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Solo stories: Cloud-based operations

Posted on Mar 13, 2024

Atomos marketing director Steve Wise discusses the benefits of cloud-based tools, no matter how small your operation

Technological change is happening so fast that, in some cases, we no longer have an intuitive feel for it. If you were to make an iPhone out of valves instead of transistors, it would probably cover an area the size of San Francisco. It takes an eye-watering amount of technological expertise and innovation to pack 19 billion transistors into the palm of your hand. Yet that’s where we are. Cameras might look much the same as they did decades ago, but digital innovation means they’re also packing a punch – so it’s unsurprising that video production feels so different these days.

ACHIEVING MORE IN LESS TIME

The growth of independent content creation has been a noticeable trend; projects that would have been impossible to tackle solo in the past are now much more accessible. An increasing number of producers are creating and distributing content, without the backing of traditional media companies or production studios. Regardless of technical evolution, video production is time-consuming. Planning, shooting and editing are extremely intensive, especially when you’re doing it to a tight deadline.

As the demands of content production ramp up, video producers need to be able to efficiently manage and access their work from anywhere. Cloud workflows can reduce pressure and empower them to work smarter. However, many independent video producers aren’t currently making use of the cloud.

There is a perception that cloud-based tools are mostly geared towards production companies with large teams, working both on-set and remotely. Of course, Hollywood blockbusters have staff dedicated to leveraging the latest technology in innovative ways, and they rigorously test new workflows. But, the benefits are consistent whether you are working in a large team or independently.

THE CLOUD ADVANTAGE

Storing media content in numerical form has many advantages. Simply put, the cloud is the internet – with extras. It enables producers to send video over networks, manage storage and optimise processing and editing. It facilitates realtime feedback and streamlines project management, providing video producers with a digital playground to work on some complex projects.

It sounds tempting to jump straight in, but it’s important to understand the cloud production basics. Producers will need to utilise products that can take the output from their cameras and send them as proxy files to the cloud. While you wouldn’t use proxies to master for IMAX, lower-bitrate formats can be good enough for final delivery. If speed is of the essence, an H.265-based proxy is ideal for social media projects and event coverage.

The right camera-to-cloud service can dynamically manage and deliver files to a preferred NLE. Just like any other workflow, creators will get a feel for the cloud. Every second spent testing the workflow will reward you with speed and confidence, both during the shoot and in post-production. That way, artistic needs aren’t compromised.

TROUBLESHOOTING THE UNEXPECTED

5G is improving all the time, and Wi-Fi coverage is widespread. But even away from terrestrial coverage, a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite service offers connection almost anywhere. Of course, it’s always sensible to have a backup plan. There’s nothing intrinsically unreliable about cloud workflows. Arguably, they are safer, since there’s an additional copy of your footage in the cloud. However, with a network and camera-to-cloud recorder, you’ll get at least three copies: two locally and one (or more) in the cloud.

New technology can seem challenging. Typically, the experience gets easier the more advanced it becomes and the more you work with it. Today’s cloud software enables creatives to focus on their job as a producer, while it handles complexity. Cloud production offers superpowers like geographical independence and global collaboration. If you do plan to go it alone, the cloud can make you a one-person powerhouse.

This story appears in the March 2024 issue of Definition. Read the full magazine here.

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