How the cloud is changing the post production landscape


Stephen Streater TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Stephen Streater
Issue 85 - January 2014
For many years, the pace of change in mass market IT has dwarfed that of broadcast technology. For example, consumer cameraphone resolution has increased over the last ten years by 30,000%. In comparison, broadcast resolution hasn't changed significantly. The development costs of consumer cameras are amortised over 1,000,000,000 units - there is no way the broadcast industry can compete on the pace of progress.

The needs for cameras from consumers and broadcast are not aligned, so production cannot benefit directly from this mass market.

But in post production, large parts of the IT infrastructure are exactly those which benefit from the latest revolution in mass market IT. Computer processing power, storage and internet access, all fuelled by mass market consumer demand, are exactly the features offered by the cloud.

As new technology enables more and more of the broadcast workflow to move into the cloud, little more than a modest computer and an Internet connection is needed to be able to create in the cloud. Processor speed, file size, and security are no longer issues. Now, instead of transitioning to newer and newer generations of broadcast hardware, were moving from one IT solution to another.

Nowhere is this notion more apparent than in post-production. Every calculation or data fetch in post-production that is currently carried out on a local PC could be carried out in the cloud.

What Makes the Cloud Suited for Post-Production?


Just as electricity is provided more economically by large-scale suppliers, processing and storage requirements can often be met more economically by cloud services. And just as electricity comes to us directly via connection to a power grid, data comes directly to a computer via connection to the Internet. In addition, cloud services from different providers interact through automated interfaces, providing a highly flexible way of using different suppliers throughout the workflow. However, when it comes to video post-production, not just any cloud service will do. Generic cloud-computing providers, such as Amazon Web Services, are built for IT and consumer data rather than the voluminous data and performance requirements associated with broadcast video. The requirements for editing video are onerous, with large amounts of data needing real-time response. Rendering effects and transitions in a generic cloud environment are expensive, and the unresponsiveness would be frustrating for users accustomed to desktop solutions. Building a broadcast post-production operation on a generic cloud infrastructure is expensive and doesn't meet broadcast reliability requirements.

Dedicated platforms optimised for broadcast applications not only offer lower cost and responsive performance, but also control of where data is stored for legal and regulatory reasons. A cloud service lives or dies by its service quality. Over time, competition will fix reliability.
Capacity and Efficiency

The capacity of the Internet and cloud services is essentially unlimited, with supply expanding to meet demand. Storage and Internet speed nearly double every year, and new solutions from the world of mobile are improving power consumption within the cloud.

I have always found that the greatest efficiencies come from using client computers to undertake as much of the workload as possible. Though it might sound odd for a cloud solution, such a scenario provides immediate scalability, reduces latency to negligible levels, and significantly cuts costs. In fact, combining client processing with a dedicated cloud model allows us to give our FORscene clients unrivalled value for money.

Better Picture Quality

The cloud is currently well-suited to the post-production tradition of working with proxies, a method that for the foreseeable future will be more efficient than working with high-resolution sources. These proxies will continue to improve in quality and resolution, with, for example, higher resolutions for fine-cut editing than for logging.

I already make home videos in 4K in the cloud. Over time, connection speed has doubled every year, and storage costs have halved. As these factors continue to improve, the cloud will look more and more attractive as an alternative in a wide range of post-production workflows.

FORscene has supported SD proxies for six years (though productions tend to use lower resolution to save cost). Conforming from original HD sources ensures minimal generation loss on the final output.

Limitless Features

A decade ago, technical limitations such as computer speed, bandwidth, and storage constrained viable cloud-based post-production functionality. Since then, computers have become 20 times faster, Internet connections 1,000 times faster, and disk storage 1,000 times larger, thereby eliminating technical constraints on features and functionality.

Technology has made it easy to do post-production in the cloud. Now the focus is on improving and perfecting reliability, responsiveness, interface design, price, and integration.

Security

Data security is an issue with any IT-based system. The risks of losing data can be mitigated by keeping multiple copies of data in multiple sites something that is much easier for a cloud provider to do well than for an individual broadcaster.
Workflows and Adoption

Workflow changes take people out of their comfort zones and therefore happen much more slowly than changes to the underlying technology. When FORscene launched a decade ago, people were understandably cautious. However, now people use the cloud in their everyday lives, they are more open to adopting it professionally. An increasingly technology-literate young workforce already fluent with cloud technologies in their personal lives will accelerate cloud acceptance and adoption.

