Understanding the Cloud Media Workload: Content Creation

Understanding the Cloud Media Workload: Content Creation

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The HPA Tech Retreat is the pre-eminent gathering of industry-leading thinkers and innovation-focused companies engaged in the creation, management, and dissemination of content. At the HPA Tech Retreat, the most compelling topics facing the media and entertainment landscape today are presented, explored and debated.

Cloud, 5G, Machine Learning, AI, and Data are individually and collectively impacting content creation. Join us for a panel discussion to gain leading-edge insights into key considerations and future trends for content creation from executives and leaders from Metal Toad, Qumulo, Ryot || Verizon Media, and Net Insight.

A Panel Discussion Moderated by Metal Toad

Featuring

  • Ben Gitenstein, Vice President of Products and Solutions at Qumulo
  • Josh Gold, Executive Producer at RYOT || Verizon Media
  • Per Lindgren, Co-Founder and CTO at Net Insight
  • Jonathan Mills, Director of Accounts and Partnerships at Metal Toad (moderator)

Jonathan Mills 

Thanks for joining us today. We're here with an HPA panel on content creation in the cloud. I'm Jonathan Mills. I'm the Director of Accounts and Partnerships at Metal Toad. We're a technology consulting firm that specializes in Media and Entertainment. I'll go ahead and introduce our panelists today, starting with Per Lindgren at Net Insight.

Per Lindgren

Thanks, Jonathan. Hi, folks. My name is Per Lindgren. I'm the CTO and Co-Founder of Net Insight. Net Insight is a video media transport for the contribution of typically live sports and use into the production environments and also for doing the primary distribution out to the playouts and out to the rights holders. 

Jonathan Mills 

Fantastic, thank you, Per. Josh Gold.

Josh Gold

Hi, I'm Josh Gold. I'm the Executive Producer at RYOT, Verizon Media's content innovation studio. And we're focusing on mainly 3D formats and the future of content.

Jonathan Mills 

And Ben. 

Ben Gitenstein 

Hi, everybody, I'm Ben Gitenstein. I run Product at Qumulo. We make petascale file data lakes that customers can use to build awesome content in AWS and on-premises. 

Jonathan Mills 

So, to start off, I want to ask the group how operating in the cloud has changed the content creation or production landscape? And feel free to extend yourselves a little bit.

I think this panel is really about looking around the corner, as much as it is observing what's happening right now in the marketplace. 

Per Lindgren

When it comes to live productions, traditionally, people have been sitting on-prem at the stadiums at the arenas to do the production, then sending back the services and the feeds. That's not been possible because people haven't been able to sit, you know, at the on-prem studios or events. So they'd be forced to really do the productions more remotely and doing distributed or remote productions. Also, making use of people who have literally been sitting at home — so the use of the internet, IP. In that respect, cloud-based workflows  — the flexibility it gives — have been key to this change. This trend is here to stay. 

Jonathan Mills  

Do you see, Josh, enterprise-level content creation changing slowly in this direction as well? I mean, are you seeing adoptions? You know, RYOT is a piece of the larger Verizon Media puzzle. But are you seeing sort of the major networks and studios embracing this as a pilot or MVP approach at this point to try to test the waters? 

Josh Gold

Yeah, completely. I think one of the best examples right now is probably The Mandalorian. That was a full virtual production series. The success of that show, the fidelity of that show, and the fact that they were able to do it on a super innovative bleeding edge stage for a fraction of the cost of what it would have been, or would have run them — even a year ago, two years ago — I think, is proof that everybody is moving in those workflows and those new pipelines. 

Ben Gitenstein

I think that as the world changes in the previous trend — as we all embrace remote work, and we realize that remote work, per Josh's point about The Mandalorian — remote work can really work. I think a lot of what wasn't bolted down will move to the cloud. But one of the things we experienced at least, is that in that process, the heaviest thing is often the data. Getting the data into the public cloud and then having it reside there in low-latency, high performance, secure — all those things —  kind of way, really ends up being an important part of this picture. Again, it's just because the speed of light didn't change. 

Jonathan Mills  

Modularity versus monolithic solutions; each of you represents a piece of a modular workflow in the cloud.

