Studio Network Solutions’ EVO Assists Lancit Digital Media With Visual Storytelling
There’s a golden rule in content creation: always tell a good story. Nobody practices that rule quite like Larry Lancit, President and Owner of Lancit Digital Media. In his Emmy-winning career in video production, Lancit has prioritized storytelling above all else. This is clear in his long-running educational program Reading Rainbow, which inspired countless children with books, music, and other media for over 20 years.
For over 25 years, Lancit and his wife Cecily evolved their production company to serve different markets, work with new clients, and tell stories with the newest production technologies. From their visitor programming channel, Paradise Coast TV, to charitable projects like Vids for Kids, Lancit Digital Media never stops improving their visual storytelling abilities.
“Storytelling is key — and EVO lets us focus on that,” says Lancit of his EVO shared storage solution from SNS. “EVO expedites the production of programming. It’s really changed our business.”
Lancit’s long-form creative projects weren’t always so manageable, though. In fact, Lancit Digital Media’s journey to post-production efficiency would make a pretty good book. Take a look!
Call to Adventure
Larry and Cecily Lancit created the massively popular children’s television series Reading Rainbow, first airing in 1983 with host LeVar Burton. It didn’t take long for the show to receive nationwide acclaim, including 16 Emmy Awards, the 1991 Prix Jeunesse Award, and a Peabody Award.
The show’s goal was simple: inspire children to read and interact with storytelling in a constructive way. To do this, Lancit used a clever mix of animation, special effects, and live action sequences to bring stories to life. To bring everything together in post-production, Lancit contracted multiple professional video editing studios known for their quality work.
By the early 1990s, however, Lancit recognized the need to upgrade their video editing workflow and keep the process in-house. While working on shows like Reading Rainbow and The Puzzle Place, Lancit’s editing team shared a workstation inside their Manhattan office, storing media on shelf-sized 18GB drives—a far cry from today’s media production hardware.
By the next decade, the industry had much more to offer. The Lancits were editing their productions on personal computers using Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro for the entire post-production process. While storing their media on disks and external hard drives was a step in the right direction for Lancit, it hampered his team’s collaboration and creativity. Soon, he began a quest for his next workflow evolution, leading him to EVO.
Crossing the Threshold
Lancit Digital Media produces a lot of content for many different clients, including non-profits and community organizations. “We do a lot of storytelling,” said Lancit. “The non-profits we work with have stories to tell about what they do and who they serve. Bringing stories like these to life is our forté.”
Managing so many distinct projects — and storing so much pro video content — with each video editor working on their own in Premiere Pro or FCPX was becoming a major issue.
“Keeping our media organized was getting cumbersome,” adds Lancit. “Every project had to have its own drive, and we had all these disks piling up all over the office. It was really a problem for us. We began looking for a better option, eventually discovering EVO.”
Looking to organize their workflow, Lancit Digital Media purchased their 8 Bay EVO shared storage server in 2014. It was an evolution to an entirely different way of finishing media. In one building, Lancit’s lead editor worked from EVO to edit content in Premiere Pro and other video editing software. In an adjacent building, Lancit hard-wired into the same media server to review finished edits, give feedback, and retrieve media from their archive.
Every aspect of their post-production workflow goes through EVO. Lancit makes extensive use of ShareBrowser, EVO’s included media asset management software. Using ShareBrowser, Lancit’s team can search, tag, comment, and review their entire media library, finding the footage they need exactly when they need it.
“It’s made a huge difference in our workflow, how we think about our projects, what it takes to complete them, and how we bid our projects out,” says Lancit of their EVO-centric post-production process. “With EVO and ShareBrowser, it’s much easier. They’ve been a real game changer.”
Seizing the Sword
As we all know, a great story can’t exist without the occasional conflict. Video editing apps update, new media is produced, and things happen that we can’t control. Thankfully, having a stellar support team behind EVO helps producers like Lancit avoid costly production delays.
“The support team at SNS is terrific,” says Lancit. “We email them, and they start helping us immediately. Then they follow up afterwards to make sure they did everything right. It’s wonderful knowing that level of support is available if we ever need it.”
Lancit Digital Media’s four team members (“five if you count EVO,” adds Lancit) typically work on-site in their Florida gulf coast studio. In 2020, some of those team members needed the ability to work remotely, triggering another workflow change and challenge to overcome.
After attending a webinar on SNS Cloud VPN, Lancit adopted the new virtual private network technology built to work exclusively with his EVO server. With the SNS Cloud VPN service, Lancit’s lead editor can access and administer their entire media library from the comfort of his home, many miles from the on-premise EVO shared storage server. When combined with EVO’s included remote workflow utility, Nomad, the post-production team can retrieve source media or proxy files for remote editing anywhere in the world.
“We can conduct our business — which is a tough business to conduct remotely — completely independent from our editing suite,” says Lancit. “We don’t have to worry about our production workflow stalling during an emergency. It makes our entire business more efficient.”
Like most content creators, Lancit Digital Media values flexibility and adaptability in their production process. A post-production workflow powered by EVO helps them avoid painful technical issues and focus on what matters most — the art of storytelling.
Considering the decades of children’s programming and incredible client work to their credit, it’s clear that Lancit Digital Media takes great pride in everything they do. And while a lot has changed since the Lancits’ visionary work on Reading Rainbow, one thing remains forever constant: they always tell good stories.