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Just in time for NAB 2012, Aframe, a browser-based cloud video production platform, has announced that it's landed on North American shores, with operations in New York and Los Angeles. Aframe will highlight the features of its service - a private cloud infrastructure - in the Cloud Pavilion at NAB.
If you haven't heard of Aframe
, that's because this browser-based cloud video production platform -- which launched in December 2010 -- is based in London. Now, just in time for NAB 2012, the company announced that it's landed on North American shores, with operations in New York and Los Angeles. Aframe co-founder/CEO David Peto has also added Mark Overington -- an industry veteran and part of Avid's founding team -- as President, North America.
Aframe co-founder/CEO David Peto
Peto comes out of the London post production community, and the evolution to file-based workflows is what inspired him to look for a better way of handling the stacks of disk drives that customers brought into the post house for an edit session. "The task of getting content off the drives, organized and into edit systems was a real nightmare," says Overington. "David came up with the notion to put all this into a cloud service, add metadata, allow people to store and organize their footage the way they wanted as well as available to everyone on the project right away." A cloud-based service, says Peto, also enables users to share, search and collaborate without having to purchase and maintain expensive, on-site equipment.
In its brief time in the production/post scene, Aframe has grown. "We have 50 customers using the service including MTV, the BBC, Giant Film & Television and others," says Overington. "Over 3,000 individuals have registered with Aframe associated with those customers." Aframe also just received a new $7 million Series A round of venture capital funding from Octopus Investments and Eden Ventures, which join existing investor Northstar Ventures.
Located in the Cloud Pavilion
in the Las Vegas Convention Center's North Hall, Aframe will highlight the features of its service, which is based on a private cloud infrastructure. The system's Internet interface is simple to use, and allows for any broadcast quality video format -- including raw footage -- to be uploaded either via the Internet or at Aframe's network of drop-off points. "You log onto the Aframe application just like you'd log onto Facebook," says Overington, who says Aframe handles all Sony, Panasonic and Canon camera formats. "The only format we don't support is RED, which isn't our sweet spot," he says.
After ingesting the content, Aframe can be used to transcode footage and store it, allowing team members to access and share it with review and approval tools. The system notifies users when new content come in, and enables the user in charge to add or remove people from any project. "From there, you can begin to organize the material by adding metadata to it," says Overington. "You can just type in comments or sentences. You can tag content specific to a single frame, and begin to share all that information with anyone on the project."
"Sometimes the shooting ratio is 200:1 for a reality TV show," he adds. "It's all unscripted and very difficult to put your finger on where the content is with 100 hours of footage.
All IT resources are consolidated in one place and accessed via a web-based user interface. Users can easily share the same infrastructure and information.
Aframe also offers a tagging service as a "value-added" option for shows with large shooting ratios. A group of "highly trained taggers" in the north of England review the footage and any other relevant information, and verbally record information associated with the content. What the taggers describe into their headsets ("boat leaving harbor, 13 fishing rods") is recorded as text and stored with the relevant footage. The user can then search the footage by keywords and bring up all the footage related to that keyword (for example, every shot of "boat leaving harbor").
Aframe has added Mark Overington -- an industry veteran and part of Avid's founding team -- as President, North America.
"They're doing the grunt work of logging for customers who find it to be challenging," says Overington. "It's an assistant editor assigned to logging and they're not always good at it. They're also typing the information into the shots and it's very inconsistent." There are three different tiers for logging: basic logging is a quick description of the content or key characters, with a total of four levels of complexity, the highest being full transcription of all the dialogue.
But Aframe is most certainly not just for reality TV shows, says Overington. "Other applications include documentaries, TV commercials, training videos," he says. "A large global company Veria TV use us for shows about holistic living and have over 600 hours of material on our system."
Aframe's business model is a tiered SaaS (software-as-a-service) subscription model; a free basic account, with 5 GB of storage, allows user to put up show reels and share home videos; a $100/per seat/per month offers more features and 500 GB of storage; a $200/seat/month comes with 1 TB of storage and the top level $250/seat/month is an enterprise class with 3 TB of storage. "It's a classic SaaS model where as you move up, you get more features and functionality," says Overington.
Aframe is an example of a cloud-based SaaS production system that seems to be succeeding with at least a handful of major production entities. Overington, who is quite familiar with the U.S. post production industry, is a good choice to helm operations in North America. There is clearly a trend of companies combining the cloud with the model of offering technology -- including the labor-intensive task of logging -- as a monthly subscription rather than a capital expenditure. Will it catch on? We'll be paying attention to this in coming months to find out.