Archive for February, 2010

One giga-reasons why your workflow will change

I’ve once heard someone quip that Google is like a kid with a trust fund and no focus. It’s hard to argue with that interpretation. But yesterday, Google struck a chord with me when they announced an ambitious pilot program to provide 1 Gb per second connections to end customers in select communities. I sure hope my neighborhood in Seattle is one of them.

If Google has their way, we will live in a world where it only takes 5 minutes to transfer a full-length feature film across the internet. It’s fascinating to think how this will change film & motion graphics creation in the future.

The sheer size of video and audio files have always tethered video professionals to their high-powered computers and large storage systems. We seem to consume a near-infinite amount of these resources. These collections of computing power and file storage are so big, it’s not practical to use them from far away. It’s like they have their own gravity, literally pulling people closer and closer.

Immense bandwidth reverses this effect. The resulting efficiency and flexibility will be a huge win for creative people. It also has the power to change our existing tools, including products like After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Consider the implications of massive bandwidth on your workflow. Instead of storing your files in a particular geographic location, your files will effectively be in all locations.

Suddenly, you can live where you want to live, not where your clients are. You can reach more clients in other cities and countries. You can collaborate with your favorite director without moving to L.A for six months. And you can hire the best team, no matter where they live. Our software is going to have to change to reflect and exploit these new ways of working.

Many of today’s complex solutions will wind up as simple-to-use services. Think of your bank of hard drives becoming more like your account. After a dose of ultra-high-bandwidth steroids, it will be like having a wide-area SAN.

It’s not a stretch to envision an After Effects Render Queue that can pull in computing power from a massive render farm located in another state. And you could do this for a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining your own hardware — particularly if you only occasionally need the extra resources.

Equally important, the complexity of video software and hardware deployment can also be reduced. In these conditions, you wouldn’t necessarily have to install software, and the computer doing the real work doesn’t have to be under your desk. This kind of flexibility allows creative business to quickly scale to the correct size for the project at hand.

Increasing internet bandwidth is certainly not a new trend. It’s given rise to the web app phenomenon. Most people don’t install email programs any more. There are also many hybrid applications which are installed locally, but now seem completely useless without the internet. iTunes is a great example of a well conceived, connected application.

Gigabit internet bandwidth provides the breathing room for video software to echo these examples and I’m intrigued by the possibilities.