Why is M&E Moving to Cloud Media Asset Management?

Cloud technology isn’t new, but doing cloud media asset management is a fairly controversial topic in the M&E industry. Learn why in this article.
Media & Asset Management
September 28, 2022
Why is M&E Moving to Cloud Media Asset Management?

Cloud technology has finally gotten its foothold in the film industry. 

It’s used from content creation to distribution, and used by major studios, visual effects artists, and even smaller production houses. Cloud technology helps with centralizing data, digital assets, processes, and more, which shows how relatively ‘new’ cloud media asset management workflows were created.

But not everyone in the industry is ready to adopt new modern technologies. Some prefer the old ways of film production, and chafe at the modern revolution to manage media assets in the cloud.

So what is driving the shift toward the cloud, and does this transition make sense for every production role and workflow? Let's take a look at these important questions, and the pros and cons of the cloud.

Arguments About the Cloud Within the Media & Entertainment Industry

The cloud provides a common global shared storage and easy file sharing mechanics. It connects fragmented containers of digital assets in storage, such as in a Digital Asset Management System (DAM).

So what, then, do people not like about the cloud? Here are the main ‘cons’ about the cloud we have heard recently:

  • Some job roles won’t work in the cloud well, like a visual development artist.
  • The cloud can cause high latency and poor performance.
  • Critical custom hardware and software should be on- premise, not in the cloud.

Others are voting to move everything into the cloud for ease of use and accessibility. These are the hot topic advantages of the cloud during media production:

  • While it varies per production, putting digital assets in the cloud can make processes less expensive.
  • The cloud is fairly standardized. 
  • Many production roles perform well in the cloud.

What really provides value in a production? To find that answer you have to look at specific workflows for specific production roles that deal with media asset management. Not every workflow can be modernized in the cloud, and for some, putting those workflows into the cloud will be worse than the ‘traditional way’ of completing them. 

Let’s look at a real example of a role that will not work well within the cloud. Say a visual production vendor is working on a project and creates 3D visual artwork, with textures and dynamic lighting. However, they create it with their custom on-premise software. They shouldn’t be pushing their files into the cloud because while the cloud is standardized, the way they create their art is so proprietary that it wouldn’t be worth it to use the cloud.

Interested in being more efficient during production? Download our report on virtual production to learn what critical tools and techniques leading studios are using.

On the other hand, there are many production roles that can benefit from the cloud. A visual effects artist that drafts the different environments and backgrounds, they can easily store their art in the cloud. All they need is Photoshop and a standard desktop because it’s a commodity. 

You can swap out any artist that knows how to make those visuals and the cloud will still be a benefit. Any cloud media asset management workflow that involves standard tools, machines, or people that can be switched out can benefit way more from the cloud.

How did the film industry manage assets before the cloud became widespread? 

Before the cloud, media assets were stored in flash drives, data discs, or even physical printout binders. Storage also used to be in a single facility, and people spent years trying to get those assets and files into an on-premise media asset management platform.

The goal was to create a single storage in one facility that everybody could work off of and share things once a year. In short, they needed the cloud to organize those fragments, and a production platform to organize their digital assets.

The only difference is that now, you can do it globally. 

With the latest technology firmly planting itself in the M&E industry, cloud media asset management has become streamlined. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the cloud was a vital tool for keeping many productions moving.

For example, The Walk had breathtaking 3D visual effects, despite a tight budget and production schedule. One of their advantages was their use of cloud computing and modern technology.

3D Shot from “The Walk”
“This film is a testament to how technology can help a filmmaker get a vision onto the screen that is grander than what the budget is, and do it responsibly.”

- Kevin Baillie, VFX Supervisor

Why has M&E moved media asset management into the cloud?

Many film professionals are moving their media assets to the cloud because it offers an ease of use in sending huge files. It’s a global file sharing and central storage tool that can have different layers of technology on top of it to further enhance its use. 

Creatives don’t lose their creative freedom or performance with the cloud, and it can be extremely secure when configured properly. And to further bolster security while improving asset management, many people use a a DAM platform to ensure their intellectual property is protected.

For productions that have transitioned into using cloud media asset management in their workflows, they have carefully analyzed which roles truly get value from the cloud. They have evaluated the pros and cons above, and not moved to the cloud just because it can enhance a workflow that was previously only done on premises, but because it can add more overall value. 

For example, when talking about virtual production workflows, the cloud can be harnessed holistically across entire productions. This leads to production processes transforming from fragmented siloes into unified and accessible workflows, only separated by departments or tasks. That’s just one of the reasons the M&E industry has begun shifting their standardized processes into the cloud. 

While no tool is a magic bullet, a DAM platform can help you efficiently streamline your cloud media asset management needs. For example, when a file is uploaded into a DAM platform, the file’s metadata is automatically brought into the DAM. Then, because the platform integrates with the cloud, this secure storage turns into a searchable global library for your digital asset needs. 

Cloud Media Asset Management will be in the Future of Production

So, should your media production leverage the cloud? The answer is that it depends, as the process is quite different for every piece of content.

Whether you’re wondering if the content creation, manipulation work, review work, color grading work, or general storage can be useful in the cloud, a good fundamental question to ask is: “Is it better? Is it less expensive?”

In some cases, it might not be. But that answer will vary based on what your cloud media asset management workflow could look like and what type of production you're doing. If what your crew is doing is more standardized and commoditized, it's likely the cloud would offer you benefits. If it's not, there may not be as strong of a payoff, especially if your team is not leveraging a DAM.

Don’t wait to join the productions that are empowered by a modern cloud-hosted shared technology platform – learn more about 5th Kind’s CORE platform today!