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2
apr

Drive Thru is a commercial production and postproduction company based in Minneapolis that relies on Frankie during sales pitches, throughout its internal creative process and for collaborative review and approval sessions with clients. Bob George, owner and Flame/VFX artist at Drive Thru, recently approached us to modify Frankie so they could un-sync video reviews. We listened and released Frankie 2.3 in March, allowing users to either review in real-time or un-sync reviews. Now, companies like Drive Thru have an even more powerful tool to streamline the creation and approval process in the era of remote postproduction workflows.

Read on to see how Drive Thru uses Frankie in a few innovative ways.


Post Company Uses Flexible Review Platform for Its Ad Campaigns

Drive Thru uses Frankie for real-time video reviews, allowing everyone in the session to comment, make annotations and even sketch right on the screen, all in perfect sync with everyone on the review. Although Drive Thru makes good use of real-time reviews, the company wanted its clients to be able to review and provide feedback in their own time and not be tied to someone else’s schedule. Drive Thru suggested this to Cospective, and we then modified Frankie to include the option to un-sync reviews. Now Drive Thru can conduct its review process exactly as it wants to.

“By un-syncing video reviews, our clients can look at a work-in-progress at their convenience,” said Aaron Esterling, VFX assistant at Drive Thru. “We send them a link of revisions and they can review it wherever or whenever it works for them.”

Simplifying the remote workflow

“Frankie has changed the game of how we share material with clients and get their feedback,” said Bob George, owner and Flame/VFX artist at Drive Thru. “This ability to collaborate remotely either in sync or not is a feature we asked Cospective for because it’s integral to how we operate. It’s just one of the ways that we’re thinking differently than the traditional post shop.”

Drive Thru is a lean team of directors, editors and colorists handling everything from creative editing to graphics to online finishing for making commercials. Before it found Frankie, Drive Thru uploaded compressed video files to a server and then sent clients a file to download before they could begin a review. This was a time-consuming process, fraught with complications. Now with Frankie, Drive Thru uploads an uncompressed video file to the cloud and sends a URL to all those invited to review the video. By simply clicking the URL, their clients are taken straight to the review, complete with all the files.

“This kind of remote, collaborative review tool is totally new for our clients, but once they see the simplicity and power of Frankie, they love it,” explained George. “They no longer have to save files to the hard drive and remember where they are. Also, they like being able to send the video on to their clients in turn.”

Providing clarity for remote client reviews

“One of the neatest things about Frankie is that the client can draw right on the screen,” said George. “It makes understanding their feedback so much easier, removing the ambiguity inherent in email exchanges. Even if you’re in the studio, clarity during reviews can be difficult to achieve – we may go up to the screen and point to what we want or they want to be different. How much easier it is to do this remotely with Frankie!”

Because Drive Thru is often collaborating with out-of-state artists and clients, streamlining the review process is essential to its mode of working. At the end of each review session, Frankie allows Drive Thru to generate a PDF summary that includes all comments, notes and marked-up screenshots. Having all the feedback in one spot helps Drive Thru avoid its former practice of collecting cumbersome emails, full of responses from numerous reviewers.

“It’s amazing to consolidate everyone’s feedback into one document,” explained Esterling. “Sifting through reams of email comments was confusing and frustrating for us. With Frankie’s PDF summaries, each frame has everybody’s comments and it’s a simple matter to review. We then pass the PDF around to individual artists who are working on the material.”

Thinking differently than the traditional post facility

Another innovation that Drive Thru has developed is to use Frankie in sales meetings. “Using Frankie during pitches lets us explain visually what we’re thinking of doing,” said George. “Frankie works great this way, filling the gaps for us between Wiredrive and Interdubs with offline and online approvals.”

Bob George is looking forward to testing the full-screen feature of Frankie that was added in March to see if it can be used with their retina display laptops. “I think the colors may hold true and having the full-screen viewing capability of Frankie will let us test this,” said George. “It could be perfect for making those final online decisions.”

“One of Frankie’s strengths is that it looks so good,” said George. “It works great on my iPad and my iPhone and is an invaluable tool in this world. Frankie has streamlined our workflow, helping us realise huge savings in man hours, allowing our team to work on creative, instead of wasting time with file compressions. We believe in these guys and the direction they’re going in.”

