Remote access to all video files to all the relevant (and authorized) personnel is a good thing. But do those benefits extend to editing in the cloud? Although it has been around for some time, it is only in the relatively recent past that acceptance has been spreading.
What Does the Term “Editing in the Cloud” Actually Mean?
“Providing you pick an advanced solution, video editing in the cloud takes care of everything for you.” That’s the view of Ray Thompson, director of broadcast and media solutions marketing at Avid.
“A common misconception is that cloud-based video editing is just about editing tools sitting inside a cloud service provider’s infrastructure. But it usually encompasses a storage component and a bandwidth component to get content into and out of the cloud.”
Stephen Tallamy, chief technology officer at EditShare, adds: “Editing in the cloud provides the ability to be in any location and work on any machine and mimic on-premise workflows with fine grain control over your media such as real-time scrubbing capabilities, along with editing and grading video content in real time.”
Nicholas Stokes, CEO, Envoi, a provider of cloud solutions, provides further insight. “It enables content creators to establish their video production and editing environment within a cloud framework. This makes it possible to manage full editorial and post production workflows all in the cloud, so that video creators no longer need massive on-premise hardware infrastructures.”
Thompson agrees. He says that when a post production facility previously wanted to add capacity it meant buying more hardware. But with the cloud, users can spin resources up and down as and when needed.
“From an economic perspective, it enables facilities to easily expand their resources since they’re no longer confined by physical space,” he says. “Thanks to cloud-based editing, you can hire talented editors regardless of where they live.”
That’s a view shared by Tallamy. “The benefits are immense, particularly the ability to save on costs throughout a production. You can limit the on-site production teams, and then hire and work with the best talent anywhere and of course, the speed and ability to turn things around at a much faster pace.”
What’s a Typical Workflow?
Stokes provides a scenario: “A video creator is shooting on location in Los Angeles and needs to deliver 1TB of media data to his team of five editors. However, editorial teams for the U.S. are in New York and the international team is based in the U.K.
“You have 24 hours to deliver the final interview,” he continues. “If you hired FedEx or UPS it would take 24 hours to ship hard drives to each location, then eight plus hours to edit the content. With the cloud you can upload or ingest media data into the cloud in hours and the global editing teams can start content creation immediately.”
Tallamy provides further insight. “Ingest content, create proxies and deliver the high-resolution media via chunking to a data center. Meanwhile, editors are working away on either the source media—via cloud workstations, or proxies—for local workstations, cutting the stories and narratives. Then, a quick resync enables them to relink to the high-end material simply and efficiently. Using a media management system connected to a file delivery system, the content can now be backhauled to a video server somewhere for playout.”
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What Are the Challenges?
Stokes believes the biggest hurdle until now has been the ability to move high-quality capture content to the cloud.
“The present deployment of 5G will quickly remove this obstacle and enable the cloud to be at the center of the content creation process right from the point of capture,” Stokes says. “With so many different tools, workflows, and formats, the biggest challenge for video providers right now is defining the right setup for their unique deployment.”
Bandwidth is always the challenge as media file sizes continue to grow, according to Tallamy.
“Moving large data files is always a challenge considering network pipes are not built the same in every location,” he says. “So, if you choose a remote location for a production, expect to tailor your workflow or codec choice. We have seen this across multiple reality TV shows we have worked with where the location is superb but the network isn’t.”
For Thompson, the challenges relate to the environment itself.
“If you have a good solution, it will auto provision everything for you,” he says. “You just need a technical resource that understands what the requirements are to run the application and storage. You also need to know how much estimated bandwidth you’re going to need, taking into consideration how many people will be working on the project. Depending on the resolution and bit rate of the content you’re going to edit, you may also need a dedicated line between your facility and the cloud point of presence or data center. Therefore, having a secure connection is critical.”
But What About Security?
Tallamy believes security is a huge topic and is among the top three concerns by most creative production teams.
“There are guidelines and rules set out by industry groups in order to best meet the security guidelines,” Tallamy says. “We implement our EditShare EFS auditing platform across all craft editing platforms, enabling you to secure your content and offer peace of mind for creatives that their content is always kept safe, whether it’s on premise, in the cloud or anywhere in between.”
Speaking for Envoi, Stokes maintains that cloud workflows are often more secure than on-premise as there is no physical presence to be accessed.
“Cloud providers, such as AWS, ensure maximum security and we also integrate with Teradici to ensure secure access to a virtual workstation environment using Teradici Cloud Access,” Stokes says.
Thompson says an early partnership with Microsoft produced a significant milestone for cloud workflows for everyone in the industry.
“In general, media companies are becoming more comfortable with not only letting their content sit in the cloud, but also moving and editing content via the cloud,” he says. “When we talk to our customers about some of the major corporations who have entrusted their media in the cloud with us, it tends to put them at ease.”
How Do You Select the Right Software?
Tallamy believes that a great craft editor works with proxy-based content, a media-engineered file system that works in the cloud and enables teams to share projects and content.
“Bin locking and, of course, a media management system, such as EditShare’s Flow media asset management platform, enables the proxy creation, indexing, meta-tagging and delivery of finished files,” he says. “Choosing the right cloud provider that is agile is paramount in making a successful deployment. We are also seeing remote desktop technologies such as Teradici being utilized.”
Stokes adds that cloud storage is needed so that content can reside in the cloud no matter what stage it is in. Secondly, cloud-based media management, such as iconik, enables the user to easily discover, manage, and collaborate on creative work, and a PCoIP management console, such as from Teradici, supports access to high-quality content from low-cost remote computers.
Finally, he suggests a platform that ties that all together to enable cloud-based content management, distribution, and monetization. “That is where Envoi comes in.”
Avid customers will need Media Composer and Avid NEXIS file system running in Azure, according to Thompson.
“Running NEXIS in the cloud allows you to have a tiered storage system for online, nearline, and backup/archive using the NEXIS management console,” he says. “Because of the work we’ve done with Microsoft, we can facilitate editing in the cloud—even for high-res mezzanine-level content—and do so in a variety of different scenarios that others can’t do today. You will also need file-based transfer software to get content in and out of the cloud, as well as PC over IP software to virtualize the application running in the cloud so it remains accessible from a web browser.”
What About a Hybrid Model—Using Cloud and On-Prem?
Stokes believes it is certainly feasible to do so.
“But if you are still using on-premise you are still suffering the drawbacks that presents, such as rapidly obsolete hardware and the need for large infrastructure,” he says. “It also increases the complexity and makes it harder to enable global collaboration on all video content.”
Tallamy says Editshare has many clients today working in a hybrid model environment.
“Particularly in sports and production, the benefits are immense, both with time and savings across the board from logistics to accommodation, flights and technical equipment shipping, the cost savings can offer a real boost to the bottom line,” he says.
Thompson adds: “The great thing about a hybrid solution is that regardless of what you’re doing and where you are, you don’t need to know where that content lives. A good hybrid model will allow you to focus on creativity and worry less about the technology behind it. Having a hybrid model means that you can always access content that’s sitting on-prem, even if you’re not connected to the internet. The fact that content lives in both places and is backed up to the nth degree—not just in the cloud—gives you unparalleled security.”
This article originally appeared in TVBEurope.