×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Walt Disney Studios Teams Up With Microsoft to Make Movies in the Cloud (EXCLUSIVE)

The Walt Disney Studios has partnered with Microsoft to move key parts of its movie-making and distribution processes to the cloud. The five-year partnership is being spearheaded by Disney’s StudioLab, an internal innovation incubation lab, and has the ultimate goal of using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform all the way “from scene to screen,” as the two companies put it in an announcement Friday.

“There are tons of benefits of being in the cloud,” said Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris in an interview with Variety this week. Voris said that the initial focus of the collaboration will be on moving some of the studio’s editing to the cloud, something that will be aided by Microsoft’s existing partnership with creative tools specialist Avid.

Cloud-based editing will allow Walt Disney Studios to more easily collaborate across multiple locations, explained Voris. “We can be on a set in Australia and editing in Burbank,” he said. “Filmmaking is a global process.”

And with Hollywood embracing global streaming services, like Disney does with Disney Plus, it’s only logical that the industry would also look to technology to future-proof its global production pipelines. “It really feels like we are at the tipping point for cloud in media and entertainment,” said Microsoft US president Kate Johnson.

Working collaboratively on the same project in the cloud will also cut down on the need to store and administer many different copies of a file, explained Voris. “For big films, we produce petabytes of data.” And with all that data comes the risk of footage getting lost, or falling into the wrong hands. “Moving around physical files is a risky proposition,” he said.

Voris said that Walt Disney Studios chose Microsoft to kick off its cloud ambitions because some of the company’s cloud competitors weren’t as focused on the media space. Johnson acknowledged that the company was trying to beat the competition in Hollywood. “We like to think of us as the platform cloud for media and entertainment,” she said.

Part of this was due to Microsoft embracing media as a strategic growth opportunity for Azure. However, Johnson also mused that some in Hollywood might be hesitant to work with competing cloud giants that were operating their own media businesses — a not-so-subtle dig at Amazon and Google, which at times have been accused of using some of the data insights they’re getting from partners to supercharge their own businesses. “We just don’t do that,” she said.

Walt Disney Studios and Microsoft have already begun to implement production workflows on the Azure platform, and a StudioLab representative told Variety that the audiences may see first movies that have been edited in the cloud on the big screen in 12 to 18 months. Asked about the prospects of seeing the Microsoft logo appear in the credits of a Disney blockbuster, Johnson quipped: “I can’t wait.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Stephen Fry, David Oyewelo and Nicole

    Stephen Fry, David Oyewelo and Nicole Scherzinger Among Celebs Campaigning for 'Movember' in Charity Video

    Hollywood stars are partnering with men’s health charity, Movember, to support the moustache and raise awareness about the org’s fundraising campaign. Comedians Stephen Fry, Stephen Merchant, actor David Oyewelo and survival expert Bear Grylls join former Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger in a new public service announcement explaining why the ‘stache is so important. Watch [...]

  • YouTube Originals A Heist With Markiplier

    YouTube's First Interactive Special Stars Markiplier and Has 31 Possible Endings

    YouTube is diving into interactive entertainment with a new special featuring popular gaming creator Markiplier as a black-clad super-criminal who tries to steal a priceless artifact from the world’s most secure museum. Along the lines of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” viewers will control the outcome of the interactive movie, “A Heist With Markiplier.” The first-person [...]

  • Euphoria HBO

    'It's an Explosion': Inside the Rising Costs of Making a Scripted TV Series

    When Apple TV plus launches on Nov. 1, it will do so with what’s arguably the most expensive new-series lineup in TV history. Among the streamer’s initial offerings are the drama “The Morning Show,” bearing a price tag believed to be more than $15 million an episode, and the dystopian sci-fi series “See,” which is [...]

  • Erika Nardini - Barstool Sports

    Listen: Barstool Sports CEO Learns From Digital Media's Past Mistakes

    Long before she became CEO of Barstool Sports, Erika Nardini had a front-row seat to the early days of the internet advertising world and she has no intention of repeating its errors. Over a career that saw stops at AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and Demand Media, she watched as the digital powerhouses of yesteryear cluttered the [...]

  • Dany Garcia

    Dany Garcia Invests in Privacy-Focused Social Media Service MeWe

    Dany Garcia, CEO of Seven Bucks Productions and founder, CEO and chairwoman of the Garcia Companies and TGC Management, has taken a minority investment in MeWe, a startup that positions itself as a social network rival to Facebook — but one that gives users full control over their own data and privacy. Garcia co-founded Seven [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Quibi

    Quibi Says It Has Sold Out $150 Million First-Year Ad Inventory

    Nearly six months before Quibi is slated to hit the market, a cluster of large advertisers has committed millions in ad spending to the ambitious — and untested — premium mobile-video brainchild of Jeffrey Katzenberg. Quibi announced that it has sold out its $150 million advertising inventory for the first year. The startup’s category-exclusive ad partners [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content