28
mar

As you become more familiar with Frankie you may find yourself looking for ways to work even more efficiently during reviews. Happily, Frankie provides a number of keyboard shortcuts that enable you to interact with the system with fewer clicks, making the process smoother and more natural. Here’s a list of keyboard shortcuts that are currently available:

Play Controls  Play / Pause Spacebar
  Next Frame Right Arrow
  Previous Frame Left Arrow
     
Zoom Controls  Zoom In or Click
  Zoom Out or Option-Click
  Reset Zoom (to 100%) Shift--
  Pan Shift-Click-and-Drag
     
Drawing  Undo (Mac) ⌘-Z
  Undo (Windows/Linux) Ctrl-Z
  Redo (Mac) Shift-⌘-Z
  Redo (Windows/Linux) Ctrl-Y
  Increase Pen Size ]
  Decrease Pen Size [
     
Playlist  Load Next Media File Page Up (Fn-↑)
  Load Previous Media File Page Down (Fn-↓)

If you look carefully you'll see there's one feature in the list of shortcuts that doesn't yet appear in the Frankie web interface: pen size adjustment. By using the [ and ] keys you can increase and decrease the brush size of the Pen tool. Now you can have fun experimenting with this “hidden” feature!

Once you get the hang of using these keyboard shortcuts you should find using Frankie to be an even better experience than ever before. And if you haven’t yet experienced Frankie first hand, try it out for free today with your clients and colleagues – simply click Try Frankie for Free! at the top of this page.

18
mar

We’re pleased to announce that Frankie 2.3 has now been deployed to our servers and is available immediately. We recommend reloading the Frankie page (⌘-R on Mac OS X; Ctrl-F5 on Windows and Linux) to ensure that you’re using the latest version.

This is a significant update and it contains some exciting new features that make Frankie more versatile than ever. Here’s a selection of the improvements in this version:

  • Full screen mode: Media files can now be viewed full screen! You can even use the drawing tools while in full screen mode, along with zoom and pan. Read below to learn more about how to activate this mode.
  • Original file download option: Reviewers now have the option to download media files in addition to viewing them within Frankie. Hovering over thumbnails in the playlist will reveal a download button (lower right) that you can click to download the file. This will then download the original media file, not the transcoded version that’s displayed in Frankie. Note that the download option will only appear for files uploaded after the 2.3 update.
  • Review labels: You can now name your reviews with a text label that appears on the Projects page. Each new review will be given the label of ‘Untitled Review’, which you can then edit by hovering over the text and clicking the pen icon. This should make it a lot easier to keep your reviews organised.
  • Improved uploading speeds: We’ve modified the way that file uploads are handled behind the scenes. You won’t see any change in the way that you upload files, but you will notice a huge increase in upload speeds.
  • Numerous minor fixes: We’ve tidied up several minor issues. It’s definitely the best Frankie version we’ve created so far.
Full screen button

Full screen button

Full screen viewing mode is activated by clicking the new four-way arrow button that’s located next to the volume control. This will then expand the viewport to fill the entire screen, with play controls and menu buttons displayed in an overlay at the bottom of the screen. The overlay will be hidden during playback, and will also auto-hide after a short time when you’re paused or using drawing tools. It will then display again when you move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen.

Full screen mode

Reviewing in full screen mode

We think full screen viewing will make a big difference to the review experience and we’re looking forward to hearing your feedback. The ability for guests to download original media files will also give you new workflow options, such as using Frankie for delivery of final work (instead of FTP, for example) in addition to hosting reviews. And we’re pretty sure the significantly faster file uploads will put a smile on your face!

Try it today.

Log in to Frankie, or to sign up for a free trial click Try Frankie for Free! at the top of this page.

14
mar

Details matter. As a creative professional you care about every element of the work you create. Seeing those elements clearly sometimes means getting in close to see exactly what’s going on, and that precisely what Frankie allows you to do.

