In broadcast television, the pace of change has accelerated tremendously in the past decade — some might say faster than broadcasters can keep up.
One reason is because economies of scale in consumer hardware are driving down costs. For example, camera phones have long outsold professional cameras. The volume of smartphones has increased a thousand fold in the past decade, allowing research and development costs to be amortised across millions of units. So even though smartphones use small, relatively cheap lenses and sensors, manufacturers have been able to increase resolution and quality significantly over the past decade, making professional-grade cameras available at consumer-level prices. The result is that the ability to produce broadcast quality content is available to virtually anyone and the tools available to edit and publish that content is quickly evolving past the desktop workstation and to the cloud at a similar pace.
As new technology forces more and more of the broadcast workflow into the cloud, little more than a modest computer and an Internet connection is needed to be able to create in the cloud. Processor speed, file size, and security are no longer issues. Now, instead of transitioning to newer and newer generations of hardware, we’re moving from one IT solution to another.
Nowhere is this notion more apparent than in post-production. Every calculation or data fetch in post-production that is currently carried out on a local PC could be carried out in the cloud.
What makes the Cloud suited for post-production?
Just as large-scale suppliers provide electricity more economically, processing and storage requirements can often be met more economically by cloud services. And just as electricity comes to us directly via connection to a power grid, data comes directly to a computer via connection to the Internet. In addition, cloud services from different providers interact through automated interfaces, providing a highly flexible way of using different suppliers throughout the workflow.
However, when it comes to video post-production, not just any cloud service will do. Generic cloud-computing providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, are built for IT and consumer data rather than the voluminous data associated with broadcast video. The requirements for editing video are onerous, with large amounts of data needing real-time response. Rendering effects and transitions in a generic cloud environment would be expensive, and the unresponsiveness would be frustrating for users that are accustomed to desktop solutions. Building a broadcast post-production operation on a generic cloud infrastructure would be far too expensive and completely unreasonable.
Look out for part 2 in the New Year!