It was fortuitous that I attended the Hollywood Professional Alliance Tech Retreat in Palm Springs in February. Editing in the cloud and remote access were some of the key presentations. The demos were pretty impressive.
But now reality has set in. A lot of the workflows in the cloud require planning, preparation and, in many cases, a Hollywood budget. As an editor, I needed to get things figured out as state after state went into “lockdown.” So here’s my unfiltered experience of operating as an editor while clients watched remotely.
Warning: This article contains nothing about editing. Nothing about LUTs or frame rate or color grading or even storytelling. Instead, it’s about making sure things work—remotely. Clients can be frustrated by new ways of doing things. Although cloud and remote access are new environments for them, they want to have the same experience they have in the suite.
Thankfully, my facility stress-tested our data connection a couple of years ago when tasked to host a cable channel’s crew during a Super Bowl. Uploading two 80 GB files as quickly as possible at 4 a.m. tells you a lot about the value of a fiber connection. So, an internet connection on my end wasn’t a problem.
On the client-side of things, it was more challenging. Some clients were on company laptops with strict security that ran through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Unfortunately, a lot of the tech support fell on me. It shouldn’t have, but it was more important to have things work and to eliminate frustration.
Whether or not these were true “solutions” I suggested two things: First, that the client reboots their laptop in the morning. And secondly, that they sign onto the VPN early in the morning. Apparently, everyone was signing on at the same time—at the start of the workday—and that caused problems getting a solid, verified and secured connection.
I’m not sure if my suggestions really fixed the problem—I’m not Sean from IT. But in the clients’ eyes, the suggestions worked. And that’s the point.
It was also helpful to have the remote clients do a speed check before the session began. I sent clients a link to a specific internet speed test site, with specific instructions on when to test and how to respond back to me with results so I’d have a hint as to what trouble might lie ahead. I asked clients to run the speed check around the same time of day the session would take place, if at all possible. Using the same time of day meant that we’d evaluate the connection with the usual neighborhood internet traffic congestion. It doesn’t help to test late in the afternoon if the session is going to be first thing in the morning. Morning might be when all the kids in the neighborhood stream their classes.
There was one other consideration. Would the client have kids at home? While it might sound like a personal question or market research, I had to know who’d be using that (typically) small internet pipe connection at each clients’ home. This month, kids are distance learning, and that takes up a lot of bandwidth.
So, with pretesting on my end, and honest conversations with the clients, it was possible to nail down how the internet portion of remote editing would work.
Next time: now about that stream…