Shifting gears: how cloud is revolutionizing TV post-production

Thanks to OpenStack, DigitalFilm Tree employs multiple clouds to squeeze 3,600 hours of content into one-hour television show hits

Allison Price
June 15, 2015

CUT! Once the cameras stop rolling, post-production magic begins, and a molehill is created from mountains of raw footage. After all, a typical 44-minute television show starts out as 216,000 minutes of content. Until recently, that precious footage went under the arm of a production assistant on an airplane and handed off to awaiting editors in a production suite, but now companies like DigitalFilm Tree are relying on the cloud. Here, the concept of camera-to-cloud is born.

DigitalFilm Tree, a leading post-production company for TV and film based in Los Angeles, has a portfolio including hits such as NCIS: Los AngelesHer and most recently, UnREAL, a television show shot in Vancouver, cut in LA, all on OpenStack.

Superuser sat down with Guillaume Aubuchon, DigitalFilm Tree CTO and Ramy Katrib, founder and CEO of DigitalFilm Tree to discuss how the camera-to-cloud concept is an example of how the industry must inevitably shift from physical and file-based storage to the cloud.

“We are coming out of a 10-year cycle of an industry that is transitioning from physical film and tape to file-based, so the next logical progression is cloud-based,” says Katrib.

Katrib says that at first, the concept of camera to couch was a non-starter, because of the industry’s reliance on vaults and physical management of footage, as this is the precious thing that generates all of their revenue. However, in the last two years, this concept has been socializing much better.

“Now, especially because of the growth of OpenStack, it’s not only being socialized, but it’s happening in real life and that’s what the demo was about,” says Katrib.

Aubuchon joined Jonathan Bryce on the keynote stage in Vancouver to discuss how his team worked with multiple clouds to expedite the digital workflow for the UnREAL editing process, including a live, interactive demo to bring the concept to life.

“We ran our private instances of OpenStack, running our OpenStack application in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and then instantly scaled those workloads out to public cloud with HP and out to hosted private cloud with Blue Box,” says Aubuchon “So, instant, on-demand scalability with two little files.”

Show after show, DigitalFilm Tree is giving their clients access to footage in the cloud, in addition to the industry standard, LTO tapes. Once clients experience having access to their data in one location, it’s been 100 percent acceptance. Something Katrib thinks is a no-brainer.

Looking to the future, DigitalFilm Tree plans to continue riding the cloud wave. Although it is largely a storage and access conversation right now, Aubuchon says they are seeing movement into compute infrastructure and render on the cloud.

Cover Photo by AntoineMeu // CC BY NC