Workflow From Home: Episode 11 – Asynchronous Review
It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten all the way to Episode 11, and we hope you’re learning a lot about advanced remote workflows because, to be honest, we’re learning a lot ourselves.
In this episode of “Workflow From Home” we’re going to tackle the second half of our discussion about remote review.
Back in Episode 3, we talked about how to deploy collaborative remote editing sessions. We built on that concept in Episode 9, where we actually performed a synchronous cross-country remote 4K HDR color correction session with colorist Nick Lareau in Vermont.
But then, in Episode 10, we learned from the expert colorists at Panavision’s post house, Light Iron, that live synchronous viewing is neither the only, nor always the ideal way to work. Ian Vertovec described the post house as a centralized hub, and although creatives will continue to leverage remote workflows, we can also predict that post houses will continue to remain integral to large scale productions.
The term “post house” itself refers to a place you might visit for a length of time. It’s welcoming, conveniently located, and often has many of the comforts of home. But based on advances in technology and changing behavior, we can also predict that clients will continue to spend less time inside a post house.
So let’s examine how some of the most advanced asynchronous collaboration review tools can enhance our workflows, eliminate technical barriers, provide clearer communication and, most importantly, let creatives keep focusing on our projects and not worrying about our process.
Asynchronous review, defined
What does the term asynchronous review really mean? Here at Frame.io, it’s at the heart of our mission and vision.
We conceived Frame.io to power the world’s video creation by designing the cloud-based workbench that centralizes creators with their content, collaborators, and audience. We’re talking about communication that spans numerous departments between key stakeholders who are all viewing content in locations worldwide.
We just recently announced the release of Frame.io v3.6, and we thought now would be a good opportunity to take a deeper dive into some of the features—including our third-party integrations—enabling automation of many of the post-production processes (beyond review and approval) that tomorrow’s remote workflows require.
Remote Watch Folders
The first step to automating remote collaboration is to set up Watch Folders, which we covered in Episode 2 when we discussed hybrid-cloud workflows.
Let’s say that you’re editing remotely and set up a series of folders to export—these contain shared bins, cut lists, rough cuts, and notation documents. One method to automate and organize all those transfers is to replicate this structure to mirror your desktop in the Frame.io cloud.
Using the Frame.io Watch Folder application (available from the Mac App Store) you can auto-populate these folders into Frame.io. After exporting out a bin, a cut list, and a rough cut to the folders locally, the Frame.io Watch Folder app monitors or “watches” each local directory and automatically uploads the content to the mirrored folder in the cloud. Frame.io then automatically notifies the appropriate people that a new file is available.
This saves a lot of time because everything just “happens,” eliminating the need for manual links and doing review management over email. Review notes are time-stamped, clear, include annotations, are sortable, and give you a perfect log of all assets and the reviewer.
The updated Frame.io Notifications are handy so you can quickly see who’s “Read” comments, see comment previews, and scrub asset thumbnails so you can easily spot what you need to review or address.
Notifications are also now intelligently bundled, which is great for large teams who are working on multiple projects or who receive lots of feedback.
It’s always been easy to share an asset in Frame.io, but recently we added Folder sharing to Review Links.
Shared links that include multiple assets stay organized with the original folder and sub-folder structure intact. These links are also dynamic, so if you add or subtract assets in the Frame.io project, they’ll be updated instantly on the recipient’s end of the review link—without requiring you to send another notification. This means that an editor can dynamically update everything within a shared folder and the reviewer’s link always stays current.
There are many new options to ensure high level security. Customers on the Enterprise plan can share assets by enabling “Invite only” privileges. “Invite Only” requires your invited reviewer to log into a Frame.io account in order to access the review link.
And, with the new “Inbox” view, you and your reviewers can avoid sorting through traditional email to find links. You can remain in the Frame.io platform and see all your notifications clearly in one place, which is especially useful for busy executives and key stakeholders.
Frame.io allows you to communicate fluidly yet specifically—even when working remotely—because comments appear in real time. But being able to reply to comments, manage threads, or tag specific people or departments also lets you track and trace notes.
For example, in a scene from The Lost Lederhosen, director Steven Shaw made a comment about a shot needing a push-in. He selected the whole shot using a Range-Based comment, then used custom annotations to draw a “start-framing” reference onto the image and then an “end framing” reference. He articulated his comment and then tagged it with “hash-tag-reframe.”
Because you can make notes for any number of people—and eventually there can be a lot of them—using hashtags and Frame.io’s search tool can be extremely powerful.
For example, you could simply click on the hashtag “reframe” and it shows all the shots where reframes were tagged. Or you could search by collaborator name—so if you tagged Barry Goch, the editor of The Lost Lederhosen, every direct note to Barry would become visible.
