From free licences to online tutorials, manufacturers have rallied to help those tasked with keeping the world in content while working from home.
The spread of coronavirus across the globe has had a huge impact. Broadcasting, like every other industry, has seen its expectations turned inside out, with many staff now working from home.
Most manufacturers, too, are now facing delays in deliveries of products, and in spares or servicing, because of shutdowns in many areas.
However, with software-based services no one needs to be home alone, and a host of manufacturers have introduced initiatives to make it cheaper and simpler to work from home using cloud services and software. These include free extensions to licences and online training.
“The next several weeks are going to be strange, but they don’t have to be all bad,” said Emery Wells, co-founder and chief executive of Frame.io.
“First let’s prioritise health; then let’s rise to the challenge of becoming an industry that uses ingenuity to thrive in this time of crisis.”
The pandemic has forced companies to rush the adoption of remote working, something many aren’t fully prepared for. Frame.io surveyed its customers and found that:
- 40% are not fully equipped with the necessary technology
- 38% plan to adopt new tools but aren’t sure yet what those are yet
- 75% expect more difficulty performing their job function remotely
- 80% predict a major reduction in content volume and delay of their current work
- 57% expect to pivot to new revenue streams to compensate for a slowdown in production and related jobs.
To help with some of these points, Frame.io this week introduced a Workflow from Home training series on YouTube, hosted by its global SVP of innovation, Michael Cioni.
“While being forced to adopt cloud-based technology and remote workflows sooner than you expected isn’t ideal, we hope that this will lead to efficiencies across the board,” said Wells. “A situation like this will force companies to be creative with their remote work options,” and it means that “no one can ignore the cracks anymore in current business models.”
“It’s a really hard time for our industry,” added Fernando Küfer, CEO, disguise, who is “committed to doing what we can to support our community of freelancers, partners and customers across the globe.”
He hopes these initiatives will enable more people to access its software, and learn new ways to maximise efficiencies.
“Any one of us should feel very fortunate to be part of a close-knit community that rallies in times like this and comes back stronger,” stated Avid CEO, Jeff Rosica.
“Our customers are moving very fast and solving serious problems with a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Without question, chief among them is the imperative to keep news and post teams collaborating around the clock when they can’t be together because of facility closings or production shutdowns. As many pivot to modifying workflows so editors, mixers, journalists and others can stay engaged and be productive remotely, and in the cloud in some cases, we’re all sharing and learning a lot as we go.”
If this outbreak had happened just a few years ago, it would have posed even greater problems.
“Luckily, the last few years have seen a very significant shift in our ability to work remotely,” which could be key to minimising the effect of the outbreak, said Conrad Clemson, CEO, EditShare.
“Systems are reaching near capacity, and this, coupled with a lack of infrastructure for remote collaborative working, such as hybrid cloud, has the potential to become very challenging.” George Kilpatrick, Masstech CEO
His company already has “an entire collaborative video production workflow in the cloud,” but it needs to be open and to work alongside others, including competitors, “to make sure that during this episode and whatever comes next, we help to keep things going, keep our businesses moving, keep our lives connected, share our stories and learn from this experience in ways that will make us a stronger and more connected society in the future,” he said.
“Most organisations are still primarily based on-premise, using on-premise applications and systems, including their storage, and when staff can’t get into the office system management becomes difficult,” said George Kilpatrick, Masstech’s CEO. “Systems are reaching near capacity, and this, coupled with a lack of infrastructure for remote collaborative working, such as hybrid cloud, has the potential to become very challenging.”
Masstech has been helping users understand how they can adapt their existing storage and workflow systems to remote working and is offering temporary free licenses to help them cope. “It’s a challenging time, and we’re keen to ensure that customers know we can help them within their current system and support contract, without them incurring extra cost,” he added.
Signiant is allowing its Media Shuttle customers to have unlimited users. “As the virus changes work patterns across the industry, it is more vital than ever for media professionals to have the ability to work remotely and collaborate globally - the very workflows that Media Shuttle enables,” said Margaret Craig, Signiant’s CEO.
“The demand for content has increased significantly due to the Covid virus, however, production has slowed dramatically and even stopped for studios and content producers,” said Rick Phelps, Chief Commercial Officer, Ownzones Entertainment Technologies. “They are now looking at their vast libraries to fill the demand and Ownzones is helping them to conform and publish their content to global platforms. A lot of large service providers who run their operations on prem have had to close down their operational facilities and cannot provide services to their customers. Ownzones is helping by offering our cloud-based infrastructure to transform and deliver content to global platforms.”
Rapid reaction forced
As the government’s response to the pandemic changes daily, broadcasters and manufacturers are having to adapt their systems equally quickly.
Last week, one Pebble Beach customer, a Spain-based service provider handling playout for 25 channels, was advised that everyone had to work remotely from Tuesday onwards. This gave it less than 24 hours to transfer the control of all of its playout operations to staff working from home.
Pebble Beach engineers immediately accessed their Dolphin integrated channel device remotely, adding a compressed IP output to the pre-existing SDI output (within same channel pipeline). “We were able to configure most of the software whilst the preview channel was running, and then restart when it was convenient for our customer so that the changes could be deployed. The team succeeded in making this happen by close of play on Monday, and the customer’s operators have been reviewing content, graphics and subtitles remotely since,” said Alison Pavitt, marketing manager, Pebble Beach Systems.
