Video Essentials

What NBC Universal Learned About Moving to Cloud-Based Encoding


The cloud is a hot topic for online video. Does it make sense to move your video workflow to the cloud? Are your files secure? Will they get to viewers faster? And will cloud encoding free up your in-house team to work on other things?

MigrateCloudAddressing the topic of cloud-based encoding was Steven Sabonjohn, director of digital media engineering for NBC Universal, during the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles. While moving to the cloud has been a plus for many publishers, some executives at NBCU have proven skeptical. For one thing, they need to know that the cloud is secure.

“There’s still a big perception problem of the cloud that we’re just starting to break through,” Sabonjohn said. “We’ve done a lot of analysis of should we move to the cloud, should we not move to the cloud, and it’s looking promising. The technology’s getting there. The perception on security is getting there, inside. There’s just a few more people to convince to move there.”

Which isn’t to say that NBCU has so far avoided the cloud. In fact, it made extensive use of cloud editing and encoding while presenting the 2012 London Olympics. A partnership with YouTube paved the way.

“Where we have found some great benefits with the cloud, if you can call this the cloud, is with our Olympics ventures. It’s no secret that we were partnered with YouTube for the Olympics, and, if you consider them a cloud, they’re a big enough company, you kind of can do that do that,” Sabonjohn said. “They brought in the content straight from the Olympics committee, and then we were able to use their expansive resources and also use some software services to quickly edit that content and put it online to NBCOlympics.com.”

The results were strong, party because working in the cloud made the editing process much simpler.

“It was incredibly helpful, because we didn’t have to deal with the challenges of bringing the content into our walls, standing up so many hard editors — Final Cuts and Avids. They were used for certain pieces, but for the web clips they weren’t used. We were using cloud-based solutions to do mark-in and mark-out. The turnaround time was incredibly fast,” Sabonjohn added.

For tips on moving to a cloud-based video workflow, watch the full panel discussion below.





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