As part of its plan to allow the Hollywood studios it represents to move production workflows into the cloud, Motion Pictures Laboratories (MovieLabs) has published tools to help developers and producers create and communicate workflows in a way that can be implemented and understood across the industry.
The initiatives include the first version of a common ontology and a first release of a Visual Language for Media Creation.
The Ontology for Media Creation
MovieLabs explains that the need for a common ontology has been driven by the complexity of media creation, in which different production participants and software tools rely on unique sets of concepts with various definitions. This, it says, risks introducing confusion and error when the same word has different meanings in different contexts or tools.
The Ontology for Media Creation (OMC) provides a conceptual framework and a set of defined terms to enable both people and software to communicate unambiguously with greater data interoperability.
“Software-defined workflows are a fundamental part of the 2030 Vision which MovieLabs launched two years ago, envisioning a future where all production processes take place in the cloud with streamlined and more efficient creative workflows,” commented MovieLabs CEO Richard Berge in a news release.
“In order for software-defined workflows to be integrated into the production process, all pieces of the workflow need to communicate with each other in a predictable manner. We created the ontology to aid the communication between humans, machines and automated processes. The adoption of the ontology will deliver consistent communications which will save time within the production process and also reduce the chance of misinterpretation and error.”
Visual Language for Media Creation
Building on the OMC, the Visual Language for Media Creation (VLMC) is a set of mechanisms and conventions for human-to-human and machine-to-human illustration of elements in a media workflow.
“Technical diagrams can differ greatly between organizations, and sometimes even within the same organization,” Berger explained in a separate news release. “We found so much confusion and wasted time happening when describing workflows created by different contributors. We designed the Visual Language with the input of the industry to establish common conventions for describing and literally drawing workflows. While we were primarily focused on media creation, we have found it to be useful for diagramming a wide range of workflows including distribution. It’s an important step for the industry to get on the same page on how to communicate consistently.”
READ MORE: MovieLabs Releases a Visual Language for Media Creation to Enable Consistent Illustration of Creative Workflows (MovieLabs)
The Visual Language includes documentation, visual elements (in various file formats), best practices and examples. It also includes a first wave of icons for commonly used industry terms e.g., scene, take, slate and prop. The package is available on the MovieLabs website under a creative commons license allowing any organization to download and implement and/or modify them.
Its use is voluntary but has the backing and input of DreamWorks Animation, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.
“We are all familiar with the term ‘snowflake workflows’ in production and the challenges that it presents, but the VLMC is able to provide a standardized way of expressing those workflows, so that we can remove the ambiguity from the ways people like to express the methods of production,” commended Bill Baggelaar, EVP & CTO, Technology Development, Sony Pictures Entertainment and EVP & GM, Sony Innovation Studios, in the press release. “By providing a consistent and robust model for workflow design, everyone can be on the same page quickly.”
Shadi Almassizadeh, VP, Motion Picture Architecture and Engineering, Walt Disney Studios, agrees: “We were frustrated with the lack of standard conventions for workflow representation. When looking at applications from different companies, many hours have been wasted learning new visual languages each time. By standardizing how we all draw these diagrams, we can cut down on ambiguity and inconsistences and focus on other substantive issues.”
For Paramount Pictures, Tony Guarino, EVP, Worldwide Technical Operations, declared: “Having a unique set of iconography for the creative industries at last allows us to use common shortcuts for regularly used items of equipment, tasks or participants in our diagrams.”
- Content Creation
- Acquisition and Production
- Management and Systems
- Industry Resources
- Post Production
- Workflow Software and Solutions
- Workflow Software and Solutions / Systems Integration
- Research / Data Science, Analytics, Data Visualizations
- Animation and VFX / 3D Graphics
- Digital Intermediate
- Workflow Solutions