Historically, the Media & Entertainment industry has been dependent on arcane on-premises technology. After transitioning from hand-splicing to digitization and non-linear workflows, video and film invariably pushed the boundaries of what computers could do digitally and consequently, working in the media industry usually involved having specialized computers, networks, and storage.
If we were to take a step back, the advent of computers in the media industry was in and of itself a significant leap that opened up an entirely new world of possibilities.
Originally, editors were splicing film and then videotape together to deliver finished content but eventually, “purposebuilt” computers got fast enough to where content could be digitized and then manipulated entirely in the digital realm.
However, despite the digitization, most of this technology was still very exotic, expensive, had to be installed on-premise and hence was accessible exclusively to the big studios and post-production companies.
Once general-purpose computers (and graphics accelerators) matured it became feasible for individuals to perform all but the most sophisticated processes on their personal computers or even laptops.
And then like with the rest of the IT industry, The Cloud began to provide compelling benefits versus on-premise infrastructure, and further enable and democratize the creation of even the best content, no matter if you are a major studio or creating at home in your pajamas!
With the Cloud’s maturation, we have finally reached a point where normal everyday computing technology can quite effectively do the job. In fact, it has now made it possible for the average person to have relatively easy access to such technology, without having to invest in a soon-tobe-obsolete PC, and without limit as to compute power or scale you might need for an individual job.
From wedding videographers to enterprise-level marketing and training departments, everyone now has access to the same tools as the largest studio that just a few years ago were unavailable to them. The Cloud, in essence, has now democratized technology in the Media and Entertainment industry.
On-Prem vs. Cloud for the M&E Industry
A natural question that arises in the reader’s mind is: Should I continue to use Capital Expenditures for on-premise solutions or does the Cloud and its Operating Expense model make more sense?
Well, it depends. There are two primary factors that need to be considered before you make the decision, the first one being the utilization of your solutions. If you’re a company with requirements that are substantial enough to be able to run your on-premise infrastructure all the time, then investing in on-prem might make sense from a dollar standpoint.
That said, there are also numerous cases where running “all the time” workloads could be cheaper on the Cloud. Amazon EC2 Spot Instances regularly offer lower compute costs than what’s available in CapEx models. However, if you’re not using your infrastructure all the time or if you have “bursty” requirements, the Cloud is undeniably the better option.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a heavy-duty project that is due in a couple of weeks, the Cloud is perfect for being able to burst when you have short-term, compute-intensive needs. In such a scenario, not only do you meet demands and get the job done, but you also pay only for what you use.
The second key factor that you need to consider is whether you’re willing to deal with the maintenance and continual modernization of your on-premise infrastructure along with the problems and complexities that come with it. If you’ve decided not to spend CapEx money, worry about provisioning for power and air conditioning, or often more importantly, falling behind the technology curve, the Cloud makes sense for you.
That said, the Cloud is an absolute no-brainer for individuals, smaller companies, and even big companies with moderate or occasional requirements (such as media projects for marketing departments and internal training departments) thanks to the flexibility and OpEx costeffectiveness it provides.
The Cloud is also a very low-risk option; if a project disappears, or an implementation doesn’t meet expectations, or for any reason you are not satisfied, it is a simple matter to tear down the environment and have no further costs sunk into the environment.
The Cloud for Studios and Post-Production Houses
However, for bigger companies in the Media & Entertainment industry such as studios and postproduction houses, things get a little more complex. These companies have already made huge investments in infrastructure and equipment that they are trying to depreciate over time.
Hence the question for these companies becomes: Do I refresh my on-prem infrastructure or do I start moving some of my infrastructure to the Cloud? And what’s apparent from the media industry is that most of these big companies are indeed moving to the Cloud.
Storage – especially archive storage – is one of the earliest areas which has seen increased adoption of the Cloud by professional media companies.
Recognizing the cost-effectiveness, universal access and inherent data protection capabilities of Cloud storage, studios and postproduction companies are leveraging the Cloud for their archive storage which has always been one of the hardest to manage components in their media environments.
Here is a link to a Case Study documenting how TrackIt helped one leading post production company with their archive storage needs.
Big companies in Media & Entertainment might also be concerned with the safety of their data, especially for disaster recovery. The Cloud makes it easy to create a copy of their content on the East coast and a duplicate on the West coast, for example.
Compute-intensive workflows like transcoding and rendering constitute another area where the Cloud starts to really make sense for professional media companies.
This is where solutions like AWS Elemental (transcoding service) and AWS Thinkbox (rendering service) are exceptionally compelling. For instance, if you’re rendering special effects for a scene in a movie and you need it by next week – then realize you don’t have the on-premise horsepower to get the job done – the cloud can scale as needed practically instantaneously.
This is a typical application that can easily be put into the Cloud with and allows bursting your jobs with zero extra CapEx.
At TrackIt, we have recently built a file system specifically for an animation and VFX Rendering pipeline, here’s a link to the whitepaper.
TrackIt is an Amazon Web Services Advanced Consulting Partner specializing in cloud management, consulting, and software development solutions based in Marina del Rey, CA.
TrackIt specializes in Modern Software Development, DevOps, Infrastructure-As-Code, Serverless, CI/CD, and Containerization with specialized expertise in Media & Entertainment workflows, High-Performance Computing environments, and data storage.
TrackIt’s forté is cutting-edge software design with deep expertise in containerization, serverless architectures, and innovative pipeline development. The TrackIt team can help you architect, design, build and deploy a customized solution tailored to your exact requirements.
In addition to providing cloud management, consulting, and modern software development services, TrackIt also provides an open-source AWS cost management tool that allows users to optimize their costs and resources on AWS.
Read the full TrackIt White Paper by downloading it below!