BeBop Customer Story – Vice Media & Pre-NAB 2019 Webinar
In case you were unable to join us and our special guest Brian Glover from VICE MEDIA for his customer perspective on post-production and collaboration in the cloud during our Pre-NAB Webinar, we’ve uploaded a copy of the video here for you.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about how you can integrate BeBop Technology into your existing editorial or VFX workflow after watching, please click one of the buttons below, fill out the respective form and one of our professionals will help you get started.
Welcome everyone to BeBop’s pre-NAB 2019 webinar. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m Michael Kammes, director of business development here at BeBop. I’m so thrilled to share some tech with you today and it’s great to see so many familiar faces or should I say names in the webinar today, so thank you, all of you for taking time out during the day to join us. I’m also really excited to have Brian Glover. If you look on the sidebar over there, who’s the director of media engineering for Vice Media? Yes, that Vice Media. He’s with us today for a unique perspective on how Vice Media works with BeBop, which is very cool. Now if you look at the bottom of your screen, you’ll see some very familiar logos. You’ve probably familiar with Amazon and I’m willing to bet, you know Google and Microsoft, but what is new down there is Autodesk.
What’s new is that BeBop and Autodesk recently announced the availability of Autodesk software for VFX like Maya on the BeBop cloud platform. What makes this so exciting is that it adds to the already existing tool set that we already have in the BeBop platform. You’ve already used tools like Abobe Premier Pro and After Effects to do creative editorial and VFX. Now we have Autodesk to do even more VFX effects and creative work. So I think this is going to be fantastic for anyone who wants to create more on the platform with different tools and it really complements the existing tools that we already have with Adobe and due to what we do on the BeBop platform with review and approve and live collaboration. Both of these tools played directly in to the ability to collaborate anywhere in the world with anyone, which is just fantastic.
I highly recommend that you check out the news section of the BeBop Technology website after the webinar obviously but check that out to read all the good news. With that being said, I’m going to pass the baton over to Dave Benson who’s the CTO and co-founder of BeBop, so David, take it away.
Thank you very much, Michael. Good morning everybody and thank you again for joining us. As Michael said, we’re very, very delighted, honored to have our guest, Brian Glover here from Vice Media. As Michael said, yes, that Vice Media. The one that we know and love and we’re going to be talking about some exciting stuff that we have been doing with Vice that we’ve implemented very recently. Some workflows that are actually fully in service and in full production at this point in Vice. And then we’re also going to start talking about a lot of the future planning, other tools, and so on that we have on the BeBop platform that we’re planning to implement with Vice moving forward with Brian and his team. I’ll, I’ll introduce Brian Glover and Brian, and once you give us a quick overview of what you do at Vice and then we can jump in.
Sure, yeah. Thanks for having me, Dave. So I’m part of the media technology team at Vice Media. It’s an arm of the tech org that spun off about two years ago to bring together folks from broadcast engineering production post-production and the IT realm to better serve our creative teams. I’m the director of the media engineering group over there, and we had a unique problem and we sell BeBop as a unique answer. So excited to share a little bit more details on that.
Great. Alright, let’s dive in. As we see here, I’m gonna let Brian walk through this in much more detail, but essentially this is what is happening as we speak at Vice Media and has been in place for many months now. Generally speaking, we have a workflow that is moving existing contribution to feeds, linear feeds and static content from an on-prem device into BeBop where one of the remote editors is leveraging today and planning on many more moving into the future.
Let me just set the stage a little bit for this. If you’re not familiar with Vice, we historically come from the world of print, but we’ve grown into one of the, if not the preeminent youth media news organizations around today. So we’ve been in the business of video production for about 10 years with properties ranging from film to scripted television to nightly newscasts on HBO. Three time Emmy winner. Gonna call that out for Vice News Tonight. Congrats to that team and a wide array of other digital properties and verticals. We have offices in 20+ countries, so we’ve scaled unmanageably almost to a degree, I would say.
