HITS Fall: Azure, G2 Immersive Studios Execs Tout Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

The ability of cloud-based archiving to make it easier to find and access an organization’s content, and also safely back up all that data, is among the many benefits of studios transitioning to the cloud, according to executives from Microsoft Azure, production, post production and design studio G2 Immersive Studios, and film and TV production company Threshold Entertainment.

“Disc drives are not forever,” Joel Sloss, senior program manager at Microsoft Azure, said during the morning breakout presentation “Deep-dive: the Tech Behind the Cloud Magic” at the Oct. 4 Hollywood Innovation & Technology Summit (HITS) Fall event.

That was “only pointed out to me like six months ago or so and really made me think that disc drives die even if they’re not being used,” he said. Therefore, if you have a disc drive containing a backup of your content, be aware that “it might not be there” when you need it, he told attendees.

“The era that we’re in right now is kind of groundbreaking because now you really don’t have to have the brick-and-mortar sort of facility” anymore, according to G2 CEO Erick Geisler. Moving to the cloud presents “challenges, but it’s got some really interesting upsides” as well, he said. For one thing, “you can source your talent, realistically, anywhere in the world, or anywhere geographically located that you want them to be,” he pointed out.

What that means is that now, “from a managerial perspective, on a project, you now get to sort of cherry-pick sort of the best of the best and assemble a team that you can work [with] virtually,” he said. That’s a great help because visual effects, animation and post production are “heavily … resource-demanding activities,” he noted.

The cloud also enables you to “scale incredibly quickly,” he said. The technology, meanwhile, is “finally mature enough where the artist who’s sitting at the facility wherever it will be, doesn’t really see a lag when they’re working on a computer that is, say, 200 miles away, and that’s really what this is all about,” he pointed out, adding: “It’s taken a lot of time for it to mature, but it is here now. We are using it on a daily basis. It is ready to go.”

Finding specific content, meanwhile, is easier said than done using on-premises storage, according to the executives.

“Not that long ago, we had cans of film, and you knew where the film was: it was in a can,” Geisler said. But things have changed rapidly. Now, Geisler noted: “You can make infinite copies, you have data, there are hard drives…. One of the advantages of the cloud workflow…is the fact that archiving is a cinch.”

There are also “tools that are built into the Azure workflow that allow you to index all of the material there, and there’s new artificial intelligence programs that are running in the background that can help you transcribe interviews,” as just one example, he said, also making note of the availability of facial recognition and “even sentiment recognition of what people are thinking.”

The session followed an earlier one that was part of the HITS Fall main program, during which Sloss and Threshold CEO and chairman Larry Kasanoff explored how creating cloud-based workflows for new media content provides enormous advantages for film and TV production companies.

HITS Fall was sponsored by Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Box, Ooyala, TiVo, Cognizant, DXC Technology, Gracenote, LiveTiles, ThinkAnalytics, Wasabi, Aspera, EIDR, MicroStrategy, the Trusted Partner Network, human-I-T, Zaszou IT Consulting, OnPrem Solution Partners, and Bob Gold & Associates, and was produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), the Smart Content Council and Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH).

Click here to download audio of the presentation.