video monitors so the director and other crew members can see exactly what’s been shot.
These images are also recorded for playback, so the action can be reviewed after each take. They are a reference through which continuity can be checked. The playback is stored to form a complete archive of the shots taken throughout the production.
VAOs use dedicated software for the recording and instant playback. The software also gives the VAO the ability to simulate visual effects on set as filming is happening. The director and vex staff can evaluate these shots immediately rather than wait until the raw footage is processed and manipulated.
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