Over the past three years, in our Brooklyn office alone, we went from 200 to 1,200 employees. And you can imagine all the growing pains that you go through with some, a scaling of that scale, of that size, I should say. We needed to find a more flexible and creative way to post-produce for some of these edge case scenarios that we’re presented with. There are only so many people we can fit into our production facility, much to the chagrin of the post executives. They would love it if we have infinite seating. Unfortunately that’s not possible. And that brings us to our specific use case that’s outlined in this workflow diagram here. The tech ward was presented with a pretty unique problem. One of the news team’s highly regarded editors was going to relocate to Philadelphia. His wife had gotten a job opportunity down there she couldn’t turn down, so had to relocate.
But the producers at Vice in New York wanted to maintain him on their roster without having him commuting back and forth regularly and disrupting his life. So ultimately the business was asking us to solve the problem of meaningful remote contribution, which was something that we really struggled with for quite a while. So we went through a process of requirement gathering and after a short discovery phase and a nudge from our friends at Adobe, I should call out that we’re an entirely Premiere house, BeBop came into the picture. What BeBop offered us was a seamless way to quickly sync projects, templates, associated assets, etc., to production storage in the cloud for access to edit from any location with the minimal amount of bandwidth requirement. The entire Adobe suite is available there, as mentioned. Fonts and plugins, anything that you would need can be pre-installed there.
And just from my initial experience with just touching a BeBop workstation, the first thing that immediately jumped out to me was just the responsiveness. I’m demoing on my tiny 11 inch Macbook, I’m controlling a workstation in the cloud that is, to be completely honest, better spec than anything we have on-prem and it feels like I’m sitting in front of that workstation. Audio and video are tightly in sync with one another. Keyboard commands committed in a prompt manner and it feels very organic and I’m not exaggerating when I say it is genuinely hard to tell the difference when you really get into the zone and you’re really cutting and moving and shaking. Other notes around this before we really get into this workflow from a security standpoint, obviously two FAs (2 factor-authentication) available, which is fantastic. It’s a requirement on our end.
The administrative interface is complete with all these rich analytics. There’s Rocket, which is a high-speed file transfer protocol that BeBop’s rolled out and it really kind of rolls into this workflow diagram that’s detailed here. So once we on boarded this editor into the BeBop environment, we got him up and running in about a day, I would say. He was able to go in, send, receive assets to and from production storage in New York. He’s able to coordinate with the AE team to media manage products up to him within BeBop so he can edit, export and send the final back down to New York for review and publication and all very seamlessly and painlessly. And again, it happened over a very short period of time. So that’s when the editor brought a more complex problem to us, which is around these contribution feeds. So he wanted to be able to take advantage of these contribution feeds that are coming in at a day to day basis to our master control room.
They might be newsfeeds as you can see in the top left there like AP, Reuters, ABC News, etc., that we subscribe to. Or it could be field teams. So maybe a Vice field team is out in the Midwest somewhere. We need to be able to do frame chase editing or similar within the same kind of constraints of the BeBop environment. And we’ve found a way to do that. And ultimately, it’s not through frame chase editing per se, but it’s what I’ll refer to as faux real-time editing. So we take in those feeds with our base band recorders, the master control room team does, whether it’s our Cinedecks or a MOG or what have you. And we started writing 10 minute segmented files to a BeBop batch folder that’s sitting on our on-prem production storage. So from there, it takes about 2 to 3 minutes depending before the assets become available within the BeBop pod.
But that ultimately means that every 12 to 13 minutes the editor is getting 10 more minutes of footage to work with in real-time. So again, this isn’t franchise editing, but the editor found this to be more than acceptable for his use cases. So he’s able to edit the feed as it’s coming in, like I said, in “faux real-time.” Export the final to the hot folder and BeBop production storage and that seamlessly lands back on our production storage in New York for review and ultimately for submission to the stack for play out that evening. He’s able to contribute in a meaningful way that very closely emulates some of the on-prem workflows that we have in place currently. And all of this is done from the comfort of his home, ultimately. Right? So not everyone is keen on having the convenience of working from home. I’m sure the post executives wouldn’t be too happy if we were able to offer that convenience up to everyone. It’s almost become a bit of a burden because it is so convenient. But overall, throughout this entire process, we found a pretty creative way for this editor to take advantage of these distant broadcast infrastructure in Brooklyn within the BeBop environment, working from an entirely different location and we’re continuing to work with Dave and team to stand up more sophisticated solutions for these kinds of problems and the not so distant future.
