HPA Tech Retreat: Next-Gen Cloud Workflows Hosted by ETC

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC hosted a discussion on next-generation cloud workflows, featuring toolsets and specific technologies. Led by ETC’s cloud project lead Erik Weaver, the conversation began with the real-world case study for post production in the cloud implemented by Los Angeles post facility DigitalFilm Tree. That company’s CTO/managing partner Guillaume Aubuchon led the audience through the workflows put in place to handle productions taking place in “remote parts of Asia and Africa.”

“We’re doing cloud production workflow on whatever TV shows will let us do it,” said Aubuchon. “We were increasingly being asked to deliver reliable production workflows in remote [locations] and the cloud was the only choice for us to service those shows.”

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He also noted that, because productions are shooting an increasing amount of footage (he mentioned one show that shoots 216,000 minutes whittled down to 40 minutes), the cloud is “core to our business and financial model as well.”

“For most of the shows, we can generally get proxy material back into editorial in less than 40 minutes, no matter where you are,” said Aubuchon. “For us it’s all about accessibility. We enable productions to shoot all over the world, and we also can grant access to marketing departments and VFX facilities.”

Although DigitalFilm Tree has been relying on an OpenStack and private cloud solution but, says Aubuchon, they are in the process of moving to a hosted cloud infrastructure with AWS and Rackspace.

HGST executive Jeff Greenwald spoke about his company’s work in storage and disk drives. “Storage and cloud are inextricably connected,” he said, enumerating some of the features that media & entertainment needs from storage. “Media clouds are here. [Among other issues], how do you leverage the cloud vs. on-site and change the parameters from CAPEX acquisition to OPEX and on-demand?”

He added that one of the primary drivers for new workflow re-design is today’s need for delivery to multiple platforms. “Media workflow development will look different in 2017 because of the cloud, changing production, transport, management distribution and security,” he predicted.

Avid executive/CTO Rashid Desai talked about his company’s perspective on cloud platforms. “We see this technology stack like a layered cake with the cloud a key part of it,” he explained. “Security is not an afterthought in building this layer cake. We have to ask ourselves how we take 25 years of IP and make it more scalable and integrative, to leverage that rich capability.”

He referred to the Avid MediaCentral Platform’s many functions, adding that, “more news is coming.”

Lastly, Joshua Kolben spoke about his Cinema Content Creation Cloud (C4), an open source framework for content creation using remote sources. “We have an extremely high level of complexity in doing media production,” said Kolben, talking about the C4 Identification System. “It takes huge stacks of software and complexity to manage those problems, but we think we have solutions. This is a way to codify workflows so we can unequivocally say where it comes from.”