An Intro To Using The Cloud For Post Production

– On this episode of “5THINGS” we gonna get high in the clouds, with aprimer on using the cloud for all things post production. This is gonna be a monster episode, so we better get started. (intense upbeat music) Hello and welcome to anotherepisode of “5 THINGS” a web series dedicated to answering the five burning techquestions that you have about technologies and workflows in the media creation space. Plus, tech stuff I dig, and how it's used. I'm still your host Michael Kammes. I hate the name, but I love the tech: the raw horsepower andflexibility found in the cloud is increasingly becoming alarger part of post-production. But where exactly does it fit in? And how can you start using it? Fear not my friends, I'vegot this handy dandy guide on what is possible today foryou to start using the cloud on your next project.(intense upbeat music) We in the Hollywood postindustry are risk averse. Yes, it's true, my family,look in the mirror, take a good hard lookand realize this truism. Take the hit. This is mainly because folks who make a living in post production rely on predictable timetablesand airtight outcomes. Deviating from this causes apotentially missed delivery or airdate, additional costson an already tight budget, and, quite frankly, more stress. Now, the cloud is still new-ish, and virtually all post tasks can be accomplished on-premises. So why on earth should weadopt something we can't see, let alone touch? You got the touch You got the power – Incorporating thecloud into your workflow gives us a ton of advantages.For one, we're not limitedto the one or two computers available to us locally. This gives us what I liketo call parallel creation, where we can multitask across multiple computers simultaneously. Powerful computers. I'm talking exaFlops, zettaFlops,and someday, yottaFlops of processing power, andthat have more flopping power than that overclocked frankenputersitting in your closet. Yeah, I said it. Flopping power. – [Retro Game Announcer] Flopping Power. – It's also mostly affordable and getting cheaper very quickly. To be clear, I'm not tellingyou that post production is to be done only onpremises or only in the cloud, most workflows willalways incorporate both.That being said, thecloud isn't for everyone. If you have more time than money, well then relying onyour aging local machines may be the best economical choice. If your internet connectionis more 1999 than 2019, then the time spent uploadingand downloading media may be prohibitive. This is one reason I'mreally jazzed about 5G, but that's another episode. Now, let's look at some scenarios where the cloud may benefityour post production process. (intense upbeat music) Alright, let's start small. I guarantee all of you have used some form ofcloud transfer service and are storing at leastsomething in the cloud. This can take the form of filesharing and sync applications like Dropbox, transfersites like WeTransfer, enterprise solutionslike Aspera, Signiant, or File Catalyst, or even that antiquated, nearly 50-year-old format known as FTP. (gasps) Short of sending yourfootage via snail mail or handcuffing it to someonewhile they hop on a plane, using the internet tostore and transfer data is a common solution. The cloud offers numerous benefits.First is what we call the “five nines”, or 99.999% availability. This means that the storage in the cloud is always available and with no errors, with a max downtime of aboutfive and a half minutes a year. In the cloud, five ninesis often considered the bare minimum. Companies like Backblazeclaim eleven nines. This is considerably morerobust than, let's say, that spinning disk youhave sitting on your shelf. In fact, almost a quarterof all spinning hard drives fail in their first four years. Yeah. I completely get the factthat the subscription or rental model is ahighly divisive subject, and at the end of the day, well, that's what thecloud storage model is. But you can't deny that the cost that you get to spread out over years, also known as OpEx, oroperating expenditure, is a bit more flexible and robust than the one time buy out of storage, also known as CapEx,or capital expenditure. Which brings us to the next point, what are the differences between the various cloud storage options? Well, that deserves itsown “5 THINGS” episode, but the two main points you need to know is that the pricing modelcovers availability, or how quickly you can access the storage and read and write fromit, and throughput, or how fast you canupload and download to it.Slower storage is cheaper, and normal internet uploadand download speeds are inline with what the storage can provide. Fast storage, that is, storage that gives you Gigabits persecond for cloud editing with high IOPs, can be severalhundred dollars