For many genres of production, the ability to edit remotely can ease the implementation of fast-turnaround workflows. Such genres include news, sports and high shoot-ratio reality shows. The holy grail for many is said to be cloud editing. But what does that mean? We all know that the term “cloud” has been picked up in earnest by the marketing folks and applied to just about anything accessed via the ‘net. More formal definitions talk of services: platforms as a service (PaaS), software (SaaS) and infrastructure (IaaS). The latter, the provision of infrastructure like storage, is what many think of as the cloud. To complicate definitions, there are public and private clouds, remote and on-premise. So “cloud” editing can mean several things.
For those production genres mentioned above, the primary need is for rough cut editing and shot selection at a location remote from the broadcast facility. The application for news and sport is obvious. For general field production, the ability to start shot selection and a rough cut on-site or near-site can slash turnaround times.
One company that has been in the cloud business since the early days is Forbidden Technologies with its FORscene product. This provides editing software as a service and is typically used for cuts-only editing, but it has added features over time so that now it can be used a a fully-fledged editor with graphics overlays and voice-overs. Although the user see a streamed proxy, the remote server can render out broadcast resolution files as AVC long-GOP up to 100Mb/s. This extends the use to many sports and news applications, where formally a rough-cut EDL would have been finished on a craft edit platform.
Although not one of the big names in the industry, the company has done a deal with Google and was at the heart of NBC’s operation at the London Olympics. So, it can be viewed as a serious player in the editing stakes. During the event, NBC conformed around 2500 hours on the FORscene, and all the YouTube video was edited on FORscene. Forbidden’s secret sauce stems partly from its proprietary codec, and also the way it architects the cloud in a way that scales very well.
The service is well-suited to reality shows where tens of cameras create thousands of clips, all to be sorted and logged. The service has been used on productions where 100,000 clips must be logged and filtered down to a small number to export to the craft editor.
One of the big issues with remote working is the connection quality. FORscene works over the Internet, whereas other solutions typically need corporate managed networks to guarantee performance. FORscene also uses a browser rather than a fully featured client application which must be installed on the target laptop.
I will be covering the subject of remote editing in more detail in the October issue of Broadcast Engineering's world edition.