Ahead In The Cloud

CLEAR from Prime Focus Technologies offers a unique and secure way to produce, process, manage and deliver content for revenue-generating multiplatform opportunities.

Without the revenue to employ privately owned, dedicated facilities, lower-budget independent producers must take advantage of a growing global digital pipeline that enhances collaboration, productivity and asset utilization. Such a pipeline, with caution, can increase monetization opportunities, offering valuable cost efficiencies with little to no upfront capital expenditure.

Prime Focus Technologies (PFT) operates from facilities in North America, the UK and India, and it offers CLEAR, a unique and secure way to produce, process, manage and deliver content for revenue-generating multiplatform opportunities.

CLEAR is obtained through a monthly licensing agreement, and can connect a producer’s online facilities wherever in the world they may be. Once an asset is obtained, a single interface is employed to store, back up, edit, convert, repurpose and distribute the asset through financially tracked channels. PFT also offers a range of services through CLEAR, such as digitization, cataloguing, editing, restoration, subtitling, dubbing, mastering, delivery and offline archiving. Although launched at the last NAB, CLEAR already claims such notable clients as Sony, ESPN Star Sports, British Movietone Library and JWT.

While the cutting edge of cloud computing seeks to consume all the assets associated with project creation, the amount of data storage and the required data throughput remain a daunting challenge. Watching the leading-edge players making huge investments to build the first pure-cloud production community, Ramki Sankaranarayanan, CEO and President of PFT in Mumbai, decided to take a more conservative, yet immediately deployable step.

Back in 2007, Sankaranarayanan started PFT to provide creative and technical services to the film, broadcast, commercials, Internet and media industries. The company quickly grew to employ nearly 3,500 people, with offices in North America, the UK and India, offering an end-to-end solution from preproduction to final delivery—including stereo 3D visual effects, stereo 3D conversion, video and audio postproduction, digital intermediate, equipment hire, multiplatform content operations solutions and digital distribution.

“Our hybrid cloud service, CLEAR, was a logical extension of the global technical services we were offering out of brick-and-mortar facilities, which allows a collaborative experience for all the decision makers in a production-distribution stream,” says Sankaranarayanan.

Echoing DataDirect Networks’ Chatelain, Sankaranarayanan states that his customers’ three most important concerns were content security, very large file accessibility and availability, and reliability of service, but unlike DataDirect Networks, CLEAR wanted to build a practical technology platform that didn’t have to wait for new technology to deal with these three big customer concerns.

Continues Sankaranarayanan, “So we decided to develop a hybrid cloud, where we and our clients could deal with security, large file manipulation and reliability in or out of the cloud—depending on each client’s prime concerns—while we deliver all remaining existing creative services within the cloud.

“I’m a big fan of salesforce.com, which provides complete sales services on the Internet and has some of the same client concerns as the entertainment model,” Sankaranarayanan adds. “I wanted to provide the ‘salesforce.com’ of the production industry. We would take care of the heavy lifting—the servers, the maintenance, administration, security, labor, rendering—and free our clients up to simply rent the services they needed while keeping their crown jewels safe in their own building.