The zoom and pan controls within Frankie enable you to enlarge a section of the frame and move it around so that you can see fine details. The zoom level and frame position are synchronised with other participants during sync reviews, ensuring that you’re all seeing exactly the same thing. You can even play videos and step forward and back through the frames whilst zoomed, making it easy to spot points of interest. Drawing tools can also be used at every zoom level, allowing you to precisely mark annotations.

zoom_100percent

Zoom: 100%

zoom_400percent

Zoom: 400%

To activate zoom, simply use the zoom tool (magnifying glass icon) in the tools menu.  There are several ways that you can control zoom:

Zoom and pan tools in menu

Zoom tool in menu

  1. Marquee zoom: Click and drag out a rectangle on the frame to define the area you wish to enlarge. Frankie will adjust the zoom level to fit the selected rectangle to the viewing window.
  2. Click-to-zoom: Simply click on the point of interest and zoom in step-by-step until you reach the desired zoom level. Frankie will adjust the frame position to keep the point you clicked underneath the mouse cursor. Hold the Option key (OS X) or Alt key (Windows) when clicking to zoom out step-by-step.
  3. Keyboard zoom: Use the +/- keys to zoom in and out step-by-step. Frankie will keep the frame centred in the viewing window as you step through the zoom levels.
  4. Scroll-to-zoom: Use your trackpad or mouse scroll wheel to smoothly zoom in and out. Frankie will adjust the frame position so that the point of interest remains under the mouse cursor as you zoom.

Once you’ve zoomed in, additional controls will appear as an overlay in the image area – and then disappear again after you return to 100%. This overlay provides quick access to the zoom and pan controls and displays the current zoom level. Clicking the ‘Reset’ button will immediately return the zoom level to 100%. You can also reset the zoom using a keyboard shortcut by holding down Shift and pressing the ‘-’ key.

Zoom controls: overlay menu

Zoom controls: overlay menu

To adjust the frame position within the viewing window simply use the pan tool (hand icon). When this tool is active you can click anywhere on the frame, drag it to the desired position and then release the mouse button. You can activate the pan tool at any time by simply holding down the Shift key and then clicking and dragging. This is a very handy shortcut when you want to pan while drawing or adjusting the zoom level.

See the video to learn more about how the zoom and pan tools work:

Once you become familiar with using zoom and pan, particularly via the keyboard shortcuts, they become invaluable tools for directing everyone’s attention to key details.

And if you haven’t yet discovered the power of real-time synchronised reviews, try out Frankie for free today with your clients and colleagues – simply click Try Frankie for Free! at the top of this page.

13
mar

APAWe look forward to giving a virtual presentation of how Frankie fits into TVC production workflows to the Advertising Producers Association (APA) Masterclass next week. Through lectures and study groups given by industry insiders, the Masterclass delves into every stage of the process of the production of TV commercials. It has been running for 14 years as a training course for people wanting to become producers.

Frankie will take part in next week’s class, New Formats & Digital Work Flow, which is one of eleven lecture sessions given during the four-month Masterclass in London. We are a proud sponsor of the APA and its work.

Check out the APA and its Masterclass here.

4
mar

Creating a TV commercial is a three-step process involving pre-production, production and postproduction. The production company comes in early in the process, answering an ad agency’s call for storyboard ideas to bring its scripts to life. It is here that Suneeva, a production company in Toronto, has found a novel and interesting use for Frankie, pitching its ideas to the ad agency during a synced review session.

An ad agency is typically looking for storyboard ideas for its script, as well a director and creative team to produce the commercial. The directors at Suneeva use Frankie to present their ideas for how to make the script come to life, pitching to agency staff remotely. For example, the client might be on the other side of Toronto, the director in L.A. and others on the team are elsewhere. Suneeva simply sends clients a URL for the Frankie session, then guides them through its pitch, page by page, during the synced presentation. This allows Suneeva to show them how it envisions the commercial taking shape, including what elements and characters it intends to use.

Robert Perry, Head of Production at Suneeva

Robert Perry, Head of Production at Suneeva

“We find Frankie is the most straightforward and reliable way to present our ideas,” said Robert Perry, Head of Production at Suneeva. “It allows us to sync everyone, which is important for our sales presentations. We need to know our clients are looking at the same page that we’re talking about, that they’re not distracted by looking at the wrong image.”

Although Suneeva primarily shows images, it has found that video can be used as a helpful reference.

“During the presentation we might ask our clients to watch ten seconds of a video, and we know everyone is watching at the same time,” explained Perry. “This allows us to reference examples of lighting, dialogue and other elements from other commercials, TV shows or movies we want to draw on.”

Once Suneeva has shot the commercial, it passes it off to an editor who does the postproduction work.

“Frankie is so simple,” Perry said. “We send a link to our clients, they click on it and we’re ready to walk them through our creative pitch. Because our directors are competing against three or four directors from other production companies we are always looking for the best way to show off our concepts. The value of Frankie is its slick interface and reliability. It really is a great sales tool.”

