Sharing and Remote Collaboration at Arrow Media

Stuart Russell
March 27, 2024

Arrow Media is an award-winning producer of documentary, factual and non-scripted content. Established in 2011, Arrow Media produces a variety of content but has established a strong reputation for true crime programming, creating hit shows such as ‘Married to Evil’, ‘Body Cam’, ‘American Monster’ and ‘See No Evil’. Arrow’s customers include major international networks such as A+E Networks, BBC, Discovery, Disney+, Investigation Discovery, National Geographic Channel, PBS, Sky and Smithsonian Network.

A promotional image for Arrow Media's hit TV series American Monster, powered by Limecraft.

At a glance

  • 250 concurrent users on the Limecraft platform.
  • Producing 100-110 hours of high-quality content per year.
  • 108 productions currently live on the system.
  • Circa 60,000 hours of footage ingested and indexed.
  • 1500 hours ingested per month.
  • 4,866,501 workflows executed (and growing daily)

Dan Carew-Jones joined Arrow Media over a decade ago and helped the company establish its in-house post-production facility. He also oversaw the transition from the previous sharing and collaboration tool to Limecraft’s solution back in 2019. “My role has changed since the early days at Arrow Media,” he notes. “More recently, I’ve been focussing on the support systems we need to make footage available to as many relevant people both inside and outside the organisation as we can, as quickly as possible. That’s where Limecraft comes in. Limecraft was recommended to us by one of our suppliers – we met the Limecraft team at IBC in September 2018 and adopted their solution in early 2019.”

With teams operating in both the UK and the USA, the key issues for Arrow Media have been how to share content across teams and locations, including managing remote ingest and editing. “Most of our shooting happens in the US,” comments Carew-Jones. “Editorial control sits with the London office, which is also where post-production happens, but we have editorial and archive professionals in a variety of locations and so it’s crucial that we can share and move content around securely and efficiently.” With very few gaps, if any, between shooting and post-production, and tight delivery deadlines, the production process is compact and efficient. “Our shows include a mix of real footage including interviews, archive material, B-roll footage, and drama reconstructions. The interview footage often informs the look and feel of the reconstructions, so it’s helpful for us to assemble and share these interviews with the drama teams and collaborate on how we think the reconstructions should be shot. We’re also shooting and assembling content across 3-4 episodes at any given time so there are always plenty of plates spinning when it comes to review and approvals, and Limecraft helps us keep on top of it all.”

A promotional image for Arrow Media's hit TV series Body Cam, powered by Limecraft.

With Arrow Media operating a model that sees all content being made available from anywhere, Limecraft’s cloud-based solution made a great deal of sense. Another attraction of Limecraft was the willingness of the company to develop the platform in ways that complement Arrow’s workflows. “We’ve never had the resource or inclination to develop a solution in-house,” observes Carew-Jones. “We liked Limecraft because it was already an established product, but we could have very open and honest discussions with them about how the platform might develop in future and how it can integrate with other platforms we use. That’s been very refreshing.”

Limecraft’s sharing functionality has also been valuable to Arrow Media when pitching story ideas to customers. “The stories we develop are often based around real archive content such as police interviews and CCTV footage. Being able to collate these into a pitch that we can share with networks via secure links has been very helpful. In addition, we work with Archive Researchers who are regularly sifting through huge amounts of archive footage, gathering it together for review by the creative teams. In the bad old days, that material would often be downloaded to a drive that would be physically shipped but that was costly, risky and an incredibly inefficient use of everyone’s time – making that material more accessible and being able to share it quickly and securely helps us make faster decisions and produce better pitches. That’s a win for everyone.”

Looking to the future, Dan Carew-Jones sees exciting possibilities for greater use of the Limecraft platform ahead. “The way we are using the platform has already changed a lot since 2019. Our rushes are our key assets, and we have a policy of always having these in three places at once for security and redundancy. That used to be a very manual process, but we’ve now effectively automated that with Limecraft at the point of ingest.  We’ve also begun using the platform to extract key metadata and produce archive logs of finished programmes. Looking forward, we’ve been upgrading our post-production capabilities and I’d like to see us using Limecraft as more of a storyboarding tool. I know the platform can create timelines of material and that’s got to be helpful in terms of efficiency if we can create initial rough edits and do some pre-cutting. I’m also really interested in how the platform’s AI functionality is developing – I can see things like facial recognition, automatic speech recognition, optical character recognition, and even emotion detection becoming very powerful tools that can help us extract even more metadata and hence more value from our content. Ultimately, we’re trying to consolidate the systems we use, and we’d prefer to have all of this functionality – ingest, MAM, sharing, collaboration and content delivery – in one integrated package. That’s clearly where Limecraft is heading and that’s very attractive to us. I’ve always said that Limecraft is a great solution because it’s highly flexible and has complemented our workflows rather than us having to change to suit the platform. It works for you rather than you having to work for it, and I think we’re going to get even more benefit from it in the years to come.”