Post mixer Garrard Whatley from Shoreline Studios, reached out to us following him attending a Tech Preview of the Avid Cloud Collaboration features, which Avid were demonstrating at NAB 2015 from a post production perspective. Over to you Garrad...
I spent some time with Avid at NAB 2015 and was happy to finally see a Post Audio-based demonstration of cloud collaboration. Everything I have seen thus far has been music-based -- collaborating with a guitarist in Berlin, a keyboardist in Sweden, a drummer from hell, etc.
It began of course with the famous Avid disclaimers that this is as-yet unreleased, and not all features may be available in the final product. Tom Graham introduced some features of the S6, which was not without technical glitches -- the curse of live demos -- but the later collaboration workflow went off without a hitch. They used the American TV program "Person of Interest" to showcase it, setting it up as needing additional elements from an FX editor because a late-arriving Visual FX shot had just shipped to the stage: a common scenario.
Mixer Gil Gowing created, in his full session, 3 blank mono tracks and two mono aux tracks that were part of his session template and routing, to be shared with Tom on a separate system for FX and foley. Aux Track 1 was fed by a dialog stem ("DX Crash") and Aux Track 2 was fed by the FX stem ("FX Crash"). Using a "Freeze in place" button in the "possibly" coming collaboration column on both aux tracks, the system crunched down the audio being fed to the auxes; he invited Tom to collaborate (as we've seen with other demos), and the aux tracks arrived in Tom's FX session with waveform visible, giving him a quick mixdown of where the mix was at that moment that he was to add elements to -- an impressive and helpful visual for this feature.
There were the up and down arrows in the tool bar, as we have seen, for triggering uploading and downloading in collaboration. Tom then chose some FX, recorded some foley, roughed in levels and hit the upload button, which Gil downloaded. The files quickly showed up, and Gil kept busy with other parts of his mix. Tom then made some changes and cleaned up his session, then another upload and download -- and the second round of changes showed up very quickly since the audio files were already uploaded to the mix system. Gil had all of Tom's elements to include in his final mix, with fades, levels, everything.
This really has been the hope for post audio workflow, taking the FTP/dropbox/hightail/ZIP out of the mix, and working in real time to a session with tracks shared by offsite (or even onsite) FX/MX/DX editors.
I really was happy to see this finally demonstrated in real-time and so impressively. While they gave no release date for this, they clearly have come a long way in polishing some details.
This will definitely help in our television workflow, or for anyone who needs to make changes during a mix without slowing the flow.
Thanks Garrard for sharing your thoughts, experiences and hopes for Avid Cloud Collaboration in a post context. You can hear more from Garrard and his colleague Gary Zacuto at Shoreline Studios talking about their workflows and how they use Nugen Audio products in this video.