By Dean Fernandes, VP Offer Management, Workplace, Mobility, DXC Technology –
Businesses around the world are getting a crash course in distributed workforce management during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the trends toward remote work and cloud computing were already growing, this crisis has created a new urgency for companies to ensure they have the tools and processes to enable productivity and collaboration across platforms and locations.
For the M&E industry, requirements for high bandwidth, enormous compute power, extreme fidelity and team creativity add to the usual challenges of remote work. At the same time, the continuity of our M&E channels is more important than ever as they play a vital role in keeping people entertained, connected and informed.
The industry’s unique computing needs
As in other industries, entertainment companies have been extending production toolsets to remote sites through the cloud to maximize global collaboration, increase talent access and reduce the need for capital expenditures for on-premises technical infrastructure. But unlike typical office environments, where remote collaboration might require no more than sharing documents or attending online meetings, studio work requires powerful workstations, complex file systems, dynamic workflows and a high degree of in-person collaboration.
Production tasks are highly interactive, whether they involve editing, adding special effects or making sure a shot looks right and everything is in sync. Historically, this has required studios to maintain artists, resources and computing power on campus.
Factors for success
To address the growing need for global collaboration as well as recent work-at-home requirements, DXC Technology is helping entertainment companies transform their processes and technologies to effortlessly connect artists to the data and resources they need regardless of their location. For example, we’ve helped a major animation studio with connectivity techniques and capabilities to bridge production resources on- and off- premises, extend key toolsets to remote sites and help the workforce via distributed workflows.
In our work with entertainment companies, we’ve identified several key components for enabling remote work in the industry, including hardware, effective workflow toolsets and high-performance, secure communications.
On the hardware side, creative employees typically have huge workstations that most people wouldn’t have at home. Studio employees are now using their home machines and peripherals to remotely access these high-end workstations.
Remote access introduces a certain amount of lag or loss of fidelity for color matching, pixel matching and audio synchronization, but production workers are largely able to get their jobs done, and only a few people must return to the campus for work.
To address some of these issues with performance and fidelity, and give the artist a better deskside experience, DXC is helping companies adopt and integrate industry- leading protocols and products that provide high-performance remote access for power users with graphics-intensive applications.
Companies need tools that can not only support multiplatform, hybrid environments, but also enhance performance and provide robust security for the data being transferred. The aim is to give users fast response times and high image quality for editing and other tasks.
We’re doing analysis and integration of these products and working with the vendors to enhance them for studios’ specific needs, for example, supporting specialized peripherals like hardware tablets that let users draw, move artifacts and change colors at the pixel level.
Another key issue is workflow. Content must go through a series of steps before it is ready for production, and each workflow has unique demands that need to be tuned with these remote hosting agents to optimize effectiveness. We’ve developed models for doing that and templates to use as a starting point.
For example, we’ve worked with multiple studios on developing digital content pipelines — sets of digital animation tools and infrastructure that support artists’ workflows end-to-end.
Companies that have been implementing these solutions have a leg up on the competition in their ability to adapt to crises like the one we’re currently experiencing.
The entertainment and technology industries are both evolving rapidly, so new solutions will continue to emerge that enhance remote teams’ effectiveness and accelerate collaboration. Companies will increase their use of analytics, process management and cloud-native technologies to increase availability of digital resources and maximize artists’ time. We can expect to see more rapid development of technologies and work models as the current situation leads companies to innovate in their use of distributed workforces.