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ETC Announces Launch of Production in the Cloud Project

The Entertainment Technology Center @ the University of Southern California (ETC) formally launched “Production in the Cloud,” a new project that 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, production, and distribution tools and processes. Senior executives from the six major studios in coordination with Rackspace, EMC, EVault, Dell and other cloud companies convened recently to serve as governing body to collectively guide this process. The project is looking at the entire life cycle of film and media production, from pre-production collaboration and production, to marketing, distribution and all the way through archiving. 

The major technology shift in the entertainment industry from traditional film to digital medium and the corresponding transition to digital asset creation, management and distribution brings with it an urgency to identify the fundamental elements of next-gen workflow that should be common to all solutions.  A foundation of data and metadata interoperability within a workflow framework acceptable to all major constituents will avoid format wars and proprietary solutions.

“When there is no effort to define guidelines for the underlying framework of an emerging technology,” noted Ken Williams, ETC executive director and CEO, “multiple formats evolve and battle for supremacy – like Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD, Beta vs. VHS – bringing uncertainty, inefficiency, and confusion to the marketplace, and slowing product adoption and business growth for all players. This effort will work to avoid those pitfalls in the evolution of production.”

“This is an opportunity to rethink processes and workflows, including exploring the adoption of various cloud-based tools and services for the evolution and future of film and media creation, production and distribution,” said Erik Weaver, project lead at ETC.

The launch of the project follows an initial organizing meeting in late December 2012 when more than 30 representatives of major content, cloud, consulting, and related firms gathered to determine the need and scope for such a unifying effort.

The meeting and a series of follow-up discussions and interviews produced agreement on seven primary areas of focus for the Production in the Cloud project, which are:

  • Transport
  • Data/New Digital Negative
  • Metadata
  • Framework
  • Security
  • Distribution
  • Archiving

A cornerstone of the ETC Production in the Cloud project is the development of interoperable solutions designed on an open framework. The ETC project will utilize the widely accepted OpenStack as the platform on which to develop.

“The mission of OpenStack is to produce the ubiquitous Open Source cloud computing platform that will meet the needs of many production environments regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable,” said Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation. “Our thriving community has produced powerful software and an innovative ecosystem to achieve that goal across a diverse set use cases.  We welcome ETC to the growing number of media and entertainment companies, major retailers, and scientific research projects advancing the OpenStack mission.”

The ETC enjoys a longstanding history as a neutral think tank and research center within USC’s School of Cinematic Arts that convenes executives, innovators, thought leaders and catalysts along with the academic resources of the university.

Interested companies are encouraged to contact Erik Weaver to discuss how they might participate in this initiative.


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ETC Events


ETC Quarterly Board Meeting (closed meeting)
(March 6)

ETC Quarterly All Members Meeting (closed meeting)
(March 21)