Camera-to-Cloud Solves Some, but Not All Production Needs
Adobe’s Frame.io subsidiary recently announced new capabilities for the Camera-to-Cloud (C2C) service. New is the ability to support C2C without the need for the external Teradek CUBE 655 encoder/recorder/media gateway. This functionality is now built into the RED V-Raptor and V-Raptor XL cameras to upload REDCODE RAW files directly to the cloud – even up to 8K! In addition, the 8K-capable FUJIFILM X-H2S becomes the world’s first digital still camera to integrate natively with Frame.io C2C.
While the new C2C capabilities can support the upload of 8K original camera files (OCF), the wired or wireless bandwidth to do this will be challenging for most applications today.
The Teradeck Appliance has Limitations
The C2C solution featuring the Teradek CUBE 655 appliance has some limitations. For one, it uses the older H.264 (AVC) codec to create a proxy file with 1080p resolution at 15 Mbps using either 3G-SDI or HDMI inputs from the camera. What can be uploaded in real-time depends on the network and bandwidth options the device is attached to. Such an option can allow for remote editing as soon as a scene is captured in the camera. Uploading of the original camera files can take place overnight.
According to sources we spoke with at the SMPTE conference, long GOP AVC or HEVC recording on a 3rd party outboard encoders will start recording at a different timecode than the original camera file. For some non-linear editors (like Adobe Premiere), this could create some difficulty in relinking to the original camera files if editors originally started to edit with the proxies.
Red & Fujifilm Fix Proxy Timing
To address this issue, it appears that the RED and Fujifilm cameras now use internally created proxies that have the same length and timecode as the original camera’s files to send to the cloud. RED may have also added some Wi-Fi capability to the V-Raptors to get the signal to a media gateway device or perhaps use its RED CONNECT feature, which can deliver REDCODE RAW content over CAT cable to a gateway. RED has not disclosed much about its solution yet.
With these updates, the original camera files, a ProRes version or a lower resolution proxy files can all be uploaded directly to a Frame.io folder in the cloud, including camera metadata. That enables one to shoot 8K RAW with a frame-accurate ProRes proxy and upload the 8K RAW, the proxy (or both) as fast as your internet allows. VFX houses can then access the original camera files from the cloud, while the post-production house may use the ProRes or proxy files to begin editorial nearly immediately.
For on-set dailies, Colorfront can to access the V-RAPTOR RAW video (plus Venice 2, Arri Alexa 35 or Blackmagic design 12K RAW) files and audio files so they can be synced, color corrected, and transcoded in the cloud and made available to the production crew.
But There are Still Practical Issues for C2C
While this all sounds terrific, there are some practical issues today. For one, uploading original camera files requires an overnight time frame even for high bandwidth connections. That makes delivery of on-set dailies impossible if they are needed within a few hours of capture. Today, it may make more sense for someone to drive the data to a post house if working on the original camera files.
Secondly, the on-set cinematographer may create a color decision list (CDL) as the content is being shot. If the camera files are being immediately uploaded, the CDL is not delivered from the camera, making the creation of the dalies problematic.
Nevertheless, according to Adobe, the new in-camera evolution is anticipated to become a standard within the next decade. This may be feasible at bandwidths increase but capturing additional on-set information is just as critical.
As previously noted, the FUJIFILM X-H2S is the world’s first digital stills camera to natively integrate with Frame.io C2C to upload ProRes and proxy video files. When paired with the FT-XH file transfer attachment to establish an internet connection, photography workflows will be fully cloud-based, with Frame.io supporting high-resolution RAW files with loupe, navigation, and annotation tools.
The expected firmware release date for both the X-H2S & FT-XH is Spring 2023, while the RED updates will occur later this year.
The video below provides some nice additional information.