I think it would be helpful for our audience and for me to understand what that piece is specifically from a workflow perspective. Then perhaps how you landed on that, because Per, you’re unique at Net Insight. You must have seen a market — a piece of the market — that needed to be addressed. And here you are, right? So I would be interested to kind of understand where you personally, or where your companies, recognized this transition to modularity in the cloud from a media content perspective.

Per Lindgren

Modularity, we have modularizing and virtualizing, both our cloud-based solutions and actually all old appliance solutions, to really make it modular. What we see when moving into the cloud is driven by the flexibility and the scalability for our customers doing more live productions. Another benefit of bringing everything into the cloud is that you have, all of a sudden, all the content there. People are looking now at the next generation, what they call "sports fan experience," which is more personalized, more social — people are interacting more with each other and with the content. Traditionally, you just had one feed coming out. I usually say live production is a huge content waste. You have 40 cameras in a big sports stadium, but you just had one feed to consumers. Bringing all the feeds into the cloud means you can personalize the content. People can start choosing what type of feed. They can have different angles. You can have a play cam or referee cams, and these things are all possible. You can also do your social media production simultaneously as you do in your main feeds. It just opens up for a new experience for the consumers and the fans.

Jonathan Mills  

I want to stop you and ask, specifically, are you imagining a landscape in which, if you're a soccer fan — you can say I'm a Chelsea fan — that I can go and watch the Chelsea games, and I'm just going to focus on Christian Pulisic because I'm interested in what he's doing? And there will be, potentially, a dedicated feed with just his performance in the game? And then I can watch that as a single stream?

Per Lindgren

Yeah, absolutely. I think that to get much more graphics involved, you can also get the statistics of him while watching him. The same goes for golf or, like I said, a Moto GP. You want to follow your driver, or your player, and you want to select that.  You don't want to watch the one that the producer wants you to watch. You want a more personalized experience. And again, bringing everything into the cloud just gives all those possibilities.

Jonathan Mills  

That modification of consumer behavior is fascinating because you can get to that point where I turn on the game, and I then literally have a choice of how I want to watch it.

Per Lindgren 

The consumer nearly becomes the producer in that respect.

Jonathan Mills 

Josh, I'm sure you have something to say about this.

Josh Gold

Getting into specifics of that example, from Per, we're more or less there. We've been working a lot specifically with the NFL, just based on the Verizon partnership there. It's been fun to figure out what the future of those fan experiences looks like. 

While watching, NFL is one of the most robust statistics APIs in the business. When you could pull that real-time API into a 3D experience and allow the fan, like you said, to click on their favorite player and literally watch real-time stats start to unravel in front of you. Then you toggle over and click on another button, and you get a photo-real avatar of that player that we've captured in the off-season, volumetrically standing next to you in your living room and layer some AI on top of that so that you could actually have a bit of a conversation with your favorite player. All of a sudden, your mind is blown. The fan experience is just completely unique and different. 

So you layer all of these kind of modular functions and experiences on top of each other, that the cloud is really going to unlock. It changes the game for consumers and all of the industry sports. I think fandom is a fun one to discuss because that's happening now. But it really is going to change things very quickly and unlock really cool future instances for us.

Jonathan Mills  

Yeah, I was going to say it doesn't just have to be sports, right? 

Josh Gold

Yeah, anything 

Jonathan Mills 

Any of the Marvel or DC — I mean, you could become part of the Star Wars universe, right?

Josh Gold

Education as well. We're doing a lot with Verizon Innovative Learning division. They fund experiences to try to figure out how to revolutionize education, whether that's in-classroom education, or currently, whether that's at-home education. They're working with different think tanks around the world to figure out what students retain more and why — when they're experiencing something on a 3D level, or customized person to person, or whether they just read it in a textbook — it's all data based. So we're trying to figure out how to make things work in a better way.

Jonathan Mills  

I know I have a lot of friends with children who would be really happy with an AR teacher in their house.

Josh Gold

Or, hear the history of Christopher Columbus from Christopher Columbus, rather than just reading a paragraph in the outdated textbook. There's ways to bring these things to life, which I think allows specifically in education, children to experience things differently, and then retain more hopefully.

