Creatives the world over are becoming accustomed to a new era of working remotely. However, for many in the film, TV and advertising industries, remote working isn’t especially new, with studios, locations and artists scattered across the globe, and production teams working to ever-tighter schedules.
“Editing remotely is something that I’ve been doing for quite a long time in one form or another,” says editor Cheryl Potter (The Martian, Solo: A Star Wars Story). “I’ve often worked on shows where there’s been a cutting room in LA, one in London, one in Hungary and we were finding ways to all watch versions of the same cut and talk to each other. The film industry was already far ahead in working remotely before it was forced upon us.”
Indeed, film and video editors rely on more than their own skill and some decent hardware; they need to liaise closely with others, to bounce ideas off fellow artists, and to deliver the vision of the director or post-production supervisor.
In the absence of working together, side-by-side in an edit suite, editors now require workflows that can recreate that same over the shoulder experience. This offers up several challenges, not least of which is the need for precise feedback from directors and producers, whose time is at a premium.
Communicate in real time
Sohonet’s ClearView Flex is a collaborative video platform intended to remove the hurdles of time and distance, enabling the various stakeholders to review and comment on the editor’s work, irrespective of location.
“I’m using ClearView Flex regularly to communicate in real-time with editors,” states ACE Eddie-nominated editor Sven Pape (L.A. Twister, Effigy: Poison and the City). “It’s a great and collaborative way to look at the timeline together throughout the entire project.”
As part of his online training channel, ‘This Guy Edits’, Pape has been working with people like France-based editor Morgane Vautey. “I’ll stream the project from my editing software via ClearView,” Pape explains, “and we can review it together and go through the timeline. I can see exactly what shots [Morgane] picked and the other shots she selected before arriving at this cut and give her specific notes.
“For instance, I was able to suggest that a quote from filmmaker Chloé Zhao (Nomadland, Eternals) be shortened and still retain its essence for the audience to digest the information. These are the kind of creative choices that we can make without having to sit in a room. Using ClearView Flex we can play with the footage in real-time and make notes without delay.”
User – friendly, rapid setup
A key element of Sohonet’s platform is its ease-of-use: it takes just a few clicks to join a review session, which means it can be quickly slotted into busy schedules.
Hollywood editor Zack Arnold took ClearView Flex for a test run and praised the system’s ability to stream high-quality video to team members and clients, no matter where they were based. “It enables them to review and approve content from anywhere on their tablet, phone, PC/MAC or via Apple TV,” he explains. “It’s about as close as your team can get to watching a monitor ‘over your shoulder’, without physically being in the same room.
“I’ve used many different real-time streaming devices over the last decade to collaborate with directors and producers remotely, and by far the most painful part of the setup process is helping a director or producer install whatever equipment is necessary to see my feed on their end in real time. Sohonet has this process wired. They nailed it.”
Arnold goes on to describe how he tested the invite process with ten different people, located in different countries and on a variety of devices. “Not a single person had an issue installing and connecting directly to my session,” he enthused. “Furthermore, it didn’t take a single person more than 60 seconds to install and be invited to my private session.”
High quality, low latency
ClearView Flex allows editors to switch between their edit session via SDI, and their desktop via HDMI. So they can share a frame – and colour- accurate view of the edit, as well as a view of the editing software itself, complete with timeline, media bins, libraries and source viewer. The director simply joins the session via a browser – Firefox and Chrome are currently supported – and works collaboratively with the editor as normal. They don’t even need a super-fast connection.
On the editor side, Sohonet recommends at least 20Mbps of upload bandwidth for uninterrupted streams, while on the viewer’s side, just 2-7Mbps are required to watch the editor’s output, depending on the quality settings used. It’s important that the edit’s pace and playback is as solid as possible, so ClearView Flex employs ultra-low latency for rock-solid performance, even with low bandwidth. And it prioritises frame sync between screens, so if anyone experiences network issues, it automatically drops frames to prevent lag and ensure everyone is viewing the same shot at the same time.
“The stream quality is fantastic,” says feature film editor Sofi Marshall, who put ClearView Flex through its paces. “Since there are multiple quality options, all but the slowest internet connections will find a video setting that works well. Even on the ultra-low and low settings – which simply lower the video bit-rate – the picture looks and sounds great. In particular, the audio playback is very clear, since it uses full signal two-channel stereo audio.
“In terms of quality, ClearView Flex’s stream is top-notch, she continues. “As long as both you and your viewers have enough bandwidth, you’ll get amazing video and audio quality.
ClearView Flex also gets big points for being super easy to set up and having a well-designed user-friendly streaming interface.”
Sohonet ClearView Flex enables real-time creative review and collaborative editing with almost zero lag. To see how it can transform remote workflows, contact us to book a demo.