Awesome, Brian. Thank you. So I wanted to kind of go back and hit on a couple things that you mentioned and point out almost how fluidly you kind of rolled over them because I think they’ve become almost second nature at this point. But you mentioned in terms of the time it took us to get this editor onboarded and this entire workflow in place and into production, you mentioned it was about a day or so. So that’s a pretty fundamental thing that I want to just point out for everybody online today or anybody watching and the in the future.
This is not something that requires massive project teams. It does not require a massive project planning, project management. All of the things that I think most of us are probably very, very used to when even having conversations about setting up something like this without BeBop. You would certainly be having infrastructure purchase orders and things like that flying all over the place. And it really just is not necessary when you put BeBop into the picture as we’re looking at today. We have the ability in multiple regions, multiple clouds with multiple tools, as Michael said at the top end of is to really get a workflow like this up and running in production and have your editors or any of your artists or anyone using these workstations up and running wherever they are in a very fluid and easy manner.
Just to highlight that, David; this was a team of two on our end and then the actual editor himself that stood up this workflow with your support team within a day. I think that really speaks towards how painless this can be and how easy it can be to, with a little bit of finagling that roster of your premier editors, no pun intended. Even if they decided to relocate, they can still contribute in a meaningful way.
Yes, exactly. And that brings me to my second point is that as you can see in this diagram, the way that we have depicted this, there’s not a really clear indication between on-prem and off-prem. Right? Obviously we’ve got the on-prem indicated in the base van recorder here, but the point is really that as Brian said very eloquently, it’s blurring the lines between what we refer to as cloud and on-prem today. But the reality is that we really shouldn’t care. Right? Your artists shouldn’t care, your editors should not care. All they need to know is that they have their BeBop account, their two-factor authentication, and that they have an ample amount of bandwidth wherever they’re sitting. From that point forward, everything should just work and all the tools should be at their fingertips.
So from here, Brian, what I wanted to get into a little bit here is specifically around this, the term you use, which believe it or not probably has already shown up on our website ’cause I love that term, the faux real-time editing. That was an interesting step that you guys actually took on your own and figured out. Talk a little bit about that because I think that’s really important.
Sure. Yeah. I mean typically what we do is when these contribution feeds are coming in, the MCR team on-prem in New York would pass off a file path, ultimately, to the editors and they would do frame chase editing within Premiere. We couldn’t do that currently but in the BeBop environment, what we discovered is these same tools have the ability to do the same kind of workflow just in a different way.
So instead of having one self-contained file that is constantly growing for the editor to access and edit with, we’re talking about 10 minute segments being lopped off of this feed as it’s coming around. And it is contiguous. We’re not losing frames in between the segments so they get all of the video information that they need in a timely manner. It’s just there’s that 10 minute buffer as opposed to it being immediate. And like I said, the editor was really like, “I have so much footage to go through. Being able to frame chase almost becomes an inconvenience to a degree because I’m just constantly getting in new footage and I’m needing to go in and sub clip and make my markers. It’s almost more palatable to just be getting it in 10 minute chunks in the same way that I would receive camera rolls from out in the field.”
So we use our existing broadcast infrastructure and the base band recorders that we add on-prem to really easily make that switch from growing file to segment and file and all of a sudden boom. We’re ultimately close to editing in real time and in a cloud environment.
