Imagine acessing all your video content from anywhere in the world, on any device, with the ease of checking a text message. Imagine editing from your phone, rendering it and then sharing your work with anybody in the world with the click of a button.
In a nutshell: storing, editing, sharing, collaborating on and exporting video with your smartphone or tablet device anywhere in the world.
I’ve been involved with the world of online video and mobile for the last four years. As a marketing director for one of the world’s biggest IPTV and video asset management companies and now as co-founder and head of marketing of Wipster, a video share-and-review platform, I’ve been waiting for the film and video community to embrace cloud computing for quite sometime. 2013 is the year the screen industry and the cloud start to form a solid friendship.
Twelve months ago it was a phrase that would elicit blank stares from most; today cloud computing is a familiar term. The top 10 cloud providers, which include the likes of Google, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, grew 37 percent in 2012 while more traditional technology companies grew by only 2 percent. It’s safe to say that cloud computing is not only here to stay but it’s here to change the way many of us do business.
What is cloud computing?
This may get a little nerdy (only a little, I promise). ‘Cloud’ computing comes from the icon often used to represent the internet in diagrams and refers to applications and services offered over the internet. These services are offered from data centers, which collectively are referred to as the ‘cloud’. Any user with an internet connection can store and access their applications and data along with services. Since these services are often connected, users can share information between multiple systems and with other users. But what are the benefits of all this? Here are my top five:
- Remote access. Access your files and content, wherever you are.
- Data backup. All your data is stored and backed up remotely so you never have to worry about losing it.
- Business efficiency. Reduces focus on IT and streamlines processes and operations reducing project delivery time.
- Easily scalable. The cloud gives you the flexibility to modify your levels of required storage, RAM and CPU as your demand grows or decreases.
- Save money. Fewer hardware requirements and the flexibility to scale quickly means less maintenance and power and reduces or eliminates the need for in-house IT staff.
Post-producting and the cloud today
Many video makers are yet to embrace the cloud and that’s OK. Dropbox and Google Docs have worked their way into many of our daily lives making it a little easier to share files and collaborate on documents, but let’s be honest, these tools aren’t designed for video post-production, they’re hacks. So what’s out there for video makers? Looking to the United States and United Kingdom there has been a massive shift towards share and review platforms specifically built for video makers. These are platforms that allow you to easily upload videos, sort them by projects and share them with your private networks. Now here’s the cool part: contextual commenting. You can now provide feedback and comments directly on the video, giving you precise records and removing the time and effort usually spent managing time-coded emails, broken links and unplayable file types. It creates a more efficient share-and-review workflow for work-in-progress videos.
There are few different tools on the market that allow you to do this and coincidently (shameless self promotion actually), Wipster's share-and-review platform does exactly this. We’re only just scratching the surface of what the cloud can do for video makers and it’s exciting to be involved at the very beginning, helping to redefine what the post-production workflow can be.
Post-producting and the cloud tomorrow
Everything is connected, everything is accessible, it’s seamless, it’s beautiful. It’s mobile and cloud editing that will change post-production forever. Dailies sync with your cloud service and automatically get stored in project bins, your predetermined collaborators have instant access on any device, anywhere, and the full edit can be controlled from your tablet device. The ability to remotely share and access content is big; the ability to edit remotely is huge. Suddenly visual effects teams can work from the same assets, allowing each artist to contribute their part of a shot seamlessly, and something that once required a physical space, expensive hardware and software can be achieved from the palm of your hand. I know some people will be skeptical, wondering, “How can you possibly edit on a screen so small?” Well I’m not thinking about the phone or tablet we know today; there are many different visions for the future of mobile computing; one of my favourites is from Aatma Studio, who show us we should never be limited by the size of these devices.
What's currently holding us back?
Before that all happens there are three big hurdles that need to be overcome:
- Bandwidth: It’s simply not there. While the uploading and sharing of low-res video is relatively easy, anything more can be a time-consuming and expensive endeavour. As telcos begin to roll out 4G networks and public wifi becomes more readily available, so too will access to cloud services.
- Hardware: Our mobile devices still don’t have the processing or battery power to handle large amounts of data. Think about how much smartphones and tablets have changed over the last three years; give it a few more and you’ll be able to shoot, edit and distribute a movie from the palm of your hand.
- Security: There are still a lot of concerns and lack of understanding around cloud security; nobody wants their content to be leaked onto the internet. Rest assured, today’s cloud is pretty safe. Most good services have bank-level security so if you’re comfortable banking online, sharing video files should be a breeze. I think this one is more about an education process than a tech restriction.
Right now we’re in the infancy of what cloud computing can do for video, thankfully online video and mobile technology and consumption are two of the web’s biggest areas of growth so you can expect to see some big changes over the next few years. As video on the internet becomes more ubiquitous, more and more businesses and startups will focus their attention on the production, sharing, collaboration and hosting of video in the cloud.