Let’s face it; nowadays, everyone is faced with millions of people no longer in a conventional office. This lifestyle change is significant, as we all focus on the new norm and work from home.
The media and entertainment industry is no different. If anything, working from home presents bigger obstacles. Post-production editors are dealing with massive files that need to be accessed, collaborated on, and shared with colleagues. There are no more “water cooler” discussions. Most remote workers struggle with bandwidth issues and aren’t used to paying for expensive upload capability and have not needed this type of access before. In order to work on files, editors are downloading digital assets overnight, in hopes that files will be complete by the morning. Production houses are trying everything that might work, like using Gigabit from home. But it is not a methodology for a long-term solution.
In case you missed it, there was an excellent virtual pre-NAB Editors Lounge panel discussion. Industry notables included Katie Hinsen, Executive Producer, Nice Shoes, Terence Curren, Colorist & CEO, AlphaDogs Post Production, Mark Raudonis, Senior VP Post Production, Bunim/Murray Productions, Jeff Sengpieh, Chief Technologist, Key Code Media, with moderator Debra Kaufman, an entertainment technology journalist at USC’s ETCentric.org.
Consistent with the times, much of the panel discussion focused on the topic of remote work. The industry is challenged with providing teams with appropriate data access as well as enabling remote collaboration. Production and post-production will be a train wreck if they can’t figure out how to get the infrastructure ready to support this distributed workforce. No one wants to get caught with their pants down. Key themes that resonate within M&E include difficult access to hardware, lack of technology innovation, and the mounting costs associated with storage and data access.
“We are seeing a sea change on how ‘post’ is done and we need to get ready for that change.”
Anyone in IT right now is scrambling to set up a work-at-home infrastructure that has led to significant supply constraints throughout the ecosystem. These days, hardware seems to be as hard to get as toilet paper or hand sanitizer. According to a recent CRN article, with millions of people working from home, there is a massive spike in technology purchases. Punctuated, in a recent interview, Dell CEO, Michael Dell, told CRN that “demand for work-from-home solutions is very strong.” In addition to just outfitting remote employees, production companies have the issue of getting media assets to workers, which has always been difficult due to the sheer size of files.
Let’s look at how many production houses are managing their media assets and workflows for offsite work. Often they use sneakernet, which is just transferring electronic information and physically moving media such as tape. How does that scale? It doesn’t. And if you have tried AWS Snowball, which uses storage appliances designed to be secure for physical transport, you need someone in IT to set it up. Snowball is not intended for a beginner. And for new remote workers, this presents a whole new challenge. Suddenly, editors need a set of technical skills, along with their creative expertise.
Problem: Enabling remote access to large media files for distributed teams, freelancers, and contractors.
Given the on-going requirements for data access, some teams might have a corporate Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs can work fine across an on-premise, low-latency local area network (LAN), but connecting from a distance results in bad user experience. The truth is that we are all connecting to data from a distance and are searching for a good user experience. (Learn why you don’t need VPNs?)
There are other options like using FTP for file transfer, set up within an organization, or using software like Signiant, which is an FTP, file transfer alternative, and designed for large organizations with big budgets. File sync and share solutions like CentreStack, Dropbox, Box, etc., are available, but are they suitable for M&E? Each solution has its own set of limitations. One more in the mix, specific to media and entertainment, are VDI style solutions like Teraduci. But again, these are expensive solutions using file transfer technology and are better suited for large production houses.
Let’s not forget about collaboration? Remember the water cooler reference? How do these solutions offer the ability to collaborate in real-time on documents no matter where the file or users are located? People are at home on their own; they need to have a solution that provides real-time access to shared data files. Creatives need to create — together.
According to a Hollywood Reporter article, even before the coronavirus pandemic began, production capabilities, via the cloud and other remote services, had been steadily accelerating as production has become more global. These services enable everything from reviewing footage to editing, color grading, and sound post-production, Yet still, the cloud, for many production houses, presents its own set of challenges.
During the NAB Editors Lounge discussion, the panelists referenced “Lift-and-shift” with AWS. Lift-and-shift is the process of migrating a workload from on-premise to AWS with little or no modification. Lift-and-shift is a common route for enterprises to move to the cloud, and can be a transitionary state to a more cloud-native approach. However, for many, “Lift-and-shift” to AWS is not a reality. Some folks said they’d be paying 16K for AWS on-premises solution. That’s totally out of their budget. According to one panelist’s opinion, “We are seeing a sea change on how ‘post’ is done and we need to get ready for that change.”
Remote is our new norm and it’s not going away. According to a recent Gartner CFO survey of 317 finance leaders, 74% of the organizations said that they were going to shift some employees to remote work permanently.
One of the toughest problems the media and entertainment have always faced is enabling access to large files for distributed teams, freelancers, contractors, and remote workers. And the M&E industry is not alone, several sectors like Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), video surveillance, and medical imaging have one thing in common. They all have large, complex files, and they all need access to their remote data to be fast, secure, and possible from any location. There are many ways to do this, yet very few of them are convenient, cost-effective, or cyber secure. New times call for new technology.
We’re in 2020, so why are we turning to older technologies for innovation in the industry? We have a new solution, specifically architected, to solve the problem of distance & latency in cloud environments. LucidLink dramatically boosts responsiveness and allows file data to be delivered efficiently and streamed on-demand. What does this mean in layman terms? It’s really quite simple. LucidLink takes advantage of the best parts of what the cloud has to offer and then some. Lucidlink is a file system for cloud storage. To access your files — from any location — use LucidLink to access data as if it was on your local drive. It’s easy, peasy.
Here’s why we created LucidLink Filespaces. With cloud services and object storage growing exponentially, it became clear to our founders that applying old technology to a new paradigm was broken, and to truly benefit from cloud object storage, a new system had to be built from scratch. Filespaces is a cloud-native file system for modern cloud-computing that transforms the cloud into local storage. Remote users can stream data directly from the cloud. That means no more nighttime downloading of files, no more VPN or FTP sites. You simply open your computer and access LucidLink like any other drive on your system. To top it off, you aren’t limited to specific operating systems. Creatives are on Macs; we support macOS, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
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Cloud storage, done right, is very economical, especially for those industries that have massive amounts of data, think commercials, feature films, reality TV, and documentaries. Many companies are discovering the value of cloud object storage. It is an excellent way to go for the long-term archive of media assets, taking advantage of its elasticity, and durability. File-based workloads that were traditionally run on network-attached storage (NAS) can now run LucidLink. With LucidLink, any application, process, or workflow can benefit from low costs and elastic storage.
In addition to providing streaming access to your data (yes, think of us like Netflix – gone are the days of “buffering”) and support for any OS, we have tackled the issue of security, end-to-end.
How do we secure data? We took a different approach. We encrypt data as soon as it enters our system, and the data remains encrypted throughout its lifecycle. Only the customer holds the key. Neither LucidLink or anyone else, can ever “see” the data. (It also means that we cannot perform a password reset for you, so take care of your password management!) Remember, end-to-end encryption beats encryption at rest. We got you covered.
If you are like most post-production editors, you are using Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid for your editing needs. No worries, you can use Adobe and Avid with LucidLink. We believe this is a game-changer. Got terabytes? Bring them on. Immediately, access your video assets, media images, and any other type of file, no matter the size, quickly and simply with LucidLink. This is the solution for remote access to media assets for the M&E industry. Got remotes? Get LucidLink!