Yeah. You said something just now again that I want to point out. The phrase that you used was doing the normal workflow that you’re used to just slightly differently. And that’s a really, really critical concept that is something that we talk about a lot at BeBop because the reality is that cloud workflows and on-prem workflows are not exactly the same. That’s the reality. The good news is that they can be almost exactly similar if you’re willing to accept a little bit of a half step to the left or to the right as the way I usually say it and this a perfect, perfect case of that, as you just described. And what comes out the other end, if the editors and the organization around it that’s used to supporting on-prem workflows can do it slightly differently, then there’s a tremendous amount of value proposition that comes out the other end.
So with that, Brian, let’s move over to talk about some future stuff. There’s two big logos on the screen now, right now in terms of talking about the BeBop Disaster Recovery and BeBop Over the Shoulder (OTS). Normally these are two different topics that we would typically cover, sometimes do a demonstration of Over the Shoulder. But today what we wanted to talk about is both of them almost in the same context of Disaster Recovery because this is a lot of the planning that we’ve started to do with Brian and with his team. And I’ll let Brian kind of lead us into this topic because there’s a lot here and it’s a very interesting perspective that Brian and his team have come up with on how to leverage these tools.
Sure. And let me kind of again, set the stage for this workflow. Another project that came to our team this year was specifically around disaster recovery for our news team. Should the office in New York become inaccessible for some reason, which to be honest, isn’t completely out of the ordinary. We live a block off the river in Brooklyn. It’s a completely realistic situation where that would happen. We’re contractually obligated to deliver a show four days a week. We needed a contingency plan for those worst-case scenarios. We started shopping around, we looked into replicating our production control room services at some offsite facility. It quickly became clear that doing this, even in a region where tax laws make it a little bit easier pill to swallow, It was still cost-prohibitive. So instead of taking that giant leap, what we did is we kind of met in the middle somewhere.
What we ended up doing was retrofitting our DC bureau to act as a secondary edit and playout facility. That said it’s a very small facility. We can’t accommodate the entire Vice News post and production staff out of this smaller facility that is usually staffed by less than 10 people obviously. So what we use BeBop for is to supplement that ultimately. By giving the editors and the producers a secondary way to collaborate for these day of air pieces, we’ve effectively solved that problem. We moved the crucial core personnel to the DC office. So should something happen where we can’t get into Brooklyn and then other ancillary staff that are still very important to what we do could operate out of the BeBop environment when there’s quite frankly just not enough room to keep everyone in the DC bureau.
So what we’re starting to design is kind of a methodology in a workflow for doing that because it has to be preemptive, right? We don’t know a flood’s going to happen tomorrow, so we need to be able to plan up against that. So what we’ve done and what we’re going to do, continue doing is basically earmarking projects and associated media and preemptively syncing them to our DC bureau over a private lines, which we also have in place, considerably more expensive though. But also in parallel, syncing the same projects to BeBop added storage. So giving the teams the ability to have options as to where and how they work with their media. And the OTS module, which is the other side of this, ensures that the staff can still edit and review in real time, wherever they may be, provided, again, provided they have a relatively small amount of bandwidth and they can still collaborate with one another.
As David said, the same kind of way, just maybe a half step to the left or to the right. And what they quickly realize is yes this is different and usually different scares people, but also, wow, this feels very similar to what we do on-prem. It feels organic, the workstation’s responsive. I have the assets and the plugins and the fonts and things like that that I need and it’s, it just makes sense. So overall what we have is a hybrid of the DC bureau and BeBop as our DR solution and should they need to edit out of the BeBop environment using the known tools, the high-speed file transfer Rocket, we can easily sync those assets back down to our DC office, which would be acting as our secondary DR playout center. So it makes DR a lot more palatable is what I would say. So we’re really happy with what we’ve seen so far and looking forward to pushing it a little further in the not so distant future.
Thanks Brian. I want to again go back to a couple of things you hit on here. The thing that strikes me the most about this, and this is a real-world example of things that we’ve talked about a lot in the past and BeBop conceptually, but you guys are Vice Media, right? Very well known. Obviously, a very, we’ll just say very well-funded news organization. And even in your context, the notion of a, what we’ll call it, traditional backup or disaster recovery scenario was just simply cost-prohibitive. And I would make an assumption that that’s a similar position that almost anyone or anyone on this, listening to this webinar today or will be listening to it no matter what organization you are in, whether it’s a large multinational media corporation or a small production house, this topic of disaster recovery is a very, very challenging one.
