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
Submitted by Stephen Streater Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Submitted by John Smith -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5G Streaming - The Rollout
Steve Plunkett - new 5G will bring significant improvements in bandwidth per device, capacity per network and reduced latency per session. These are all very important features for video both today and going forward. The growth of new formats such as UHD, AR, VR and 360 video place much greater demand on the networks that serve consumer devices, so 5G will be essential to accommodate this demand.
Tags: iss123 | vod | 5g | ott | ericsson | virtual reality | vr | 360 | Steve Plunkett - new
Submitted by Steve Plunkett - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
OBs are still outside and so are broadcasts
Mike Ransome - new With the advent of new and emerging technologies, and with the one getting the most oxygen at the moment being video over IP, a number of people are asking whether the ability to move control rather further way from an event has, or will, change the nature of OB production.
Tags: iss123 | remote production | ob truck | presteigne | ip | Mike Ransome - new
Submitted by Mike Ransome - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Does the cloud have substance?
Ciaran Doran - new Just at the moment, every customer we talk to wants to move to the cloud. It is not just a techno-buzzword: people are really attracted by it. The idea of getting rid of all hardware and letting someone else worry about keeping machine rooms alive seems like a good plan.
Tags: iss123 | pixel power | cloud | aims | virtualization | Ciaran Doran - new
Submitted by Ciaran Doran - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
New workflows floating on the horizon
Lee Sheppard - new The way in which we consume content has fundamentally changed. We want to watch what we want, when we want, where we want and how we want, and we want to find programmes quickly, preferably in HD or increasingly UHD. Content is king and in order to satisfy consumer requirements it is essential media companies can locate their material quickly and easily.
Tags: iss123 | mam | pam | sgl | Avid | Grass Valley | Marquis | SAM | VSN | CatDV | Lee Sheppard - new
Submitted by Lee Sheppard - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Sennheiser Digital 6000 review
KitPlus Originally founded in 1945 from a university research lab Sennheiser is of course a globally respected brand and have recently launched the Digital 6000 series as an addition to its pro wireless range. KitPlus were invited to a take a look together with a live music event featuring the system in Hannover last month.
Tags: iss123 | sennheiser | d6000 | microphone | d9000 | digital 6000 | em6000 | dante | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Being a Content Creator
Josh Round When I began the Television and Broadcasting course at the University of Portsmouth, I had my mind dead-set on what I wanted to do in the world of television. More than anything, I wanted to work for Children's BBC, ideally as a presenter, and as I come towards the end of my second year, I am still very much in pursuit of this dream.
Tags: iss123 | citv | portsmouth uni | student | Josh Round
Submitted by Josh Round Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec HFMP out of the box review
KitPlus Just before we all broke up for Christmas we took delivery of a new 'thing' at KitPlus HQ. Our first reaction was surprise and a little curious as to how it was going to make itself useful. What's the point?
Tags: iss122 | libec | hfmp | monopod | idx | hands free monopod | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Future of Bournemouth Air Festival
Georgia Tolley For the past two years I have had the opportunity to present live at the Bournemouth Air Festival (BAF), which, as a Television & Broadcasting student from the University of Portsmouth, was a fantastic way to see first-hand how an outside broadcast works...whilst getting paid!
Tags: iss122 | portsmouth uni | citv | baf | bournemouth air festival | Georgia Tolley
Submitted by Georgia Tolley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transistion in Audio Monitoring
Shane Toven As signal chains have become increasingly complex, the challenges involved in managing and monitoring these paths have multiplied exponentially. Over the past few decades, we've migrated from handling a single channel of content using composite video and analog audio pairs, to elaborate multi-channel facilities routing HD video with embedded audio over SDI or in many cases discrete AES pairs. These audio signals are often a mix of 5.1 and stereo programs and in many cases encoded to or decoded from Dolby at some point in the chain.
Tags: iss122 | aes | ebu r128 | atsc a85 | aes67 | Shane Toven
Submitted by Shane Toven Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How to illuminate a better shot
Chuck Edwards LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology built for the general lighting market is designed to meet very different criteria than the critical lighting requirements for image capture. While LEDs may be a suitable lighting option for some photography and videography, critical applications, such as feature film, production requires users to understand the limitations, capabilities and advantages of the many types of LED technologies and fixtures available on the market today.
Tags: iss122 | led | lighting | cct | rpt | remote phosor technology | Chuck Edwards
Submitted by Chuck Edwards Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The now and how of LED Lighting
Tama Berkeljon LED lighting has come a long way from the days when companies like Outsight were ridiculed by major manufacturers at trade shows because, the manufacturers asserted, technology couldn't be entrusted with the requirements of our industry.
Tags: iss122 | led lighting | outsite | cri | tlci | dmx control | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Polecam user review
Phil Vinter When it comes to filming from above, drones have dominated in recent years. But restrictions on where and when they can be used means there is still a demand for traditional style jibs.
Tags: iss122 | polecam | review | Phil Vinter
Submitted by Phil Vinter Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec TH-X Tripod review
Nick Robbins It is worth highlighting that I am primarily an Editor. Like many of us, over the years I have regularly been involved in the entire creative process in some capacity but increasingly I am asked to go out and film the simpler corporate jobs such as exhibition stands or a 'piece to camera' for YouTube, Vimeo etc. and embedded into the customer's web site. These tend to be the jobs which wouldn't happen at all if the client had to pay for the whole package; camera, sound, director, kit hire, etc.
Tags: iss122 | libec | th-x | tripod | Nick Robbins
Submitted by Nick Robbins Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine