RETHINKING CREATIVE COLLABORATION FOR REMOTE SESSIONS

Remote workflow has become the hot topic for post production professionals. A recent Google search for the term ‘post production remote working’ returned an astonishing 437 millions results.

This huge interest level of interest is no doubt driven by our current work-from-home situation, which might lead some to think that this too shall pass. But history reveals that many such inflection points result in lasting change.

Remote working, from a purely technical perspective, has led the professional video industry to embrace Cloud Computing. Amongst other things, this means rethinking the equipment required to satisfy client demands and remain competitive. The larger challenge, however, will be to rethink the impact on creative collaboration.

Steve Jobs famously designed Pixar headquarters with the bathrooms located in a central atrium so that all employees would have an opportunity to interact, irrespective of their office location.

So, what happens to creative collaboration when workplace locations are separated by time zones rather than facility layout? The challenge will be to emulate that in-person experience as closely as possible.

Virtual Over-the-Shoulder

Alan Bell, an award-winning features editor and visual effects creator, provides a great case study. He recently moved from Los Angeles to New Hampshire, where he built a complete editing suite in the basement of his home with the goal of working remotely. His recent projects include the likes of Red Sparrow, The Dark Tower and 3 of the Hunger Games releases, so his needs go well beyond Zoom calls or screen sharing.

In Alan’s own words, “Streambox is the key part of my toolbox for remote editing“. He uses a Streambox Chroma encoder in his New Hampshire home office to engage in remote sessions with a director and creative team in Los Angeles. Chroma encoders allows him to deliver the video quality and format that is needed for the project – anything from ordinary SD to 12-bit HDR and Dolby Vision tunneling – so remote session reviewers have the same visual experience as an over-the-shoulder session in his edit suite.

The remote crew can likewise select from a variety of Streambox decoders to suit their particular need. The Chroma Plus model is a cost effective, desktop decoder that delivers high quality video on an HDMI output for the screening room and is more than capable of supporting a remote grading scenario. Alternatively, software-based decoders, such as the iOS media player, enable viewing on iPhones or iPads for those who do not need review quality.

Chroma Plus delivers on all fronts: ease of setup (no IT wizards required), reliable transport across any network, review-quality video and audio, and one-to-one and one-to-many connections.

I Need it When I Need it!

Spontaneity is an important aspect of creativity. Spending hours trying to configure networks and other daunting IT tasks, especially across multiple locations, is simply impractical and counterproductive.

Streambox Sessions, in conjunction with Streambox Cloud Services, provides an ideal solution to address this critical aspect of remote work.  It allows the host to set up a collaborative session and then email an invitation to attendees. They, in turn, simply enter a code into their playout device and connect much the way you would for a Zoom session. Yes, the connection is secure and encrypted!

Alan states, “I just turn it on, control the entire system from my laptop, they start watching, and it all just works”. Sweet.

May You Live in Interesting Times

Despite being widely attributed as a Chinese curse, there is no known equivalent expression in Chinese, but it is generally understood as an ironic reference to the turmoil that often accompanies “interesting situations”.

How will creative collaboration in the video industry evolve over the next few (interesting) years? No one can answer this with certainty, but there are very hopeful historical references from the business world’s experience with Could Computing. In short, significant improvements across the board!

One notable development in the video world is the advent of “virtual machines”, such as Avid’s Media Composer | Cloud VM and Adobe Premier. They allow anyone, anywhere, to access the capabilities of virtual editors ‘in the cloud’ using an ordinary workstation or laptop. Streambox has developed a virtual encoder – Spectra – that extends these capabilities to include color-accurate remote review and collaboration sessions. Future iterations of Spectra are in the works to support the same capability for virtual machine versions of DaVinci Resolve, Autodesk Flame and FilmLight’s Baselight.

Virtual machines will revolutionize remote working by reducing the need for specialized equipment in the workspace

So, yes, we are living in interesting times and dealing with its usual turmoil, but we are clearly heading to a bright future for our industry.