Take a look at what Suneeva has produced here: www.suneeva.com

27
feb

Frankie is designed very much with your clients in mind. We place a strong emphasis on usability and aesthetics, making Frankie something that’s really enjoyable to use. When your clients join a review they’re treated to a slick, professional interface that gives them confidence in the system and, consequently, in your business and services.

Going one step further, Frankie allows you to customise the interface and the PDF summary with your own company branding, adding an even higher level of professionalism. Upon clicking the link to load the review guests are immediately greeted with your company logo, providing assurance that they’ve reached the right place and reinforcing your brand.

You can add your own logos to the review interface and PDF summary by using the Custom Branding panel on the Settings page.

custom_branding

Once you’ve uploaded a custom logo for the review interface it will appear in the top left corner, in place of the Frankie logo. For the most professional results you should use a light coloured logo with a transparent background.

branded_review

You can replace the logo at any time, or remove it and just have the standard Frankie logo displayed instead.

branded_pdf

You can then upload a separate logo for the PDF summary. It’s best to use a different logo in this instance, since the PDF has a white background. Using a dark coloured logo with a white or transparent background will look best. The logo will then appear in the top left corner on every page of the PDF, in place of the Frankie logo.

Again, you can replace the logo at any time, or remove it and just have the standard Frankie logo displayed instead.

By carefully selecting appropriate logos for the review interface and PDF summary you can achieve an extremely professional result that you’ll be proud to show to your clients. And if you haven’t yet discovered the power of real-time synchronised reviews, try out Frankie for free today with your clients and colleagues – simply click Try Frankie for Free! at the top of this page.

19
feb

One of the unique benefits of Frankie is the ability to host live, interactive reviews. Rather than just reviewing in isolation, Frankie enables you to interactively review and discuss videos between multiple locations. You can play, pause, make notes and even sketch ideas right onto the video – all in sync with everyone in the review. This makes it a very effective way to work with people in other cities and countries, eliminating the challenges of distance.

“Frankie helped us bring together very busy people from across the state and globe, to work as if we were all in the same room.”

– Abby Hunt, Head of Onscreen, Belgiovane Williams Mackay

Obviously it’s not always possible to schedule a live review (perhaps due to time zone differences), which is why Frankie also allows people to leave feedback in their own time. But when possible, real-time synchronised reviews offer a far more effective way of working together. Happily, Frankie enables you to seamlessly transition between both modes of working.

“Our clients feel comfortable with Frankie and are excited by it, because we can discuss the work as if we’re sitting right next to each other.”

– Jeff Jaffers, Executive Producer, Mirage VFX

By default, Frankie reviews will start with sync turned on. This provides the simplest way to bring everyone into a real-time review, eliminating any possible confusion. When new guests join the review they’ll be synchronised to the current frame once the movie has loaded.

“Frankie improves our efficiency significantly and doing the reviews together makes feedback immediate and meaningful for our dispersed team.”

– Lee Konen, Creative Director, Cerebral Lounge

When you (as the review host) leave the review you can decide whether to provide guests with access while you’re offline. By clicking ‘Yes’ and allowing access you enable your guests to provide feedback in their own time. You can then view the feedback and download the corresponding PDF summary next time you login.

leave_review

Clicking ‘No’ when leaving the review will block guest access and make the link inaccessible. This is useful when you want to limit access to older versions of a work-in-progress, or at the conclusion of the project.

As your guests become more familiar with Frankie you may wish to provide them with more options within reviews. By adjusting the Sync Options (using the panel on the Settings page), you can allow your guests to control sync during reviews. This enables them to “drop out” of sync if they wish, enabling them to view and annotate media at their own pace while others continue with the synchronised review.

sync_options

Read this blog post to learn more about how the Sync Options work.

By combining these different review modes you can choose a combination that perfectly suits your workflow. And if you haven’t yet discovered the power of real-time synchronised reviews, try out Frankie for free today with your clients and colleagues – simply click Try Frankie for Free! at the top of this page.

