Ahead of the Trends: The empowering consequences of a distributed workforce

The empowering consequences of a distributed workforce

Sohonet’s CEO, Chuck Parker, on the rise of distributed workforces within the media and entertainment industry and the consequences of this change

The technology that has underpinned the foundation and growth of post-production for decades is being replaced at a faster pace and wider scale than many people imagined. 

From first being introduced to render VFX sequences, the use of public cloud in content production has been on an unstoppable trajectory. The next big wave in this revolution is the virtual workstation, unfettered from “the facility” and powerfully enabling a distributed workforce. As you might imagine, freelancers and boutique start-ups are driving the change.

Cloud technology, virtualized servers, software-centric tools, and globally connected, superfast broadband have evolved, impacting the operations of facilities, and cutting down the need for onsite managers and project supervisors. In today’s world, facilities can confidently bid on jobs of any scale and timeframe knowing that they can readily rent physical space in any location flexibly and take advantage of tax breaks while populating projects with the best freelance artists.

With file sizes continuing to increase – 4K, 8K, HDR and HFR – and immersive media, such as VR, emerges, leveraging the cloud will not only be routine for the highest-budget projects and largest vendors, it will be essential for next-generation content creation.

It’s the cloud that will allow a facility to hire the most talented artists and make use of top compute firepower without requiring the massive overheads of physical buildings or legions of staff that have characterized the last two decades of studio post-production. 

To capture a share of the largest blockbuster VFX shot orders or fast turnaround episodic projects for SVODs, it is already preferable to spread the workforce across time zones that cover each corner of the globe.

An enabling factor in the emerging distributed economy is software delivery. Over the past decade, on-premise servers with firmware licenses and locked-in contracts have been evolving toward the greater flexibility of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). All-encompassing software platforms are being broken into constituent parts and replaced by modules with singular functionality (microservices), reduced complexity and risk of critical failure. Distributed team administration and collaboration tools are being preferred over monolithic enterprise models.

These capabilities between major office locations have already been deployed. The next wave of distributed teams will be enabled by massive investment in frictionless collaboration tools (such as cloud video conferencing via Zoom or BlueJeans and remote teamwork with Google Docs or Slack) alongside network infrastructure, driving changes in the way teams consume cloud resources and applications. It will accelerate remote collaboration capabilities and result in more distributed teams. Smaller offices will spread across more metro areas and it will drive the opening of offices in new metros – closer and closer to where freelance talent lives.

 Creative studios will be freed to larger playing fields with great ease, no longer constrained by the physical location of the data. They can take their pick of the best talent regardless if they are based in Brighton, Atlanta, Mumbai or Buenos Aires. They can expand to another country by just hooking into the local secure fast broadband network and quickly spin up another studio.

 The developments powering the rapidly dispersed workforce – the cloud, software, collaborative tools- fuel industry growth with the technological advancements that empower great work–and more of it. Adopting these capabilities early will give companies an edge over their competition.