Beyond Post-Production

The future of cloud-based broadcast infrastructures goes well beyond editing. Maintaining different silos of equipment for different stages of post-production becomes less important as the cloud offer extends. Already, the cloud offers ingest, graphics creation, post-production, publishing, hosting, search, distribution, and advertising.

Producers of genres such as near-live sports for Internet and mobile distribution can already do all their post-production in the cloud. Dedicated cloud post-production platforms such as FORscene can take in multiple live HD video feeds (at one point during testing for the Summer Games, there were 200!), incorporate graphics from various cloud creation systems, perform all the editing and finishing, conform at full resolution, and hand over to another cloud solution for volume distribution. Clients can (and do) mix and match. In fact, Microsoft Azure is designed for just such a scenario.

Conclusion

The relentless advances in technology are transforming post-production. Traditional desktop IT solutions are being replaced with more cost-efficient and productive cloud-based solutions. This technology change is transforming the distribution and consumption end of the business as well. Suppliers of traditional post tools would do well to embrace the unending power of the cloud.


Tags: iss085 | forbidden technologies | forbidden | cloud | editing | storage | post production | changes | new | software | forscene | Stephen Streater
Contributing Author Stephen Streater

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

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  • Cinegy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cinegy on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Nexidias Drew Lanham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidias Drew Lanham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Pilat Media on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Snell on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Snell on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wyplay on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wyplay on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wowza Media Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

    Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

  • Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • Datacolor Spyder on the Atomos stand at IBC 2013

    Datacolor Spyder on the Atomos stand at IBC 2013

  • Metus MAM and Ingest at IBC 2013

    Metus MAM and Ingest at IBC 2013

  • Blue Lucy Media at IBC 2013

    Blue Lucy Media at IBC 2013

  • Clear-Com: Concert at NAB 2013

    Clear-Com: Concert at NAB 2013

  • Clear-Com Eclipse HX at NAB 2013

    Clear-Com Eclipse HX at NAB 2013

  • JVC GY-HM650 upgrade at NAB 2013

    JVC GY-HM650 upgrade at NAB 2013

  • Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2013

    Quantel Pablo Rio at NAB 2013

  • Brainstorm Multimedia: Aston3D at NAB 2013

    Brainstorm Multimedia: Aston3D at NAB 2013

  • IMT at NAB 2013

    IMT at NAB 2013

  • Telestream at BVE 2013

    Telestream at BVE 2013

  • Autocue at BVE 2013

    Autocue at BVE 2013

  • Blue Lucy Media at BVE 2012

    Blue Lucy Media at BVE 2012

  • Forscene at NAB 2016

    Forscene at NAB 2016


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Articles
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
Using Wireless Transmission
Jeremy Benning Wireless acquisition is a staple of live sports, entertainment and reality shows where cable free capture permits shots not previously possible, for health and safety reasons, and gives the camera-operator greater artistic licence to roam. The same is increasingly true of narrative drama where cinematographers are keen to work handheld or Steadicam where that helps tell the story. Any equipment which frees their movement and time by being lighter, easier to use and reliable in performance is going to tick a lot of boxes.
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | Jeremy Benning
Contributing Author Jeremy Benning Click to read or download PDF
Accelerated Workflows with eGPU
Mike Griggs From the UK’s National Trust to magazine publishers to manufacturers, digital content creator Mike Griggs has a wide and varied portfolio of clients for whom he creates 3D art, motion graphics and multimedia exhibits. A typical day might involve sampling birdsong near Virginia Woolf’s country estate or creating 3D animations for VR. To keep on top of these demands, Griggs wanted to take the full power of the GPU computing revolution on the road.
Tags: iss134 | sonnet | egpu | amd | post production | editing | Mike Griggs
Contributing Author Mike Griggs Click to read or download PDF
An Obituary to Timecode
Bruce Devlin - new A stoic and persistent character that stubbornly refused to change with the times, Timecode has finally passed on, but no-one has noticed. A long-lasting industry veteran, Timecode was brought into this world at an uncertain date in the late 1960s due to the needs of analogue tape workflows and the demand for synchronisation between audio and video devices. A joint activity between SMPTE and the EBU led to the work on Time and Control codes starting its journey to standardisation in the early 1970s.
Tags: iss134 | timecode | smpte | ebu | edit | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read
The Wireless Way to 4k
JP Delport DTC’s AEON group of products have been specifically designed for the 4K market. We encode with the more efficient HEVC algorithm, which means we are taking a 12G signal and compressing it to a bitrate that can be managed over an RF link. So what makes this a leading idea in the 4K revolution?
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | JP Delport
Contributing Author JP Delport Click to read or download PDF