As you said just a second ago, the blurring of the lines between what we call disaster recovery and what is really just the BeBop platform that you use day in, day out, they really do start to blur into the same thing which is a beautiful, because you almost get, you get to solutions in one at the same time. The Over the Shoulder piece, as I mentioned, this is typically as a standalone product that we have at BeBop. We make it available for all platform users, free of charge. And so talk a little bit about how this falls into and kind of merges into the overall disaster recovery workflow, right? From a collaboration standpoint, if there is an inability for people to get to certain sites or get to certain content that may be in that site, how does the Over the Shoulder piece contribute to that overall workflow?
Sure. Well, I mean the story producers and post producers still want to be involved in the edit. It’s one thing that your edit, your editor I should say, has the media that they need and they can keep working on it. There’s still an aspect of review and approval that is involved in that. So with the OTS module, we have the ability to very easily dial in on that edit session and we can give notes and feedback in real time and really collaborate in the same way. The name says it all, right? It’s like these folks are right over your shoulder. It’s like all you have to do is walk down the hall and just tap them on the shoulder and you can give them feedback. But we’re operating in a cloud environment. So I just think that it really could do wonders should that worst case scenario ever occur.
Like I said, it’s a small office down in DC. We can’t move a staff with 200, 300 people down there, but this kind of finds a way to bridge all the gaps for the folks that can’t go down to the secondary facility. So they can still, as I said, review and edit in real time and work with one another and have that same aspect of review and approval integrated within the experience.
Awesome. So I think that that covers off on the main topics we wanted to talk about. Brian, is there anything else that you wanted to cover? I know that we have a lot of stuff that we’re working on above and beyond this. All very kind of future looking things, but we’re going to save some of that for our next webinar. So stay tuned for those. Before we wrap up, anything that you wanted to cover?
Yeah, I just wanted to say that working with the BeBop team has been a joy. It’s been a very painless and I couldn’t be more thrilled about some of these future use cases that we’ve started to discuss. And as we continue to kind of blur the lines of what’s possible often on-prem, I think you’re going to see that in the next six to 12 months or maybe even sooner that some of those workflows that we never even imagined being possible in the cloud might be relatively straight forward. So really looking forward to working with the BeBop team and the continuing future. And I appreciate the time.
Couldn’t agree more. Thank you very much for joining us today Brian. And I’ll hand it back to Michael to wind us up.
Well thank you guys. I think you may have missed the most important thing and that’s when you’re doing Over the Shoulder, you don’t have a producer breathing in your ear wanting to touch your computer screen or grab your mouse.
Exactly. And I should mention the editor does have control over which screen to share in OTS.
So in conclusion, Brian, thank you for being here. David, thank you so much for everything you do. I wish you could clone multiple versions of both of you. For everyone’s still here, NAB is just a few weeks away. I hope all of you are breaking in your shoes. I hope all of you were taking your emergency because you’re going to need it. What I’d like to ask you to do is when you’re at NAB, track us down. There’ll be a gaggle of people from BeBop at NAB. Tap us on the shoulder, send us tweets, send us emails, yell our names from South Hall. We’d love to talk to you because what we’re doing here at BeBop with all of our partners, including Vice, including Adobe, including Autodesk, is just so exciting, we just want to share it with you. We want to share the technology with you.
As you can see on screen, feel free to drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John will be more than happy to line up some demos and some meetings, and if any of you are interested in kicking the tires, so to speak, on BeBop, we actually have a free trial for 48 hours. There’s a link on our website and as you can see on your screen right now, there’s a, you can go to our website and simply download it. Again, thank you David, thank you Brian, and thank you everyone for attending and we’ll see you next time.