With the introduction of the new Frame.io Camera to Cloud workflow something that editors have long dreamed of will become a reality: getting footage from the set to editorial long before camera cards are downloaded and long before a hard drive is shipped or physically delivered to the edit suite.
You can watch the full presentation below.
But read on for answers to some questions you might be asking.
Wait, what? Files from the shoot uploaded into the cloud that I can edit with?
Frame.io Camera to Cloud is deceptively simple in concept: use established hardware to make realtime proxy-file encodes of original camera media as it is shot and upload that from the set right into Frame.io. Editors can then pull that media out of Frame.io as is and begin the edit long before the day has wrapped. Editors can begin the edit even before the camera cards where the original clips reside have been offloaded from the camera cards themselves! That is quite amazing and will fit right into the fast turn-around world many are working in today.
Frame.io Camera to Cloud will work with any NLE
And as the first image in this story I’ll show you one of the most important ones from an editorial standpoint:
Above you’ll see a clip in Frame.io that was generated with the new Camera to Cloud workflow. This was an H.264 proxy file generated on-set and uploaded to a Frame.io account. When looking at the file information metadata you can see those very important things for creative editorial: a filename that matches the camera original and 12-hour source timecode. And also note this is a 1920×1080 .m4v so what you’re getting are very usable, very reliable proxy files. Relinking to camera originals or conforming from an offline proxy edit to online and color correction should be a snap by just ignoring file extensions, something that most conforming applications can do quite easily.
And did I mention we keep camera original file names and source timecode? 👏👍
If you’re an editor saying … wait, I can’t edit with H264 files then you’re probably an editor who hasn’t really tried. Editing H264 files isn’t near the pain it used to be as both software and hardware have evolved to make the process much more smooth than it used to be. While my first reaction was a bit of disappointment that you can’t choose an established intermediary codec like ProRes Proxy or DNxHR LB those files would still be significantly larger than H264 files and it would not make sense to move tons of them, especially over a cellular connection.
How is all this possible?
Productions will need to be using Frame.io Camera to Cloud compatible cameras that are outfitted with C2C certified devices that will record, encode and upload those newly encoded proxy files right to a Frame.io account. At launch those cameras are on the higher end, RED, ARRI and Panavision. What will come out of those cameras via C2C are H.264 proxy files with proper source timecode and matching source file names as mentioned above. If you do all of the creative edit off those C2C proxy then a conform for online and finishing will, of course, be required but that was going to happen anyway.
Obviously you’re going to need good connectivity on-set to make this happen but C2C can use LTE, 5G or WiFi for these uploads so with some shoot pre-planning you’ve got a brand new path to get the edit going right away. Frame.io says “near real-time delivery of editable proxy files” and this honestly deserves to be called that phrase that I hate using: game-changer. There are indeed some productions that this will consider this a game-changer.
I sat in on a demo very much like the introduction video where both camera footage (from a RED camera) and audio from a Sound Devices recorder were recorded live and less that a minute later that proxy clip was up in Frame.io ready to view, comment on and bring into edit.
When Camera to Cloud was first teased I expected it to be only available on high-end commercial-style shoots and big-time Hollywood productions. I was surprised to hear that C2C will be part of your Frame.io subscription with no additional cost. It will launch this spring with a beta available today. Upcoming features will include the ability to stream footage as it’s being shot to a computer or iOS device, all including best-in-class security that Frame.io has utilized all along.
Camera to Cloud isn’t just your video shoot files but there are also options for audio as well as dailies that are processed by the DIT. Since C2C is supporting secondary sound there will be a workflow where the Frame.io backend will sync your audio and video (and they can since timecode matches) and you’ll be able to view synced dailies within Frame.io. That’s cool.
What does this cost?
While C2C won’t be an additional cost to your Frame.io subscription there is a cost to the hardware that is currently certified to work with Frame.io Camera to Cloud. I googled a few prices to get an idea of what we’re looking at on what was listed as the certified devices:
Teradek CUBE 655: $1,990.
Sound Devices 888: $7,900
Sound Devices Scorpio: $9,900
Colorfront Express Dailies: $5,000 / year
Don’t let these few devices and their prices get you down as Frame.io has also introduced a Cloud Devices API and C2C certification program that will let other hardware and software manufacturers integrate with Frame.io Camera to Cloud. As popular as Frame.io has become I would expect a wide range of products to come along with support for C2C. If you’re a developer Frame.io has a place just for you!