As remote working became mandatory in France last week, a Pebble Marina playout user approached Pebble to expand its web-based Lighthouse deployment to adapt to the changing circumstances. “We were able to quickly add new user accounts for the operators and the maintenance team, who now all have access to view playlists, timelines and statistics from their respective homes. They have also deployed the Channel Exception Monitor, which gives a consolidated view of any playlist errors across all channels, enabling early intervention if, for example, media is missing, or there are timing errors or invalid metadata in the list,” she explained.
Bea Alonso, Dalet’s director of product marketing, has been reassuring customers “that we have business continuity and disaster recovery measures in place for us to continue serving and supporting them,” and also asking what it can do to help address any specific challenges.
Many of its customers had already deployed remote workflows. “For these clients, providing them with temporary free licenses is certainly helping lighten the load. What we found, however, is that the main challenges come from not having a solid IT infrastructure in place that easily supports home-working workflows. To help with this, we are working closely with our clients to accelerate migration of their workflows and content to cloud-based content supply chains. There is no doubt that we will see plenty of innovation from the industry overall as a result of this global crisis,” she said.
Some of the initiatives that manufacturers have instituted to help:
Adobe is extending the renewal grace period to 60 days for its Creative Cloud Value Incentive Plan, and eliminating additional license charges for 60 days for its Enterprise Term License Agreement customers. It is also giving personal in-home access to Adobe Creative Cloud for students through May 31, and offering free 90-day access to Adobe Connect, its web conferencing system (until July 1).
It is also moving its Adobe Summit online, with videos and additional sessions from March 31 onwards, and has added best practice guides for working from home on its site.
Autodesk is offering free and extended access to cloud collaboration products (including BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, AutoCAD Web and Mobile, and Shotgun). It is also extending contract payment terms to 60 days for the next few months.
Avid is offering free temporary licenses of its creative tools for customers (including students) affected by Covid-19, allowing users who must work remotely because their facility has been closed 90-day licenses for Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate and Sibelius | Ultimate. This is initially valid for start dates through April 17.
Boris FX is offering free 60-day at-home licenses for Sapphire, Continuum, Mocha Pro and Silhouette for qualifying Boris FX customers to replace any floating licenses locked in the office. The Boris FX Application Manager is a free download to help customers easily deactivate and reactivate node-locked licenses, useful for moving an installed license to a new workstation.
Its cineXtools simplifies editing and correcting file deliveries from home, offering an easy way to update and fix your files remotely. Until April 3rd (initially), Cinedeck is offering anyone a free one month license for cineXtools.
During March and April DejaSoft is offering half-price licenses for DejaEdit to assist with remote working. DejaEdit allows editors to share media files and timelines automatically and securely, without having to be online continuously. DejaEdit will soon be upgraded to Version 3.0 to include Private and Global bin sharing, and new security locks.
Users of disguise now have free and unlimited access to virtual training workshops via the new disguise OnDemand hub. It is also offering a free six month licence to its ‘designer’ software, used to visualise, design, and sequence projects, from concept through to showtime.
Drastic is offering free 3-month licenses for existing customers as well as those that can use its media content creation tools to make working at home easier. These include: videoQC; HDRScope/4kScope; the MediaReactor extended file import and export tool for Avid and Adobe; and Net-X-Code scalable capture/playout/transcode server.
To support remote collaboration, EditShare is making its Flow media management system available for free now through July 1. Flow enables individuals or large creative workgroups to collaborate on story development with capabilities to perform extensive review approval from anywhere in the world.
Cloud-based video work-sharing platform Frame.io has offered 2TB of free extra storage capacity for 90 days – starting before the end of March. It also has free Frame.io Enterprise plans for the next 90 days to support educational, non-profit and healthcare organisations.
Its review and approval software, ftrack Review, is now free of charge until at least 31 May, which it hopes will “encourage business continuity in the creative sector throughout the current unpredictable situation.” The system is a remote review and approval tool that enables users to collaborate, review and approve media via a desktop or mobile browser. It normally costs $15 per month, per user.
Anyone working from home due to Covid-19 can get a free trial of iconik’s hybrid cloud media management system with $300 in usage credit, which could allow a team of five users to use it for 30 days.
Masstech is providing temporary free licenses that run until June 30 to enable users to increase the size of their immediate nearline disk cache or introduce third-party cloud storage to ensure business continuity. It is also providing free basic administration training for the management of tape and disk to enable operators to cover for enforced absences.
Through May 31, it is waiving any Media Shuttle active user overage fees that would normally result from utilisation that exceeds a customer’s subscription tier. Its file acceleration technology can move files at speeds up to 100x faster than standard methods such as FTP without restriction on file size.
Studio Network Solutions has introduced Nomad, a remote workflow tool for its EVO storage server. The free utility runs on any Mac or Windows computer, and helps users repurpose ShareBrowser preview files into proxy files for offline editing.
Veritone has announced free access to its flagship applications (Veritone Essentials, Attribute and Digital Media Hub) for 60 days.