Showcasing an On-Set Ingest and Edit Solution with Unique Collaboration and Camera-to-Cloud Capabilities

A powerful environment that connects in-field media production to the post-production facility

Filip Milovanovic
Post-production expert,

This is the second blog in our series in which we present some of our creative solutions that have elevated our clients’ workflows to a new level and opened up exciting new possibilities. In the first blog, we examined the revolutionary global collaboration platform. In this blog, we will showcase how our tools can solve the issues associated with in-field production.

The flexible design of ELEMENTS systems allows us to combine multiple products into one environment in a way that harnesses their strengths. This allows us to build seemingly impossible solutions that simultaneously offer extreme performance with cost-efficient capacity as well as maximum security with ease of access at the same time.

Quick Facts About the Solution

  • The on-set team uses the ELEMENTS CUBE, a portable ingesting and on-set editing solution.
  • The integrated MAM solution allows for footage preview.
  • The on-set MAM is synchronised with a MAM in the post-production facility.
  • The off-site post-production facility can preview the footage moments after it has been ingested on-set.
  • The two teams can communicate and collaborate using several collaboration features.

The Problem

One of the biggest inefficiencies in traditional media workflows happens between the stages of out-of-house production and the start of post-production. The crew has to wait for the shoot to be over and then deliver the footage to the facility to start the post-production process. Depending on the location, this delivery process might take anything from hours to multiple days to complete, whether transferring the footage over the internet or physically shipping it on drives or a NAS. This adds delays to the already strictly time-planned post-production schedule and can even push production over the deadline.

In an ideal scenario, the production team would be able to preview, sort, and edit the newly recorded footage and share it with the post-production facility over the Internet quickly. Furthermore, both sides should be able to collaborate and move the project forward as soon as the shooting is done.

Solution Overview

The platform that has solved these inefficiencies for a number of our customers consists of three ELEMENTS components unified into a single production environment.

  • On-set: One or more portable NAS systems that allow for ingesting, editing, and collaboration
  • On-premise: Storage environments for the full post-production workflow in one or more facilities
  • Cloud: Cloud: A cloud-based shared database keeps geographically separate systems synchronised.

The ELEMENTS CUBE is a portable NAS device that is both small enough and light enough to fit within standard carry-on baggage. Equipped with SSD or NVMe drives and multiple 10Gbps interfaces, it offers more than enough performance for ingesting and even editing on-set. Another exciting benefit of the CUBE is that it supports Avid Bin Locking, which enables multiple users to work on the same Avid project and even execute edit-while-ingest workflows in Media Composer. At the same time, editing on the CUBE can also be done with an NLE of your choice, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve.

Apart from providing a high-performance ingesting and editing platform, the ELEMENTS CUBE also hosts the Media Library, a powerful media asset management tool. The Media Library lets you preview all the ingested footage and use a large number of collaboration features. In this case, the Media Library provides one extremely useful function, which is the creation of preview proxies once a new clip has been detected on the CUBE. The revolutionary thing here is that your on-set CUBE can synchronise these proxies over the internet with your post-production facility, or even multiple facilities. Due to the low bitrate of the proxy files, the synchronisation process finishes quickly, even with a modest internet connection. 

This two-way synchronisation allows the post-production facility to preview the footage that was just ingested moments ago on set, potentially from the other side of the world. The post-production team and the on-set team see the same footage in the Media Library and can communicate and work together using a number of collaboration features.

Inter-site Connectivity

The preview proxies get synchronised between the systems automatically, but if required, the editor in the post-production facility can pull the full-resolution file from any connected storage node to their on-premise storage with the click of a button. But this isn’t a standard internet transfer. A high-speed UDP-based connection between the storage nodes means that high-resolution footage and other large files can be shared over the internet up to 5 times faster. This allows the editor to decide exactly which clips to pull from the on-set storage after previewing them.

Rough-cut Editor

Integrated into the Media Library, the Rough-cut Editor allows you to create whole editing timelines with just a few clicks. Your project can contain any number of sequences, and the timeline can have any number of video tracks. The editors in post-production can use the Rough-cut Editor even when the high-resolution files have not yet been transferred. They can sort and prepare the footage, outline the story, and even recognise if more footage is needed or if certain scenes need to be reshot.

When the rough-cut is finished, the editor can simply import it into their favourite NLE via drag-and-drop or through the ELEMENTS Panel if using Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve. Importing the sequence into Avid Media Composer can also be done by using the AAF or EDL Export feature.

Technical Implementation

The environment is designed as a hybrid solution, combining on-set portable storage and on-premise storage with a cloud-based central database. Both storage environments offer high-speed access for video ingesting and editing. The on-premise system can be scaled in capacity and performance according to the requirements.

To enable effective collaboration between the sites, both ELEMENTS storage systems are tied together by a global database, effectively creating one large environment. With on-premise storage, users can search, preview, and manage the content of both the on-premise system and the connected on-set systems. Our global database runs as a MariaDB MaxScale service in the cloud, for example, in Azure, to ensure maximum uptime and accessibility. Each ELEMENTS system is connected directly to the global database via a dedicated Azure ExpressRoute or SD WAN for low latency and reliable performance. Alternatively, Amazon AWS can be used for the cloud infrastructure.

All assets and files in workspaces with an assigned Media Root are browsable via the Media Library section of the browser-based ELEMENTS WebUI. All assets and files within Media Roots automatically have low-res proxy files created for previewing the footage in the ELEMENTS WebUI.

Dedicated automation tasks are set up to allow selected users to trigger copies of assets or workspaces at other locations. The Azure ExpressRoutes and SD WAN transfer data between the systems. „ExpeDat“ from Data Expedition is implemented as an accelerated UDP transfer protocol to mitigate the penalties of the high latency of the internet connection.

Keep an eye out for more exciting content and technical showcases, and if a global collaboration platform is just what you need, get in touch.


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