In the summer of the year 2000, three disruptive innovations entered the market, initiating a thirst for early adoption among myself and my schoolmates: DVCam, Firewire and Apple Final Cut Pro. Together, these technologies fueled a monumental step-change in creative technology, unlocking one of the largest democratization gains in the history of cinema. The market impact of these tools simultaneously ignited in me a yearning to trailblaze every emerging technology I could get my hands on with a passion to master, modify and mature them into mainstream standards for the filmmaking community. More than two decades later, we stand on the precipice of the next technological change, which has already begun to gain momentum: the cloud.
We all know what the cloud is, but to understand how significant the cloud will be in the world of filmmaking requires an understanding of where emerging cloud technology is heading.
Today, the cloud is already a familiar term used by every filmmaker. From online dailies, centralized calendars and Google Slides, workflows commonly utilize the cloud across creative teams. But by the year 2031, an entirely-new era of control and manipulation will emerge through cloud computing that will shift today’s traditional pipelines into the hands of directors, cinematographers and editors. New cloud technologies, such as generative AI, speech-to-text and computational editing will completely transform what creatives can do on their own with automation and keywords.
For example, a director wanting to have a scene take place in the rain might not necessarily have to shoot it that way. Simply typing in “add rain and lightning” to a series of clips will generate water effects and instantly produce options to choose from as references. If a cinematographer wanted to add more lens flare to a particular shot, they could add non-destructive flares to enhance the look. An editor will have a script automatically analyzed and tagged through speech-to-text and ask the NLE to generate an edited assembly, all based on flexible parametric controls of speed, pacing and angles. Cloud computing tools like these will be able to be controlled from mobile devices and shared instantly as first impressions across creative teams, simultaneously accelerating the entire collaborative process, as well as auditioning more polished rough cuts without having to invest the time or money for temporary work.
But before we can deploy these workflows, there is one unilateral problem blocking the cloud from being fully activated: getting original assets from the camera to the cloud. At Frame.io and Adobe, we believe every asset (not just camera assets) must be born in the cloud so that cloud computing can begin working at the moment assets are captured. We launched Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C) in April of 2021 and since then over six thousand productions have used it to upload proxy assets from the field into the cloud. All over the world, people are delivering from the set directly into the Frame.io Premiere Pro Panel in seconds.
But it’s not all about cameras: C2C is a publicly-available API that allows manufacturers of all toolsets to upload audio files, location photos, wardrobe collections, production design assets, lighting settings and visual effects revisions all into the cloud where they are instantly actionable. In October of this year, we released the world’s first in-camera to cloud solutions that transmit raw 8K files directly from a camera to the cloud with the new Red V-Raptor, Red V-Raptor XL, and the Fujifilm X-H2S. The integrations with Red and Fujifilm are the first step in being able to move assets immediately from the field to the cloud completely in the background from the cameras themselves.
As bandwidth improves, C2C technologies will make it possible for cloud computing to take shape across the entire imaging chain. Over the next eight years, every media and entertainment workflow will undergo a cataclysmic, permanent shift to cloud-first technology that will increase access, speed, manipulation and creative control in ways never before possible. The path to the cloud has begun and there’s already a clear opportunity for filmmakers to begin exploring the early stages of an entirely new way to work.
Just like the MiniDV revolution decades ago, creatives who are unafraid to be among the first to try it position themselves to fully leverage this technology as it matures for their own creative gains.
Michael Cioni is the Senior Director, Global Innovation for Frame.io.