Design thinking works backward from the pain points of a process by solving for common obstacles and frustrations. Optimizing the efficiency of a process means users focus their energy on objectives rather than obstacles, which can in turn increase their creative output.
With principles of good design at its core, Frame.io was built for filmmakers, by filmmakers, to solve one very specific problem in the industry: the need for a platform that provides precise, frame-level video feedback. Ron Dawson, Frame.io’s senior manager of content marketing as well as the managing editor of their blog, Frame.io Insider, describes the challenge:
“A lot of organizations in the past would use a combination of programs, email, and any of the large media sharing sites out there. They would send emails back and forth to give notes on video, like, 'Can you change this thing about two minutes in, here?' Not being able to have a frame-accurate response is difficult for people on post-production teams.” Frame.io solved this problem by building a fast and secure platform which centralizes video feedback.
Dawson intended to bring this same commitment to precision, accuracy, and good design to Frame.io’s blog, from the type of stories they publish to the imagery that accompanies the content. The content on the site can range from in-depth interviews with the editorial teams behind movies like Captain Marvel and Mission: Impossible, to comprehensive tutorials and tips on editing software, workflow processes, and even business.
“Whenever possible, when we do an interview, we get original custom photography done, as opposed to just finding Getty images or stock images online,” Dawson tells us. “I kind of like to think of us as a leader in the post-production video world in terms of the quality of content that we provide.”
Dawson works with upwards of 30 freelance writers and photographers all over the world to create Frame.io Insider. When his boss asked him to put together a spreadsheet to track how much they were spending on articles, Dawson knew from experience that a database would provide better functionality for the task. He began to search for cloud-based solutions to facilitate collaboration between this distributed team.
"Being able to summarize or take the average of how much we've paid for a group of articles, being able to see the amount we paid to writers over any period of time, and then being able to see the subtotals for each individual writer as well—that’s all possible with Airtable."
When Dawson was getting started on Airtable, he built two tables: one listing articles and another tracking writers, with all their contact info. Then, in one simple step, he created a link between these two data sets. Dawson was immediately able to do a lot more than just track article costs.
“I like being able to connect articles to writers and then being able to easily see all the articles any particular writer is working on,” Dawson tells us. “Being able to summarize or take the average of how much we've paid for a group of articles, being able to see the amount we paid to writers over any period of time, and then being able to see the subtotals for each individual writer as well—that’s all possible with Airtable.”
Collaborating across time zones
Dawson realized that Airtable facilitated easier and more efficient data sharing on multiple levels. Airtable forms, in particular, have allowed him to unlock new and better ways of collaborating with his writers. “We had previously used a single document to track up to 60 topic ideas,” Dawson explains. “Information became difficult to navigate and it was also a pain trying to keep track of which article had been assigned to whom. Using Airtable easily fixed that issue. Now we use an Airtable form submission process where people can submit their ideas. We can go through and see which ones fit our brand and the type of articles we want to write.”
The single select field made it easy to begin tracking the status of articles. “We can easily see which ones have been assigned, what kind of articles are coming down the pipeline, which ones have been published, and which ones are still pending. That's probably one of the biggest pain points I think it solved.”
It wasn’t too long after the content marketing team started using Airtable before the rest of the marketing team hopped on the bandwagon.
Senior Marketing Manager Megan Stanford spearheads and/or co-leads huge marketing efforts like new product announcements, tradeshow planning and attendance, PR campaigns, and product launches.
“We’ve tried numerous project management tools but found none of them were being fully adopted,” reports Stanford. “We found ourselves going back to basic Google apps like Docs and Sheets. Our engineers were using Airtable and the web developer on our team made a compelling pitch for our whole team to adopt it. Aided by the success the content team was having, it wasn’t difficult to get everyone onboard.”
Dawson is now using the system he built to manage an even bigger project: Frame.io’s Workflow Guide. This is a 100,000+ word microsite that is a comprehensive resource for all things related to film and video workflow.
"There's no way we can go back to not using it after seeing how it's increased our efficiency."
“We have submissions from companies like Canon, Adobe, and Deluxe (a major color grading company in Hollywood). Tracking all those submissions using Airtable and then assigning different tasks to those processes was huge, but the process there is very similar to what we're doing on the blog site.”
Just as Frame.io has become a central hub for the post-production teams on movies like Hereditary, TV shows like Conan, and even major media sites like BuzzFeed and Vice, Airtable has provided a similar function for Frame.io Insider.
“It is the core central hub for our entire writing and content team, from image creation to writing to project management,” Dawson says. “There's no way we can go back to not using it after seeing how it's increased our efficiency."