Media Management On-the-Go with Gnarbox and Lumafusion
Mobile photographers and videographers have spoken, and Gnarbox listened.
With over 1000% funding on its Kickstarter campaign, Gnarbox released a data management box the size of a portable hard drive that boasts the ability to start your workflow before you reach your computer. With LumaTouch’s Lumafusion editing app, you never even have to touch a computer.
To test out Gnarbox and Lumafusion together, I teamed up with my friend and collaborator, director/producer, Tricia Cramer. To set the scene: during a recent Brooklyn rooftop shoot, we had two dancers performing in leotards on a windy 45-degree day. These dancers were freezing, so the ability to offload SD cards and watch playback fast was incredibly useful, to say the least.
We had fully charged up the Gnarbox the day before the shoot and were being handed off SD cards to import footage from the Gnarbox to an iPad we had on set to watch playback. This workflow allowed for on set data management with nothing more than the compact Gnarbox and an iPad.
The Gnarbox connects to the iPad through its own WiFi hotspot, accessible through the Gnarbox app. The iPad was easily synced with the Gnarbox and transferring media was simple. Within 15 minutes of transferring footage from the Gnarbox to the iPad for additional backup (the Gnarbox also backs up media,) we were down to 80% from a fully charged device.
It should be noted that Gnarbox tech specs claim that it lasts for 4-6 hours. We were ingesting fairly small media, shot on a DSLR, and transferring 56 files (resolution 1920 x 1080, codec H264, capacity 3.95GB) which took about 10 minutes.
We did the transfer twice, after our first transfer failed with 10 clips missing from the 56. We found that troubleshooting a failed transfer was rather difficult, and there was no simple way to figure out which clips made it over and which didn’t.
Having said this, it is entirely possible to skip the transfer until you do get to a computer where you can properly back up to an external hard drive rather than your iPad, and simply edit off of the Gnarbox in the meantime. Playback within the native Gnarbox app was slow and required buffering time, but there is the option to upload directly to Frame.io from the app, which could be useful for streaming dailies before you get into Lumafusion. The Lumafusion edit app recognizes the Gnarbox and the media on your SD card within the Gnarbox hotspot, so if the Gnarbox is fully charged or able to be plugged in, you can edit directly in the Lumafusion app and do backup transfers later.
Our general feeling is that this could be a useful tool for offloading and beginning to cut with proxies while still on set, or even traveling home from set. The lifespan of the Gnarbox’s charge may introduce some issues for people hoping to transfer many files throughout a long shoot day, but for smaller shoots, it got the job done. For video bloggers and social media videos, or even for larger productions where directors and EPs want to see dailies immediately, Gnarbox could be a powerful tool for a quick and mobile workflow.
Using Lumafusion in conjunction with Gnarbox on set proved to be a fairly seamless workflow. We were able to quickly and easily lay out a stringout of the dailies in Lumafusion and upload to Vimeo directly from the app. A powerful multitrack editing app for iOS, Lumafusion also made it fast and easy to generate an assembly cut to show the director on set and work in multiple timelines within one project.
As production demands evolve, NLE software has begun to adapt to be more mobile-first. If you are shooting and editing on the road, or have a tight turnaround for web-based content, Lumafusion is a great option that allows ingesting footage and editing without being beholden to a computer, cables, or even a power outlet. Its interface is intuitive and user-friendly, and yet more powerful than we had anticipated for an iOS app.
Fully equipped with all of the basic editing, effect, and transition tools an editor expects in an NLE, the Lumafusion app makes it easy to trim, slip, clone, detach audio, sync, transform and scale, adjust opacity, PIP, split screen, pan, speed ramp and reverse, add transitions, and animated titles, all at their fingertips. Even some basic keyboard commands function with an attachable iPad keyboard.
The Lumafusion layout has 3 main windows: Browse, which is your media pool and bin structure, Source Viewer, which acts as your media previewer and also your record window where you can watch your timeline edit, and Timeline, where you'll create your sequence. Multiple new and duplicated timelines can live within the same project, which is great for versioning.
The Lumafusion media pool organizes itself in preset bins like video, music, titles, and transitions, but doesn’t allow for creating new folders or reorganizing bin structure as far as we can tell, but project settings and preferences are easily accessible and adjustable.
After importing the footage from the Gnarbox, the media pool was easily accessible through the photos bin. Importing and inserting into your timeline are both drag and drop functions, and cutting is as simple as selecting the highlighted clip and rolling to the desired length. Within Lumafusion, many different formats and resolutions are acceptable, the app even claims online 4K editing to be possible and will allow you to ingest 4K media.
Outputting 360 VR is an option as well. We didn’t have 360 footage to test it with but noticed it was a possibility.
Lumafusion strives to make your life as a content creator simpler. With pre-imported royalty-free music, editing to temp tracks is easier than ever, or it might eliminate the need to search for and import score for your social media content. And with social media in mind, outputting a smartphone native aspect ratio 9:16 is just the click of a button, and can be shared directly to your Vimeo, Youtube, Dropbox, and the like, or save to external devices via Bluetooth.
Lumafusion helps to optimize the entire process from shooting and editing on your iPad or iPhone, and exporting directly to your social platforms. Upon export, the app will estimate your file size based on your chosen settings, and let you know not only how much space your file will require, but also how much space your device has available. Your wrapper options are MPEG4 or Quicktime mov, and your codec options are H264 or H265. The limited codec option was a bit of a bummer for us, although, if you're editing on an iPad, you're probably outputting for web anyway.
Additionally, the app comes preloaded with a number of different LUT options and preset looks and vignetting options. Lumafusion is not an advanced color grading tool, but it does allow you to adjust your look before you output. There is also an option to import LUTs and color presets, and a luma key tool available. We couldn't find a way to export an XML or AAF from Lumafusion, so as far as we can tell, the post-production process ends within the app, although at NAB last April, there was talk of batch exporting and xml exports being added as a feature available for in-app purchase.
Overall, we were impressed by the range of Lumafusion’s abilities within the scope of an iOS app, and we feel that it could be a powerful tool for mobile filmmakers, serving as a strong introduction to video editing. It makes the craft accessible to anyone with an iPad or iPhone, and $19.99 app store credit.
Gnarbox 1.0 (256GB) Tech Specs:
Intel® Quad Core, 1.92GHZ CPU
4 Core Intel ® HD Graphics GPU
Dual band 300mbps 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
SD Card Slots and USB3.0 ports allow 100MB/sec backup speeds & 270MB/sec export speeds
1 AMP Out per USB
Compatible with CF Card Readers
256GB FLASH Memory
Dimensions: 5.3” x 3.4” x 1” / ~1lb
Lumafusion iOS Compatibility Requirements:
Requires iOS 11.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.