HITS: Spring 2017: Asset Protection, Streamlining the Value Chain Take Center Stage


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The day before New Regency’s Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Revenant” hit theaters in 2015, the actor who did the stunt work as the bear in arguably the most memorable scene in the film tweeted out a behind-the-scenes photo of him in the blue visual effects suit, needed to make the bear look real.

That didn’t go over well with New Regency. At all.

“There was a lot of focus on the realism, and how much work went into the special effects,” said Joel Sloss, senior program manager for Microsoft Azure, speaking May 25 at the HITS: Spring 2017 event. “Needless to say, the director, the producer, the studio, everybody flipped out, cause there had been so much work that went [hiding] into the big reveal, and that was ruined by a picture of a dude in a blue suit.”

In his presentation — “Securing the Making of the Next Hollywood Blockbuster” — Sloss described not only the security problems facing productions today (hacks, leaks, unsecured emails, etc.) but also the potential solutions.

“Content security starts to come to the forefront of everybody’s minds, how do you protect this kind of information? It’s not always about preventing piracy,” he said. “In this particular case, NDAs were signed, people were made aware of information security challenges.” But people forget. The intent is there, but the execution is lacking, Sloss said.

New Regency worked with Azure, MarkLogic and others on a solution, building up a cloud-based portal with single log-in that allowed access based on what people involved in the production actually needed access to. “The Revenant” generated half a million files by itself.

The solution New Regency employed made it easier for the company to manage the sheer amount of data, and made sure the right applications and information were available to only those who needed it.

“There’s a lot of data being generated and it sits in all sorts of different repositories online and offline, around the world, and one of the biggest challenges anyone from a production company will be familiar with, is that during any given production cycle, people are constantly cycling in and out,” Sloss said. “Why does the set decorator need to see a legal memo about an [actor]?”

He hopes other production companies look at what New Regency did, adopt the same goal: build a system that can both handle all the information, but also secure it and limit access to need-to-know players.

Meanwhile, also at HITS: Spring 2017, Rob Gardos, CEO of Mediamorph, offered his thoughts on the challenges facing the industry in streamlining — and getting more revenue out of — the content supply chain.

He shared figures that show that roughly 50% of revenue for a newly released piece of content via digital outlets is generated in the 170525-5975_HITSsp17first week it’s available. Yet the outlets distributing that content don’t always report how that content has performed for three or more days after the release date. That’s money potentially left on the table, Gardos said.

“We need to adopt strategies to [discover] how my content is being consumed,” he said. “We need to force people to embrace these standards at both ends of the supply chain. We as an industry need to force that [adoption of standards], embrace and evolve [with them].”

Those standards include the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) and the Entertainment Merchant’s Association’s (EMA) Avails, two sets of streamlining and identifying content and assets that can help media and entertainment companies manage the onslaught of digital outlets, including the 100-plus SVOD services available in North America alone.

“This is only going to get harder,” Gardos said. “We need real-time reporting to react and adapt. If we’re not speaking the same language, disasters will happen, content will get out there” What was supposed to be priced at $22 is mistakenly listed at $4 because the associated data isn’t translated between outlets and regions, is one scenario Gardos put forth.

HITS: Spring is the largest gathering of the L.A. entertainment community’s most senior IT executives and technologists. More than 500 people attended HITS: Spring on May 25 at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles. Produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), in partnership with the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), and the Smart Content Council, HITS: Spring is presented by Entertainment Partners, with sponsorship by Box, TiVo, Avanade, Amazon Web Services, Expert System, IBM, MarkLogic, MediaSilo, Microsoft Azure, Composite Apps, Deluxe, EIDR, HGST, SAS, Sohonet, Sony DADC NMS, Zaszou IT Consulting and Ooyala.

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