28
jan

Congratulations to our sister product at Cospective, cineSync, for its role in the creation of VFX for all five movies nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Visual Effects category: Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness. For Gravity, the lead VFX vendor, Framestore, engaged Rising Sun Pictures to create the climactic sequence. They used cineSync to review their work between London and Adelaide. From the news today:

Cospective’s video review software cineSync played a key role in a globe-spanning VFX pipeline for Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Charting the lonely quest of an astronaut (Sandra Bullock) to survive after her spaceship is crippled, the film received ten Oscar® nominations, including one for Best Visual Effects. Framestore, principal VFX vendor on Gravity, tasked Australia’s Rising Sun Pictures with completing a spectacular reentry sequence. From their facility in Adelaide, Rising Sun was able to integrate seamlessly with Framestore via cineSync. With cineSync as a remote collaboration tool, distributed postproduction teams can work together closely to create groundbreaking VFX, regardless of locations and time zones.

RSP Gravity 01

Gravity © 2013 Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved.

In fact, cineSync was used for remote review on all of the movies nominated for Best Visual Effects this year, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugIron Man 3The Lone RangerStar Trek Into Darkness, as well as Gravity. cineSync itself won a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy in 2011.

The Pull of Gravity

Rarely has the big screen been put to better use than it is here, in conveying the immensity of space. The tight confines of spacecraft are set against infinite blackness. Often the only sounds in the film are the breathing of Bullock’s character, astronaut Stone. Physical objects float unbearably slowly, even as the narrative races inexorably forward. The tension is so complete, and the imagery so seamless, that is easy to forget that the entire film depends on visual effects work.

Gravity © 2013 Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved.

Gravity © 2013 Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved.

To read more, see http://cinesync.com/news/read/119.

16
jan

Technology is changing the way we do business, with online communication tools like Skype expanding the possibilities. Remote collaboration is becoming richer, and faster Internet speeds make it possible to share large files with someone across the world and connect with them via video chat to interactively discuss the contents. This makes it possible to work with clients half a world away and to utilise the best talent regardless of where they live and work.

Finding ways to easily collaborate with colleagues and clients to create the highest quality TV commercial (TVC) or music video is important. Production companies have to adapt to an ever-changing work environment to deliver stand-out work whilst remaining commercially competitive. Taking a look at how a few cutting-edge companies have adjusted their workflows to allow collaboration between far-flung cities gives a glimpse of what is possible.

The Australian agency, BWM was recently tasked with the creation of dynamic TVCs for its client, the Bank of Queensland. BWM chose to try something new to get the best quality product, while meeting its client’s expectations. BWM used Frankie video review technology to create and edit these commercials with the help of their client. Abby Hunt, national head of onscreen at BWM, used Frankie to review work in progress simultaneously with both the clients, based in Brisbane, and the animators, who were in London.

“Frankie helped us bring together very busy people from across the state and globe, to work as if we were all in the same room,” said Hunt. “Frankie video reviews saved us so much time with back-and-forth communication while still diving deep into the creative conversation.”

All five participants could discuss aspects of the commercial on a frame-by-frame basis, using drawing tools to draw right on the screen or by writing notes for all five participants to see simultaneously. Everyone was given an opportunity to provide their feedback on the content thanks to Frankie.

Another need is for internal communication when members of a production team are not located in the same space. Cerebral Lounge specialises in postproduction of TVCs, network promos and visual branding from three separate studios on the east coast of the U.S. One way they keep creatives in these three cities connected is by holding virtual weekly meetings, during which they review video works in progress.

“We use Frankie every Monday to review work from the previous work so the entire creative team can see what everybody else has been doing,” said Lee Konen, creative director at Cerebral Lounge. “Improved communication always improves efficiency and watching something in sync with the rest of the team really makes feedback more meaningful.”

As long-time users of cineSync, Ingenuity Engine already has a good workflow for reviewing the work they do on music videos and TVCs. They were looking for a simpler tool to use on short-form content like TVCs, something that was foolproof for clients to log into and use for review.

“With Frankie it’s easy,” said Oliver Taylor, VFX producer at Ingenuity Engine. “We just send a link and begin. Frankie makes review so straightforward and so much faster.”

Given the short length of many commercial projects, efficiency is paramount. Mirage VFX was one of six vendors, on three continents, that worked on a TVC for an Indonesian battery company. To get approvals done in a timely fashion, Mirage held video reviews across Australia, Indonesia and Spain. This allowed review work to involve the head of the production company of the spot even while he was at home with his family.

“We must have ways to work effectively between multiple locations,” said Jeff Jaffers, executive producer at Mirage VFX. “Frankie makes this possible. It’s the visual equivalent of Skype, and we use the two in tandem.”

These examples show how technology allows working relationships to evolve beyond the walls of a studio. In a future post we will be discussing more about the rise of the virtual studio.