The cloud is coming to Hollywood, and leaders are starting to emerge
Apple’s launch of iCloud has sparked a huge amount of attention, and companies like Microsoft and Google are aggressively staking their claims in the cloud as well.
Why all the hype? In an otherwise gloomy economy, the emerging cloud computing industry is one of the few bright spots. According to IDC, the industry is currently worth about $20B year, and is expected to grow by 27% per year through 2014. This makes it the fastest growing industry worldwide, ahead of others like biotech, solar energy, and even video games.
While much of the attention may be focused on big players like Apple and Google, there’s also a quieter revolution that’s happening in Hollywood – and it’s profoundly changing the way that films and TV shows are being made.
For years, the production world has been dominated by three software products: script-writing software Final Draft, which has a commanding 95% share of the market, and Movie Magic Budgeting and Movie Magic Scheduling, both owned by Burbank-based Entertainment Partners.
The problem with these technologies, many observers would say, is that they are incompatible with each other. The cloud is finally offering an opportunity to pull these disparate production tools onto a single platform, and people are getting excited by the prospects. Final Draft has announced that the next version of their software, due in 2012, will have a significant cloud component, and many are expecting Entertainment Partners to make a similar move.
And it’s not just the entrenched software players who are moving into the cloud. There’s also a large number of innovative new production-related apps entering the market, like Scripped, Quick Film Budget and Dot Sub.
With so many different apps out there, the challenge then becomes how to pull them all together, in a way that’s easy to use for creative people – and that doesn’t require dozens of different log-ins and passwords.
But Hollywood is nothing if not creative…and it’s already trying to solve this key problem, with something called a “production management platform”.
This has become such a hot technology area that several companies are already vying to become the leader of the space, in a race to build the production platform that becomes the industry standard.
First out of the gate was Burbank-based Scenechronize, which provides a way to import scripts and create a shoot schedule, as well as distribute production-related documents. The company has raised a total of $9M to be one of the first market entrants…but now they face a host of nimble young competitors, many with more features and the ability to upload and manage video files.
One company that’s getting a lot of attention is New York-based Scenios. The Scenios platform was born out of the TV series Inside the Actors Studio, where it was developed and used before being widely launched last summer at the Produced By conference in Burbank. The company has garnered acclaim for its easy-to-use interface and emphasis on security. The company’s “virtual production office” is a cloud-based center for production information, like the script, schedule and budget – as well as video files like rough cuts and even final productions.
While many consider Scenios to be an emerging leader in terms of producing in the cloud, they are certainly not the only game in town. Companies like Lightspeed EPS and 5thKind offer production platforms of their own, each with decent feature sets on their own right.
The challenge for Hollywood, then, is making sense of these technologies, and deciding which horse they’re going to back. Scenios, Lightspeed and 5thKind were all recently featured at a Producers Guild event in Los Angeles, where they gave side-by-side demos of their platforms. Video of the event is available here – so you can see them for yourself, and come to your own conclusions about which ones you like best.
With all this change in the air, however, one thing is clear:
The cloud is coming to Hollywood, and it will forever change the world of film and television production.