6 minute read

Camera to Cloud for Directors of Photography

Nona Catusanu-Popp reveals how Fujifilm’s Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C) integration aided her role as director of photography on a narrative film project

The role of director of photography (DP) is a varied one. It’s practical, visual, technical, managerial – the list goes on. But one thing that’s constant through every aspect of the job is communication.

“First and foremost, I work with the director, and serve the script. So, whatever the script needs, I’m there to translate those needs into practical solutions for making it visual,” says New York-based DP, Nona Catusanu-Popp.

“I’m a department head, so I run the camera department, then work closely with the grip and electric (G&E) department, with my gaffer, key grip, and however big the team is alongside that.

“At the same time, I’m working very closely with the production designer and other department heads because we’re nothing without our other departments. We must all work together, as one team,” she explains.

Nona has just finished working on a narrative film called Harlem Fragments with director Cameron Carr, utilizing Fujifilm’s new integration with Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C).

This meant they could automatically upload proxy files to their Frame.io account direct from camera as they were being created, which allowed the entire team to collaborate easily in real time, drastically improving Nona’s ability to excel in her role.

Screen shot of frame.io gallery populated with takes from the day's filming

“In my years as a DP, I’ve realized just how much more there is to the job than the camera and lenses,” continues Nona. “It’s that holistic approach to working with the entire team and knowing all the different factors that go into a great movie – and a great image.”

Nona tells us that, while it is essential everyone comes out of pre-production on the same page, streamlining the everyday on-set process is also extremely important.

“Once you go into production, you want to make sure everyone’s looking for solutions to all those day-to-day problems together and effectively communicating what they need. Most issues on set come out of miscommunication,” she explains.

Using C2C on set made this much easier to achieve. With FUJIFILM X-H2S, FT-XH File Transmitter, and an active internet connection, video files could be sent directly to the Frame.io project folder. They could then be viewed, annotated, and downloaded by anyone with access to the secure link – regardless of location.

“Ordinarily, you don’t have time to sit there, wait for everything to dump, be backed up, double backed up – and then finally scrub through footage,” says Nona.

“But C2C and Frame.io does it in seconds,” she continues. “Seeing the whole picture in the moment, while staying present on set, will completely change workflow – especially when you have multiple cameras.

“It keeps you in the middle – and very present. That’s a massive game changer.”

Nona Catusanu-Popp and Cameron Carr sit smiling while looking at a smartphone screen together.

While streamlining workflow and enhancing communication are both obvious advantages of C2C, there was another major factor for Nona.

Harlem Fragments tells the story of a family breakup following the 2008 financial crisis. Based on Cameron’s own experiences as a child, it was filmed in the very same family home he lived in during that time.

While essential for telling such a story, working in a confined space with a large team was tough at times.

“These old New York brownstones are skinny and long, so you have all these narrow hallways and tall ceilings,” Nona describes. “This home in particular featured incredible woodwork everywhere: the floors, the bannisters – every direction you looked had this wonderful touch.

“While everything is exceptionally beautiful, it is also fragile, so we had to be careful. Whatever builds we had, whatever movement was incorporated, it had to physically fit into the space. It’s not a stage, it’s someone’s home,” she explains.

A camera mounted on a dolly in the front room of a house

Nona recalls one particularly cramped scene that was made much easier thanks to C2C.

“In the story, the main character is a young boy who has a makeshift spaceship as a safe hidey-hole, which was this tiny cupboard underneath the stairs,” she says.

“Working in a space so small meant the camera had to be totally stripped down. No wires, no monitors, just the camera body and lens.”

Having the entire crew able to view proxies instantaneously on Frame.io made creating complicated footage like this much simpler.

“Even though we had the camera in this little closet with no wires attached, everybody could watch playback as soon as the camera stopped rolling, and instantly see whether we got what we needed,” Nona enthuses.

And it wasn’t just confined spaces where C2C helped. It also proved useful when filming wider scenes that required everyone off-set except the camera operator and the talent.

“One handheld scene we did with a wide-angle lens that follows the main character as he jumps up and runs through the house.

“The lens was so wide you could practically see behind you, so the entire crew had to be cleared out. No one could be on monitors, no one could be anywhere near where all the action was happening,” she explains.

“This meant Cam and I were hidden in another room with the doors closed. Without C2C, this would have been a problem, but because we were able to watch the Frame.io playback straight away, it was so much easier to give directions.”

Handheld camera follows young boy actor through corridor

Nona tells us that C2C also helped to significantly streamline the production process, cutting down on wasted time spent locating footage and transferring it between drives.

“When on set, it’s very common to simply run out of time, meaning you have to move a bunch of shots from day one to day three,” she explains.

“To pick up where you left off, you would ordinarily have to boot up your laptop, access various hard drives, and pull the footage from day one before you even begin to review it. This can really eat into your day.

“With C2C, all those clips are already on Frame.io, so you can easily access them straight from your phone and take a quick frame grab to compare with what you’re setting up.”

over-the-shoulder close up of a person's hand scrolling through a gallery of files on a smartphone screen

This improved efficiency was clearly evident throughout the production of Harlem Fragments, perfectly illustrated by the delivery of an initial assembly cut before they even left the set.

“We wrapped on the third day, and at the end of it we already had an assembly cut!” smiles Nona. “Our editor had been working with everything we were recording, and already had selects and something cut. It was amazing!

“I work in commercial, narrative, and a little bit of documentary. Every project has different needs, but we’re always under time pressure.

“Any tool that helps us work faster, but doesn’t take away from the quality, is incredible,” she concludes.

Frame.io Camera to Cloud integration is now available for FUJIFILM X-H2 and X-H2S via firmware update. Learn more about the integration here and sign up now for updates.

Want to read more? Hear from the director of Harlem Fragments, Cameron Carr, who talks about his C2C experience here, or watch C2C in action on set with this exclusive behind-the-scenes video:


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