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New “Consortium Shared Identity” System Uses Blockchain to Provide Security and Efficiency for Employing Production Crews

January 31, 2022

 In the Jan/Feb issue of The SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, the article “Consortium Shared Identity Over an Enterprise Blockchain” describes a novel solution to enhance efficiencies and minimize risk in onboarding and offboarding Media & Entertainment production crew members. Seth Levenson and Randy Zhang, chairs of the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) Adaptive Production Blockchain Working Group, note that the technology can also be leveraged for other many other uses, including media supply chain possession tracking, awards screener tracking, and identifying and provisioning document access to production users.

 The standard approach to digital identity used by various production companies is currently Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), a decentralized system where credentials are managed using crypto wallets and verified using public-key cryptography on a distributed ledger. In this onboarding workflow, production companies interview and hire crews independent of the studio, and the studios do not generally validate the members of the crew list before they’re provided with access to studio tools such as email, collaboration, or shared storage. Offboarding provides no consistent and widely accepted process, leading to times when contractors may maintain their access to sensitive materials even after the production is complete.

 The Consortium Shared Identity (CSI) system improves upon SSI by using an enterprise-grade permissioned blockchain that is privately-owned and operated by the consortium with an approved governance model, where the identity of users is a shared property between the identity owner and the consortium. This allows the CSI system to streamline the often laborious and sometimes lengthy crew onboarding/offboarding process that involves many manual touchpoints, inconsistent processes, little validation of termination of access to assets at production’s end, and frequent duplication of efforts.

 Blockchain can provide a streamlined, efficient, and secure experience. A cryptographically secured single source of truth in a tamper-proof, decentralized database allows all members to share the same contractor database, including verified work history trusted by both the contractors and consortium members. All users who have access to the network – including identity owners, consortium members, and super users such as auditors and administrators -- are authenticated and authorized. The consortium ensures network availability, security, and performance, and the CSI blockchain network allows interaction with external applications and supports multifactor authentication.

 The first step of a CSI-based onboarding workflow is validation by a third-party service that the new user is who they say they are, using industry-accepted identify forms like a passport or driver’s license. Then the consortium adds the user to the blockchain, allowing them to input their internal attributes and sharing preferences. The production begins onboarding users by asking for their production ID and updating external attributes of users such as start date, job title, function, and feature title. Additionally, the studio receives the crew lists and provides their approval for access to studio-provisioned tools like email and storage services. The offboarding process uses the same system, which can invalidate production IDs needed to access sensitive tools and assets at the conclusion of the production.

  Managing these content owner tools and assets, one of the key applications for the CSI, could include provisioning access to secure file sharing platforms like OneDrive or Dropbox, secure document storage platforms like Scenechronize, timecard tracking for use by the payroll company, tracking of union residuals, verifying work history, and even managing the blacklisting of troublesome users from future productions. The CSI system may also be leveraged for tracking possession of content through the modern media supply chain of suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors – an even more pressing issue as the complexity and volume of files required by 4K content increases dramatically. CSI may even be deployed to track awards screeners, utilizing blockchain and unique watermarking for each screener to reduce piracy. In all cases, the CSI technology results in improved efficiency, consistency, data longevity and content security across productions and studios.


The ETC Adaptive Production Blockchain Working Group drawn from an impressive group of experts employed in wide range of entertainment media technology companies, including chairs Seth Levenson of ETC and Randy Zhang of Cisco, plus members Anthony Anderson of Universal Pictures, Albhy Galuten of Sony, Jim Helman of MovieLabs, Max Roessler of Disney, and Joel Sloss of Microsoft. For more details on the Consortium Shared Identity system they have developed, read the complete article in The SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.








Keywords: blockchain, Entertainment Technology Center, ETC, Consortium Shared Identity, CSI, Adaptive Production Blockchain, Self-sovereign identity, SSI, onboarding, offboarding

Tag(s): Featured , News , Blockchain

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