a month per usable terabyte. (holiday jingle music) – A new hard drive? With unlimited storage? – [Together] No way! – This is why cloud storage is often used as a transfer medium, or asa backup or archive solution rather than a real time editing platform. However, with the move tomore cloud based applications, the need for fasterstorage will be necessary. With private clouds and datalakes popping up all over, the cost for cloud storagewill continue to drop, much like the harddrives cost per terabyte has dropped over the past several years. Cloud storage also has the added benefit of allowing work outside of your office and collaborating in real time without having to be withinthe four walls of your company. Often, high-end firewallsand security, are, well, highly priced, and your company may not have that infrastructure, or the IT talent to takeon such an endeavor.Relying on the cloud for that security is built into your monthly cloud price. Plus, most security breaches or hacks are due to human erroror social engineering, not a fault of the security itself. Cloud storage also abstractsthe physical location of your stored content from your business, making unauthorized accessand physical attacks that much harder. (intense upbeat music) The next logical step inutilizing cloud resources is to offload the heavylifting of your project that requires Flopping Power. – [Retro Game Announcer] Flopping Power. – The smart folks workingin animation and VFX have been doing this for years. Rendering 100,000 frames, aboutan hour's worth of material, depending on your frame rate, across hundreds or thousands of processors is gonna be finished much faster than across the handful ofprocessors that you have locally. It's also a hellova lot cheaper to spin up machines as needed then buying all the horsepoweroutright for your suite. Before you begin, you need to determine what you're creating your models in and if cloud rendering is even an option.Typical creative environments that support cloud rendering workflows include tools like 3DS Max, Maya, Houdini, among several others. Next is identifying the CSP,or cloud service provider, in this case, the big three: Microsoft Azure, Amazon WebServices, or Google Cloud that support a render farm in the cloud. Once you have your CSP selected, a user establishes a secureconnection to that CSP, usually via a VPN, orvirtual private network. A VPN adds an encrypted layer of security between your machine and the CSP. It also allows provides a direct pipe to send and receive data to your local machines and your CSP. From here, a queuing and render management software is needed. This is what schedules therenders across multiple machines and ensures each machine isgetting the data it needs to crunch in the mostefficient way possible. Deadline and Tractor are popular options. What this software also doesis orchestrate media movement between on premises, the storage stagingarea before the render, and where the rendered media ends up. Next, the render farm machinesrun specialized software to render your chosen sequence. This can be V-Ray, Arnold,RenderMan among many others.Once these frames are rendered and added back to the collective sequence, the file is delivered. I know, this can get daunting, which is why productionstraditionally have a VFX or Animation Pipeline Developer. They devise and optimize the workflows so costs are kept down, butthe deadlines are still hit. – No movie is ever finished,it just gets released. – This hybrid methodologyobviously blends creation and artistry on premises, with heavy lifting done in the cloud.However, there is a moreall-in-one solution, and that's doing everything in the cloud. The VFX artist works with avirtual machine in the cloud, which has all of the flopping power. – [Retro Game Announcer] Flopping Power. – Immediately available. The application and media are directly connectedto the virtual machine. Companies like BeBopTechnology have been doing this with apps like Blender, Maya, 3DS Max, After Effects, and more. Disclaimer, I work for BeBop,because I love their tech. Transcoding, on the otherhand, is a much more common way of using the horsepower of the cloud. As an example, ever seen theprocessing message on YouTube? Yeah, that's YouTube transcodingthe files you've uploaded to various quality formats. How this can be beneficial for you are for your deliverables. In today's VOD landscape,creating multiple formats for various outlets is commonplace.Each VOD provider hasthe formats they prefer and often are not shyabout rejecting your file. Don't take it personally,often their playout and delivery systems function based on the files they receive being in a particular and exact format. The hitch here is metadata. Just using flopping power– – [Retro Game Announcer] Go flop yourself. – To