Unlike most of today’s content, inspiration and creativity is not available on-demand. Most creative workers in our industry do not work in a vacuum and generally, the creative process works better when teams bounce ideas off one another, leading to the magic we see on our screens (big or small). And being in the same space at the same time inevitably helps the process.
But with tax-breaks pulling productions in various directions and teams, talent and clients often scattered across the globe — this isn’t always possible. These factors aside, the effects of COVID 19 have meant that we’re currently undergoing a huge shift in the way that we work, meaning teams throughout the production process are having to adapt to working from home. It has become more important than ever, therefore, to ensure your client, teams, and partners remain aligned on creative vision and provided with the right tools to create and execute that shared vision, regardless of location.
Best tools for the job
Whilst your editor might work a little of their magic alone, at some point they need to deliver the result into some other workflow. Whilst offline workflows have their place, the back and forth nature can prove cumbersome and for successful review and approve discussions (i.e. ‘make the sky angry’, ‘smooth the scene transition’) you need a real-time solution to recreate that over-the-shoulder collaborative experience from wherever you are. This helps both save time and preserve creative intent.
Offline review simply doesn’t cut it when creatives are working collaboratively on an edit. Directors often go back to the same editor, movie after movie, because of the creative relationship they build working together in the edit suite. Completing an edit sequence, uploading it and getting the director to review, does not give users the same experience. If you can’t view the edit software, you can’t see the timeline, or the alternative shots in the editor’s bin and don’t know what was left out of the cut.
ClearView Flex solves this problem by allowing your editor to switch between sharing the output of their edit session via SDI, for frame and colour accurate output, as you would normally review on the edit suite monitor, and sharing their desktop via HDMI. This allows them to share their edit software, complete with timeline, bins/media libraries and source viewer for a collaborative editing experience. The input can be quickly changed within a session at the click of a button. A director can join the session and watch in their home office or sitting comfortably on the couch watching on an Apple TV.
Flex currently supports content up to 2K DCI with 8-bit colour depth and 4:2:0 chroma sampling for broadcast-quality video streaming. And unlike traditional streaming hardware products which suffer when they run over the Internet due to packet contention and loss on the network, Flex is run over Sohonet’s private Media Network, meaning you can be guaranteed that latency is not an issue and that real-time solution really is in ‘real-time’.
How Flex works and our top tips for remote editing:
Your editor will be provided with a ‘Flexbox’ which connects to their video source via HDMI or HD-SDI. They login to the ClearView Flex session manager via their browser and start a session. They can invite up to 20 viewers who will be sent a one-time entry session link and can join on their mobile device, PC or via Apple TV (they do not require any specialist equipment to view a session their end). Once joined, all parties are in perfect sync, viewing frame and colour-accurate footage, accompanied by stereo sound, in real-time.
While creatives are WFH, Our home internet connections are being pushed to their limits with multiple people in the household vying for connectivity for home study, streaming entertainment and video conferencing. During your session, it’s a good idea to try and convince others to lay off the screen time for a bit. Whilst Flex requires minimal bandwidth you will need a healthy 20mbit/s of upload for the Flexbox stream and up to 8-10mbps of download for each viewer device(this includes the session management app which as mentioned also includes a display of the streamed session). If you stick to the lower bitrate settings you can get away with less bandwidth. The super-low bitrate setting consumes around 1-2mbit/s of data and the low-quality setting consumes around 2-3mbit/s. We recommend a hard-wired connection for all to avoid issues with packet loss.
Use Apple TV
The AppleTV app provides the best and most controllable colour experience for your end viewers. Modern TVs such as the LG C8, C9 or CX series are fairly well calibrated out of the box. The Apple TV can be hardwired to an ethernet connection and the Presenter can set the quality of the stream to ‘High’ in the session management app. This ups the bit-rate of the stream for the best picture quality and colour. Make sure you turn off HDR in your Apple TV settings as this may have an effect on the colour accuracy of the stream. Currently, if HDR review is required, we suggest using an offline review tool like Moxion who also have an Apple TV app that will support it, but we expect to deliver HDR capabilities with high colour quality this summer.
Switching between HDMI and SDI
There are two input ports on your Flexbox – HDMI and SDI. It is possible to have both of these connected at once and then switch between inputs during an active session. This allows you to switch between desktop sharing and your main output for an enhanced collaboration experience.
What’s coming soon?
As you can imagine, none of us know how long we will be in “full” WFH mode or when we will start to transition to a mode where “critical” personnel go to the office and others are still WFH. Our developers are working around the clock to increase the depth of colour quality (10-bit), chroma (4:2:2) and colour space (Rec 2020 and HDR) to provide an acceptable “critical review” alternative that can be delivered via high capacity home internet speeds. Stay tuned — we are expecting to deliver this kind of capability on behalf of our industry before summer begins in the northern hemisphere.