Outlook 2019: Media transport over commodity networks is remaking post workflows
Jonathan Solomon
Issue: December 1, 2018

Outlook 2019: Media transport over commodity networks is remaking post workflows

Near realtime, secure transfer of media content is fundamentally changing content creation workflows while bringing tremendous business benefits to production companies. Fast, efficient streaming file movement enables greater collaboration, cost-saving remote work and ultimately higher-quality creative output. 

Color grading is a critical aspect of every film production process, as important to the finished output as editing or sound. It’s technically demanding and requires specialized equipment and a high degree of technical expertise. It’s also subjective, requiring the input of others —whether production supervisor, producer or director — for consensus that the color is consistent with the vision and desired mood and look of a film or television program. 

A fast, reliable data streaming protocol that delivers video streams over Internet WANs is giving creative talent, as well as production executives, newfound freedom and productivity. The standard TCP (transmission control protocol) -based transport applications traditionally used to transfer content over IP networks lack the speed and throughput reliability to securely move large volumes of bandwidth-heavy media content. But today, an innovative data transport technology, like IBM Aspera FASPStream, can deliver media across any distance at playback speed, solving media transport issues by eliminating TCP’s underlying bottlenecks. Delivering video streams with near-zero delay, with content encrypted in transit and with tight user access controls using standard public/private key authentication solves critical legacy transport issues and prevents unauthorized access to live streams. 

It also enables colorists as well as editors to work in their specialized environments, and not necessarily local to the production. High-resolution and high bit-rate content is transferred at the working bit-rate and with extremely minimal latency. So not only can creatives collaborate when needed, but those who need to see and approve a colorist’s or editor’s work can do so from the comfort of a home or office that might be thousands of miles away — at any time of day or night. Because files are sent over standard IP networks, there’s no need for proprietary circuits or networks. And, with inherent bi-directionality, higher levels of interactivity and collaboration are also possible using cameras to capture reactions of those viewing dailies and other materials. 

In addition to saving time and travel costs, enabling more efficient post production workflows, and aiding the creative process, remote workflows are democratizing the content creation process. As long as creatives have the necessary talent and equipment, all that’s required to contribute to a production is a standard internet connection. 

It’s time that all sides of the business recognize what can be gained by moving beyond transport protocols that have been in place for the last 40 years. Technological innovation has moved us beyond the intrinsic limitations of TCP and UDP, removing the restraints by holistically approaching the challenges in a completely differently way. We all stand to gain. 

Jonathan Solomon is strategic initiative engineer, streaming at IBM Aspera, where he helps to build the company’s streaming ecosystem. Over the past 20 years, he has worked in various capacities in broadcast engineering before transforming into a systems and sales engineer. Prior to his current role, he was the senior engineering project manager at WWE. He also served as the director of engineering for Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and as a mobile unit EIC for Game Creek.