The production ecology has definitely shifted from on-premises to remote in the space of 18 months. Distributed workflows for live events in particular are the new norm. Avid’s contention is that production environments have also relocated irreversibly to the cloud.
The basis of its technology is Edit on Demand, the company’s first SaaS offering for turn-key editorial in the cloud. This allows users to add capacity quickly on a pay-as-you-go basis, taking advantage of the elasticity and scalability of the cloud for allowing distributed teams to work on the same project from anywhere there is an internet connection. Specifically, Avid works with the Microsoft Azure cloud and supported NBC in its Olympics coverage.
As broadcasters migrate toward models that leverage IP (4G and 5G LTE, or Wi-Fi), they can cover far more with significantly less. What used to require a truck with multiple people, a satellite connection, a camera crew, and a reporter can now be accomplished by a lone reporter equipped with just a tablet.
The transition to remote workflows has understandably raised numerous questions across the industry, which until recently relied heavily on well-equipped, expensive studio setups and on-site collaboration across large teams. One of the big questions now becomes “How do you get 40-50 TBs of content out to users working on home internet connections while enabling them to maintain the same collaborative, effective production?”
In a white paper written with PCoIP vendor Teradici, Avid explains how it can distribute cloud host content from an existing on-prem studio environment, to an at-home office, to out in the field.
It claims to provide an exceptional experience even from home-based internet, without the need for a massive data pipeline and with minimal latency — a mere 40-50 milliseconds.
For scenarios that utilize UHD content at higher bit rates and resolutions, users can leverage Microsoft’s ExpressRoute, which provides a direct connection to the cloud to speed up the connection process. It will soon be possible for personal devices to contribute to cloud environments leveraging standard internet connections (and SRT and other industry standard protocols), converting and delivering content in a broadcast-quality stream that can be accessed in an Avid cloud production environment.
Avid also knocks the idea of content security on the head. Despite cloud gaining traction pre-COVID, the fear lingered that non-prem environments were not secure. “But the truth is, cloud environments are now as secure — if not more so — than traditional on-prem environments,” Avid states. “Microsoft Azure provide security capabilities that mimic or improve upon on-prem environments.”
READ MORE: The Distributed Production Environment – How Cloud Technology Will Reshape Media Creation and Delivery (Avid)
Additionally, not all studios or broadcasters have the same needs. While some want to free editors from constraints while working remotely, on the flip side are those that want to constrain editors from freely taking and potentially distributing content. Avid says it provides flexible security that can be dialed up or dialed down depending on the individual requirements.
The paper includes an example of remote distributed post in action at Gorilla TV, a UK-based full-service post house with three separate locations running more than 100 Avid systems. Prior to the pandemic, Gorilla TV had already been testing a demo of Avid Edit on Demand. Yet the rapid shift to work-from-home accelerated the need to adopt a full implementation that would enable all editors to work remotely without disruption.
“In Wales and the UK, in general we don’t have great connectivity at home, yet everything works very well with the technology that we’re using,” says Richard Moss, Gorilla’s MD. Apparently many editors often don’t even realize they are working in the cloud — they feel as though they are still remote accessing the on-prem system. One of them, Alun Edwards, says, “You forget that it’s a virtual PC, you forget that you’re streaming media from the cloud.”