Ever-increasing demand for content. Ineffective legacy technology. Remote collaboration challenges. Difficulty scaling up. These are just some of the big issues facing the media industry today.
MovieLabs — a technology joint venture of the major Hollywood studios, including Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures — says that our industry is at a crossroads. There is a time-critical need for executives to become more aware of supporting the future of media creation and to invest in it. So, they have written an Urgent Memo to the C-Suite: Investing In Production Technology and Cloud Centricity Is No Longer An Option — It is Table Stakes.
MovieLabs has already developed a roadmap to creating the next-generation ecosystem for media creation. Its 2030 Vision describes technological advances that will enable seismic changes in media workflows and proposes ten foundational principles as keys to that future. MovieLabs published case studies of technology solutions that fulfil one or more of those principles from AWS, Skywalker Sound, Walt Disney Studios, Sony, PFT, Overcast and ProductionPro. Overcast provides Full Stack Video Management that radically improves cloud production and post-production workflows through automation and simplification.
This article delves into the trends and strategic imperatives outlined in MovieLabs’ Urgent Memo to the C Suite and reveals how the Cloud MAM solution that Overcast designed for Britain’s Royal Opera House fulfills those strategic imperatives.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the five key trends that MovieLabs identifies as having a significant impact on media creation and that underpin the need for commitment, support and investment in cloud-centric production technologies and secure, interoperable workflows.
Trend 1: There is a growing urgency for scaled high-quality global content production.
Traditionally, Hollywood content was distributed in overseas territories. However, streamers have tapped into a growing appetite amongst viewers for local language and local cultural content. Such content is created by local production companies, but the streamers’ workflows and quality requirements are foreign to many of these companies, which creates problems.
Trend 2: As release windows are evolving, distribution models are no longer one size fits all.
The success of a movie used to hinge on its opening weekend box office. However, the pandemic ushered in a new era of hybrid release strategies, such as ‘day-and-date’ (where a film is simultaneously released in cinemas and on streaming platforms), shorter exclusive theatrical runs, and direct-to-consumer distribution. These have a major impact on production, post production and delivery supply chains.
Trend 3: Productions are becoming more complex — what we did in the past won’t work in the future.
With a wealth of cameras, creative tools and new production processes (such as virtual production), film/TV/video production is becoming more complex. We’re in a new era of “snowflake workflows”, whereby technological and creative innovations make each workflow unique…like the individual shape of a snowflake. While this is fantastic for content creators, the increasing complexity of workflows coupled with the challenges of global distribution and teams working remotely means that current practices just won’t and can’t scale.
Trend 4: Connected, creative remote collaboration has become the new normal, and it’s here to stay.
The pandemic was a baptism of fire for film, TV and video teams who were accustomed to collaborating in purpose-built spaces but were suddenly thrust into a situation where they had to work from home and collaborate virtually. But, despite the initial shockwaves, it has turned out to be a positive change. Creatives have more flexibility in where to work and this production style will drive efficiency. Cloud-enabled collaboration tools will be the key to scaling global productions.
Trend 5: Technology is evolving extremely fast, and the vendor landscape is being disrupted.
An increasingly-connected production ecosystem is migrating to the cloud while traditional methods of post production are consolidating and contracting. Virtual production technologies and the democratization of tools have created new “pop up” services, thus disrupting the vendor landscape. Cheaper cloud-based business models are enabling new start ups to avoid the enormous capital expenditure required in years gone by and facilitates the ‘rental’ of tools, tech and talent as needed.
How is media creation evolving?
The future of content creation is full of exciting opportunities! But, according to MovieLabs’ Urgent Memo to the C-Suite:
“We must design, create and implement a future-facing technical pipeline to address the real challenges and opportunities to produce content at quality, scale and across production locations and global markets.”
So, back to the MovieLabs 2030 Vision. As we move towards realizing it, there are three strategic imperatives that underpin the operational, financial and strategic planning at all media organizations. Let’s unpack them and examine how Overcast’s Cloud MAM solution for the Royal Opera House (ROH) fulfill those imperatives.
1. Planning a
cloud multi-cloud strategy
Moving to the cloud is the foundation of achieving media creation at scale. Benefits include almost unlimited storage and computer resources, a pay-as-you-go business model, and a creative collaboration environment that eliminates the unnecessary duplication of media assets. This “single source of truth” principle is central to Overcast’s media management platform.
But MovieLabs deems that cloud is not enough anymore. It’s time to move to ‘multi-cloud’ (multiple vendors and a vast number of interconnected tools and workflows). This is essential to complex content creation at scale and the ability to pivot creative and distribution strategies and choices.
One of the foundational principles of MovieLabs’ 2030 Vision states that assets go to the cloud and stay there, with applications coming to the media. Today’s workflows span multiple facilities and move assets between organizations and public/private clouds. To benefit from scalability, speed and flexibility in a multi-cloud world, studios must collaborate with industry stakeholders — including cloud providers — to create open interfaces that connect silos.
Overcast enabled ROH to adopt a cloud-first strategy, which has delivered more efficient ways of working: reviewing live rehearsals in real-time remotely; automatically time-coding editorial reviews and approvals for ease of decision making; providing secure role-based permissions for freelancers and ad-hoc users; and the integration or phased shuttering of legacy on-premise technology solutions.
Through Overcast’s Cloud MAM solution, ROH created a single repository for video content across all of its constituencies (the Royal Opera House, The Royal Ballet and the ROH Orchestra). All of the ROH editors and producers work from that single repository and can stream content to both internal and external audiences by publishing links to it. A major advantage is that the system is easy to use for non-technical collaborators (dancers, singers, clients, sponsors).
2. Adopting a new approach to security
Erecting a fence and installing CCTV at your premises is a logical approach to security…except if all of your content is hosted in the cloud by third parties. So, how do we protect cloud-native workflows? We need a new security mindset.
Overcast’s Cloud MAM enables ROH to give authorized users searchable access to their library of assets and the ability to share retrieved content by emailing links to other authorized users, such as dance notation experts who work all over the world. The ability to share assets securely has enabled new remote workflows that save on in-person or travel costs.
3. Enabling flexible workflows with increased automation and interoperability
Time is of the essence when turning around creative projects. But precious time can be wasted if your teams’ remote collaboration isn’t optimal. Production workflows must become more flexible, extensible and easier to assemble.
Automating simple tasks saves productions oodles of time. Overcast has integrated AWS AI tools such as Transcribe, Translate, and Recognition for metadata tagging and subsequent search and retrieval. In its Cloud MAM for ROH, these tools automate metadata tagging for bulk ingest, including tagging of musical scores, leading players, and video attributes, freeing up editors from these mundane tasks and allowing them instead to weave their creative magic into the edit.
Future-proofing media management
Overcast believes that managing video files should be as easy as managing a Word document. Its cloud native Full Stack Video Management is simple to use, secure, and empowers teams to make, share and publish more content, faster. Overcast echoes MovieLab’s call for commitment, support and investment by C-Suite executives and also its vision of a studio and industry ecosystem that will more readily enable future content forms and business opportunities.
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Whatever challenges you are having with managing your media projects, especially video, Overcast can improve your workflow and save you time and money. We would be delighted to give you a free demo of our platform. Click here to request a demo.