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Project Cloud

The Entertainment Technology Center @ the University of Southern California (ETC) “Project Cloud,” brings together a core group of key media and cloud-resource leaders to develop guidelines and accelerate innovation and adoption of next-gen cloud-based content creation and production tools and processes.  The governing body collectively guiding this process is senior executives from the six major studios, in coordination with Rackspace, Seagate/eVault, Hitachi, Wipro, Equinix, Front Porch Digital, IBM/Aspera, Google and other cloud companies. The project explores the life cycle of film and media production, from pre-production collaboration, production, post-production through to archiving.

The specific objectives of this effort focuses on:

  • Bringing together various competitive organizations to work on a common goal
  • Developing an interoperable cloud framework
  • Socializing next generation concepts and cloud-based workflows

https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Milk

MISSION

It is the mission of ETCʼs “Project Cloud” to unite technology leaders and studio executives to assess and define methods that accelerate use of cloud-based resources for the evolution and future of film and media creation, production and distribution.

SCOPE

The scope of “Project Cloud” is pre-production, production, post, and archiving. This project does not explore distribution at this point. These groups have been established: Transport, Security, Data/Metadata, Archive and

Framework. Distribution will potentially be examined as a second phase.

GOALS

  • Promote standards and best practices
  • Create POCʼs, community collaborations, and deliver proactive solutions
  • Open a channel of communication between Sr. Members of the Cloud companies and Studios

TECHNICAL COMMITTEE OBJECTIVES AND EXPLORATION POINTS

The goal for each technical committee is to create agnostic frameworks or standards in which multiple vendors can participate and accomplish coordinated proof of concepts. The following guidelines aid in the creation of technical committee objectives:

  • Build a multi-community team
  • Define a mission & explore current and historical projects in the space
  • Create case studies identifying the opportunities, proof of concepts, and next steps

STRUCTURE

5 Primary teams: Transport, Security, Metadata, Long term Storage and Archive & Framework.  Each team has a lead that defines meeting cadence and objectives timelines.  Quarterly meetings bring all the working groups together to align goals and elaborate project progress.

WORKING GROUPS

TRANSPORT

Introduction: The workflow is now digital. Transporting data to the cloud represents multiple challenges especially with the variation of global locations.  Issues such as data gravity and latency also lead to collaborative workflow challenges.

Objectives: To define architectural solutions that mitigates the complexities of global transport and interoperability across the media and entertainment industry; to address issues such as on-boarding, short-term storage, routing, security, and distribution.

For the latest PPT deck, please contact Erik Weaver (eweaver@etcusc.org)

SECURITY

Introduction:  Security is addressed at many key points during production. Project Cloud focuses on the studios requirement for secure parameters in cloud production. HIPPA and PCI are industry standards for cloud security, transparent and auditable in other industries but not in Media and Entertainment.

Objectives:

  • Identify all relevant content security standards in the media & technology industries
  • Conduct Gap Analysis. Establish a baseline understanding of the standards, best practices, and policies for securing the cloud network infrastructure and the media asset which resides in the many silos
  • Determine that standards & policies correspond to each building-block within the CLOUD framework

Updates: We are currently in collaboration with the CSA (Cloud Security Alliance) & the MPAA to create a cloud security matrix/framework.

METADATA

Introduction:  Metadata is growing in complexity and necessity as the file sizes grow and utilization of the data plays a greater need in the life cycle of production and distribution.

Objectives: To aggregate metadata standards that can feed into an open hardware and software architecture through published APIs /DSL framework to promote collaboration between vendors and content creators yield increased business efficiencies.

LONG-TERM STORAGE AND ARCHIVE

Introduction:  There are three primary archival problems:

  1. The life expectancy of digital storage;
  2. The continued obsolescence of formats and technologies; and
  3. The growing size of data, and the irreplaceable nature of the data.

Objectives:  To define a series hierarchy of kept materials for the archive while working in collaboration with other organizations to create identification of common preservation metadata elements and create the elaboration of ROI and business cases.

FRAMEWORK

Introduction:  There are massive inefficiencies throughout the digital media supply chain. These inefficiencies lead to significant operational waste throughout the content creation process, and to a fragmented consumer experience that is spiraling out of the control of content producers.  The framework is intended to form a common vision for the future of the content lifecycle.  The framework enables fully automated, custom (snowflake) workflows for digital media production in the cloud.

Objectives:  To “guide the media and entertainment community to adopt an ecosystem of open standards that promote collaboration across an open hardware and software framework, with the intent to improve the efficiencies and portability associated with the production and distribution of content.”  The goal is for the industry to come together and architect a common framework of cloud-based technologies that will significantly improve the digital media supply chain and shift control and revenue from third parties to content owners.

The ETC Framework:

    • should deliver an agnostic API framework to enable collaborative interoperability between resource providers of cloud services.
    • is an open source solution providing standards and solution guidelines to support the integration of component building blocks into a media production platform.
    • ETC Cloud Prototype Workflow represents the simple view of an API that captures media and metadata for later consumption by downstream workflows and users.  Here’s an example Workflow in the C4 Domain Language Specific (DSL).
      • Users can define resources and actions in a declarative way.
      • Users are granted rights to entities in the domain for security.
      • The C4 interpreter (backend development in progress and could be specific to each provider) is responsible for interpreting the statements for execution and returning the result (status of success/fail or returned data). An existing vendor could map the C4 language into their existing product APIs.
      • C4 is like Puppet (a declarative domain specific language) for media production workflows rather than server configuration management. Like Puppet, it defines a declarative workflow.  But, unlike Puppet, it also supports direct imperative calls.  Once entities are created you can directly issue imperative actions against them.
      • Entities created in C4 are stateful in the domains and projects so they can be referred to later with shorthand.
      • Requests can be signed for security.
      • When and where do C4 entity files get requested/executed?  Requests are by the client seeking to interact with the system.  Execution is more abstract as the provider can be a collection of orchestrated services.
      • Users can declaratively set up a pipeline of processes on data. The pipeline can stand up to compute nodes as needed for execution.

More information and links to the Github repository can be found at https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Milk

Contact Erik Weaver (eweaver@etcusc.org) for more information about the project.

ETC Cloud Project

Building on foundational work by Art Hair and David Wertheimer, the ETC is bringing major content industry and cloud resources players together to develop a credible high-level next gen production and distribution workflow framework that can inform the development of voluntary standards in this space.

The effort will take into consideration the entire life cycle of film and media production and collaboration, and will leverage lessons learned from a parallel effort underway within the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

An invitation-only organizing meeting for this project will take place on December 20th, from noon-2pm, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts building.

Resources

ETC provides additional references and offers these resources for further information and detail.

- ETC Digital Feedback Session. Coming Soon

- CEA Outlook: Trends to Watch.
View or Download the Report

ETC EVENTS

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Industry Events

2015 International CES
Jan 6-9, 2015 – More Info

2015 HPA Tech Retreat
Feb 9-13, 2015 – More Info

NAB Show
April 11-16, 2015 – More Info