By Larry Jordan
[ This commentary first aired on the Digital Production Buzz podcast on May 3, 2018. It has been updated for this article. ]
I’ve been thinking…
As I listened to the guests on the Digital Production Buzz since NAB this Spring, I realized that they were describing three bigger technology trends that are causing both opportunity and stress for each of us as filmmakers:
- Extending and upgrading our systems to do more
- Using The Cloud to manage collaboration and workflow
- Improving our ability to store and manage our media
EXTENDING OUR GEAR
When it comes to extending our systems, one of the big questions that confronts Apple as they design the upcoming Mac Pro is how do they allow us to extend and configure the hardware to do what we need for our specific tasks. Additionally, even iMac and laptop owners want the ability to expand their hardware outside the confines of the original box. I get emails every day from filmmakers who are still working with Mac Pros from 2012 or earlier. Not all filmmaking requires the latest gear.
External GPUs are an intriguing – if not yet fully developed – way to improve the performance of one of the big bottlenecks in filmmaking: effects rendering. I expect to learn more about Apple’s medium-term plans at next month’s WWDC conference.
Another trend is balancing the obvious collaboration that The Cloud makes possible, with the equally obvious limitations of security, limited bandwidth, excessive latency and potential for piracy. In addition to storage, The Cloud now supports running “virtual software” remotely so that all calculations are done on remote servers. The end-user now only needs a simple laptop and a web browser to run exceedingly complex software.
Running software in The Cloud reminds me of the original days of computing, where we had a single large mainframe computer with terminals attached to it. This is, essentially, the model of today’s Cloud. Vast computer resources stored “out there,” while we work with simpler devices connected locally. Increasingly, this also means we are moving from owning software to renting it – which has significant benefits for developers, but raises significant questions about who controls access to our data and applications after the production phase is over, or team members retire, or assets need to be archived for the long-term. And thinking about “long-term,” what assurances do we have that any of the files we create today can even be opened five years from now?
Read more of Larry’s thoughts on the technological balance here.