Outlook: The future of creative workflows is connected
Diana Colella
Issue: November/December 2023

Outlook: The future of creative workflows is connected

Looking at your Netflix home screen or the “What’s Showing” list for a local theater, it’s readily apparent that the visual bar for films, episodic series and video games continues to rise, alongside consumer appetite for amazing new content. As a result, productions have rapidly scaled in size and complexity, introducing collaboration challenges and massive amounts of data to wrangle. 

A typical project often involves thousands of artists from multiple vendors working on hundreds of visual effects shots, CG assets and scenes. With the continued evolution of remote production, more of these artists are working on visuals from different locales, using their respective studio’s preferred toolsets and data storage. What does this lead to? More fragmentation and less creativity. However, more open ways of working are emerging, along with new opportunities for innovation. Technologies connecting every aspect of production are helping to unify people, data and workflows.
At Autodesk, we’re working to enable innovation, starting with creating a more connected, creative and resilient future with Autodesk Flow. It’s our new industry cloud for media & entertainment that puts data, not files, at the center of collaboration to accelerate the development of connected workflows. We want to ensure productions can capture, re-use and track data efficiently, with Flow acting as the single source of truth for all assets, versions and feedback across a production. The goal is for individual artists, entire departments and studios to be able to work on tasks simultaneously, rather than waiting for one group to wrap before another can begin.  
Open standards are integral to the foundation of Flow, which will be an open ecosystem. Content creation tools, like Maya, and third-party solutions, such as SideFX, Avid, and Foundry, will be able to plug into Flow and move data easily across applications. The aim is to make everything from storyboards to concept art to shot metadata captured on set accessible in everyday tools to increase productivity and avoid wasting time chasing down files. 
While open standards are making this new future possible, so are rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). Leveraging data in a connected environment better prepares the industry to use AI responsibly to enhance automation and productivity. Generative scheduling is one area where AI can help automate processes, reducing the time it takes to update a schedule when changes are inevitably made on a production. What used to take hours, can now be done in minutes. With the ability to predict, plan and right-size resources using AI capabilities on Flow, it becomes easier to accommodate last-minute changes and understand how any adjustments will impact the production schedule and budget, and ultimately, a studio’s business.  

It’s clear that connecting data, workflows, teams and studios across the production pipeline is key to a brighter M&E future. Streamlining collaboration is a major step forward in easing some of the pressure felt today so that artists can focus on what matters: their art. We’re excited for the next phase of innovation and look forward to working with the industry to effect meaningful change in 2024 and beyond. 

Diana Colella is the Executive Vice President for Media & Entertainment at Autodesk (www.autodesk.com).