What is Camera to Cloud?
An explainer on the revolutionary new workflow option for DPs, DITs, Editors, and others.
Camera to Cloud 101
“Camera to Cloud” really is basically just what it sounds like– you record on your camera, the footage goes directly to the cloud. What might not be so immediately apparent, though, is how to use it, and why it can be so advantageous.
How to Use C2C
The most popular software option for Camera to Cloud storage is Frame.io, a web-based subscription service that enables users to store and share media in the cloud, and has the built-in ability to pair with cloud-compatible devices like Teradek’s Cube recorder/transmitter, or Atomos’ upcoming CONNECT devices that were just announced at NAB 2022. Frame.io is also now integrated directly into Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Davinci Resolve, Final Cut, and other post-production softwares, so there are no extra steps to import your footage straight from the Cloud to your project. The clips stored in Frame.io will also contain the timecode data from the original clips, so you can start editing with the cloud clips right away just like you would with traditional proxy files.
In simpler terms: you connect a C2C device to your camera, and whenever you roll, the clip automatically uploads to your Frame.io project folder, which you can access directly in your post-production software.
Why C2C is a Game Changer
If you work in a sector of the film world with ultra-tight turnaround times such as commercials or music videos, I’m sure some advantages of this high speed workflow are already apparent. The fact that practically no time is required to download media, much less wait for a whole card to fill up, means that the gap between production and post has never been shorter. Literally, this enables you to start editing as you shoot. In addition, this cloud-based architecture means that your editor doesn’t need to be on site, or even in the same country, to take advantage of this lightning-fast workflow.
This is also a new way to have your media immediately backed up as a worst-case-scenario failsafe, so if all else fails, you’d still have at least something to work with. (As a side note, the image quality of these proxies is surprisingly high. Not something you’d likely wanna work with as a first choice by any means, but still good enough that in that worst-case-scenario, odds are that they would still be usable.)
For what it’s worth, it’s also hard to stress enough how cool this technology is to use until you’ve done it yourself. The first time you roll the camera and then see the full clip appear in your cloud storage within a few seconds, it’s nearly impossible to not be taken aback and ask yourself “did that really just happen??” and let your imagination run away with all the possibilities this opens up.
Limitations to Consider
With the exciting stuff out of the way, we would be remiss to ignore the fact that C2C, like all new technologies, is not without its “gotchas”. Notably, being a cloud-based technology, C2C requires a stable internet connection, which may be difficult or even impossible. If you have the ability, an ethernet connection is always preferable over a wireless connection, so this is something you should consider while in pre-production.
Another noteworthy limitation comes into play if you are working with high frame rates (but there is a workaround!). If you are shooting high-speed footage, the SDI output is still only sending out 23.98fps video to your monitors, and consequently, your C2C capture device. If it’s essential that your editor be able to work with the full slow-motion clip, what you’ll have to do then is manually hit record on the C2C device and play the full take back from the camera in slow-mo. If you’re on a tight schedule and shooting lots of HFR footage, this might be a significant obstacle.