flip the file doesn'tdeliver all of the ancillary data that more and more outlets want. This can be captioning, variouslanguages or alt angles, descriptive text, colorinformation and more. Metadata resides in differentlocations within the file, whether it be an MP4, MOV, MXF, IMF, or any other of the container formats. Many outlets also ask forspecialized sidecar XML files. I cannot overstate how importantthis metadata mapping is, and how often this is overlooked. (intense upbeat music) We have a ton of ground to cover here, so I'll be fairly topical.However, a future “5 THINGS” episode will certainly dive in even deeper. – It means, buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye. (thunder growls) – Audio and video editing, let alone audio mixing andvideo grading and finishing, are the holy grail for cloudcomputing in Post Production. Namely, because these processes require human interaction at every step. Add an edit, a keyframe, or a fader touch all require the user tohave constant and repeatable communication with the creative tool. Cloud computing, if not done properly, can add unacceptable latency, as the user needs to waitfor the keypress locally to be reflected remotely. This can be infuriating for creatives. A tenth of a secondcan mean the difference between creativity and carnage. There are a few ways to tackle editing when not all of thehardware, software, or media is local to you, and sometimes you can use multiple approaches togetherfor a hybrid approach.First, we have the private cloud, which can be your own little data center, serving up the media as live proxy streams to a remote creative witha typical editing machine. True remote editing. Next, have the all-in approach, have everything, and Imean absolutely everything, virtualized in the cloud. The software application, thestorage, and you access it all through a basic computer orwhat we call a zero client.Lastly, we have the hybrid approach. Serve up media in the cloud to a watered-down web page based editor on your local machine. Each have their pros and cons. Both Avid and Adobe have had versions of an on-premises server serving up proxies to remoteediting systems for many years. The on-prem server, a private cloud for allintents and purposes, serves out proxy streams of media for use natively withinan Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere Prosystem connected remotely. Adobe called it Adobe Anywhere, and today the application is nowhere. The expensive product wasshelved after a few years. Avid, however, is still doing this today, using a mix of many Avid solutions, including the productformerly known as Interplay, now called Media Central,plus a few add-on modules, along with a Media ComposerCloud Remote license. It's expensive, usually over $100,000. Back to Adobe, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention thirdparty asset management systems that carry on the Adobe Anywhere approach. Solutions like Editmatefrom Arvato Bertelsmann, or Curator from IPV areoptions, but are based around their enterpriseasset management systems, so don't expect the price tagto be anything but enterprise.Next is the all-in cloud approach, meaning your NLE and all of the supporting software tools and hardware and storage, are running in a VM, a virtual machine, in a nearby data center. This brings you the best of both worlds. Your local machine is simply a window into the cloud-hosted VM, which brings you all thebenefits of the cloud, presented in a familiarway: a computer desktop. And you don't have the expensive internal infrastructure to manage. This is tricky though, ascreatives need low latency, and geographical distancecan be challenging if not done right. A few companies are accomplishing this, using robust screenshareprotocols and nearby data centers. Avid has Media Composerand NEXIS running on Azure and will be available with Avid's new Edit on Demand product. BeBop Technology isaccomplishing the same thing, but with dozens of VFX and editorial apps, including Avid and Premiere. Disclaimer, I still work for BeBop. Because their technology is the shit. Some companies haveinvestigated a novel approach: why not let creativeswork in a web browser to ensure cross platform availability, and to work without the proprietary nature that all NLEs inherently have? This is a gutsy approach, as most creatives preferto work within the tools they've become skilled in.However, less intensive creative tasks, like string-outs or pullingselects performed by users who may not be full-timepower editors is an option. Avid adds some of this functionality into their newer EditorialManagement product. Another popular choice for webbrowser editing is Blackbird, formerly known as FORSceneby Forbidden Technology. This paradigm is probably the weakest for you pro editors