How Colorfront has taken the Transkoder mastering system and super-charged it in the Cloud

20 Dec

How Colorfront has taken the Transkoder mastering system and super-charged it in the Cloud

This month's televisual includes a special Colorfront cloud feature by Jon Creamer.

Read the Televisual article here.

You Say You Want A Revolution?

This year has seen accelerated change in cloud-based workflows from many vendors. Most have at best replicated current applications and often with additional bottlenecks and limitations. Not so Colorfront. They have taken Transkoder and super-charged its performance at both ends of the pipeline with lightening fast processing for on-set dailies review and mastering IMF and DCP deliverables at incredibly high speeds. Colorfront Transkoder now also offers realtime streamed playback for client review from multiple high-bandwidth sources with 10bit, 4:4:4 reference quality video – even in PQ for HDR – with embedded AAC audio including 5.1, 7.1 surround and immersive 7.1.4… and all at the click of a mouse. This is not just a step-change. This is a vision (and sound) of the future.

Further down this page, you can hear the experiences and opinions of Tom Mitchell, Mission’s Technical Director about what this means for Mission’s DITs and project budgeting. While Jack Jones, Roundtable Post’s Co-Owner and Digital Colourist picks up on the new benefits of mastering deliverables in the cloud and streaming HDR and Atmos playback for customer review.

The revolution will be televised.

But first, here are the headlines:

How Colorfront has taken the Transkoder mastering system and super-charged it in the Cloud

  • Only pay for what you use hardware solution
  • All data stored in the cloud is nearly always stored in an encrypted form
  • Automated dailies audio sync from cloud storage and highly sophisticated Dolby Atmos mastering & monitoring capabilities.
  • Create, author, modify DCP/IMF deliverables directly from AWS S3 and Azure Cloud Blob Storage
  • Cloud management solution for resources provided with Colorfront Cloud solution.

And introducing Cloud Player for remote video streaming

  • High performance interactive Transkoder/QC Player running in AWS or Azure
  • Real-time playback of footage directly from S3 cloud storage supporting IMF, DCP, ProRes, OpenEXR, DPX, OCN: R3D, Sony Venice, ARRIRAW ARX
  • Professional quality secure virtual remote video output reference quality, color accurate 10-bit 444 UHD HDR video & multi-channel audio
  • AJA and Blackmagic professional video card output via SDI / HDMI including Dolby Vision tunnelling and Nexguard forensic watermarking

What The World Is Waiting For

Tom Mitchell, Technical Director, Mission

We’ve been using Colorfront’s Express Dailies and On-Set Dailies (EXD and OSD) for eight years and they have become one of the key applications we rely on.  All of our senior Mission technicians are familiar with EXD and OSD, and they the only tools for the most demanding projects.

SPEED OF SOUND

As software, Colorfront applications are always preferred as they simplify the working day by automating tasks, such as sound-syncing files and auto-applying looks when first opened in the software. It has a clean and un-confusing interface which is important when you think about operators working long days and through the night for months on end. When you want sound-syncing, the application gives you the sound-syncing tools in a clear and easy to understand way and only the sound-syncing tools or if you want the QC tools it does the same. Ultimately it doesn’t overwhelm the user with all of the application options when they really want something specific.

TIME IS ON MY SIDE

By working with Transkoder for On-Set Dailies we can now access these features in the cloud. This means that repeatable tasks – such as batch converting or transcoding files – can be automated. We can also set up jobs in the cloud without additional capex.

Better still, if we set up the required conversions in advance, we can process multiple deliverables at speed at the end of the day for faster turnarounds. A key component of what we offer is our speed of turnaround for on-set dailies.

If the bandwidth demand increases for a project, we don’t need additional investment but can buy on a ‘pay-as-you-use’ basis and then charge this to the project. This gives us much greater flexibility without the need to consider additional capex that would typically need to be analysed against long term value and depreciated accordingly.

The second advantage is by working with remote work stations in the cloud, we don’t need expensive on-premises hardware to operate it. It can all be done remotely on low cost workstations while taking advantage of the lightening-speed of always-available cloud processing when we need it.

Intermittent (glacier) longer term object storage comes at a lower cost while fast access high-tier storage has been expensive on the cloud. That is until now. Colorfront’s capability to directly access object storage – bypassing the need to move data off object storage on to block-based / file-based storage – reduces the costs of required infrastructure while taking advantage of the lower tiered object storage that AWS offer.

I DON’T WANT TO MISS A THING

An additional benefit is that we can run a super-robust back-up plan at more affordable policies such as co-locating storage for multiple back-ups in more than one data centre. And with the complete statistical reassurance of the Amazon S3 guarantee of the ‘eleven nines safe’ rule is that objects have 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability over a given year which is better than any on-premises guarantee can ever be.

Colorfront has always been extremely good at utilising the hardware that it sits on and maximises its capabilities rather than having bottlenecks and inefficiencies making the task run faster. This is also relevant in the cloud as it works in the same way to maximise remote AWS hardware and contains costs.”

One Day Like This

Jack Jones, Co-Owner & Digital Colourist, Roundtable Post Production

“We purchased Colorfront Transkoder back in early 2017. Following a 30day trial of the software we fell immediately in love with the wide range of ways you can use the product – from outputting multiple deliverables simultaneously (think different languages, texted/textless, framerates and formats) to creating DCPs, IMFs, QC’ing, HDR and more.

On-premises we run it from an HP Z8 G4 and our PixStor infrastructure and have always been impressed by how the application takes maximum advantage of the hardware’s CPU.

BOTH SIDES, NOW

The move towards cloud workflows has been swift and the inevitability of an increasingly cloud-based workflow has felt so much closer than at the start of the year and with it comes exciting new possibilities and opportunities from scalable projects to worldwide collaboration. With productions now actively doing one of their rushes backups in the cloud, it means we can now do end-to-end production without ever leaving the cloud. Transkoder lets us playback directly from S3 cloud storage, so the same place you backup to can now be utilised to speed up post with the additional on-demand grunt of cloud SSD delivering lightening-fast processing on demand.

What was once labour and processing-intensive IMF, DCP, QuickTime, etc. file creation can now be automated with rapid results that were until only recently unimaginable.

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

Using Colorfront’s Streaming Player you can stream sub-second 10bit, 4:4:4 reference quality video with embedded AAC audio including 5.1, 7.1 surround and immersive 7.1.4 and even in PQ for HDR. You can frame sync and down convert the same audio in seconds. You can even run ACES pipelines. Our customers can remotely sign-off sessions without compromising on quality which is vital for high-end productions especially those with immersive audio or HDR. And as a facility we can prepare multiple review copies and deliverables within seconds, remotely and all from within the same application.

All of this project work plays back in realtime in the cloud – including raw media!

As facilities, we’ve all squeezed years of research and development into the space of less than a year. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in the cloud so far and are looking forward to seeing where the cloud can take us! I’m confident that Colorfront Transkoder will play a huge part in that.”

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