Cloud computing: Hollywood’s next big star

“Take your head out of the clouds.”

“Silver linings.”

“On cloud nine.”

A lot of us comms professionals are guilty of over-using meteorological metaphors when writing about what can often be a dry subject: cloud computing.

IaaS, SaaS and PaaS don’t really sell it. A nice reference to data floating in the ether is far more poetic. The back-end infrastructure of global businesses may rely on cloud technology, but succinctly explaining how it works can be a challenge.

Thankfully, we’ve had the opportunity to work on something revolutionary—launching a cloud product that is so game-changing, it doesn’t need metaphors. And significantly, for an industry that we engage with constantly: film and media production.

Letting the figures speak for themselves

When it comes to blockbuster movies, it isn’t just the budgets and box office revenues that are astronomical. So is their data use.

This article in Wired breaks it down, but a VFX-heavy blockbuster (taking Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as an example) requires up to a petabyte of data to put together. That’s one million gigabytes.

The numbers are huge, and it’s why Weta Digital – the VFX company behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy – has a bigger supercomputer than NASA.

So, imagine taking all the VFX shots required to put together a blockbuster and hosting it on the cloud. That’s exactly what has been enabled by the launch of Athera, by our client Foundry.

You can dig out the specifics of how it works in CGChannel’s write up but, put simply, Athera allows artists to run a VFX studio with just their laptop and a standard web browser.

It means an artist could work from a coffee-shop in London on a piece of work, while another in LA could then make some tweaks themselves. Helping to enable global teams in this way could not only speed up VFX work, but also raise the bar for creative output as more talent gains access to industry-leading tools.

Helping launch Athera in April has been a fun piece of work for us. Even without the cloud metaphors you can see what a difference it will make to a multi-million-dollar industry. Who knows, on your next visit to the cinema you might even see Athera’s work in action.