This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.
Prolific, on-demand and instant – in the Netflix age, these are basic consumer expectations for media and entertainment (M&E) content, driving companies to produce and release ever-more content, more quickly. To do that, companies are looking to onboard high-class artistic talent quickly and provide workstations that deliver an exceptional user experience and the highest performance, whether working remotely or onsite. In this environment, the rise of virtual studios is enabling companies to accommodate geographic flexibility, leverage lower-cost regions and tax incentives, and retain talent outside of central locations.
But the industry faces unique challenges. The extreme-value intellectual property M&E companies deal with is subject to attack from ideologically motivated actors or pirate merchandising. To minimise threats, production studios, the Content Delivery & Security Association, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Trusted Partner Network put stringent controls on studio security policies to protect access to intellectual property. Unless implemented correctly, allowing collaboration on content increases the security risk.
Massive file sizes and data repositories present more hurdles. Transferring files from an artist endpoint to a processing resource such as a render farm, or to another endpoint such as a review station, hinders the ability to iterate quickly on content and increases security risks. The optimum solution is a secure content network with direct high-performance network access to render farms and virtualised workstations.
Teradici Cloud Access Software meets the strict security demands imposed on post-production studios, while offering centralised workstation architectures in any Microsoft Azure region worldwide. This enables studios to provide creative professionals the latest CPU, GPU and cloud render technologies, allowing them to work with emerging standards and new media formats at high frame rates with the same user experience as if they were working locally.
London-based VFX and animation studio Jellyfish Pictures, for example, is pioneering virtual studios supported by solutions including Teradici Cloud Access Software. Built on PCoIP technology, the software allows the studio to extend its environment to Microsoft Azure, enabling ultimate workforce flexibility when supporting new projects or reallocating resources for existing ones.
By leveraging large cloud render farms and the latest tools on the latest processors, M&E companies can develop more immersive content at faster turnover rates. They can build virtual studios in attractive cities to compete with long-established ones, without the capital expenditure overheads, real-estate burden and legacy low-performance infrastructure of on-premises datacentres. The most impactful sign of change will be the ability to take on new projects by rapidly onboarding talent from anywhere, without concerns over costly and time-consuming infrastructure expansion.
Ian Main is technical marketing principal at Teradici
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