How long it will take additional hardware to come online and be certified with the C2C system is anyones guess but I would expect integrations to being to happen sooner rather than later.. Frame.io has been working on C2C long before COVID hit and it has taken time for the hardware manufacturers to integrate Frame.io into their devices. COVID inevitably sped up C2C and we all get to benefit from that.
I have some questions.
I had a few questions that popped into my head when reading over the C2C specs. The folks at Frame.io were gracious enough to answer them for me:
Since the Teradek Cube 655 has both and HDMI and SDI input what’s to stop any camera with an HDMI out from using the C2C platform?
Currently, Frame.io C2C only offers full support for cameras with SDI outputs (RED, Arri and Panavision). HDMI cameras (Sony, Panasonic, Canon) are partially supported; users will not get the clip name from these cameras, but will be able to publish the media to Frame.io. Users will not be able to begin editing with OCFs (original camera files) from HDMI cameras for this reason, but will be able to publish dailies. Frame.io is starting with SDI cameras and will work towards including support for HDMI cameras in the future.
Are there options to set resolution and bit rate on the H264 created C2C files?
The Teradek Cube allows you to set a bitrate from 1Mbps to 15Mbps, but we imagine 3-5Mbps will be the “butter zone” for most sets. You can also adjust the resolution on the Cube from 240p to 1080p. However, 1080p files at 3-5Mbps will work well with most LTE connections.
Is there a way to tweak the filename on the C2C files such as adding an _proxy to the camera-matching file names?
The Teradek Cube will receive the original clipname from a compatible camera’s SDI stream, which allows the proxy to be relinked to OCF or media made from the OCF later. There isn’t a way to change this at this time, but you can rename any file once it’s uploaded to Frame.io.
If you have an interrupted internet connection while using C2C is there a way to see what didn’t get uploaded or to pickup where the connection dropped? (that may be more of a Teradek question)
Frame.io C2C works on low bandwidth connections like 4G LTE, making it incredibly accessible no matter where in the world you are shooting. If there is no connection, it’s no problem; once the Teradek picks up a signal, it will immediately begin uploading camera files to the Frame.io cloud. Interruptions to service, or even no service, will not be an issue.
Will all basic Frame.io tools and services interface with C2C such as the Transfer app?
Yes. Frame.io will also be announcing a C2C open API in order to encourage the community at large to develop integrations between Frame.io C2C and their tools and services.
Besides the ability to live stream footage to an authorized device will other members of a Frame.io project be able to login and view files that have been uploaded in a C2C workflow?
Frame.io is known for meeting the most stringent security protocols; SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, TPN, etc. An incredibly important feature of Camera to Cloud is security. While the pairing process is simple, it enables tight control over assets. The device (Teradek Cube and Sound Devices) will display a 6-digit code that the user then types into the Frame.io iOS app to authorize the device. It will stay bound to the project for as long as you want. Project owners can authenticate and remove (or pause) devices remotely. They can set expiration dates if they know when the project will end. Users will have the ability to set restrictions down to the folder, giving the right people the right access to the files they need.
This works with any NLE
One question I saw asked over and over during the live presentation about C2C is what NLEs does this work with? Will it work with my NLE?
Frame.io Camera to Cloud will work with any NLE since the proxy files have camera original file names and camera original timecode. Any NLE can work with these files and then relink to the actual camera original files for online and finishing.
It’ll be exciting to watch for what comes next
While all of the above sounds great it really does seem more like a jumping off point for Camera to Cloud. I’m happiest to see this isn’t going to be something restricted to high-end productions with big budgets. And it also sounds like the cost of entry to C2C should continue to come down as other third parties join in the C2C ecosystem with the open API. Kudos to Frame.io for making that part of the overall C2C system.
It’ll be interesting to see how productions integrate C2C into their workflows. When the live stream right out of the camera ships it’ll enable people who can’t or wouldn’t come to the set to sit in on the production in realtime. That could be both good and bad depending on how productions adopt it. I heard stories of shoots that have been testing C2C being out of internet and cellular service all day and then on the drive home having all the files shot during the day uploaded and available by the time they arrived back home. Even with a modest LTE connection you can dial the bit-rate down so even extra long takes upload in minutes and not hours. It’s all stuff that is happening at technology advances. And Frame.io and Camera to Cloud is helping it along!