Sensing the growing demand for remote and cloud-based production, Adobe has acquired cloud-based video collaboration platform Frame.io for $1.28 billion. Adobe will soon integrate Frame.io’s nifty remote video editing workflows into its own product range, but another significant win here is that Adobe now has a stake in camera to cloud technology.
Frame.io launched its lite Camera to Cloud (C2C) offering in February of this year, which promises to securely deliver footage directly from cameras to a cloud editing suite in real-time, allowing remote production and editing teams to work on footage as soon as the scene has been cut.
Camera to cloud workflows still seem like a pipedream for most production vendors, or so we have gathered from many of our conversations for the upcoming Rethink TV forecast on the topic. For Adobe to have a stake in what is an apparently trailblazing product range is bad news for its competitors.
But surprisingly, the press release made no mention of C2C. Instead, Adobe seems bowled over by Frame.io’s flagship platform, which allows multiple video editors and project stakeholders to simultaneously collaborate using cloud-first workflows. Frame.io has over 1 million users across media and entertainment companies, agencies, and global brands.
Frame.io’s workflow functionality will be natively integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud’s visual media applications, including Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop. Already, Adobe offers cloud collaboration in other verticals via Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries, Cloud Documents, Design Systems in Adobe XD, Adobe Stock, and Adobe Font.
Just as video teams are having to keep up with growing demand for greater volumes of content, emerging production approaches mean that this increasingly includes remote collaborators. Although beneficial in the long term, for now, cloud-based and remote production has led to video workflows becoming fragmented as stakeholders in different locations use different tools and communication channels.
Even the most rudimentary tools are clearly in high demand. Frame.io’s leadership have just been handed shedloads of cash for a technology that essentially just allows production teams to comment simultaneously on each other’s work. Useful for sure, but we are astounded that such basic functionality is worth this much.
Perhaps Adobe is keeping its cloud to camera ambitions under wraps for now, which is probably wise as C2C is still very much a prototype for the full potential of camera to cloud technology. Remote workers are only able to work on H.264 video files, largely due to the constraints of the Teradek Cube655 encoder that transports video streams from the camera into the C2C platform.
While Frame.io regards this to be ‘edit quality’, post-production and editing for premium content will always require the highest quality video possible, which means that most cloud-based production vendors offer mezzanine encoding. Rather than compressing video using ‘consumer’ codecs such as H.264, which require around 10 Mbps to 30 Mbps, production codecs such as JPEG2000, VC2 and JPEGXS require speeds of 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps.
This is why both 5G networks and private fiber lines are going to be so essential in allowing high-bandwidth, low latency remote production. The low quality also explains how Frame.io can guarantee that C2C will work on today’s LTE, broadband and WiFi networks.
Nonetheless, Adobe now owns the core assets for camera to cloud technology. With some more R&D, and perhaps some better encoding partners such as Harmonic, it might steer in that direction when the time is right.
While camera to cloud is often a dream in live production environments, allowing sports and news crews to slim down their on-premises teams, for now, it seems C2C is still for non-live productions. Content only uploads once the scene has been cut, meaning that premium live events – where the cameras are constantly rolling – are not yet catered for.
As far as we can tell, that is ok for now. Most industry stakeholders we have spoken to in recent weeks say that cloud-based live production for top-tier content is still three to five years away, but getting one’s foot in the door early is always a good start.
If there is one company that we imagine is less than pleased by this news, it is probably Avid. Both companies are leading software vendors for the creative industries, but Adobe is now much better armed to expand further into video production.
Avid’s status as one of the top production platforms is looking shakier at a crucial time for the industry. We are still in the aftershock of the pandemic. While most content studios are now considering cloud migration, many have still not made their first steps. There is plenty more money for the taking and Adobe has an opportunity to expand its ecosystem further as production workflows move away from on-premise locations.
The $1.28 billion acquisition is expected to close during the fourth quarter of Adobe’s 2021 fiscal year, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Until completed, both companies will continue to operate independently.