Disney, Microsoft Team Up to Shift Moviemaking to the Cloud

Walt Disney Studios and Microsoft inked a five-year deal to start transitioning filmmaking to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, with the goal of complete “scene to screen.” The effort is led by Disney’s StudioLAB. Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris said the first step will be to move Avid editing tools into the cloud, to facilitate collaboration across locations. Microsoft U.S. president Kate Johnson noted that “we are at the tipping point for cloud in media and entertainment.”

Variety reports that, according to Voris, “working collaboratively on the same project in the cloud will also cut down on the need to store and administer many different copies of a file.” That’s significant because a single big film can produce petabytes of data, which risk “getting lost, or falling into the wrong hands.”

Voris reported that Disney chose Microsoft because its “cloud competitors weren’t as focused on the media space.” Johnson added that Microsoft likes to think of itself “as the platform cloud for media and entertainment.”

A StudioLAB source reported that the two companies are already implementing production workflows on Azure, with the first movies edited in the cloud appearing on screens in 12 to 18 months.

Windows Central reports that StudioLAB is a tech hub designed to “create and advance the future of storytelling with cutting-edge tools and methods.” Johnson said that “the combination of Azure’s hyperscale capacity, global distribution, and industry-leading storage and networking capabilities with Disney’s strong history of industry leadership unlocks new opportunity in the media and entertainment space and will power new ways to drive content and creativity at scale.”

Avid has an earlier relationship with Microsoft, having started its Strategic Cloud Alliance with the company in 2017; it continues to rely on Azure for its cloud strategy.

For more information, the Microsoft press release can be found here.