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Quick Chat: Aframe’s David Peto on new version, use on ‘Rosewater’

By Randi Altman

Aframe, the cloud video production system that offers collaboration, review and approval, archive and tagging, recently underwent major upgrades designed to make the user experience easier and faster in terms of working with full-res video securely across enterprise environments.

The Aframe Fall 2014 release had its debut the second week in November. For a list of the new features visit Aframe’s website.

In the wake of this new version and the fact that the platform was used on Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater, postPerspective reached out to Aframe chief executive and co-founder David Peto, who started his career as a producer and ran London’s Unit Post Production until 2009.

Rosewater

You have a new release of your Aframe platform. Can you talk a bit about what’s changed?
With this release we’ve added the features that our enterprise customers are looking for. For those larger, longer-term users of Aframe, they need enterprise-grade business intelligence to monitor usage and service provision across many areas of the business.

We’ve also improved the ability to control video assets being acquired and produced around the world — with features that help reduce the number of steps required to get content to air and make it easy to build blazingly fast, self-service applications that save time and lower costs.

Were many of these changes suggested by those already using the product?
Absolutely. The changes in this release are borne out of the many suggestions we constantly gather from customers, potential customers and our own staff, of course. Aframe is designed to constantly evolve and improve over time and we do that through a mixture of where we as a business want to take the product and the areas that users ask us to add. Sometimes these ideas coalesce, sometimes we have to take users on a journey that they didn’t expect!

There are many companies that are currently making products for the cloud. What’s different about what Aframe is doing?
The cloud is still relatively new for many people in media. With Aframe we’ve always had a slightly different vision to the mainstream. This isn’t just “cloudifying” an on-premise offering to get on the bandwagon.

Aframe was designed from the start — which for us is coming up on five years — with the aim of providing a cloud solution that could handle the large volumes of media generated; deal with the many different formats in use; storing media in datacenters that we own and operate rather than a third-party cloud that we have no control over; and put that all inside a UI that is easy to use.

Rosewater

Aframe was used for digital dailies for John Stewart’s Rosewater. Can you walk us through the workflow?
Sixteen19 uploaded their content to Aframe and then created a link to the footage, which was sent with an expiration date to team members and execs. They could review and approve content online or download it locally on their iPad or laptop for offline viewing. Because the full resolution content resides in our secure private cloud, specialty post services in Seattle and LA could also access files simultaneously.

This meant that reviewers were getting dallies for review at 5am or 6am instead of noon, wherever they were, avoiding the extra steps of content sent on DVDs with couriers. What’s more, reviewers could make frame accurate comments on the H.264 proxy that Aframe generates and the metadata stays intact all the way through to the edit suite.

How closely did you work with Sixteen19 on making sure they had what they needed for the job?
Before any contracts are signed we carry out a full assessment of the requirements of the production. We sometimes do this in trials, but more often we’re able to show how the system is used in a live environment.

We’d actually worked with Sixteen19 on some other projects, so they were able to get up and running without too much help from us.

What other films have been using your solution?
In addition to Rosewater, Sixteen19 also used us on While We Were Young, which is due for theatrical release later this year. Aframe has been used a number of other recent films, including Reprisal Films’ Calvary starring Brendan Gleeson; Crossroads Films’ A Birder’s Guide to Everything, where another Aframe client Digital Laboratory was involved; and Rob the Mob, an indie film produced by Bill Teitler.

Cavalry from Fox Searchlight

Why do you feel that more and more productions are adopting this way of working? And what trends are you seeing in the industry?
Productions are always looking to save time and preserve precious budget and Aframe helps filmmakers, TV producers and broadcasters do that.

The media industry now embraces the cloud as a credible choice to solve a whole host of media problems, but aside from this, the industry continues to fragment in the way shows are produced and the channels they serve.

The commercial and creative power of YouTube video channels is starting to deliver a new wave of serious production players. The industry finally seems to realize that the linearity of TV is too restrictive for viewers, I guess.

We’re also seeing a land grab in the creative world with large US businesses acquiring many of the UK’s best-loved indie producers. I see this as a further proof that film and TV is a global business and creative collaboration will require a truly global solution. Hint, hint!


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