We recently discovered the wonders of SLACK here at Boom Box Post. On the surface, Slack seems like a basic messaging platform, not much to dig into. However, once we did dig in, we realized the potential power of such a streamlined platform. Slack's tagline is "Be Less Busy." And that's the real draw here. Finding ways to communicate better and faster can be such a time saver. Here's how we at Boom Box Post utilize Slack to its fullest in our Post Production workflow.
Flexibility for a Flexible Workplace
We work with a pretty large group of editors, moving on and off of projects all the time. It's the nature of Post Production. It used to be the case that if you wanted company communication to be a requirement, you had to provide everyone with an email address. Slack seems to have been designed specifically for the ebb and flow of our business, making it easy to add users to the system for any given length of time.
The Email/IM Killer
On it's most basic level, Slack is a way to send and receive information. A quick question used to be something we'd send out through a text message or IM program. Longer questions required email. While it may be a slight over-simplification to assume that Slack is the end of all email and instant messaging for small businesses, Slack has certainly cut down on our inboxes and alerts. By having one single platform that we require all editors to check while working for us, we can rest assured all communications are being received, organized and archived all in one fell swoop.
Every Project Gets a Channel
Each series we work on has its own channel, visible only to the editors on that series. All communication regarding that show lives in that channel and is searchable. For starters, any time new materials arrive, the slack channel is updated by our interns, instantly updating everyone involved with the show. We used to do this through email groups. The problem here isn't just a matter of inbox clutter, it's an issue of timing. While my way of tracking media with the old system was keeping an email unread until I needed to address it, I would often times lose track of priority. With Slack channels, we can all access this information when they need it (like starting work for the day), ignoring it until pertinent. There's also no excuse as to whether information has been properly disseminated.
For years I have been searching for the perfect reminders App. I'm constantly being hit with small and large tasks throughout the day that I need to prioritize. Finally, I've found my solution within Slack. The reminder integration is so seamless, I can get a request from a team member within Slack and in the same thread simply type /remind me in one hour to... and my reminder is set. With how quickly our focus can be pulled in many different directions, this simplicity is priceless. Since I've got Slack on my phone, I can be assured that whether at or away from my desk, I will be alerted when necessary.
All Your Notes, All in One Place
Thanks to Slack, I've completely eliminated scraps of paper or post-it notes with random bits of information strewn across my desk. When I have a list of questions or points to bring up to a client, I now simply create a Post for myself in Slack. While we keep all of our spotting notes on a Google Drive system, Slack has made it easy for us to pin links to these notes, effectively tying them to each show's channel. Additional notes can also be created in list form (Known as Posts). A chronological timeline of notes can be extremely useful in the Post Production workflow. For example:
- Our dialogue, foley and sound effects editors can all reference the spotting notes link from within a show's channel.
- Once the editorial is complete, I can leave a post for our predub mixer Jessey, outlining any premix related issues, (processing requests, missing elements, etc).
- After her predub, Jessey can leave a post about outstanding retakes not yet updated in picture.
- In the morning, our mixer DJ can see these notes when he arrives on the mix stage, being sure to keep an eye out for them as we receive picture updates.
- All the while, I can track everything the team is up to and be sure each note has been followed up.
Slack was very cleverly conceived as a friendly interface. Start the App and you're greeted with a small inspirational note (of which you can customize, should you choose to add a little company flair). They've also included a little BOT called Slackbot to help personalize the experience. It's within the Slackbot Channel (personal to every user) that you can jot down notes for yourself. It's like having a personal assistant, keeping track of things just for you. In addition, as an Admin you can create custom word or phrases that will trigger custom responses from Slackbot. These fun little Easter eggs are constantly being updated as our team forms more inside jokes. We've even had requests from our editors to be in charge of the Slackbot vocabulary for a given amount of time.
I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't mention that at least 50% of the fun with Slack comes from the GIPHY integration. By typing /giphy and a word or phrase, you get all kinds of random results. This is where the Random Channel comes in. A built in repository for all goofing off, Slack knows how important it is for teams to have some fun together. Quite often our random lunch time stream of conscious conversations turn into strings of incredibly random GIF's, leaving those not a part of the conversation to wonder what the heck was going on that day. It's a fun way to take a break from the demanding work and encourages whatever kind of company culture you want to push forward.
There are so many more powerful functions built within Slack (you can find a list of all the integrated functions here). In fact, Slack integrates with so many third party Apps, we've barely scratched the surface of it's usefulness. The main take away here however for anyone working with a large team in a Post Production workflow is that Slack will consolidate all of your team communications into one very slick (and fun) package. We here at Boom Box Post are addicted.
What are your favorite ways to integrate Slack into your Post workflow? Share your thoughts in the comments.