Frame.io Introduces 'Camera to Cloud' Production System

Frame io
Courtesy of Frame.io

Entertainment tech developer Frame.io has introduced Camera to Cloud (C2C), a new system being developed to allow filmmakers to upload and stream images from on-set cameras to the cloud, making that footage quickly accessible to members of the production team including for dailies review, postproduction and VFX.

C2C--which was put through its paces as part of the production of Michael Bay-produced Songbird--is currently in beta on a a few non-disclosed productions (additional testers may apply to join the program) and is expected to be widely available in the spring.

At launch, the system is intended to provide proxy (low resolution) uploads to the Frame.io cloud each time a camera stop rolling, so editorial and other postproduction tasks can begin in parallel while footage is still being shot (the master and back ups would be saved on set to hard drives that would be later delivered where needed.)

While C2C would use proxys at launch, the longer-term vision is to effectively eliminate the use of hard drives by recording the highest quality master directly to the cloud, and in doing so make production and post a more nonlinear and streamlined process, according to Michael Cioni, senior vp of innovation at Frame.io. "This level of collaboration brings creative teams together and allows them to work faster and more collaboratively than ever before.”

"The way we capture images hasn't had a big change since we moved from film to digital and I think the next major change will be shooting directly to the cloud," Frame.io CEO Emery Wells asserts, adding that this could happen within the next 10 years as technology and telecommunications infrastructures advance.

Later in 2021, Frame.io intends to add the ability to live stream footage to an authorized user’s computer, iPhone or iPad, allowing customers to watch production as it’s happening on any computer or mobile device. This capability could be particularly useful under pandemic conditions, as it could help to reduce the number of people needed on set.

The system's workflow requires a Frame.io C2C-certified device on set, connected to supported cameras. According to Frame.io many professional cameras from Arri, Red, Sony, Panasonic and Panavision support this system. At launch, filmmakers will also need the certified Teradek Cube 655 encoder and Sound Devices' 888 or Scorpio field recorders, which would record, encode, and send encrypted, timecode-supported H.264 proxy files with matching metadata directly to the Frame.io cloud via a connection with security features. Currently, this could be accomplished with LTE, 5G or WiFi when on location, according to Cioni.

Cioni and Wells report that Bay's Songbird was lensed during the pandemic on location in Los Angeles using LTE service almost entirely to upload the proxys (the rest was accomplished over wifi). Cioni adds that at least 30 people shared an estimated 20,000 Songbird assets, including for editorial, VFX and reviews, during the course of production.

In a video released as part of the C2C launch, Songbird director Adam Mason said there was a "bare bones crew" on set, but when he started to get texts from producer Adam Goodman he realized "everyone was able to see what I was filming as I was filmed it."

Added co-producer Max Votolato, “we could be on set without being on set, with the ability to wirelessly transmit out of the camera, and on set send those dailies to our DIT cart that would got out through an encoder and become part of the cloud that everybody shared. The process is instantaneous."

At launch, additional tech partners including Colorfront, which plans to offer C2C support through its cloud dailies system. For postproduction, Cioni and Wells report that the material can drop natively into Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple's Final Cut and Blackmagic Design's color grading and editing system Resolve. An additional step would be needed to bring the material into the Avid Media Composer using a companion app, they explain.

A certification program for third-party developers also launches today.