Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

144 The broadcast and movie studio production and distribution workflows are both intense workflows involving a huge amount of people, assets, infrastructure and processes. Any tiny mistake can cost significant money and time. The physical delivery of finished assets could be a logistical nightmare and lead to disjointed distribution where global audiences couldn’t experience releases. Technology has gradually introduced speed to the process, and today almost all media is filmed, stored, edited and distributed digitally. The next step in the journey of the media supply chain from those early days is into the cloud – but what are the opportunities and challenges this shift offers? Andy Beach, chief technology officer for worldwide media and entertainment at Microsoft, outlines the media supply chain as a process of transformation. “In its simplest terms, a media supply chain is about how content is organised and maintained, then transformed for whichever output it needs to be delivered to,” he explains. “Whether that’s for Netflix, a TV station or a movie theatre in another country, that’s all the work that goes into it. Traditionally, this has all been carried out on-premises, as all media production was. It’s only been in the last decade that the industry has begun really exploring cloud-based options and how they can help. It’s also only in the past few years we have begun looking at how artificial intelligence can also offload and assist the content creators with these supply chain automations.” While an on-premises environment can certainly fulfil the need for storage, the transformation described by Beach takes significantly longer. He points to the limitations placed on the transfer and editing of assets as some of the main problems with maintaining supply chains based in these environments. “The biggest weakness of staying on-premises is that you’re restricted to the people that are in the same location as the content,” he explains. “If you’re a movie studio in Burbank, all the assets are in a building, and it’s only the people that have access to that building that can work As media companies explore cloud-based options to replace their on-premises systems, Microsoft’s Andy Beach discusses the benefits and challenges of the shift BY ALEX SMITH FEATURE Making in the movies cloud