The pandemic has hastened the move to the cloud, and while it is a highly technical process the real beneficiaries of cloud migration are the creative community, writes MovieLabs CEO Rich Berger. 

Rich Berger

Rich Berger

In August 2019, at IBC, we published and presented what has become widely known as the “MovieLabs 2030 Vision”. While a lot has changed in the past 18 months, what has not changed is the industry’s acknowledgement of the work necessary to realize this bold vision of our future.  

The MovieLabs 2030 Vision laid out 10 principles that describe how cloud-native workflows could enable more efficient and effective media creation.  

These principles were developed by the team here at MovieLabs along with our member studios including participants from studio CTO offices and production technology execs. And while it articulated a collective studio vision, it is clear that this vision can only be achieved through deep industry collaboration and alignment. Now 18 months later, it is also clear that this vision has resonated and is now shared across the industry.  

While we called it the 2030 Vision, it won’t necessarily take 10 years for the industry to fully migrate to the cloud, and the events of the last 18 months and particularly the last year, have dramatically demonstrated the value of cloud-based workflows.  

The pandemic significantly impacted the media and entertainment industry on everything from production to distribution. In March 2020, as global productions came to a screeching halt, our industry came together with creative solutions for unprecedented problems. And one of the solutions that helped to enable the resumption of production, was the ability to globally collaborate using cloud-based services and tools.  

“One of the solutions that helped to enable the resumption of production, was the ability to globally collaborate using cloud-based services and tools.”  

While the pandemic slowed the pace of many aspects of lives and business, in many ways, it accelerated the human change management process, especially regarding the cloud. We all had to become more open-minded to new technology, because we had no choice. The pandemic brought the power and potential of the cloud and especially remote working into sharp focus, making the move to the cloud (public, private or hybrid) a top priority. 

Continuous reinvention is so important because new technology has always helped to define our industry. It’s in our nature to keep pushing against boundaries. That is how things evolve. Art pushes technology and technology pushes art. And while the technology journey to the cloud, is just that – highly technical -  the real beneficiaries of cloud migration are our creative community.  

Today’s complex content workflows require hand-offs of increasingly large files, used by many global collaborators with the attendant need for robust security, and the time needed to send, ingest, create, and review. Our MovieLabs vision creates an inherently secure infrastructure for content creation, eliminates significant friction and additionally automates much of what is not creative. You can almost think of our vision as a “time machine” that hands back more time for our content creators to just create. 

While there are significant benefits that can be realized by using the cloud today, there is still a lot of work needed to make the transition to cloud-based workflows as elegant as our “vision”. It’s not just about moving our existing workflows and tools to the cloud; it’s about rethinking how workflows and tools should work to leverage the power of the cloud. It starts with an understanding of what the future can look like and requires some foundational work to enable that future.  

And now that the pandemic has accelerated both interest in and commitment to these principles, 2021 is about moving from principles to practice. Our three focus areas over the last year and continuing into this year are: 

  1. Security and Access Focusing on how we design and deploy a new security model to support the 2030 Vision - one that is designed to protect the workflows that span infrastructures. To that end, over the last year we have developed this thinking and published a new 2030 security architecture, which we invite you to read about on the MovieLabs news page. 
  2. Software-Defined Workflows Focusing on how we enable flexible and adaptive pipelines so that work can be done faster and more efficiently, starting with a common data model. We published a white paper about this which you can read about on our news page and blog.
  3. Interoperability Focusing on an interoperable architecture with common interfaces so the industry can more easily plug and play workflow components and can seamlessly deploy on any combination of private, hybrid and public cloud for every production task and have it all feel like one universal resource. 

We know these focus areas will continue to be rich with opportunities to collectively innovate and create solutions.  Expect MovieLabs to continue to publish blogs and white papers on our website and to come to the industry with progress reports and additional challenges.  And you can follow us on LinkedIn and check out our blog.  

But more importantly, begin to implement these principles and collaborate with your own partners to realize this vision that will increasingly enable and support content and our creators.  

Rich Berger is chief executive of MovieLabs, a non-profit R&D industry group comporised of Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment., Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment