With another IBC under the belt it was clear which direction the big names in non-linear editing are heading – towards the clouds!
I’d heard a lot about Adobe Anywhere over the last 12 months or so, and have been fortunate to have seen some of it, too, but at IBC it was the first time it was out in the public domain and being widely talked about.
As its name implies, Adobe Anywhere enables users to access and work on projects from virtually anywhere – albeit somewhere with reasonable internet bandwidth. The reason some bandwidth is required is that the full, high-resolution media is located on high-speed tier-1 storage back at the users’ facility. Editors can be located offsite, using a standard workstation or laptop running Adobe Premier. As clips are loaded into the source and program monitors of the local Premier application, Adobe’s new back-end Mercury Streaming Engine will stream a lower resolution version of the asset. These are then played as if the media was stored locally. Editors can step though frame-by-frame and even view the assets in full frame. Proxy files are not created and sent, it’s a live steam from the facility directly to the editor’s Premier application.
Adobe Anywhere is the server back at the facility. It’s in charge of controlling what media is sent through the Mercury Streaming Engines and then onto the remote Premier application. The editors don’t have to be remote, they can also be in the facility. They will get to see the same footage and Premier projects as the remote editors, once they have been shared. The great part of this workflow is that Premier is just the same – editors may not even notice they are working remotely. There are a couple of extra steps, like logging in and sharing sequences, but the application is very much the same.
The technology that’s used by Anywhere is key. When play is hit in a remote Premiere, the Mercury Streaming Engine accesses and plays the sequence or clip, renders each frame, and then sends a type of proxy frame via the network to remote Premiere machine. This frame gets displayed in the monitor windows of the local Premier application. Zero processing is done on the remote machine – each frame is displayed straight from the Mercury Streaming Engine.
The Mercury Streaming Engine can include a CUDA-enabled NVIDIA card to take advantage of the GPU processing speed, as seen on the existing Mercury Playback Engine.
Avid’s offering for the same scenario is Avid Interplay Sphere, part of the Interplay Production group. Much like Adobe Anywhere it can take the facility anywhere. Using Avid’s proven ISIS shared storage and Interplay environment, Sphere is an additional component to provide the remote workflow. It makes use of the Interplay Common Playback Service, which provides the streaming service with frame accurate streams to the Editor’s remote Media Composer ready for editing. Avid have kept the well-developed & recognised Media Composer as the edit interface, with Sphere driven from very simple menu options within Media Composer – removing the requirement to lean additional applications and providing the full suite of tools which Media Composer offers.
Avid have looked deep into remote workflows. Accessing a facility’s content remotely is one thing, but working with newly acquired content, which is local, along with the facility’s content is key. Interplay Sphere offers a neat workflow for this. New content, which is local to the remote Media Composer, can be used straight away, after being transferred from the tapeless camera. As a background task, a low-resolution proxy can be uploaded back to the facility. This can then be used by anyone in the Sphere environment. Once the low-resolution version is uploaded, the high-resolution version is pushed back to the facility. Whilst this is being uploaded, the local editor has been using the high-resolution assets stored locally. However, once the upload is completed the sequence flips to the remote high-resolution assets. If the upload of the high-resolution hasn’t completed back to the facility you can setup workflows that allow the low-resolution to be used – even played out, if needed in a tight turnaround workflow.
Interplay Central is also part of Avid remote workflows, it’s very much like Sphere but the key difference is that it uses a thin client. Sphere takes advantage of Media Composer as the edit application, whereas Central uses a web interface. This web interface only allows basic editing, not offering the feature set of a full-blown NLE.
Central is great for news, simple cuts and fast turnaround – all being driven from a remote location. There’s integration with Avid iNEWS, and users can work via their Blackberry and iPad.
One part is clear, be it Adobe or Avid, your facility’s setup is the core to your remote workflows…