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Great stories have always been popular, but today’s demand for engaging, original content is unprecedented. Content consumption in all forms has grown dramatically over the last decade, thanks to the proliferation of digital distribution channels and devices. Today truly is a remarkable time for storytellers, and the appetite for their work shows no sign of abating.

Technological advances such as the transition from film to digital capture have made the creation process more efficient, but these advances can’t address challenges present in the full lifecycle of content creation and distribution. More content than ever is flowing through a production pipeline that relies on some digital components combined with legacy practices, tools and systems.

Timelines for delivery are collapsing as networks release a season’s worth of episodes at one time, rather than serially. Blockbuster movies create demand for a wide range of ancillary materials — bonus features, marketing campaigns, VR experiences — that each demand a creative team to manage. And with global audiences clamoring for more, movie and TV productions face greater security challenges than ever.

The Evolution of Media Creation, published by MovieLabs and its member studios, offers the industry a bold 2030 vision for the role technology can play over the next decade to, in their words, “empower storytellers to tell more amazing stories while delivering at speed and efficiency not possible today.”

MovieLabs’ vision is laid out in 10 principles for the use of technology that can help studios break through today’s workflow bottlenecks to leverage talent on a global scale, dramatically improve production efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the security of valuable media assets.

Those principles (see Figure below), which center on the idea of achieving a digital, integrated workflow, are grouped into three overarching categories:

  • A foundation built on cloud technologies
  • Improved access combined with a high degree of security
  • Implementation of smart, software-defined workflows than can provide real-time feedback and eliminate repetitive tasks
10 principles to improve workflow bottlenecks

10 principles to improve workflow bottlenecks.
Model based upon MovieLabs’ The Evolution of Media Creation. Click image to enlarge.

5 phases of an all-digital workflow

Based on our experience, the move to an all-digital workflow can be thought of in five distinct phases.

  1. Building the cloud ecosystem comes first. As MovieLabs suggests, the first step is creating a repository that accepts assets as they are created, and which is globally accessible for all future workflow steps, eliminating the need to duplicate or move content at any point. This ecosystem also provides all the compute power needed for tasks such as rendering and offers complete security.
  2. From pre-production to post, applications reside in a layer built over the cloud ecosystem that supports every step in the workflow, from planning and budgeting to capture and editing to final production and distribution.
  3. The next step is the development of a user interface that supports each persona in the production process, providing them with seamless access to the data they require — personalized, localized and secure.
  4. Many of the gains in digital workflow will be derived from not only making tasks easier to accomplish but also identifying and eliminating many repetitive low-value tasks that can be automated. Further, the right application of analytics will help provide feedback to storytellers to make their work more efficient, further enhancing gains.

Analytics can also be used to help evaluate when certain tasks can be accomplished more cost-effectively. For instance, rendering tasks may be scheduled at a time when compute resources are less expensive.

  1. This kind of workflow can’t be bought off the shelf and brought to life with the push of a button. What’s required is a process of digital integration in which all of these elements are tied together to make the vision a reality.

For example, establishing the foundational workflow might take a few months to achieve. Adding artificial intelligence and analytics follows later, after a few months of historical data has been created. Additional steps follow the introduction of AI to tie it back into the workflow so the insights generated can be implemented.

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The implications of an all-digital workflow on the creative process, from beginning to end, are vast and exciting. More than ever, the world’s best storytellers will have a stage to share their most imaginative, colorful and powerful creations. MovieLabs’ publication offers a clear script for  the future. We can’t wait for the movie!