Planning Ahead for 2020: Digital Content Challenges for Post Production

By Luis Sierra, Senior Workflow Consultant and Project Manager

Devising digital media workflow solutions with the future in mind is what we do here at Chesapeake Systems – diving deep into the latest products and technologies and thinking about their implications for the road ahead. Now that we are halfway through 2019, business planning for 2020 will be in full swing soon for many in post-production and that means planning for the continuing increase in digital content.

A recent study by Cisco predicts an unprecedented 82% of all Internet traffic will be video media by 2020. Furthermore, as more streaming services are launched – Disney+, Apple TV+, and more – it’s clear that content will continue to be produced at record levels. Even more pressing for networks, news outlets and political influencers is the coverage of the 2020 Presidential race that promises to be unprecedented in its scope and detail, including leveraging video content by any and all means possible.

What does this mean for post-production facilities, departments or in-house post teams? Running out of space will happen faster. Accurately assessing the bandwidth you will need is vital to the process of planning for the future. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your provider’s bandwidth offerings in both upload and download speeds. Having the ability to bring media back quickly has become a key factor in the technical post-production equation. Many providers tout high download speeds, but upload speeds have to be equivalent so that creatives and engineers working behind the scenes have the ability to move and deliver assets in a timely manner.

Along with the significant increase in both quantity and resolution of media being created comes the constant challenge of media management. Questions like whether storage should be cloud-based, on-premises, or both; how team members will locate files; and accessing render locations, have motivated some of the leading solutions providers in post to integrate media asset management, once not considered a significant part of the post deliverable equation. For example, Adobe has beefed up its platform, with the expectation that MAM will now be core to every workflow.

Another trend we are seeing is the investment in the editing process. Platforms like Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve are adding more tools beyond color grading, shifting things like simple VFX work onto the editor’s list of responsibilities. Tracking all the revisions being made by the director, studio, VFX artists and editors must become intuitive to the MAM process, or version control will not only disrupt the workflow but frustrate the people collaborating on a project, who are typically working from locations around the world. For example, in the political realm, a controlled and streamlined environment is key to enjoying all the benefits of a quick response to news events. Getting clicks wins the news cycle race and that translates to viewers and dollars. But you can’t be first without understanding the analytics – how are your videos performing? The impact of content on people – and integrating that analytical response into the workflow and MAM, alongside fast upload/download speeds – is essential for translating success into profit margins … and ultimately having your voice rise above competitors.

Furthermore, once 5G is implemented, editing in the cloud will become even more prevalent, and interest in physical drives will phase out except for those worried about security. Collaborators on a project won’t care whether the footage they are working on is cloud-based or not – as long as it can upload and download quickly, creatives will be happy; however, the fact that 5G will be easily accessible to the masses makes it a security concern. If people can access things quicker, security teams subsequently have less time to react. Two minutes is an eternity if there is a breach. Implementing a solution without thorough attention to the proper permissions, copyrights and licensing to thwart security risks is a recipe for disaster.

We are also experiencing growth in the prevalence and popularity of collaborative workflows and the platforms that cater to them. The evolving capabilities for creative teams to interact with the many members of the post team in real-time is impacting the pace of finishing in the post-production process. Here at Chesapeake, we are currently solving ways to implement an instantaneous, collaborative process into highly flexible and functional workflows, which should be on everyone’s hotlist.

Advancements in Internet technology should also be taken into consideration when planning for 2020. IP-based approaches, as well as rapid enhancements in disk storage technology, have positively affected the performance levels of NAS devices. The speed and agility of NAS setups, which at one time were only available with a SAN, means that media-rich color correction can now be done on a NAS, opening up new doors for how post teams can operate. While this path will be a viable new option for some, post and IT teams need to understand the ideal environment for this type of move. Hurdles in security or scalability can be serious complications in making this transition successful.

In summary, there is a multitude of moving parts to consider as you evaluate your media workflow management needs for 2020 and beyond. We are thinking ahead, and the experts here at Chesapeake Systems are poised to make this evolution the most successful one you can imagine.