By Brady Betzel
A few months ago I reviewed a cloud-based asset management and collaboration platform called Aframe. After that review hit, many people emailed asking how I “really” felt about it, and would it work in different production scenarios.
Competitors also reached out asking if I could review their product too. My Forbidden Technologies review is already up on postPerspective.com, and I recently took MediaSilo up on their offer and ran some of my own tests. I discovered that we really are going to be working in the cloud in the near future — this is not just a fad.
While these products do differ in their offerings, it’s clear there is a race to supremacy in the cloud wars. Forbidden Technology offers Forscene, a Web-based NLE, cloud storage and metadata management solution; Aframe offers a cloud storage and metadata management solution; and MediaSilo offers a cloud storage and metadata management solution that now can be tightly integrated within Adobe Premiere.
At NAB this year, companies showed off some great products, but for me it’s still hard to imagine cloud-based storage working “everywhere” when Internet speeds are really not that fast yet. Notwithstanding Internet speeds, MediaSilo is getting the closest to a usable de-centralized cloud-based storage that I’ve seen so far. With the newly released MediaSilo and Adobe Premiere/Prelude integration, editors will be able to access entire libraries and share finished sequences without leaving your NLE. This integration solidifies the fact that if cloud-based asset management systems can replace centralized storage (i.e. Avid ISIS, Unity, etc.), we will have a paradigm shift in the NLE ecosystem sooner than I expected.
Asset Management Integration With Adobe Premiere
I’ll jump right in to what I think is the most important part of MediaSilo’s asset management system as it pertains to my style of work: integration with an NLE. MediaSilo introduced their tight integration right inside of Adobe Premiere — for now MediaSilo wouldn’t speak to any future integration with other NLE makers. This to me is where the real strength of cloud storage will show itself. As I said earlier, my only problem is that most users don’t have fast enough Internet connection speeds to make this the end-all, be-all solution to editing “everywhere” or “anywhere” depending on which NLE you talk to.
In an enterprise scenario though, this definitely could replace the traditional near-line storage like an ISIS or Unity. Especially if MediaSilo and Adobe can figure out simultaneous project editing in a real working way like Avid has over the past 20 years.
Inside of Premiere you will log into your MediaSilo account just like you would with their desktop app or Web-based login. Here is where the magic starts: you can watch your proxy files and once you find what you want you can add them to your timeline and edit away. MediaSilo will download your clips and allow you to edit them directly in the timeline. MediaSilo is just starting out with this side of their business and are still flushing out just how they see people using this type of integration.
In addition to being able to access your cloud media directly in the NLE, you can use MediaSilo’s Quick Link option just as you would in the other interfaces, however, you can embrace the power of Adobe Media Encoder and send links of your timelines to other people directly from inside Premiere. Press compression, upload, and notify. It looks to be a very fast and easy way to send out for approvals. They are even including a revision process where you can upload different versions via the same link (all within Premiere). No more emailing new links for different cuts! I really do love what they are doing; it is exciting to see a glimpse of the future with everything being edited from everywhere and anywhere.
I have left out a few key workflow points because this is such a new system, and at the time of my demo they were still ironing out the process they envision. A true offline to online workflow seems inevitable, however, it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards just yet.
The Importance Of Metadata
As we all know, integrating with Adobe Premiere or any other NLE is only half the battle. The media management is just as important, if you don’t correctly enter metadata, logically organize your clips and properly transcribe your interviews you will be a in an extended world of hurt. One tip, don’t cheap out on your media organization. Look out for a tight integration with Adobe Prelude as a great solution to the metadata dilemma.
In addition, MediaSilo has a great MAM set-up; it is very logical and easy to use. MediaSilo automatically reads the metadata from your file headers and also allows the person ingesting the footage or another person across the globe to enter custom metadata. They embrace a Tag system that allows you to create certain buzz keywords that when searched will pop up results much like a Twitter or Instagram hashtag search. This can be extremely powerful if used correctly, i.e. only using the Tag “ECU” on clips with an “extreme close-up,” that way when searching that tag only pertinent results show.
