Cloud technology has the ability to transform the media content supply chain, promising more effective and efficient processes.

Phantom sun pop up edit suite (alt)

Phantom Sun’s pop-up edit suite

Earlier this month, IBC365 hosted a webinar on the cloud.

Real world deployments: Making media operations work in the cloud featured three case studies forming the discussion across the industry migration to cloud-based services.

Experts from Discovery Communications, Vice Media and Phantom Sun examined the technology adoption, content management and challenges with the playout sectors.

Overhauling the media supply and delivery chain, Discovery Communications has deployed cloud operations to maximise its large scale content base and geographic diversity. 

Discovery’s Vice President of Technology, Development and Strategy Josh Derby offered insight from a global broadcaster.

He explained Discovery’s aim in cloud adoption was to have a global front door for the media, a familiar interface and eliminate the difficult parts of delivery within its cloud platform.

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Creating efficiencies, reducing costs, seeing a return-on-investment and integrating new technologies is all relevant to the global strategy in adopting cloud based services in order to remain leading in media operations.

Derby said: “Our goal is to always have a workflow that adjusts itself and is driven by metadata that has automatic scaling of the resources we need to drive the workflow.

Josh derby

Josh Derby

“The goal for this platform and product is to involve the humans as little as humanly possible and let the workflow make intelligent steps.”

Discovery Communications has built a portal for its suppliers to overcome challenges mainly in receiving physical tapes to be processes.

Derby explained that Discovery’s technical suppliers host an array of capabilities as such the support offering needs to process 12,000 hours of programming per year, which is terabytes of content every day.

Cloud complexities

Derby said: “One of the challenges, everyone has built their products to be a monolith. In the cloud world you’re more reliant on smaller bits and pieces, microservices is used, its take a while for the industry to embrace that model.

Discovery Communications’ goals for a successful cloud delivery platform include:

  • Supporting a diverse, global and mixed-capability supplier community
  • Maximise Discovery’s large scale and geographic diversity
  • Flexible scale to handle peaks in volume without over-committing resources
  • Offer regional flexibility without the complexity

Derby said: “Companies will have to redefine who they are and what they do and what they’re offering to really compete in that al la carte system”.

Connectivity, scale and hardware licensing have proven to be lessons and challenges in the migration to the cloud.

Derby said: “The industry is still learning to embrace cloud licensing and the industry is still growing. Software vendors are still figuring this out, we need to understand the vulnerabilities and plan for them… Creating a dynamic workflow is essential,” Derby said.

Vice Media has implemented cloud operations to transform its playout distribution and launch channels quicker in a response to its growing digital audiences across its platforms.

Tim bertioli

Tim Bertioli

Launching as a native digital media company it has focussed heavily on video content and recently launching its first linear TV channel.

Vice President of International Operations Tim Bertioli explained Vice’s primary goal is to be on all screens, as such the content production strategy to handle this was migrating to the cloud.

Bertioli explained the advantages for Vice harnessing the cloud in its channel playouts and could see the future benefits such as cost effective OTT playout and the ability to leverage future broadcast automation, machine learning to create efficiencies.

”The cost of deploying in this way has created significant savings” - Tim Bertioli 

He said: “Managing everything in the cloud UI and using automation in many areas has enabled much easier management of the services without having to grow the team proportionally to cope.

“The cost of deploying in this way has created significant savings for Vice and is a great foundation to create further efficiencies moving forward including machine learning and leveraging the centralised storage of our assets.”

Tools of the trade

Responding to the industry demand, Eben Clancy Co-Founder and Managing Director of Phantom Sun has set out to transform post-production offering remote cloud-based solutions.

The post firm has broken out of traditional models and focusses on real world functionalities in the post-production of content.

Eben clancy

Eben Clancy

ITV’s Bear Grylls Survival School was the first project Clancy and his team took on.

Shot over 12 days with 450 hours of rushes, cloud-based services were used for storage, delivery and edits.

“Cloud was initially used, where the proxies were uploaded to Aframe,” Clancy explained. He said the first obstacle was connectivity.

He said: “Connectivity is by far our biggest issue, it’s a real variable for us.

“Connectivity is a nightmare. It’s something you can’t control particularly with business connectivity. I see it as the one area that restricts us getting on with it.”

For season two, they overcame this problem storing content on pocket drives, “It was simple to do but was not the smooth work flow we were hoping for,” Clancy explained.

Providing an important lesson in clients connectivity expectations.

Clancy discussed the learning curve of cloud adoption. “Remote finishing saved a lot of time,” Clancy said, explaining that it enabled going into the finishing schedule quickly by working offsite, along with cost savings.

Clancy said: “One of the things we have discovered is the client has now become our main competition. They’re kitting up themselves and we need to find a way to fit into their workflows.

“Realistically the future of what we do is in the talent out there, the growing number of craft talent that is kitted up and able to work around the world and that’s the market we are going to tap into.”