<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=414634002484912&amp;ev=PageView%20&amp;noscript=1">
Early Registration for the 2024 Media Technology Summit Is Now Open

Moving Media Workflows to the Cloud

September 8, 2022

Even as cloud-based media production becomes more ubiquitous across the media landscape, figuring out how to effectively and securely move workflows to the cloud remains an ongoing challenge. In the opinion of Lucille Verbaere, Senior Project Manager for the European Broadcast Union (EBU) and a member of SMPTE’s Media in the Cloud Working Group, the creation of interoperable solutions for doing software-based workflows is where the emphasis is these days. Her belief is that the cloud is already “an enabler of innovation” for the creative process, but its adoption is slower for traditional media operations. “The best way to have media adopt the cloud for operational workflows,” she suggests, “is to offer the industry a wide range of interoperable cloud-agnostic solutions to choose from all along the value chain.”

“The cloud is boosting innovation because you can easily test new solutions using minimal set-up, and then scale up at the same speed as the customers are adopting your service,” she continues. “But for traditional media operations, shifting from a CapEx [Capital Expenditure] to an OpEx [operating expenditures] business model, which is a key cloud attribute, is sometimes not seen as a clear advantage, in particular by financial people used to predictable CapEx spending. Today, players in the image-creation industry wish they could create and adapt quickly to new workflows, using a variety of data-driven solutions, interfacing with each other, and centrally orchestrated. That’s where moving to the cloud and software-based workflows will bring the most value to the industry today.”

She emphasizes this was a big topic at this past spring’s  EBU Network Technology seminar.

To achieve eventual, true interoperability across the many different types of technologies and tools used in virtual production, Verbaere says the industry needs “common data models that every piece of software involved can readily understand.” 

She emphasizes that there are various initiatives underway across the industry in these areas, including work SMPTE members are currently doing on metadata, ontologies, and semantic web technologies. Verbaere adds that SMPTE, in collaboration with Movielabs and the EBU, is currently on the cusp of publishing “a navigation guide that explains these concepts, how they can enable application and service integration, search and discovery of content, and a lot of machine-learning-based applications.” 

Verbaere elaborates that once the industry agrees on common data models, software-based production and broadcast tools can be developed by picking-and-choosing between various fine-grained services, or microservices, that can interact together in agile workflows. “A great deal of work is being done today to build scalable and effective solutions, relying on reusable simple functions or microservices that can run on any infrastructure, regardless of its exact location,” she adds.

She says the EBU is currently working on one open-source project called MCMA (Media Cloud and Microservices), which makes available to the industry libraries and modules for abstract services, with cloud providers offering specific services. At the end of the day, she suggests, this will “avoid vendor locking and facilitate the implementation of services, regardless of where the computing is done, and let developers focus on added values media services and workflows.”

Such a path logically requires state-of-the-art security built into the larger equation for it to be a comfortable path for media creators, Verbaere adds. Thus, media workflows via the cloud need to include what she calls “a zero-trust framework for security” that is designed to make sure that all users or systems are properly identified and authenticated before they can get access to applications and data in a particular workflow. 

“I believe it is key today for media to adopt such frameworks, since the industry is moving toward distributed and hybrid or full-cloud solutions, with endpoints spread around many geographical locations, and connected by various wireless and wired means, including 5G. At EBU, we have defined security requirements for media systems that are a reference in the industry today [via a set of security recommendations labeled EBU R143]. We are also working closely with the WBU [World Broadcasting Unions] and AMWA [Advanced Media Workflow Association] to align our cybersecurity recommendations, and we are liaising with vendors when we spot vulnerability in their systems.”

Related to all this, and the challenge of interoperability, is the fact that the industry is likely to continue what Verbaere calls “its digitization.” That means, even beyond the issue of security, the issue of data management for all kinds of data-exchanged digital works, content, metadata, audience data, and more that are traveling in bits-and-pieces through a maze of distant servers is a huge one where cloud-based media creation is concerned. Verbaere says this data management-and-control challenge is receiving a great deal of attention in Europe, in particular.

“It’s a big idea in Europe—to facilitate data flows while relying on trusted environments called ‘data spaces,’ ” she explains. “The idea is that you can share your data by giving access to some of it in a controlled way, only with stakeholders you can trust. All transactions happen under conditions you have set and are traceable. This brings trust and improves efficiency between stakeholders and systems involved in production and distribution workflows and fosters the creation of new business models. In Europe, we have funding, regulatory efforts, and initiatives from industry alliances aimed at the development of these data spaces for businesses across all verticals, not just media.”

One initiative revolves around a European association with some 300-plus members called GAIA-X—a project where the EBU is coordinating efforts toward the creation of media data spaces. According to Verbaere, GAIA-X “aims to ensure that European companies can access storage and computing capacities and services, data, and data management services that are trustworthy, secure, transparent, portable, and interoperable. Another primary concern is to guarantee data privacy and European sovereignty.”

Verbaere further explains that GAIA-X “has defined a reference architecture and trust model for sovereign data exchange and compliancy and set up a catalogue of compliant services that makes assets and resources easily searchable, discoverable, verifiable, and consumable. They are developing federated services that can be adopted by vendors to ensure compliancy with GAIA-X values.”

She says those “federated services” include authentication and authorization in a decentralized and self-sovereign environment, secure storage and management of credentials, self-descriptions that are machine readable descriptions of participants, resources, or service offerings that can be digitally verified. She emphasizes that such a system ensures transparency “because information such as resource localization or price have to be provided and can be verified.” 

In summary, Verbaere feels that “for media companies to move workflows to the cloud, there is a need for better interoperability, portability, and transparency of cloud services. There is also a need to drive and manage distributed and cloud-based processes and workflows in an agile way, and common data models and microservices are also needed. That’s what SMPTE and the EBU are actively promoting.”

News Briefs

Drones for Live Broadcasting

An interesting recent article in TV Technology suggests that the broadcast industry is starting to innovate with the use of drone technology in combination with wireless networks and nanosatellites (miniaturized satellites) to produce news, sports, and breaking news aerial views and other forms of unique POV coverage. The article says drones outfitted with 4K or 8K cameras are already being used routinely for aerial shots at sports stadiums and other locations where helicopters are not practical or permitted. The article further hints that, to a degree at least, drones will likely replace helicopters for certain kinds of aerial news coverage. Additionally, the piece says that wireless networks and nanosatellites are also being incorporated into the mix, particularly in situations where drones are not practical due to FAA visual line-of-site limitations, and that this trend will likely accelerate once 5G cellular networks become more ubiquitous.



Moon Rocket in Glorious VR

The Hollywood Reporter recently reported that as NASA was preparing to launch the new Artemis I rocket to the moon near the end of August, the space agency was also working with an Emmy-winning company, Felix & Paul Studios, to produce “a unique live stream” of the event in the virtual reality format. The plan was to produce a one-hour special that includes live images from the launch, shot with 8K and 360-degree capable VR camera systems. The program was slated to be viewable in VR on Meta Quest headsets, and for those that do not have access to VR technology, also as a live stream on Facebook 360. The live coverage was also slated to be beamed into an estimated 200 planetariums around the country. Felix & Paul officials told THR that one of their hopes for the broadcast was to “migrate from the cinematic VR practice to fully diving into the world of a fully immersive broadcast.” 

Tag(s): Cloud

Michael Goldman

Related Posts