The cloud experience for post-production
I am just like you, an editor. Originally cutting on Steenbecks, Moviolas, linear suites and eventually on the Avid 1 Media Composer in 1989. (Bragging rights, Serial number 003 with the privilege of crashing every 20 minutes.) My editing life was based on computers with locally installed software, arriving from floppy disks, CDs/DVDs and eventually huge downloads. I’ll skip over my editorial finishing, grading and VFX background and save that for another post.
Everywhere, Anywhere? Already there!
In 2014 I saw Forscene at NAB and was introduced to cloud post-production. Originally, I assumed it was just another offering similar to Avid’s Everywhere and Adobe’s Anywhere. Those were essentially the various known editing platforms locally installed on your computer and attached to a very expensive proprietary VPN into a hugely expensive remote shared storage network with multiple points of failure. After my overview of Forscene I realised that it was 180 degrees from everyone else. It played in a SaaS and I realised how wrong my assumptions about Forscene were. This SaaS thing was already there – ready to work in seconds.
The SaaS Experience, boom there you are.
I was already a huge fan of Google’s Drive. You login, you pick an equivalent to Microsoft word, Excel, or Powerpoint, and you are presented with a similar interface in your web browser and you work. The fact that your work is available in “the cloud” – anywhere, on any device – and in a real collaborative environment is the experience. It’s actually become the only way I can now live. Storing locally just gives me anxiety and local backups are just as bad. Cloud has become my number one safety net protecting my data against everything including bit-rot. This is the ultimate backup.
The editor, the truth
With my need for a true cloud SaaS, Forscene’s concept of a cloud post-production platform was love at first login. An editor that responded positively and all my media and edits protected on multiple data centres over 3500 km from home. (And blazing fast proxy creation and uploads to the cloud, but more on this in another post). But then, Forscene in its original configuration did not look like my Media Composer. Truthfully, it was far too colourful, it felt too easy and there is a good reason for simplicity that I had to discover later on. When I was at NAB and first saw it, I walked away, not only once, but twice. Something kept drawing me back to the booth and I’m so glad I returned. I was always told never judge a book by it’s cover and I discovered how great the story was about Forscene when I turned the first page.
Chapter 1 – The Mechanics. While evaluating Forscene, I quickly realised the editing rules were being followed quite well. I did not have to re-learn very much at all. Splice, Overwrite, Extract, Lift and Trim were all there, as well as 3-point edits, slip and even multicam! These UK folks got me. Then, I realised even manoeuvring through the media felt the same, but actually better than what I was used to hearing and seeing using J-K-L. It all felt so familiar, except one thing: Forscene did not put limitations on me in terms of playback. I could run the player while reviewing my edit. How the hell did they do that? Bloody brilliant, I’ve wanted this for years.
Chapter 2 – Share. I quickly came to realise that the editor was excellent, but where Forscene really excelled was in the shared storage network world. For 95% of post people, Avid, Editshare and the rest were financially out of reach. The fact I did not receive a large crate from Forscene with racks upon racks of obsolete shared storage was a relief. I can log in from a coffee shop on a laptop or tablet and the cut is brilliant. My editor colleagues can view, edit and publish in the same project from anywhere where (see Toronto International Film Festivals use for a great overview). No forklift was required, just an email to get me going!
Chapter 3 – Publish and Compatibility. So, once my edit is complete, where does it go? It’s not video to nowhere, I can tell you that. Forscene was able to get me from A to B in any scenario. Since metadata is intact throughout the process. I can publish lists via AAF and XML for finishing in any other edit system. The magic moment for me, was publishing full-res to YouTube and mpeg streams without tying up my computer to do the horrible “R-word” [render]. The cloud took care of this: drag and drop, work on another edit from any web browser, or simply go home to your loved ones.
As I said, I am just like you. I get frustrated when the tools of my craft do not work and when I am forced to wait for a process that should be immediate. When I evaluated Forscene, I did not get those negative feels. I’m glad I went back to the Forscene booth because it was a great opportunity to be involved with what I know as the inevitable future of post for all of us.
My next posting will discuss the re-invention of creative logging… And yes, they changed the colour scheme of Forscene to a lovely slate grey with a hint of blue and orange!
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