Recently, the conversation around the need to access content anywhere has been dominated by the need to work from home in response to the global pandemic. But the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create this need—it only accelerated a movement that was already gathering steam.
For some years, we’ve seen production fragmented across the globe. It’s not uncommon to see outside shoots in Western Europe, sound stages in London, post-production in LA, sound mix in San Francisco, and VFX in Montreal. With the need to produce high-quality content more rapidly and more securely, it’s become evident that studios need to reevaluate their processes for media management and content access.
Thinking about this challenge only in the context of working from home obscures the many ways studios stand to benefit from comprehensive, cloud-enabled, centralized content access at every step of the creation process. Here are just a few of those opportunities.
1. Franchise Library Management
With the possible exception of Christopher Nolan movies, multi-million-dollar budgets are rarely granted to productions that don’t already have a pre-built fan base. Besides, the proliferation of delivery platforms incentivizes studios to create franchise material for multiple platforms: think for instance of The Fast and The Furious, with eight main movies plus a spin-off, two direct-to-video short films, and an animated Netflix series (not to mention multiple video games, theme park attractions, and a live show).
This explosion of franchise content has a unique impact on editorial teams. With devoted fan bases scrutinizing every detail, it’s critical that editorial teams stay true to the franchise, studying legacy content as if it were historical research. They need easy access to rush, projects, and production notes so they can bring that research forward into their new projects.
In light of this growing need, the cloud presents an opportunity to rethink library management—reframing it less as a library than as a global approach to reviewing the life of assets, from pre-production to archive, and envisioning how new technology can help support the creative process with ready access to media, enabling reuse of content in a way that was not possible before.
2. New Production Timelines
We can thank subscription platforms for shrinking production timelines: the need for subscription growth requires more and more content, requiring in turn even faster turnaround times. What’s particularly incredible is that, even as quantity grows, quality is growing with it. We’ve never before had such a high quantity of quality content to consume.
Delivering on both these promises—speed and quality—requires an obsessive attention to efficiency across the post pipeline. Here again is an opportunity for cloud-enabled content access to change the equation, not as a replacement of on-premise technology but as an extension of it. The objective is to give creative teams remote access to the content so that they can work even more collaboratively than before. Where before, the stages of the post pipeline were distinct and linear, emerging workflows can align the different stages of the creative process, allowing multiple workstreams to happen at once and more effective collaboration, readily moving content back and forth between different stages without friction.
3. Work from Everywhere
Many other industries embraced remote work long before stay-at-home orders made it a necessity. The media and entertainment industry is different in the sense that a production is a massive team effort, and one that has relied heavily on long hours of face-to-face engagement—working from home has never been seen as an option.
The pandemic cracked (but did not break) this barrier to remote work. However, studios have an opportunity to embrace this change and potentially extend the capabilities built over the last few months of crisis to work with the talent they want, independent of where that talent lives.
The objective here is not to change the creative process but to better support creatives with a new way to work that is better aligned to their personal needs. Some people will want to go to the office every day, others will want to work from home, and some will want to work wherever they happen to find themselves.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The current situation has shown that the cloud is not an objective, but an enabler. The real goal is remote capabilities—the ability to access and work collaboratively on content from everywhere.
The pandemic accelerated the investment in remote capabilities, but we are still on the cusp of understanding what these capabilities will mean for the industry. The next three years will be telling, as we see how studios uncover and embrace these new opportunities.