Moving to the Cloud: White Paper Examines Post, VFX Concerns

At this week’s HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Springs, Calif., Entertainment Technologies Inc. and cloud specialists RStor will debut a new white paper “Moving to the Cloud: A Practical Migration Guide for Video Production, VFX and Post-Production Operations.”

The paper looks at the workflows and processes in the industry that are ready for cloud migration in 2020; how to cost effectively setup cloud systems; and how to avoid common pitfalls in cloud migration.

Mark Turner, president of Entertainment Technologies and a media and entertainment specialist with RStor, spoke with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about the results of the paper.

MESA: What’s the most surprising finding in this guide for moving video production, VFX and post-production operations to the cloud?

Turner: We did some analysis to look at the cost of storage and compute at the major cloud providers and discovered up to 60% of cloud costs can be spent on data access and movement fees instead of actual storage. That’s hard for people in our industry to understand – we’re used to physically holding files and the notion of being charged to access our media seems odd (our hard drives never charged us to read the data).

I actually think it’s counterproductive for the cloud providers to saddle our industry with confusing costs that require a Phd to understand when they really want to be making the case that cloud is cheaper and easier than our legacy approach. In essence the competition for the cloud providers are not each other but our shared history in trusted workflows using on-prem equipment that have always got the job done. The cloud companies need to be able to present a simple case for why we should give up our legacy approaches and a simple cost effective migration path which is not saddled by micro-charges.

MESA: What are the top barriers to cloud migration for some of these workflows and processes? Cost? File sizes?

Turner: Certainly the size of our files is an issue and we can never have enough bandwidth – as pipes increase so do our file sizes, so I don’t expect we’ll ever have enough bandwidth. We put some recommendations in the paper and one was to always over-spend on bandwidth because you will always fill it. Another was to spend time analyzing data traffic and workflows before a migration – because today most people only assess their capacity (storage, servers, PCs) when they’re running out of resource and start to think about ordering more. But, in the cloud every byte ends up costing you money so it’s important to understand your usage patterns so you’re not surprised by your first bill and also build new workflow and people management systems to ensure you optimize for a cloud world.

MESA: What do you hope readers of this white paper will take away, what lessons can be learned?

Turner: There’s great opportunity in the cloud to dramatically improve efficiencies in our industry and it will happen – we simply can’t increase capacity in post and VFX without getting more efficient. I hope readers will embrace the opportunity and be willing to start a cloud migration process, because if they don’t others will and get out in front of them. I’d hope that everyone can see the potential benefits and takes the time now to learn and look for the opportunities in the change.