This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Record.
Virtualising content production through cloud-based solutions offers many benefits: access to the best talent regardless of location; increased agility and scalability; and the ability to produce and distribute more immersive, dynamic and relevant content. Access to content anytime and anywhere also extends to consumers. Cloud workflows keep consumers connected, content more engaging and personalised, and brands competitive.
Delivering on the cloud’s promise is all about abstracting a system’s physical components, such as storage, networking, computing, tools, facilities and files, into pools of logical components that can be flexibly arranged and accessed. For large media organisations, the role of the cloud and virtualisation has been focused around connecting content pipelines, sharing resources and higher utilisation. For media production, the cloud is central to collaboration and asset centralisation, function virtualisation and remote production capabilities, while reducing hardware and capital expenses.
The process starts with an open and connected media platform like Avid’s MediaCentral, which is optimised for cloud and collaboration and enables content creation, distribution and monetisation. The MediaCentral Cloud UX portal takes that capability even further, giving easy access to projects, tasks, media and other tools through a simple, user-friendly graphical interface. Available as a web client and mobile apps, it simplifies complex media production workflows. Media services can be shared across the production ecosystem, client applications can be accessed from any device or operating system, and integrated, end-to-end workflows can be deployed across enterprises, around the world and everywhere in between – via the cloud.
Keeping connected to meet demands that range from viewing dailies from an African film shoot to laying down tracks in London to covering a football match in Rio requires the cloud computing support of Microsoft Azure. Together, Avid and Microsoft are making the cloud’s benefits available to all, easily and cost effectively.
One way to see the cloud’s power at work is for breaking news. Imagine an event like the recent eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. As soon as teams on the ground gather footage of lava flowing, that footage must get to affiliates immediately. Through MediaCentral Cloud UX, users everywhere have a unified view of all media, regardless of where it’s stored, where they’re located, or what device they’re using.
From there, users can access different apps to complete required tasks, like browsing, logging, searching and editing. They can monitor ongoing processes or publish content to social media and preview how a post will look across platforms.
With Azure, it’s easy to get content securely into the cloud and make it available around the globe. Once on the platform, anyone can access content, work with it, repurpose it, and publish it across any of their distribution platforms.
Now, let’s imagine an affiliate on the west coast wants to broaden the volcano story and see how people are interacting on social media. Avid’s ecosystem of apps, services and solutions further taps into the power of the cloud. With x.news, an Avid alliance partner, journalists, directors, and producers can watch as a story develops and incorporate related social media into their coverage. The app integrates all posts about the volcano story – including Facebook, Twitter, websites and news agencies – so users can choose which to integrate into their story.
Avid On Demand cloud services and solutions are an extension of the app ecosystem, allowing media organisations to easily deploy required capabilities on a per-project basis with optimal elasticity – and without a drawn-out deployment phase or large capital outlay.
One such service is Avid AI, which uses machine learning to automate content indexing and provides unprecedented accuracy for facial and scene recognition. A combination of Avid tools and Microsoft Cognitive Services solutions, it gives flexibility to enhance and create searchable content accessible from MediaCentral.
You can search for a specific word or phrase in an audio clip. So, when you search for ‘volcano’ not only do you get volcano footage, but you can also hear where the reporter says the word. You can search a person’s name, metadata, audio, faces or text on the screen to locate what’s needed almost instantly.
Avid’s cloud-powered platform doesn’t just apply to news and broadcast applications. It can also transform documentary and feature film workflows.
Today’s exploding OTT market and the rise of Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services requires closed captioning and language verification as well as content distribution in multiple formats – and sometimes multiple languages – which is then discoverable online. A time-intensive process but one that can be automated with MediaCentral and cloud services.
Uploaded content is automatically encoded and packaged for both on-demand and live streaming delivery. Functions like captioning verification, video description and languages are all handled by Avid Illuminate On Demand. Results can be tracked directly in MediaCentral Cloud UX, saving the time, expense and stress of content validation.
Best of all, these services can be triggered on-demand when needed. Avid services like Editorial on Demand, mean users only pay for what they use. When it’s not in use, they’re not being charged. It also eliminates the need for expensive hardware.
We’ve arrived at the reality of full-scale media production in the cloud. Companies can make the most of new monetisation and distribution capabilities as they connect with audiences in more powerful, memorable, and profitable ways. All of this is achieved at scale while offering the ease-of-use vital to inherently complex productions.
Craig Dwyer is senior director for Avid’s Global Centre of Excellence
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