- Photo: Unsplah
The pandemic saw cloud-sharing systems disrupt and advance the film industry.
COVID-19 lockdowns accelerated trends in all industries, and film is no exception. One factor holding back greater efficiency in production has always been the complexity of sharing footage. Even with digital film, material is usually only seen while shooting, with lengthy processes required to deliver “dailies” – every day’s filmed scenes – to all relevant professionals.
A company already developing cloud-based filming solutions, Frame.io, stepped up. And their guinea pig was “Songbird”, a Hollywood thriller. The Adam Mason-directed film used a skeleton crew of around 40 on-set, compared to about 100 in normal times. The personnel whose physical participation was not essential could then follow the shoot remotely, submitting comments via a centralised platform. Up to now it sounds familiar from workfrom-home setups everywhere.
But the key difficulty in moviemaking is sharing high quality footage in real-time. While we’re all used to seamlessly sending and streaming video over mobile and browsers, professional cameras had never been connected before. Frame.io had been working on this issue for some time already, and could deliver a new way to facilitate streaming over high speed internet connections. Frame.io’s camera-to-cloud interface requires a compatible camera, such as from mainstay brands Arri or RED, and a transmitter fitted onboard. This records a low quality, mobile-friendly version of the footage – a proxy. The proxy is uploaded to the cloud after each take, and can then be viewed on any device via the company’s proprietary app.
Songbird was shot over a month, but the camera-to-cloud system also made a huge difference in post-production. The moving around and transcoding of
huge files has always been a major delay factor. Now editing, sound design, and sound mixing could begin on the proxy video.