Broadcast Beat Magazine 2018 BroadcastAsia Special Edition - Page 23

how virtualization and cloud are impacting content creation, which aspects of production are currently ready for primetime in the cloud, and what this all means for production workflows – today and in the future. A Framework for Assessing Cloud Viability We’ve developed seven crite- ria that determine the cloud’s efficacy for specific content creation applications. Although other factors may come into play, these are the core indica- tors. Location - Where content cre- ators are located is extremely significant in analyzing the via- bility of the cloud for content production. Is the workflow dis- tributed or co-located? A dis- tributed workflow will benefit more from more virtualized pro- duction. With co-location, the cloud’s benefits are reduced to data protection use cases like archive and disaster recovery. Workload - The key workload question is predictability. Static “bare metal” provisioning can be highly efficient for predictable workloads. But unpredictable workloads are impractical to manage with traditional, inflex- ible infrastructure and benefit greatly from the cloud’s elastic- ity, scaling up and down directly in line with capacity needs. Datasets - The scale of data in a workflow is another criti- cal determinant. Public cloud business models are typical- ly calibrated to enterprise IT applications that are much less data intensive than professional media applications. Heavy media can be more problematic in the cloud due to the additional stor- age, bandwidth and processing required. Further, egress charges can make it expensive to move data out of the public cloud. The proliferation of ‘heavier’ produc- tion formats, including HDR and 4K, presents a significant chal- lenge for the cloud. At present, tasks that involve lighter media like proxies are more cost-effec- tive and practical in the cloud. Collaboration - The number of contributors in a production workflow is an important cloud consideration. The cloud doesn’t have as much to offer an art- ist working alone. But if that artist is collaborating with oth- ers, the cloud can spark cre- ativity and increase efficiency through easy data access and sharing. Generally, if a produc- tion involves many contribu- tors—multiple editors, sound engineers and VFX artists, for example—then the cloud offers many benefits. Interactivity - For production tasks that require very low- latency interactivity, cloud deployment can be problematic. With the cloud, there are inher- ent delays in data access due to the distance traveled and the number of hops required to transfer data. Live media pro- duction tasks are less tolerant to latency. For example, an art- ist singing into a microphone needs to hear their voice and the other tracks simultaneously with no delay. Similarly, when a colorist is adjusting a color con- trol surface, image processing delays will be extremely dis- tracting to the creative process. By contrast, non-real-time tasks like vfx rendering involve no interactivity and are therefore ideally suited to the cloud. Equipment - A content creation task that requires purpose-built equipment is not as well suit- ed to cloud. To enable elastic scalability, cloud data centers are equipped with COTS (com- mercial off-the-shelf) hardware only. Although custom, purpose- built hardware can be housed in co-location sites, this increases costs and inhibits scalability. To participate in cloud work- flows, purpose-built media equipment is becoming increas- ingly IP-connected. But overall, production tasks that can be accomplished using software running on generic servers are best suited to cloud deploy- ment. Environment - Some content creation tasks require special- ized physical environments. For example, a color grading suite is a controlled environment, where lighting and even paint colors are carefully calibrated to project a neutral backdrop. A music studio designed for live recording or mixing is equally specialized, constructed care- fully to isolate the environment from outside sounds and culti- vate a pleasing neutral sound on the inside. IP connectivity can allow specialized environ- ments to participate in cloud workflows, but tasks that require no such specialization can take better advantage of the ubiqui- tous access that cloud offers. Content Creation Disciplines and the Cloud We’ve evaluated several con- Broadcast Beat Magazine • • 23