Opus Post Production is the largest post-production house in Israel, with 100 Avid suites for offline, online, color grading, and sound design, 900TB of NEXIS storage, 20 full-time staff and about 100 creative professionals coming through their doors at any given time. They specialize in complex TV shows that require many edit suites, tons of storage, and ample flexibility.
That focus on flexible solutions was a true blessing when coronavirus quarantines forced Opus to limit access to their facility. Because they’d already invested in remote editing capabilities prior to the onset of the coronavirus crisis, they were ready to spin up fully remote operations to keep their productions going strong.
Avid caught up with Dori Bashan, Opus’ VP of Technical Development, to get the details of their remote workflow and capture their advice for other post-production houses adjusting to a new way of working.
You began investigating remote editing capabilities long before the coronavirus pandemic. What prompted that investigation, and why was investing in these capabilities important for your team?
We started to look into remote editing six or seven years ago, when people were under the impression that it would take 15 years before the technology would be ready. I even remember meeting with Gil Mitrany, Opus’ founder and CEO, to talk about how soon we could be ready for remote editing—this was in 2014 if I recall correctly.
“Cloud” was one of the most-searched words on Google back then. Everybody wanted to work in the cloud—from home users using consumer cloud storage to enterprises moving databases to the cloud—but video editing in the cloud was impossible.
This changed when Avid started to qualify Media Composer to work in a virtual machine and partnered with Teradici for use of the PCoIP protocol, which we’ve been working with and testing for the last three years.
We wanted to know and understand what’s possible so we could instruct our team and the remote editors on what to expect when working from home, and—most importantly—keep the connection secure. We started to learn: What exact bandwidth is needed for each screen? Will full-screen playback work over the internet? What’s better, to use a PC or a Mac to connect remotely or to use Teradici zero clients? What’s the best way to secure a remote connection? How do we implement two-factor authentication for extra security?
Opus Post has been able to replicate the in-facility experience for editors working from home.
Can you describe your setup?
Currently we have 25 editors working from home, while the others are working inside the facility. We use a symmetric 1Gb/s fabric internet connection and a VPN with two-factor authentication to connect to the facility, and then either a PC or a Mac with Teradici Cloud Access software or a zero client to connect to the edit suite. We discovered that we get the best performance using a zero client with the Teradici TERA2 processor.
We wanted to maintain the workflow as much as possible for the remote editors, so we deployed Media Composer Cloud VM and Teradici Graphics Agent on the same workstation that they are working on when they work inside the facility. This way the editors feel like nothing has changed, and they feel comfortable working from home or inside Opus with the exact same experience.
There are a few different options for enabling remote work, from simple remote access to a virtualized environment to a fully cloud-based workflow. Why was a virtualized environment the right choice for you?
Simple remote access tools, like Team Viewer or Anydesk, were invented for IT teams to help end users. These tools aren’t ideal for video streaming, video-audio sync, or anything requiring fast performance.
On the other hand, fully public cloud is an option, but it didn’t address our security requirements.
We chose to go with physical HP workstations configured with Media Composer Cloud VM because it’s a very reliable option—we upgraded our infrastructure and configured our data center to act as a private cloud, and it’s working great. Also, we felt that using physical machines configured as VMs was the most reasonable way to get operating as quickly as possible. Thanks to a quick response from Draco LTD, our reseller, we were up and running with 25 Media Composer Cloud VM licenses in no time.
Scene from The Grave, a drama edited at Opus Post. Image courtesy of Drama Team. Photo by Nitai Netzer.
What advice can you give to post-production teams that are challenged by the transition to remote collaboration? What worked well for you that they can emulate?
The combination of Media Composer Cloud VM with Teradici PCoIP is bulletproof.
The necessary infrastructure isn’t too complicated these days, at least for post-production teams that need fewer than five remote editing suites. For enterprises that need a lot of remote users, I would suggest relying on a technical expert who understands both the Avid world and the VM world, and to read their documentation for VM best practices again and again, as most of the needed info is already there.
Now that remote work is a necessity rather than a nice-to-have, has your perspective on remote collaboration changed? Do you think anything that you’re learning now is going to impact the way you work when this crisis is over?
Of course, I believe this crisis has taught everyone worldwide that working from home can be a great option, not only in post-production but in general. Just to think what effect having so many people work from home has had on things like air pollution, traffic accidents, etc., is truly amazing.
For the post-production world, I am sure that remote editing is here to stay. In the future there will be a mix of editors working inside the facility with editors who are working remotely. I’m currently designing Opus’ new server room with remote editing in mind—it will be based entirely on Avid edit suites running on virtual machines.