A telling statistic stood out in the opening keynote for this year’s Adobe MAX: according to David Wadhwani, chief business officer at Adobe, four in five creative professionals find it challenging to keep up with content creation demands.
Nowhere is this more evident than video production, where processes and workflows are complex, multiple overlapping variables can shift the goalposts with very little notice, and pitfalls lie around every corner to cause costly delays.
“There’s nothing easy about making video,” confirms Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer, speaking in the same keynote as Wadhwani. “Editing is time-consuming. It’s an intensely collaborative medium.”
One of the headline announcements at Adobe MAX this year was the introduction of Camera to Cloud, which saves filmmakers time by enabling selected Red and Fujifilm cameras to upload still, video, RAW and proxy files directly to the cloud via Frame.io.
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Director, cinematographer, and editor Valentina Vee ran an in-person workshop at Adobe MAX focused on new creative possibilities for remote video workflows, including how Camera to Cloud can help smooth out some of these issues. “Anything that slows the process down can have lasting consequences further on in the production,” she explains.
“When it comes to quick turnarounds, like in event videography, transferring footage is a major pain-point,” continues Vee. “Having to offload cards onto hard drives is an added step, not to mention how easily the drives can get lost or corrupted.”
Bypassing the need to shuttle drives around enables a super-fast turnaround. “Live event teams often need to get clips up on social channels immediately, and even the time it takes for a camera to fill up a memory card can be too slow,” Vee points out. “But if the editor receives every clip as soon as it’s shot, those edits can already be going through the approval and posting process while the cameraperson continues rolling.”
“Save a minute here, a minute there, and it all adds up,” agrees feature film editor and workflow consultant Vashi Nedomansky, whose Adobe MAX session discussed agile creative workflows. With 25 years’ experience, he consults for Hollywood movies and TV shows, notably designing the entire post-production workflow for Marvel hit Deadpool. “Sometimes you grind to a halt because a pipeline is clogged. Perhaps you can’t access data, or the latest cut,” he explains. “But I see challenges, not obstacles. I’m a fixer, not a whiner.”
For a recent documentary project, Nedomansky shot footage of a hockey mascot launch on his iPhone. “It automatically uploaded to Frame.io, and within an hour I had a colour-graded edit,” he recalls. “The team itself had a crew there and didn’t put anything out until a day later. They had to download it, transcode it, edit it. I had something up that afternoon. The news picked it up. Having instant access to files is new, and really exciting for me.”
WORK MORE CLOSELY WITH COLLABORATORS
Vee recently experimented with Camera to Cloud on a short film project. “We shot with our second and third units across the country,” she explains. “We could see each other’s footage coming in to make sure we were all following the same visual language. And we could start editorial right away, remotely, without having to wait for files to be shuttled over.”
By working in Frame.io, Vee’s team could also communicate visually during the shooting process itself. “As the director, I could see my second unit’s files coming in and tell them right away if they were too tight on framing; if their match shots didn’t work; or if they needed the actors to speed up the pace,” she explains.
For an extreme example of the value of workflow efficiency, look no further than the Nedomansky-edited 6 Below, the world’s first fully native 6k film. Shot on Red 6k cameras in the deep snow of the Utah mountains, it was challenging for all involved. Nedomansky had no communication or transmission of information with the crew throughout the entire day.
“At the end of each day, while the crew was sleeping, I had to analyse the footage to make sure we’d got everything because they’d be going up again at 5am,” he explains. The solution: custom-build a super-powerful system optimised to play and edit raw 6k footage, with no need to wait for transcodes.
“By prepping upfront, I saved all that time conforming, swapping out proxies with originals, and checking every edit to make sure nothing was out-of-whack,” Nedomansky continues. “We actually gained time on the front side, as well as giving my director and the rest of the team instant feedback.”
FUTURE-PROOF YOUR WORKFLOW
In the short-term, three cameras will offer native support for Camera to Cloud: the RED V-Raptor and V-Raptor XL, and the Fujifilm X-H2S. But as Vee points out, there’s nothing to stop filmmakers starting to integrate Frame.io into the review process in preparation.
Nedomansky reflects on a quarter-century of progress and workflow innovation during his career so far: “25 years ago, Avid cost a million dollars. It was locked in a room and one person could use it. 15 years later, Final Cut 7 let you work with others, but you had to pass drives around, or export and send QuickTime files.”
“Now, we’re in productions with Premiere and other software capabilities where we’re using the internet to interact, connect and collaborate. All footage can be put on the web and distributed to all my teammates. I would love to do any project in the past with a workflow like this. It would make it easier – and that’s the goal.”
Catch up on Adobe MAX on-demand here, including the opening keynote and Vashi Nedomansky’s session on agile creative workflows