When you finish your notes, you can change the status to “In Progress” and then return it to the cutting room.
It’s valuable for the editor to be able to see these kinds of reviewer notes in context in a timeline. From their Frame.io account, Avid users go to the Download Icon, and choose “Download For Media composer” option. This exports an XML that can be imported into AVID as location markers.
The Frame.io comments now display in the timeline, where the editor can see notes directly in-line with the edit that include details like the name, date, and time.
Final Cut Pro X commenting
Notations can sync directly with your NLE and the Frame.io cloud platform using the native integrations within Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro. These integrations provide a dynamic and real-time experience in which editors can see comments as they’re made.
Unique to the Frame.io Workflow Extension in Final Cut Pro is a function called Presence, which allows editors to monitor external reviews of the cut.
If you refer to the video of this episode, you’ll see Andrew making notes at specific timecodes. Vince (the editor) can gang the Frame.io Viewer to his Timeline so that as he cycles through notes in the Frame.io control panel, it drives the timeline playhead to the corresponding timecode.
Another option is that Vince can download the notes and import them into the timeline as a Compound clip, where everything—even the annotations—is visible, which is useful for tracking notes directly in the timeline.
It’s integrations like these with Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro that allow everyone to have a fluid, real-time communication experience. Editors can respond within their timelines, allowing them to remain in their creative space.
Editors can then mark their work as “Done,” or “Complete” or they can “Like” it, and everyone receives a status update because everything is centralized and up to date in the Frame.io cloud.
Background rendering in After Effects
For effects artists using Adobe After Effects, Frame.io now supports Background rendering.
When Abbie, our animator on this series, submits a render using the After Effects Frame.io integration, she can continue working in other comps while rendering in the background. Then, when the render is complete, the file automatically uploads into the Frame.io cloud and notifies collaborators.
iOS Offline mode gives you the ability to watch cloud assets even when you’re not connected to the internet.
Using either of the updated Frame.io mobile iOS apps, you can select “Make Available Offline,” and assets will download as an encrypted file onto your iPad or iPhone. Make comments and annotations just as you normally would, and as soon as you have a network connection, the comments will upload automatically and sync with other reviewer comments in-line within the project.
Frame.io has a robust integration built directly into DaVinci Resolve, which is powerful for both cinematographers and colorists
DPs can make their notes in Frame.io and they’ll appear directly in Resolve as Frame.io Markers. These markers automatically load and display the author, comments, and annotations. Colorists can stay in the Resolve timeline, add a comment, and it will sync back to Frame.io.
For Resolve systems that are air-gapped (not connected to a network), users can download the comments and import them into Resolve. The colorist navigates to the Comments tab in Frame.io and chooses “Download as Resolve EDL.”
This EDL can be copied over to the air-gapped system, and the colorist can select the matching timeline, choose Import, and load the Resolve EDL to display all the reviewer notes directly into the timeline—even without a network connection.
Frame.io Enterprise plan users now have a powerful security option with the new Watermark ID feature. Watermark ID creates a real-time, on-demand transcode of your video with your reviewer’s information burned into every frame.
You can choose from several templates, or you can generate your own custom watermarks and change them dynamically for any link you’re sharing.
The Watermark Template Editor allows you to customize settings to include information like name, IP address, email address, etc.; adjust opacity, size, and position; and preview it to see how it appears on the video.
There are even special behaviors such as text scrolling—all of which can be saved into the template.
As soon as your reviewer receives the link and hits play, a new asset is generated in real time, displaying all the custom info you’ve set. How fast is it? A two-hour video is ready for playback in two seconds.
Until recently, not every professional in the media and entertainment business had a reason to take a deep dive into collaborative asynchronous remote review—partially as a result of not having proximity restrictions, but also with the ongoing concerns over security, resolution, quality, and bandwidth limitations
But we learned in Episode 8 from VFX founder of Zoic Studios, Andrew Orloff, that since remote work took off, there has been an emerging trend that more intentional feedback is a vital part of creative collaboration.
If you’re a creative, you know that we create no matter the external climate. We believe it’s that desire to keep the creative process going that’s driving everyone to solve unprecedented problems.
Today’s remote needs have shown us that people are starting to explore communication with higher precision, in less time, with fewer people, and in a constantly flowing cycle of bi-directional feedback.
Frame.io exists because creative teams need a platform that not only allows artists to be completely centralized, but allows them to be completely fluid. In a way, the more people that get comfortable with working remotely, the better the remote tools will ultimately mature to be.
We’ll continue to explore these concepts as we move to the final episodes in the series. In fact, in our upcoming episode, we’ll show you how we’ve created this entire series with a distributed team using Frame.io from concept to delivery.