A Fast and Flexible Remote Video Workflow for High-Resolution Media
Editor’s Note: a couple of weeks ago we released a major upgrade to Frame.io that delivered some great new features. Our friends and partners at LumaForge created a very useful video illustrating how they use Frame.io, Jellyfish, and Kyno to power a kick-ass remote collaboration workflow. This article gives a little more detail and context. Power up!
I work at a company that makes collaborative editing servers called the Jellyfish, and I firmly believe that the best collaboration happens in person. That’s why we created Jellyfish, an easy-to-use, plug-n-play workflow server to empower post-production teams at one location to work together more efficiently.
But in today’s globally connected world, we realize there are many situations that call for post-production teams to work in physically different spaces. In the past, this has meant shipping hard drives, or passing footage back and forth via some cloud service that doesn’t know anything about media. That has changed significantly in the last few years, and Frame.io has been a powerhouse for remote collaboration.
This became obvious to me at the Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit in 2018. The team at Apple had just announced Workflow Extensions for FCP X. Frame.io was one of the first to bring an FCP X panel to market. Oddly enough, I taught a class on collaboration in Final Cut Pro X during the Creative Summit. For some reason, a sizable portion of the Frame.io team showed up. Beyond my better judgment, I decided to show a few tricks inside the Frame.io extension during the class. Being that I’d only had a few minutes with it since its launch, I only had a cursory knowledge of what it could do.
Mid-demonstration, someone from Frame.io suggested I right-click on a clip and select Import. Suddenly, a dialogue appeared that allowed me to select whether I wanted to import the original file or a proxy. And it wasn’t just one proxy. I had multiple resolutions from which to choose. At that moment, I realized that remote editing wouldn’t ever be the same.
Okay, so here is where I tell you that we’ve secretly started using remote collaboration at LumaForge. Yes, the company that makes shared storage for local collaboration, also works with remote editors. We’ve actually found a very cool way to do this—and Frame.io is a big part of it.
We have about 3 years of archival footage from a plethora of tutorials, case studies, presentations, commercials, behind-the-scenes videos, and vlogs. This comes as a benefit when we’re working on a new project. We don’t have to reshoot the same things over and over. Rather, we can go back and find the right footage from a previous shoot.
Just using Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro CC, or DaVinci Resolve to siff through all of that footage would be a pain. Instead, we use a media management software called Kyno (rhymes with rhino)—an easy-to-use, media management solution that gives you a host of features for ingesting, discovering, playing back, and distributing media.
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, so you’ve got an archive. What’s this got to do with collaboration?” Well, about two videos ago, we brought in a freelance cameraman/editor to help catch us up in post. We spent about 2 hours shooting and copying over the talking-head for the video. We ran out of time before we could shoot any b-roll. So he took the talking-head footage home on an external hard drive. But I still needed to get him the right b-roll.
So, I jumped into Kyno, and started looking on our Jellyfish for possible b-roll options. Kyno made this very easy. However, finding the footage and getting it to my editor were two very different things. Thanks to Frame.io, I knew we could use a proxy workflow in Final Cut Pro X to help save download time on his end.
But what about getting the footage up to Frame.io? I didn’t want to have to jump from Kyno to Finder to drag the footage over. And a lot of it was RED footage, so it wasn’t super easy to upload. Thankfully, Kyno just released an integration with Frame.io that allows you to select footage and upload the original directly. However, 4.5K RED Raven footage can take up a lot of space in the cloud. Thankfully, Kyno has a built-in transcoder. You can actually select a range of clips, select Deliver To>Frame.io, and then optionally transcode.
We ended up transcoding at full resolution to H.264. This made our uploads and downloads of full resolution much faster. And because Kyno supports RED Raw natively, we were able to apply a simple color grade to the RED footage in REDCINE-X that was baked into the transcoded footage before sending to Frame.io. We also made sure to name the transcodes exactly the same as the originals. This would enable re-linking to the camera originals at the end.
Using the Frame.io Extension in Final Cut Pro X, our editor was able to select the desired clips, right-click, and import. The import dialogue gives you the option of either downloading the original file, or a proxy. You can always change to a different quality later if necessary (just right-click the clip in the Frame.io Extension, then select Change Quality.)
At the end, our editor exported a master in Final Cut Pro X. We then used Frame.io’s review tools to do a few rounds of notes. Since the uploads were full-quality, I was able to download the approved cut and immediately distribute. Had we wanted to re-link to the RED Raw for color grading, all he would have needed to do was send an FCPXML of the timeline. I could have then re-linked to the RED media and graded the footage.
So, is this the best way to work with a remote collaborator in Final Cut Pro X? We think so. The Jellyfish allowed us to store years’ worth of footage in one centralized place. While the editor was at our office, we were able to collaborate in full-resolution with fast updates. Once offsite, Kyno made it easy to find the footage we needed. And Frame.io made it easy to share footage in both original and proxy forms. These tools make quite the trio for remote editing.