NYC-based video review and collaboration platform Frame.io said former Panavision and Light Iron exec Michael Cioni will lead a new L.A.-based division of the company focused on “camera-to-cloud” production workflow for cinema. Cioni will be global SVP of innovation at Frame.io.

The company said it is investing in automated technology to reduce the time it takes to get media from the set to off-site cutting rooms.

The move heralds a push by Frame.io to extend its services closer to the point of acquisition, and it comes as the industry takes a serious and more expansive look at its options in the cloud — see the recently announced five-year partnership between Walt Disney Studios, Microsoft and Avid as just one example.

Frame.io’s backers include venture-capital firms Accel, FirstMark Capital, SignalFire and Oscar-winning actor and musician Jared Leto.

Frame.io's Michael Cioni and Emery Wells

Frame.io SVP of Global Innovation Michael Cioni (left) and CEO Emery Wells
Frame.io

New Applications for a ‘New Frontier’

Frame.io’s camera-to-cloud workflow will build on the platform’s existing toolset, which includes accelerated media upload speeds, MPAA- and SOC2-compliant security measures, and varying degrees of integration with widely used post-production software. In a press release, Frame.io CEO Emery Wells promised a slew of new developments on the “new frontier” of cloud workflow, including machine-learning applications and combinations of software and hardware.

“A robust camera-to-cloud approach means filmmakers will have greater access to their work, greater control of their content, and greater speed with which to make key decisions,” said Cioni in a prepared statement. “Our new roadmap will dramatically reduce the time it takes to get original camera negative into the hands of editors. Directors, cinematographers, post houses, DITs, and editors will all be able to work with recorded images in real time, regardless of location.”

A four-time regional Emmy award-winner, Cioni made his mark on Hollywood as post-production supervisor for the relentlessly forward-looking PlasterCity Post before becoming President and CEO of creative services company Light Iron. After Light Iron’s acquisition by Panavision in 2015, Cioni became SVP of innovation for Panavision and product director for the company’s Millennium DXL 8K large-format camera ecosystem. He’s a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and a former board member of the Hollywood Professional Association.

Cioni is also one of the most visible advocates for quality at every stage of the production and post process, appearing regularly as a speaker on cameras and workflow at industry events, and he is never at a loss for words. With all that in mind, we asked him a few questions via email about the outlook for Frame.io’s new camera-to-cloud workflow.

Q&A with Michael Cioni

StudioDaily: So what does “camera to cloud” mean on the production side? Is specialized hardware going to be involved to get footage into the cloud?

Michael Cioni: Yes. Frame.io is working with strategic hardware partners that will play a role in the hardware connection from cameras to the Frame.io cloud mainframe. Some of these partnerships will be very specific to camera integration, others will play a role as 5G becomes a global standard. More announcements related to these hardware partners will be made at upcoming trade shows.

Have you begun working with any specific cloud platform(s) to build this service?

Frame.io already utilizes more than a dozen petabytes of active AWS storage, which serves as the central hub for 1,000,000 worldwide users on the platform.

Will productions maintain a physical backup of their OCN [camera-original footage] in addition to the Frame.io store?

I’ve spearheaded numerous cutting-edge products and processes over my career, and one of the principles I’ve learned is that technical milestones need to be deployed in stages. The beauty of the Frame.io cloud is that individual users, entire productions, or entire studios can determine what level of cloud reliability they are most comfortable with and evolve that over time. The history of on-prem data storage behaves like a bell curve: people began introducing large SANS into their core infrastructures between 2005-2010. Over time, dependence on a localized, high-performing SAN became central to all facility workflows. We believe 2019 marks the peak of that bell curve and anticipate we will begin seeing groups migrating more and more material to the cloud in 2020 and beyond. For many early adopters, Frame.io is already becoming a hub for everything from OCN, proxy files, works in progress, outputs, as well as other ancillary metadata which allows each user to determine their level of adoption to Frame.io at their own pace.

Will this move put Frame.io in competition with traditional dailies software when it comes to functions like color-grading, transcoding and delivery of the footage to stakeholders?

Frame.io has a robust and readily-available API for developers to tap into. With this API, Frame.io is already embedded into DaVinci Resolve, Adobe After Effects as well as Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut X. With the foundation for elegant integration already underway, our expanding camera-to-cloud platform will be the ideal opportunity for other tools such as dailies, video assist, sound and color to hook into and allow their unique toolset and established user-base to become completely virtual.

What sort of machine learning applications are you anticipating? Can the volume of uploaded footage from Frame.io users be a resource for training ML algorithms to recognize faces, places, and other content?

The potential for our ML is literally endless. Understanding faces, language, locations, and logos are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Frame.io ML will offer creatives without having to leave the platform or produce additional assets. Over time, we will make announcements as to what Frame.io will offer. And as the database of users increases, so will the intelligence and understanding of optimization followed by automation. Much of this is still years away, which is why our most important action is focused on foundational elements to make the system work.

Frame.io recognizes the risk of sharing the details of our roadmap. The reason we are doing this is because we know many people have already identified creative migration to the cloud as the next paradigm shift. Our goal is to be as transparent as we can with our plans in effort to open up lines of communication with the community. We want to hear the ideas, feature requests, fears, and criticisms of a camera-to-cloud solution so together we can document and develop solutions in collaboration with the community we serve.