Outlook: Video streaming isn't just for entertainment anymore
Andy Bellamy
Issue: November/December 2020

Outlook: Video streaming isn't just for entertainment anymore

No one was prepared for the tidal wave of change that 2020 brought, yet industries have shown incredible resiliency amidst these turbulent times — post production included. As the global workforce pivoted to a work-from-home structure at the start of the pandemic, creative shops quickly followed suit. Fortuitously, several of them had already started experimenting with remote workflows and have since extended their capabilities. As the creative industry has settled into this new way of working, in-person discussions on styles, looks and edits are now largely done virtually, though with adjustments still done in realtime, often with help from the same technology that delivers your favorite OTT content. Beyond simply providing a path to binge-watching, that same video streaming technology is quickly becoming a vital tool in the post production review and collaboration process.  

In a little under a year, the benefits of remote working have begun to resonate among post studios — from the ability to expand your talent pool beyond geographic borders to employee satisfaction, travel savings and more. With these discoveries, more shops are doubling down on video streaming infrastructure to maintain a client experience akin to being in-person. Thankfully, a plethora of solutions and paths exist to implement affordable, intuitive streaming workflows. One such method is using an audio and video I/O card to directly output an editorial timeline through popular streaming software and to the producer or director, who can then view it in realtime remotely from wherever they’re located. Alternatively, the output can be sent through a more sophisticated, and secure video transport device like AJA Bridge Live to multiple end destinations, or to a content delivery network (CDN). For a simpler setup, a streamer/encoder like AJA Helo can be used to stream an HD feed of a review session to a password-protected website. 

Regardless of the approach a studio or production takes to incorporate streaming into workflows for remote collaboration and review, there are several key considerations. Latency, for instance, is crucial. When communicating about a shot, there needs to be minimal delay between the editor’s view and what the end viewer sees to ensure accuracy. Quality encoding is another important variable, as it helps ensure that the artistic integrity of the work is maintained and prevents sync issues as content is compressed. Shops should also think about whether or not they’ll need to be able to support 4K or if HD is sufficient, as these factors will impact technology purchase decisions, and network connectivity must be taken into account. 

For the foreseeable future, in-person creative review sessions will remain on-hold, but to keep projects on track and meet deadlines, remote collaboration workflows are essential, and on-premises streaming technology is a key part of the equation. It helps ensure that the process is as realtime and interactive as possible for all parties involved, as opposed to shipping drives back and forth, or using connected apps. As more post shops embrace streaming technology for remote collaboration and review sessions, it will be challenging to ignore the cost and time savings that these workflows enable, and we expect to see explosive growth in this market in the next year.

Andy Bellamy is Product Marketing Manager for AJA Video Systems (www.aja.com), based in Grass Valley, CA.