End-to-end filmmaking cloud based solutions are no longer just the stuff of science fiction. We examine the empowering of independent news services through the use of cloud based collaboration. We also check out some of the services now available for filmmakers/content creators and what you need to consider before taking your next project online.

By Nicole Boyd

Web broadcasting has come into its own this decade and part of the reason is due to the low costs associated with producing content for online. There are numerous free video-hosting platforms, along with a seemingly endless supply of filmmaking guides and how-to’s (V&F even has a healthy Tutorials selection). Content is being uploaded all day, everyday.

Currently, almost 1.7 billion people own a smartphone, at no other time in history has there been so many cameras recording events, as they happen, and from every angle.

This has paved the way for independent news reporting, whether it be world news, celebrity, sports or gaming. It now competes directly against the multinational networks and media conglomerates, but without the restrictions (some would say bias) that ownership places on its news services.

An example of which is Vice, which began its life (in 1994) as a small Montreal magazine. Last year, Rupert Murdoch (News Corp/Fox) paid $70Mil for a 5% share in Vice. Despite that, the company still maintains its independent voice and is now producing local content in twenty-four countries around the world, its editors networking and sharing collaborative projects online.

These days, a breaking story or video will already have been viewed by millions online, long before it’s broadcast on television. If you work in any kind of online news or entertainment reporting, it’s imperative to get the stories recorded, edited and uploaded as quickly as possible.

It can make the difference to the success of your website or Youtube channel – more likes, views and shares, means more money to grow your business.

Take for example the small, Canadian media company, Smart Entertainment Group (SEG), which provides an online celebrity and entertainment news portal. The company was founded by entertainment journalist Bonnie Laufer, with only a handful of editors, writers, and camera crew, working with her.

Laufer’s recent coverage of the Toronto Film Festival, last month, also ran on the US entertainment website, The Seven Sees. Even though it was her 25th year covering the festival, Laufer’s journalism skills were pushed to their absolute limit. She conducted 80 celebrity interviews at the festival, in conjunction with overseeing editing and immediately sharing the content with her US counterparts.

Bonnie Laufer interviews Sam Worthington at the Toronto Film Festival (image: The Smart Entertainment Group)

Bonnie Laufer interviews Sam Worthington at the Toronto Film Festival (image: The Smart Entertainment Group)

Working with the UK’s Forbidden Technologies, Laufer’s company adopted the turnkey cloud editing solution, Forscene, into the workflow. This provided a server at her homebase in Toronto, which automatically ingested the festival interviews into predetermined folders in the cloud, that were set to watch folders on SGE’s media storage system.

Editors at Toronto and Los Angeles could simultaneously access the media, work together editing the interviews, integrate graphic elements, and then make the finished packages available for review. Once approved, the segments were then published directly from the server to Seven See website using the original high-resolution footage stored in the cloud.

Jonathan Ratliff, owner and editor-in-chief of Seven Sees said:

“[It] is an amazing technology for Web streaming portals like ours that need to acquire and edit media originating anywhere in the world. The speed of acquisition and creative control it offers during the editing process is incredible. During TFF we had almost instant access to the media acquired in Toronto so that it could be utilized in Los Angeles.”

“The back end of publishing the content was just a drag and drop away, where we could create MPEG streams to publish to our streaming site. We are excited about the future of creative possibilities in the cloud.”

Forscene was used to edit over 80 interviews conducted by Bonnie Laufer.

Forscene was used to edit over 80 interviews conducted by Bonnie Laufer.


There are numerous cloud services that offer collaborative workflows and many also offer free storage space; such as Sony-CiAdobe Creative Cloud, Egnyte and GoogleDrive.

Just yesterday (Oct 28th) Microsoft announced it was giving all of its Office 365 subscribers unlimited space on its OneDrive cloud storage.

The beauty of these kinds of solutions is it allows filmmakers/content creators to connect online from anywhere in the world, all work from the same server.

Last year, Emma Dassau from PBS wrote a guide for filmmakers on cloud storage collaboration. In her piece, Dassau mentions four questions, that you and your crew must ask yourselves before moving forward with the project.

They are:

1. How much data (video, audio, photos) do you need to share? Is it 1 TB? 5 TB? 15 TB? Some platforms charge less per GB the more data you’re looking to store.

2. How many people need to access the data at the same time? The goal of finding the best cloud storage option is to improve your workflow, and you don’t want one of your team members booted off in the middle of their work because too many people are accessing the account.

3. How long will you need to collaborate? Some team cloud platforms give a discounted rate if you sign up for a year or more, so consider your production timetable. (Don’t forget that when your collaboration period is over, there are cheaper ways to store your data.)

4. How fast is your Internet connection? If you’re planning on uploading huge amounts of data via typical high-speed Internet, keep in mind that the process can take days or weeks. Some ISPs have data caps of 250-500 GB per month, so without a business-class Internet plan, you might run into trouble.

So what does the future hold? The cost of these technologies can only come down, as even more filmmaker networking platforms open up, like Movidiam and ProCreate. Sooner or later, open sourced end-to-end (or close to that) cloud solutions will be made available for everyone.

The paradigms are shifting, making it an exciting and creative time for filmmaking.




 Feature image: Cloud Computing (image: ©Kalawin Jongpo/ThinkStock).

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