The name Babelsberg is well known to fans of cinema. Silent films such as "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," classics like "Three Wishes for Cinderella,” and blockbusters such as "The Hunger Games" have been filmed in full or partly at the legendary studio some 25 kilometers southwest of Berlin. Today, the location continues to make history: the media industry of Berlin and the surrounding region gathered there for this year's "medientreff" or “media meet-up.” The media.connect brandenburg network and the Open Telekom Cloud were the event’s hosts.
The filmmakers working at Babelsberg Media City have always explored the possibilities of technology. And they did so again on June 12: It saw the launch of Europe’s first commercial, so-called volumetric video studio, which allows three-dimensional films to be produced. In the circular room 32 cameras are placed on walls and ceiling. They record actors from all angles and in different lighting scenes. This creates a lifelike scan – without a green screen or motion capture technology. Holograms can then be created from the image data and integrated into scenes in computer games, corporate films or feature films, for example. This allows the audience to view the actors from any perspective. Using virtual reality glasses they can immerse themselves in the action, move freely around and experience a walk-in film – just like on the holodeck of the science fiction series Star Trek.
The filming in the special studio produces around 1.6 terabytes of data per minute of video. To be able to process this large amount of material, a platform such as the Open Telekom Cloud is crucial. It not only has the storage space to store video data permanently or temporarily, but also has the computing power for the cutting of the film. In addition, finished formats such as series, news broadcasts or feature films can be streamed directly from the cloud via the internet – always optimized for any end device.
The volumetric data will still be stored locally in Babelsberg for the time being. However, visitors to the medientreff 2018 were certain that media production and IT systems will merge completely in the future. While 35-millimeter film was long considered the standard, the medium has evolved rapidly– from analogue film to digital video, from 4:3 to 16:9, from standard, to high and ultra-high definition.
The work processes have also changed: Series and films are produced around the globe. Freelancers overseas cut the material, cutters in Europe do the postproduction, and then service providers in New Zealand add the special effects. Public cloud offerings are the optimal solution for this. Everyone always has access to the latest video material and simply works together with everyone else. This eliminates the need for time-consuming data transfers.
The Open Telekom Cloud offers all the prerequisites for this. Archiving systems are easy to set up and cheap to operate. Confusing tape storage solutions are a thing of the past. If producers want to transcode or encode video files, the required scalable processing power is available: Field Programmable Gate Arrays, FPGA for short, are available to support complex image processing processes with hardware acceleration. Hybrid solutions can also be implemented if part of the Open Telekom Cloud is installed as hardware in the company's own server facility.
The event in Babelsberg showed where the media world is heading," says Ralf Hülsmann, Head of Partner Ecosystem for Cloud at T-Systems' Digital Division. "The Open Telekom Cloud was the sponsor of the medientreff for the first time. The day has shown that we will be there much more often in the future. Not as a host, but as a solution provider for the industry."
Volucap is the company responsible for marketing the volumetric video studio. It was founded by ARRI Cine Technik, the Fraunhofer Institute, Interlake System, Studio Babelsberg and UFA. "Now at the beginning it is of course a very exciting topic, because it is so new and hardly anyone has any experiences with it", says Sven Bliedung, managing director of Volucap GmbH. "But in the long run, this will be a basic technology that everyone will work with eventually. And that will permeate the whole of everyday life."
How is the cloud changing the film industry? Where is the media world heading? The interview with Sven Bliedung and Ralf Hülsmann from medientreff 2018 provides further insights.