Four Reasons Why Studios are Moving to the Cloud


By Ziad Lammam, VP Product Management and Marketing, Teradici

As consumers become more accustomed to the instantaneous delivery of content, the cloud will evolve into a mission-critical production platform within the industry as studios and M&E organizations continue to raise the bar on content, and at a faster pace than ever before. Cloud technology brings agility to the production process, allowing studios to push the limits of cinematic creativity.

But the cloud does even more than that. Here are four reasons why post-production TV and movie studios are moving to the cloud (and why you should, too):

Cloud technology delivers performance, time and cost benefits

In the Netflix age, audiences have come to expect on-demand content and more of it. And they want it produced and released faster. That’s the new bar — and studios need the tools that support the “behind-the-scenes” post-production process. They need IT that’s more agile, utilizes better hardware, is cost efficient and provides remote flexibility.

For small or midsize studios looking to compete with larger and more established firms, cloud-based render farms provide the ultimate price, time and performance flexibility. Studios such as Milk VFX are able to scale computing power up and down by using render farms in the cloud, avoiding the costly capital expenditures of on-premises hardware. And because many public cloud solutions offer pay-as-you-go options, Milk VFX has the flexibility to control costs by paying only for the compute power it needs.

This provides studios with massive time and performance boosts because they’re essentially enlisting the power of thousands of machines in the cloud all at once — resulting in a competitive edge shaped by savings in cost and time.

Secured remote access widens the net for talent

Whether driven by off-site access demand or a need to on-board creative freelancers, both studios and artists are seeking greater flexibility when it comes to where work is done. Traditional, deskside workstations loosely coupled to centralized storage resources presents studios with a range of challenges. The time taken for large media assets to be uploaded and downloaded can be extensive. Security becomes a concern if workers store confidential files on workstations or personal laptops. There’s also the real estate expenditures that come with expanding or building new data centers.

Jellyfish Pictures, for example, was in the midst of rapid growth and expansion into two new animation studios, when it finally took steps to forego on-site servers and storage and move into the cloud.

By building its own hybrid cloud catered to VFX professionals, the studio had the agility and capacity to expand its talent pool at an international scale where freelancers could access large video files secured on a cloud platform, which cuts data transfer times significantly and strengthens security by eliminating the need to store confidential assets directly on local devices.

Studios can be both secure and compliant in the cloud

In addition to preserving the highest security standards (and preventing precious content assets from being leaked), studios today have a responsibility to maintain best practices while conforming to data compliance requirements set by industry organizations such as the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the recently established Trusted Partner Network (TPN). These best practices serve as a way for M&E companies to assess risks and security of both their data and infrastructure.

Cloud-based workflows offer greater protection for assets than those stored on local endpoints, like personal laptops, hard drives and mobile devices because, besides greater risk of loss or theft, local devices present a distributed vulnerability that is both difficult and inefficient to manage. With the proper visibility, monitoring and control tools in place, studios can build an ultra-secure solution in the cloud that leverages benefits like public cloud security expertise, programmatic infrastructure, multiple security check points and monitoring tools to prevent data theft and other security disasters.

Freedom from legacy equipment, logistics and maintenance

From a business perspective, studios — and really any company, for that matter — are always looking for ways to optimize costs and simplify operations. Cloud solutions provide across-the-board benefits in terms of cost and efficiency, especially public cloud resources that offer pay-as-you-go plans.

For smaller, niche studios, cloud-driven cost reductions quickly add up to real savings. In addition to gaining a wide degree of workforce flexibility, Jellyfish Pictures was able to avoid about $100,000 in expenses for the servers and storage costs it might have incurred building a new studio.

The studio also saw recurring savings by constraining its expensive London footprint, reducing its maintenance costs and cutting time delays associated with legacy infrastructure and IT staffing efficiencies.