Focussing on the media sector, the purpose of this business experiment is to use Grid technologies to support and optimise workflow in the Creative Industries - primarily in the area of movie post-production.
The process of film making is extremely complex, and usually involves many partners. Film segments move through various stages during this process (including shooting, scanning, grading and adding visual effects), often with different people and companies being involved at each stage. The current workflow relies heavily on manual data-transfer and makes it difficult to obtain information on the progress of tasks. In particular, the location of film segments is seldom clear.
The outcome of the experiment will be FilmGrid, a Grid-based tool designed to improve film post-production workflow by enabling better management of the flow and availability of data.
The following two videos demonstrate FilmGrid functionality. In order to download the files correctly, you may need to right click on the link and choose "Save Link As...".
There are major opportunities to improve the film post-production workflow by introducing digital data management and data transfer. Communication between partners would become simpler and faster as well as more secure and reliable.
While film technology is embracing the digital present, the process still follows a model suited to the analog past. We are taking the initial steps towards integrating digital film production and post-production. Our objectives are to:
Together this data transfer tool and data management system make up FilmGrid. FilmGrid will be a proof-of-concept forming a basis for further work, rather than a complete and finished product.
FilmGrid uses a distributed architecture, in which film assets (typically film clips) are stored across several servers. This architecture avoids a central point of failure and reduces the number of data transfers.
Each user of the FilmGrid application uses the FilmGrid client to connect to a local server, where they can search for, download and upload assets. Each server communicates with the other servers in the network to obtain an up-to-date list of assets within the network, which the client presents to the user.
A registry server maintains the list of servers within the network, as well as centralised data on the project. In case of the registry being unavailable, the servers will use locally cached data.
An example FilmGrid deployment is shown in the above diagram. There are three companies involved in this production; a central post-production house who are overseeing the project, a VFX house employed to add special effects and a sound editing company who are adding sound effects.
A typical interaction would be:
Several Grid technologies are used within FilmGrid. Globus Toolkit 4 is used to provide secure communications via Grid services and GridFTP provides an efficient, reliable and secure transfer mechanism for the assets.
EPCC, The University of Edinburgh
Experiment coordinator: Grid technology provider
The University of Edinburgh, The Kings Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK
Joe Dunton and Co Ltd (JDC)
End user: rental of video equipment to the movie industry
Elstree Film Studios Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire WD6 1JG, UK