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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Tags: iss127 | liveu | garland | tranmission | uplink | cellular | Lorna Garrett
Submitted by Lorna Garrett Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Atomos Ninja Inferno REVIEWED
Daniel Peters Bristol-based Daniel Peters is one of a new breed of indie filmmakers discovering that you dont need big budgets to create filmic shorts. Often working solo, shooting and editing his own work, he creates the look and feel of bigger productions with only limited resources. His commitment to the craft is so great he had to sell much of his own gear to fund his most recent short film Deserted in Paris, after he went over budget due to lost locations and actors pulling out.
Tags: iss127 | atomos | inferno | ninja | review | prores | dnxhr | gh5 | fs7 | lut | Daniel Peters
Submitted by Daniel Peters Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Back to Basics with IP Video Production
Michael Waidson Its difficult to attend an industry tradeshow or read a publication without seeing discussions about the technological changes that will impact the broadcast market in upcoming years. These changes include 4K/UHDTV, High Dynamic Range and High Frame Rate video but the transition to an all IP video workflow is regarded as a disruptive technology change that will demand new skill sets and infrastructure.
Tags: iss127 | tek | tektronix | ip | test | Michael Waidson
Submitted by Michael Waidson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Multi-camera fly-away for live music production
Aaron Dunleavy A specialist in multi-camera concert films and music documentaries, Toward Infinity began working with Trickbox TV around 18 months ago. Run by Producer, Director and Editor Tim Sidwell and Producer and DP Jeremy Mason, Toward Infinity is a creative collaboration that works with top flight venues including: Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, the O2 Arena, Shepherd's Bush Empire and the London Forum, with artists in all genres.
Tags: iss127 | trickbox | multicamera | flyaway | Aaron Dunleavy
Submitted by Aaron Dunleavy Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A 360 degree view of fashion
Michael Parsons Im often asked, what do you do when the students arent around?, and the simple answer is, as it would be from any university technical support member of staff, I get involved in passion projects and these help me to stay up-to-date with the kit and keep my hand-in with video filmmaking.
Tags: iss127 | 360 | vr | portsmouth | university | nokia | ozo | pxw-fs7 | avid media composer | Michael Parsons
Submitted by Michael Parsons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A bluffers guide to image stabilisation
Mike Colyer One of the greatest challenges I face when designing a Special Camera system is how to minimise such vibrations, be they the very passive such as vibrations from a human wearing a camera system (10 20Hz), or more pronounced (try strapping a camera to a race car!).
Tags: iss127 | stabilisation | eis | ois | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Strays - Telling a dark tale
Aaron Dunleavy Independent filmmaker, Aaron Dunleavy, has used the backdrop of his hometown, Blackburn, to create a new short film as part of Channel 4 and Arts Council Englands Random Acts programme. The initiative - delivered by Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle), HOME (Manchester), and True North Productions (Leeds) - commissions bold, innovative expressions of creativity from young creative talent, and was a new and welcome challenge for Dunleavys third short film.
Tags: iss127 | strays | blackmagic design | vfx | ursa mini | grade | grading | Aaron Dunleavy
Submitted by Aaron Dunleavy Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Managing colour from aquisition to delivery
Ollie Kenchington

Start with calibration

The right colour management process can be the difference between being certain of what the end results are going to be, and having to spend time fixing things in post production.

Tags: iss127 | calibration | colour | x-rite | xrite | colorpassort | colorchecker | Ollie Kenchington
Submitted by Ollie Kenchington Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Production Communications in a Shrinking World
Gary Rosen Communications today is a critical issueno matter if you are producing broadcast television, doing a live festival or rock concert outdoors, setting up a musical on the West End, or producing a local school play. Over the last few years, the proliferation of cell phones and other wireless devices has made it clear that most people prefer to communicate untethered.
Tags: iss127 | pliant | comms | intercom | duplex | Gary Rosen
Submitted by Gary Rosen Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
5 reasons to use a soft box with LED lighting
James Mathers LEDs are a highly efficient light source, and putting aside any color spectrum issues, (that have generally been improving) they still have limitations for lighting people. The naked illumination coming off a single emitter, or an array making up a larger fixture, such as a panel, is just not the soft, beautiful glow that we seek for human subjects.
Tags: iss127 | led lighting | softbox | soft box | James Mathers
Submitted by James Mathers Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
TV Futures
Jane Lawrence When I was younger my dad used to encourage me to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. One of those clich© things parents hand down to their children. However, as I have grown and gone through different stages of education I have found this little piece of wisdom has followed me. Don't get me wrong, being amazing at one thing is a great skill to have, but for me having a good understanding of everything is also vital.
Tags: iss126 | tvfutures | ccitv | portsmouth | preditors | Jane Lawrence
Submitted by Jane Lawrence Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Understanding the process of video production
Joseph Adamson In this article I will focus on understanding the process of video production. The use of miniaturised video equipment and understanding the capability of the kit chosen for the job will be mentioned. The video production process is a road map, which not only helps the producer to minimise problems during production and achieve professional results, but also saves time.This process can be tricky to understand and many videographers are self taught, including myself.
Tags: iss126 | video production | wasd | ail | africans in london | Joseph Adamson
Submitted by Joseph Adamson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Ad servers and switching solutions
Peter Blanchford Hardware-based ad servers and switching solutions have been around for a long time and, broadly speaking, do the job just fine.
Tags: iss126 | starfish technologies | ad server | ts splicer | ts switch | gop | Peter Blanchford
Submitted by Peter Blanchford Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP Based Remote Production
Ed Calverley Over the last few years Suitcase TV has been getting involved in remote production at the software layer, and I want to talk about some of the ways we have been getting involved in remote production, including a specific trial that we did last year with BBC Sport for the Euro 2016 tournament in Paris.
Tags: iss126 | remote production | IP | jt-nm | smpte 2110 | suitcase | Ed Calverley
Submitted by Ed Calverley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Lighting - the stuff you do not see
Tama Berkeljon Lighting is the stuff you don't see that makes a difference in what you do see. How the audience feels about a character and whether the scene is scary, tense or upbeat are communicated by the quality and placement of light. Lighting can take the drama to a whole new level - think about film noir with all those shadows on the wall.
Tags: iss126 | outsight | ghost in the shell | led lighting | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Media Production Show and other news
Duncan Payne So, the 2nd Media Production Show has been and gone. Hands up who went to Islington by mistake? I know at least two people who did. Their secret is safe with me! For me, the sign of a great trade show is when I come away really enthused about an innovative use of existing technology or a brand new product. When I find something that combines both these things, then I'm a very happy man.
Tags: iss126 | adamantean | finance | leasing | mps | ptz | sam | Duncan Payne
Submitted by Duncan Payne Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Advances in LED lighting innovation with Rotolight AEOS
Rod Aaron Gammons There's no doubt that lighting plays a critical role in videography, filmmaking and photography. It's the area of content capture that brings added creativity to shoots, whether that's filming a wedding, producing a commercial or making a movie. Much like cameras have evolved over the past few years, lighting has also evolved; from the traditional tungsten, through to the use of LEDs. Of course LEDs have been revolutionised too, now delivering powerful, cost and energy efficient solutions to creatives.
Tags: iss126 | location light | led lighting | AEOS | rotolight | anova | neo | Rod Aaron Gammons
Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine