Cloud working, fast storage, HDR and 4K are among the technologies revolutionising workflows


With the dust now settled on another NAB trade show, Broadcast asked a number of technology and facilities companies what, for them, have been the true tech trends of 2018 to date.

Setting aside the hype over artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and 8K resolution, what are the trends gaining traction at the coal face of production?

The move to High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging is still one of the main themes in post, believes The Farm Group drama workflow manager Peter Collins.

“The wider adoption of HDR technologies across the board has been an encouraging trend this year for me,” he said. “HDR offers a far more immersive experience than ‘standard’ dynamic range, and we have seen the creative benefits HDR has to offer content creators.”

“Our HDR work on Sky’s Riviera [pictured above] featured in Dolby’s HDR demonstrations at NAB.”

Collins singled out spatial sound mixing as another key trend. “Audio delivery systems increase immersion, and it will be encouraging to see more projects applying this technology to better engage with the audience, both at home and in the theatre,” he said.

Aside from creative trends, Collins cited the universal deliverable file format IMF (Interoperable Master Format) as a helpful development. “IMF is coming to the fore as the answer to many of the questions faced [by those tasked] with creating downstream deliverables, reversioning and beyond.”

There has been a lot of talking up of cloud-based working in recent years, but this has now filtered down to a genuine grass-roots trend that is fast evolving post workflows, argued Milk VFX head of systems Dave Goodbourn.

“We quickly recognised that if we wanted to compete at the top of our game, we would need resources far beyond our internal capacities,” he said.

“We are moving fast towards a complete end-to-end cloud pipeline, from ingestion, storage, workstation and render to delivery.”

“The demands of Netflix, Amazon and high-end TV mean that 4K is becoming the norm,” he added. “Working in the cloud means that scaling up and down for high-resolution projects is far easier and more economical.”

Similarly, Jellyfish Pictures chief technology officer Jeremy Smith said: “Going to NAB 2018 and witnessing the innovation in this area was really great. Cloud providers are developing solutions to enable studios to work in the cloud in a more scalable and flexible fashion.

“I have no doubt that in the near future, this will be the norm and studios resistant to the cloud will struggle to adapt to the changing landscape.”

Meanwhile, Escape Technology chief technology officer Lee Danskin said the combined effect of enhancements in on-prem storage and cloud workflows will have the biggest impact.

“High-performance storage is changing the way broadcasters look at their production workflows – it enables collaborative, centralised editing in native camera raw formats to any resolution.”

“When combined with cloud workflows, it will mean collaborative editing can be achieved from anywhere. We’re seeing many proof-of-concept designs in post-production houses, so we can expect to see more cloud working and fast storage hit the market, which will help to drive a revolution in the way we work.”