I know that sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people log clips with crazy words like “extreme” or “close” without actually referencing anything technical. It’s not fun, and it’s not funny (I know inside joke in a review, sorry). Inside of the Adobe Premiere MediaSilo plug-in you will be able to search for these Tags, so choose carefully.
Share Share, That’s Fair
MediaSilo isn’t just a media asset management tool, they also have an extremely powerful publishing side to their product. From creating YouTube-like media portals to allowing the user to manage all of your social media publishing from one location, the admin can control who can share and where they share it. You can create custom FTP pods to allow drag-and-drop delivery to pre-configured FTP destinations without the hassle of log-ins and passwords. You can use MediaSilo for your final deliverables, even using it to encode different formats of your show without the need of a local encoder. Lastly in terms of delivery, MediaSilo can integrate itself within your current Aspera-accelerated file transfer infrastructure and turn on the blazing transfer speed you are used to when making final deliveries.
MediaSilo is definitely easy to learn. Within minutes you will be delivering cuts, allowing the reviewer to watch a link and give notes in one centralized place. While giving notes on the cut itself, there is a comment thread that can be used for anything from giving global notes to having a conversation about something unrelated. Once you are done leaving comments they can be exported as a PDF for future reference. Obviously a handy feature would be allowing us to export the comments as an XML, FCP or AAF for Avid Media Composer, maybe in a future version. Fortunately for the Premiere adopters, MediaSilo works in sync with your timeline and updates your timelines you’ve sent Quick Links of with the comments that were added in the cloud (Awesome!).
Room To Grow
When I first opened MediaSilo I wanted to upload a couple of XDCAM 50 folder structures. They were anywhere from 10GB to about 30GB in size. The accelerated uploader gave an error with no explanation after trying to upload the files. Eventually I discovered that MediaSilo does not support folder-based media, a big downside for me since almost everything I see professionally is in a folder structure that I do not want to break for OCD and technical reasons.
However, a work-around was to find the raw MXF files inside of the “Clip” folder and upload those individually. To be honest this feels like a cheat and not an efficient way to handle media. MediaSilo said that this is a limitation of their uploader and they do not have future plans to handle folder-based media. This also kind of adds double duty — since XDCAM inherently creates proxy files, you will be ignoring those on the MediaSilo end and re-encoding proxies in the cloud. In addition to not handling folder-based media, MediaSilo’s online accelerated uploader can only handle files below 5GB. If you have media larger than 5GB you must use an FTP uploader, which means you are limited to FTP speeds, and not the accelerated upload, another key point.
One last pitfall that is small, but crucial: the naming of downloadable proxy files from MediaSilo. When you upload your full-resolution media, MediaSilo creates a very high-quality proxy (their 720p proxies do look very nice). If you want to download and use those proxies, however, they are given an arbitrary name with nothing pointing you back to the original media name. I asked MediaSilo about this and they said the system gives proxies a unique ID but leaves the source file intact. I mentioned it might be nice to append a “_PROXY” to the source filename or something to that effect for people wishing to create a true offline to online workflow in the cloud.
Overall, MediaSilo has a high potential with its integration into Adobe Premiere. Being able to download an iOS app to comment and review videos is also really handy. If they can overcome a couple of the issues I ran into with my testing, MediaSilo could definitely make a run at taking over for local centralized storage and bringing post production into the future with de-centralized cloud-based storage for any post production environment.
Here are some quick highlights to take with you: MediaSilo offers a high-quality central collaboration point for video projects; you can bring your own storage: so integrate with your own Amazon AWS cloud and MediaSilo will manage it for you; and you can access video library from anywhere with the Native MediaSilo iOS app.
Brady Betzel is an editor at Bunim Murray Productions, a reality television production company. He is one of the editors on Bad Girls Club. His typical tools at work are Avid Symphony, Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.