As we near the end of our second year of widespread remote work, "edit from anywhere" solutions have become robust enough that they're no longer just a pandemic Band-Aid. Avid Senior Solutions Specialist Kent Petersen recently led a webinar taking the public through the details of Avid | Edit On Demand—when to deploy, how to optimize usage on a pre-production basis, and how the SaaS nature of the solution can serve clients with rapidly changing needs.
Avid | Edit On Demand is a suite of products working in concert to deliver the full edit suite experience remotely. Users log in to virtual machines (VM) on their home PC or Mac and can edit media—stored on Avid NEXIS and uploaded or downloaded locally via FileCatalyst—in Media Composer. They can share the VM's screen using Zoom for that over-the-shoulder collaboration experience, and the VMs can also run third-party apps like Adobe After Effects and Boris FX.
There are three major factors to look at when deciding whether Avid | Edit On Demand is a good fit for your company: performance, flexibility, and security.
The use of virtual machines had a pretty bad rap a few years ago. Generally, users had to connect via virtual private network (VPN), and the software simply couldn't handle graphics and media-heavy applications. That all changed with Teradici's PCoIP, which is what Avid uses for its Avid | Edit On Demand solution.
Teradici allows any PC or Mac to connect to VMs. In Avid | Edit On Demand's case, these machines have 112 GiB memory and use either a 6-core with hyper-threading or a 12-core processor.
Because Teradici was designed from the ground up to work with media and graphics, any lag experienced by the user is going to be from the network itself, rather than a software issue. Working with Avid | Edit On Demand should be a close-to-seamless process, so when clients set up a subscription, they should choose the data center closest to the people making the most use of the subscription. Using Azure's speed test, clients can see exactly which network and data center have the least lag; while under 50 milliseconds is optimal, anything under 100 milliseconds will have a negligible effect on the user experience.
Petersen, based in the Toronto area, logged into a VM through an Avid data center running on Azure's U.S. East network and saw lag under 65 milliseconds, resulting in seamless scrubbing through footage and playback.
Collaborating in real time and getting "over-the-shoulder" feedback is essential for work in fast-paced productions, whether that's news or film and TV post-production. Avid | Edit On Demand has an NDI plugin that enables seamless playback over video conferencing and allows for that crucial real-time collaboration that makes projects better.
Post-production houses need to be able to scale up and down depending on the flow of business. And for news organizations looking into cloud news production—especially those exploring a hybrid cloud approach—being able to spin VMs up or down is crucial.
Avid | Edit On Demand subscription offers "seats" and storage. The seats are for around 40 hours per week of use on a given virtual machine, regardless of how many users work on that machine. The seat and storage subscriptions are extremely flexible, though. Organizations can buy one subscription for six seats over three months, or two subscriptions for three seats over the same period of time; the same goes for storage, which can be 4 TB for one month or 1 TB for four months. For those whose needs change on a weekly basis, weekly subscriptions are available as well. These subscriptions can be frozen, stopped, and added to whenever the client wants.
The seats provide a full Media Composer experience that connects to workspaces set up on Avid NEXIS. The virtual machines also remember user preferences, so if one of your editors likes having folders on their desktop, those folders will remain on the desktop as long as they're a user, providing them with the working environment they need to do their best work.
That said, not everyone involved in the editing process needs a seat. Petersen says that typical assistant editor tasks like logging and transcoding don't need this level of functionality. So, save those seat credits for folks who are doing the heavy editing work.
Petersen was able to demonstrate the ease with which you can add and remove users to different workspaces—once your users have been created, a single click enables read/write access.
While creating new users takes seconds, starting your subscription isn't instant in the strictest sense of the word—it takes about two hours for Avid to complete the back-end work on a given subscription. However, companies can set go-live dates well in advance. That way, if you know you're going to need to spin up four VMs for a new project beginning January 3, you can set that up as soon as you seal the deal.
There's even a hybrid cloud application for Avid | Edit On Demand, of particular interest to news organizations dipping their toes into cloud news production—work can be done on-prem and accessed later at home, or turned over to a user working on a different continent.
Virtual machines have been around since the 1990s. Because of security concerns, though, most production facilities have had remote users log in via a VPN, allowing them behind the firewalls that companies often set up.
With Avid | Edit On Demand, there's no need for a VPN since users are logging into specific virtual machines. You can also limit the number of VMs available to users and shut off access to machines and workspaces whenever you need, such as through Zero Trust approach.
The technology that gives us the ability to edit from anywhere has finally caught up with the demand. Performance issues have largely been ironed out, solutions offer an incredible amount of flexibility, and Avid | Edit On Demand can provide a safe environment .
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