out there. I don't know about you, butI wanna work in the tools I've spent years getting better at. Audio, my first love, has some way to go. While basic audio in anNLE can be accomplished with the methods I just outlined, emulating pro post audiotools can be challenging. Audio is measured in samples. Audio sampled at 48k is actually 48,000individual samples a second. Compare this to 24 to 60frames a second for video, and you can see why precision is needed when working with it.This is one reason the big DAW companies don't yet sanction runningtheir apps in the cloud. Creative work withlatency by remote machines at the sample level makes this a clunky and ultimately unrewarding workflow. – And he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress. – Pro Tools Cloud is sorta hybrid, allowing near real time collaboration of audio tracks and projects. However, the audio processing and editing is still performed locally. On to Finishing and ColorGrading in the cloud. Often these tasks requirea ton of horsepower. And you'd think the cloudwould be great for that! And it will be someday. These processes normallyrequire the high res or the source media, not proxies. This means the high resmedia has to be viewed by the finishing or color grade artist. These leaves us with one ortwo unacceptable conditions: One, cloud storage that canalso play the high res content is prohibitively expensive, and two, there isn't a way to transmit high res media streams in real time to be viewed and thus graded without unacceptable visual compression.But NDI you cry! Yes my tech lover, we'llcover that in another episode. While remote grading withcloud media is not quite there, remote viewing is a bit more manageable. And we'll cover that now. (intense upbeat music) Review and approve is oneof the greatest achievements of the internet era for post production. Leveraging the internet and data centers to house your latest project for feedback is now commonplace. This can be something assimple as pushing to YouTube or Vimeo or shootingsomeone a Dropbox link. While this has made collaboration without geographic borders possible, most solutions rely on asynchronous review and approve, that is, you push a filesomewhere, you wait, someone watches it, your wait, and then they give feedback. Real time collaboration, orsynchronous review and approve, meaning the creative stakeholders are all watching the samething and at the same time, is a bit harder to do. As I mentioned earlier, real-time, high-fidelity video streaming can cause artifacts, out ofsync audio, reduced frame rates, and all of this can takethe user out of the moment. This is where more expensive solutions that are more in line withvideo conferencing surface, popular examples includeSohonet's Clearview Flex, Streambox, or the newer Evercast solution.Now, NDI holds a great deal of promise. And as I already said, we'llcover that in another episode. – Stop say that! – Back to non-real time,asynchronous review and approve: the compromises with workingin an asynchronous fashion are slowly being eroded awayby the bells and whistles on top of the basicpremise of sharing a file with someone who isn't local to you. is dominating in this space, with plug-ins and extensions for access from right within your NLE, a desktop app for fast media transfers, plus their web pagereview and approve process which is by far the best out there.(clears throat) Wiredrive and Kollaborateare other popular choices, also offering web pagereview and approve options. I'm also a very big fan ofhaving your asset management tied into your asynchronousreview and approve process. This allows permitted folksto see even more content and have any changes or notes tracked within one application. Many enterprise DAMshave this functionality. A non-enterprise favorite of mine is CatDV who has these tools built in, as well as Akomi byNorth Shore Automation, which has an even slicker implementation and the ability to run in the cloud.As a bonus cloud tool, I'malso a big fan of Endcrawl, an online site thatgenerates credit crawls for your projects without thetraditional visual jitteriness from your NLE, and the inevitable problems of 37 credit revisions. The cloud will play a massive part in post production moving forward, so expect more videos ascloud technology changes. Do you have more cloud concerns other than just these five questions? Ask me in the comments section. Also, please subscribe andshare this tech goodness with the rest of your techie friends. It's a great holiday dinner table topic. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out via text or email or shared my last personal video.It means more than you'll know. Until the next episode,learn more, do more. Thanks for watching..

pexels photo 6510369

As found on YouTube


You May Also Like