Frame.io: video collaboration, media access, task management in the cloud

By Randi Altman

We all know that the world and how people communicate and share information has changed — it’s instant and it’s global — and that change has trickled down to the production and post industries. While clients still come to see their projects worked on live and in person, that is no longer the norm. Instead, clients and collaborators can be at different sides of the globe or maybe just across town and not wanting to deal with traffic.

Regardless of the situation, more and more collaboration is happening remotely with the help of the Internet and applications designed to allow instant access and the ability to give feedback.

One recent offering is from Frame.io. It’s a cloud-based collaboration platform for media professionals that includes a variety of tools needed for easy and accurate review and approval. That includes file sharing, review, dailies (everything uploaded is transcoded to high-quality HTML5), easy communication (including marking up pictures and adding notes), version control (go back in time to review different versions side by side) and light asset management (tag and search).

L-R: Emery Wells and John Traver.

L-R: Emery Wells and John Traver.

This Web-based application is in private beta now and will be released as a public beta in a few months. The company, which is also called Frame.io, is currently working on native mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Frame.io was designed for professionals by professionals, specifically Emery Wells, owner of Katabatic Digital in New York City and his co-founder/CTO John Traver. Wells, among other post services, provides color grading for Saturday Night Live’s film unit. During his years working in post production, Wells and team developed a wish list of sorts regarding collaboration and reviews. About a year and a half ago he and Traver began working on what turned into Frame.io.

“We had been using a bunch of different services for collaboration but none really solved all our needs,” explains Wells. “So we built our own solution — one that’s accessible to everyone, individuals and small teams, and you don’t’ have to be major organization to afford it.”

Katabatic, which operates as a completely separate company from Frame.io, has been using the tool in their work for about six months, something Wells calls an invaluable experience. “We were using it during projects and hit a few walls. This was helpful because we found better ways to get what we needed in the platform and we made it a better product. This tool was built out of our own needs and wants during the post process,” says Wells.

Wells knows from personal experience that pros typically use a variety of different services for their works in progress, many not designed for this industry and the large file sizes that come along with the work. “Maybe they use Dropbox or HighTail to share files with their team or clients,” he says. “They might be using Vimeo to upload work in progress. They are using email for communication. Sometimes they are using a professional service like WireDrive where you get these one-way review links. Frame.io took all these disparate services and combined it into one platform built for pros.”

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The player within Frame.io.

They’ve made it easy to use — yes, I got a demo — with a GUI that will make anyone who uses Facebook feel right at home. In fact the Web-based app has a project-based social media component to it where you can invite collaborators to a project. “You have your own individual account and own identity and can be connected to your team,” explains Wells. “All actions are tied to your identity, so when you are in a team and assigned to a project, everyone in that team can see updates and notes.” And if you are away from your computer getting that much-needed cup of coffee, you will be notified via email and messaging that the project has been updated.

In addition to making collaboration easier, Wells says that Frame.io’s vision is to be “the home base for the entire world’s media.” He estimates that 90 percent of what’s shot out there in the world never winds up anywhere accessible. “It’s on a RAID and maybe only a handful of people have access to it or worse, the footage is put on a drive and shelved after the project. We want to get all of your assets into Frame.io. After a shoot it should all be uploaded, and if you are traveling you should be able to load up the browser and have instant access to your footage.”

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Frame.io’s versioning stack allows users to go back in time and compare versions side by side.

The Cloud
Frame.io uses an AWS cloud infrastructure to allow people to upload any format; that file gets a high-quality transcode into an HTML5 video, allowing it to be played back on any device. In the future, Wells says, thanks to this cloud transcoding architecture, the tool will allow users to transcode out to a variety of formats. “So by default it’s HTML 5 for playback but then you will be able to set a project to be transcoded as a DNX file or another file of your choice.”

Cost
While pricing isn’t currently available, Frame.io will be offered as a monthly subscription service: tiered subscriptions, including storage for all those megabytes and terabytes. Clients who may want to see/review the work don’t necessarily need Frame.io to be able to review.

I leave you with some bullet points supplied by Frame.io summing up the tool:
• Accelerated uploading in the browser for fast and efficient media file loading
• Cloud transcoding of video assets for guaranteed playback on any device; with support for professional camera formats
• Hover scrubbing for instant preview of clips
• Seamless drag and drop interface for simple manipulation of files, content and communications
• Private workspace for managing separate projects;
• Time-based, frame-specific comments and annotations for clearer communication
• Side by side version comparison for clear, simple view of changes between versions
• WYSIWYG presentation mode for branded presentation creation
• Ability to publish to YouTube and Vimeo

 

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