New tools in the world of VFX and post production are often born out of user frustration with their current toolset. Such is the case with Frame.io - a video review, sharing and collaboration tool that launches today. It was made by video professionals who had traditionally used, somewhat unsuccessfully, a host of other tools to work on projects.

“We have a great deal of empathy for the pain our users experience,” says the company’s CEO and co-founder Emery Wells, “so we just built it for ourselves.” That development process began in mid-2012, and, just prior to launch, Frame.io had been in private beta with 150 companies made up of more than 600 users.

Above: watch Frame.io's UI demo.

Frame.io works like this: users upload video via the browser which can then shared with a team. Within the project for that video, collaborators can review different versions, make time and frame-based text comments, draw directly on the video via annotations and view side by side versions for comparison. The idea is to replace the sometimes multitude of communication and review methods that video project team members would currently need to use. For example, file sharing - and of course with video we’re talking large, large files - might have been done via Dropbox. Or Vimeo might be used for video review, then traditional email for written notes. Now that can all be done in Frame.io.

Of course, if you’re at a larger VFX or post production then you may already be solving some of these problems with Shotgun or another project tool. But Frame.io is intended as an accessible tool for small teams, like the ones its founders had been part of. Even then, Frame.io is not aiming just at video professionals. Users who have been testing the app prior to launch include marketing teams and other users the company is aiming to entice include doctors making training videos, educational institutions and lawyers sharing depositions.

Frame.io’s backend is built in Ruby with a custom object relational mapper to DynamoDB database - this is Amazon’s NoSQL database service. According to Emery, the front end of Frame.io is built in a “custom javascript framework which allows for all the smooth animations and desktop-like performance.” Emery notes that the company has developed its own video transcoding architecture that sits on top of Amaon EC2. This means that a user can upload a large file - say a ProRes video - which Frame.io stores and makes accessible, but then transcodes to a HTML 5 for web viewing.

Frame.io interface.
Frame.io interface.

Getting the files there relies on a custom-built accelerated uploaded which Frame.io claims is “significantly faster” than the industry-leading services Aspera and Signiant. “The accelerated uploader is a multi-part HTML 5 uploader that was built from scratch and allows for accelerated upload performance without requiring plugins that rely on UDP,” says Emery. “We spread the http requests across multiple streams which eliminates many of the bottlenecks inherent in http based uploads. We use javascript Blob objects to break up a file into multiple byte streams. We can get up to six streams going simultaneously in browser.”

When asked to clarify those upload speed claims, Emery notes that this is based on a user being close to Frame.io’s own servers (ie. within the US). The company carried out a series of benchmarks to upload a 5GB file on a 300 megabit connection from their New York office on a standard Verizon FiOS connection. “I should note that we aren’t claiming to be a replacement for Aspera or Signiant in all cases, but if you are geographically close to our infrastructure (which means pretty much all the Unites States) you will see speeds as fast or faster than Aspera or Signiant,” states Emery.

- Frame.io was made by people in the industry.

“Over time,” he adds, “we intend to fully replace the need to use a dedicated file acceleration service. You’ll just get it for free as part of Frame.io. We performed this test multiple times on multiple days and averaged the results. We didn’t try to rig anything in our favor, we just used all the services as advertised. A service like Aspera will still really excel in poor network conditions but it’s pretty incredible what you can get with Frame.io under solid network conditions. The Signiant and Aspera benchmarks were achieved by using their free demos.”

For more information, head over to http://frame.io - the company is offering Frame.io in monthly subscriptions that start at $15 per month and scale to any number of projects or collaborators. The team will also have a demo station of Frame.io at RED’s booth during NAB.


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  • Razor

    Frame.io is very lite in its features, and still has multiple layout and interface issues to workout. It looks pretty, but beyond the looks it has a very long way to go before it can ever compete with Shotgun on features and price-to-value.

  • Jacek Zajaczkowski

    I’ve just run startup http://www.symotion.co – collaborative video review platform. We’ve just run beta-test program, so you can sign up for free 🙂