Jonathan Mills  

That's super intriguing. Ben?

Ben Gitenstein 

I'm listening to all this, and I'm thinking about this both as a head of product for a company that helps organizations like the other folks on here work with data, but then also just as a consumer to parent, there are a couple of thoughts that come to mind. The first is, it feels like what's happening is, technology is enabling each individual or family to now all of a sudden have a unique experience of the same thing. So, we can all go to the same — I'm a big hockey fan — so we can all go watch the same hockey game. But, we can be following different players. It's the same game, but we're each having a unique experience of it, as opposed to a single monolithic experience. That's a really interesting new world to create for people. We can all go to the same classroom and have each of us working on the same project, but each of us have a different experience of that education. As a kid of the 80s and 90s, that's really different than when I used to go to movies. 

Jonathan Mills  

That sends chills up my arms to be honest. It's really a powerful vision that couldn't exist without the cloud workload at all.

Ben Gitenstein

Yes, and as a head of product for a company. To me, the thing that gets me excited — just about my tiny little role to play in that ecosystem — is the data that fuels all those experiences. The images, the videos, the raw image, and the finished product — all of that is what gets us there. I get very excited about that. Because all of those things, whether you're talking about analyzing distance from catch, or speed of slapshot, or just taking an experience of The Mandalorian and turning it on its head for each different viewer — all of those are fueled by data, pre- and post-production data. For us, what we get excited about every day is, "Okay, how do we make it easier for content creators to put all that data in one place and then seamlessly work from it either on-prem or in the cloud?" (Mostly in the cloud, to be honest.) That gets very exciting. I just think it's cool that we're helping you guys. We play some tiny role to help you guys build those experiences because I want to go experience them.

Jonathan Mills   

Getting a bit granular or tactical — we talked briefly about security concerns. The cloud is the public cloud, right? To frame it, the public cloud is secured by the cloud providers. But in each of your roles, you are individually responsible for securing the data associated with your clients and or your businesses. That is a concern. It's increasingly becoming a very real concern with the number of hacks that we see every day and the number of penetrations that we see into these public clouds. How are you guys mitigating that, at least from what you can talk about publicly? What are your concerns? Are we moving faster than the security apparatus? Do you feel like there's a reasonable set of checks and balances happening in that space?

Per Lindgren

I think as soon as you move to open IP internet and the cloud, of course, security becomes of concern. When we're talking about really high-end content, like The Mandalorian, but also like sports — two, three years ago in the cloud, we mainly did tier two, tier three types of sports. But now, also the tier two, tier one, sports are moving to the cloud. 

Both security and reliability and how you build your processes and workflows to handle redundancy and security are a big concern. And you need to do it right. We are in the early days, and there's so many features and applications possible now. But you also need to tie it together into an end-to-end workflow. The whole workflow has to be secure and redundant, reliable. I think the individual parts people have thought about and made sure, but you have to think about the end-to-end workflow, end-to-end solutions, to make sure it's both reliable and secure and redundant all the way.

Josh Gold

I think for us just being part of a telco, everything is security and protocol first. Then, everything comes after that. It's about the entire pipeline. You know, sometimes we're working on closed IP, sometimes open Internet, but it's always about securing from end-to-end. More often than not, now more than ever is multiple redundancies throughout. So specifically for live, but even in any type of virtual capture, we were building more redundancies and in various fallbacks that we never had to before. It's always top of mind, now.

Ben Gitenstein

I'd also say there's been an interesting change in the industry where we used to think of security and availability as different concerns. We used to think of "Is my data safe?" as different from "Is my workload up, and can I be sure that the workload will never go down?" And I think actually, those two concerns have merged. Now they're kind of the same thing. If the workload goes down, that's a security threat, and a security threat can bring the workload down. Both of those end up being sort of the same net result. So, one of the things we found is, our customers insisting on highly redundant ways of operating — not just because to Josh's point or to Per's, building security depth — but also because they want to make sure that the workload never stops, because the fact is, the factory never stops, right? It's always running. So those two things of security and availability have sort of come together in an interesting way.

Jonathan Mills 

Thanks to you all. That was a really interesting conversation.

Date posted: March 31, 2021

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