Projects and technologies come and go, and with each new tool comes new workflow changes. But changing the way you move media around can be tough. Maybe you’ve always done things a certain way, and using a new tool feels like too much of a learning curve especially when you’re pressed for time. But the way you’ve always done things isn’t always the best, easiest, or fastest way. Sometimes you need to change the status quo to level up your media operations.
As a freelance editor, I worked on a recent project that presented some challenges that demanded new approaches to media storage challenges you might also be facing. I solved them with the cloud—but not an all-in-one cloud. My solution was a mix of cloud tools, including Adobe Premiere Pro, which gives me customization and flexibility—the best of all worlds in media workflows.
Right Opportunity at the Right Time
Last year I had the opportunity to serve as a digital imaging technician (DIT) on the set of an indie film titled “Vengeance” produced by Falcon Pictures. The role of a DIT can vary. In many instances you’re simply a data wrangler making backups of the data being shot. In others, you work in the color space of the project creating color corrected dailies on set. For “Vengeance”, I was mostly data wrangling.
“Vengeance” was an 11-day shoot in the mountains of Northern California near Bass Lake. While the rest of the crew spent their days hiking around with equipment, I was stationed back at home base with my DIT cart. With a lot of free time, I found myself logging data as it came in. Logging clip names soon turned into organizing bins and prepping the project for editing. And, while I was not the editor on the project, I was happy to help edit while I was on set.
A few months after my work as DIT ended, it became clear that “Vengeance” needed a boost in post-production. The editing was a bit stuck—they had no assistant editor to complete logging and to sound sync all the footage. So, I was asked to help out. The only problem: I needed to be able to share my work with another editor who lived 45 miles away.
Evaluating the World of Workflows and Cloud Tools
So we began to evaluate a few different solutions. It was clear that Adobe Premiere Pro would be used, but data storage was still a big question. We debated a few methods for sharing media:
- The traditional route: Sharing a studio. With the other editor 45 miles away, commuting and scheduling time with each other was going to be cumbersome.
- Email: We could email project files back and forth as we worked, but how would we keep track of versioning? Project bloat was a big concern.
- Sharing a shuttle drive. Or what I’m calling “Sneakernet 2.0.” This is a popular method, but far from efficient.
- Google Drive or Dropbox: Another popular option, but also one that comes with costs and service limitations like rate limiting.
None of these options were great, so we went back to the drawing board.
The Solution: A Hybrid Workflow Designed for Our Needs
To come to a final decision for this workflow, we made a list of our needs:
- The ability to share a Premiere Pro project file for updates.
- The ability to share media for the project.
- No exchanging external hard drives.
- No driving (a car).
- Changes need to be real time.
Based on those needs, here’s where we landed.
Sharing Project Files
Adobe recently released a new update to its Team Projects features within Premiere Pro. Team Projects allows you to host a Premiere Pro project in the Adobe cloud and share it with other Adobe Creative Cloud users. This gave us the flexibility to share a single project and share updates in real time. This means no emailing of project files, versioning issues, or bloated files. That left the issues of the media. How do we share media?
Sharing Media Files
You may think that it would be obvious to share files in the Adobe Creative Cloud where you get 100GB free. And while 100GB may be enough storage for .psd and .ai files, 100GB is nothing for video, especially when we are talking about RED (.r3d) files which start off as approximately 4GB chunks and can quickly add up to terabytes of footage.
So we put everything in a Backblaze B2 Bucket. All the .r3d source files went directly from my Synology network attached storage (NAS) into a Backblaze B2 Bucket using the Synology Cloud Sync tool. In addition to the source files, I used Adobe Media Encoder to generate proxy files of all the .r3d files. This folder of proxy files also synced with Backblaze automatically.
Making Changes in Real Time
What was great about this solution is that all of the uploading is done automatically via a seamless Backblaze + Synology integration, and the Premiere Pro Team Project had a slew of publish functions perfect for real-time updates. And because the project files and proxies are stored in the cloud, I could get to them from several computers. I spent time at my desktop PC logging and syncing footage, but was also able to move to my couch and do the same from my MacBook Pro. I never had to move hard drives around, copy projects files, or worry about version control.
The other editor was able to connect to my Backblaze B2 Bucket using Cyberduck, a cloud storage browser for Mac. Using Cyberduck, he was able to pull down all the proxy files I created and share any files that he created. So, we were synced for the entire duration of the project.
Once the technology was configured, I was able to finish logging for “Vengeance”, sync all the sound, build out stringouts and assemblies, and even a rough cut of every scene for the entire movie, giving the post-production process the boost it needed.
The Power of Centralized Storage for Media Workflows
Technology is constantly evolving, and, in most circumstances, technology makes how we work a lot easier. For years filmmakers have worked on projects by physically moving our source material, whether it was on film reels, tapes, or hard drives. The cloud changed all that.
The key to getting “Vengeance” through post-production was our centralized approach to file management. Files existed in Backblaze already, we simply brought Premiere Pro to the data rather than moving the huge amount of files to Premiere Pro via the Creative Cloud.
The mix of technologies lets us create a customized flow that works for us. Creative Cloud had the benefit of providing a project sharing mechanism, and Backblaze provided a method of sharing media (Synology and Cyberduck) regardless of the tooling each editor had.
Once we hit picture lock, the centralized files will serve as a distribution point for VFX, color, and sound, making turnover a breeze. It can even be used as a distribution hub—check out how American Public Television uses Backblaze to distribute their finished assets.
Centralizing in the cloud not only made it easy for me to work from home, it allowed us to collaborate on a project with ease eliminating the overhead of driving, shuttle drive delivery (Sneakernet 2.0), and version control. The best part? A workflow like this is affordable for any size production and can be set up in minutes.
Have you recently moved to a cloud workflow? Let us know what you’re using and how it went in the comments.