Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, photographers at the Olympics need to deliver their images as quickly as possible. At the 2022 Winter Olympics, Getty Image’s photo editing team is mainly remote and the agency has shared how that system works.
Photos from the Olympics are hugely important for global news organizations, but the coronavirus pandemic has complicated that process. Getty Image photographers are on the ground at the international event, but in response to the current climate and for the first time in its history, the photo agency is editing images remotely through a 30-person global team.
A Remote Photo Editing Team
With remote editing, Getty Images is helping produce quality images quickly, in the wake of social distancing and the current pandemic.
“Getty Images used to send a much larger team of editors to the Olympics Games to work onsite. In Pyeongchang, we had a team of 12 editors and didn’t live edit all of our content,” Michael Heiman, Global Head of Editorial Operations at Getty Images, tells PetaPixel.
“However, in Beijing, we have five onsite editors who are each in charge of two to three sports leading a team of about 30 remote editors from around the world. This is similar to what we did for the Tokyo Olympics as well, however, our remote team was double the size for the much larger Summer Games.”
Because the team is smaller, the editing task is much more challenging since expectations from media outlets are no less demanding. Heiman says that the group spans from Australia to Singapore, to the United Kingdom, to Germany, and the United States. The team uses a mix of WhatsApp, Slack, and Zoom to communicate with the photographers, lead onside editors, and other remote editors.
From Captured to Published in 30 Seconds
The process of an image being captured to being published on Getty’s website has multiple touchpoints. After a photographer captures a photo, it is then sent via FTP over Getty’s VLAN to editors about one to two seconds later.
“We are using MAC address authentication here in Beijing, so all of our devices are mapped to our one secure VLAN. The photos are FTP’d to our servers in the Main Media Center (MMC) and seen by the editors about five seconds after being shot,” Heiman says.
“Our servers route the content either locally or to cloud servers we have set up around the world. We have the ability to send lower proxy files to speed up the process when needed.”
Once the photos are ingested, editors go through and tag the best frames in the sequences, made needed edits in Photoshop, write a caption, and send it to the Getty Images website.
“We can have a photo from the camera to our site and customers in as little as 30 seconds.”
Which editor works on which photo is determined by expertise.
“We have a team of editors who are all experts in their areas. The amazing thing about remote editing is we are able to put experts on each sport without having to have them here in China,” Heiman explains.
“It saves us on travel and reduces our carbon footprint and it also gives us a lot more flexibility in terms of the pool of editing resources. We can have our alpine experts focus on the alpine, ski jumping focus on the ski jump, and so on.”
The below timelapse shows one editor working on the Alpine skiing event as photos arrive in nearly real-time.
Heiman says that for the photographer, very little has changed which makes it less of a mental burden for them.
“The process hasn’t changed much which is the beauty of it. Our photographers are able to focus on taking the best pictures possible and not have to worry about finding time to file or missing something.”
The 2022 Winer Olympics in Beijing started on February 4 and will conclude on February 20.
Image credits: All photos provided by Getty Images. Header image of Getty photographer Julian Finney.