Walt Disney Partners With Microsoft To Bring Movies To The Cloud


The Walt Disney Studios "has spent nearly 100 years transporting audiences to new and stunning worlds using groundbreaking technology and a little pixie dust."

From the Steamboat Willie released in 1928, to Peter Pan, and the array of Disney princesses, including Elsa in Frozen, to then the Toy Story franchise, Disney is one of the leaders in the entertainment industry.

In an attempt to challenge Netflix in its own game, the Walt Disney Studios has partnered with Microsoft to move key parts of its movie-making and distribution processes into the cloud.

In a 5-year partnership spearheaded by StudioLAB, which is Disney's internal innovation incubation lab that focuses on advancing the art of storytelling with cutting-edge tools and methods, the company wants to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform all the way "from scene to screen."

“There are tons of benefits of being in the cloud,” as explained by Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris in an interview with Variety, saying that the partnership would allow Walt Disney Studios to collaborate across multiple locations.

“We can be on a set in Australia and editing in Burbank,” he said, as "filmmaking is a global process.”

Microsoft - Walt Disney Studios

As for the initial focus, the collaboration would be moving some of the studios' editing process.

With movies transitioning from physical copy to digital copies put on the internet via streaming services, Disney has what it calls 'Disney+', a subscription video on-demand service.

By moving the process into the cloud, this would lessen the cost on the needs to store and administer many different copies of a single file, as explained by Voris: "For big films, we produce petabytes of data.”

Moving that data from one place to another, there is the risk of footage getting lost, or falling to the wrong hands. “Moving around physical files is a risky proposition," Voris added.

Voris said that Walt Disney Studios chose Microsoft to help its cloud ambitions because some of the company’s cloud competitors weren’t as focused on the media space.

Microsoft's U.S. president Kate Johnson acknowledged that the company was trying to beat the competition in the Hollywood business. "We like to think of us as the platform cloud for media and entertainment," she said.

Another reason why Walt Disney Studios chose Microsoft, according to Johnson, is because competing cloud giants, have their own media businesses. And as for Google and Amazon for example, the two have been accused and under regulators' scrutiny for their data gathering methods and data processing, which are meant to power their own businesses.

"We just don’t do that," Johnson said.

Following the announcement, Walt Disney Studios is already begun implementing production workflows to the Azure platform, with a StudioLAB representative saying that the first movie by Walt Disney on the cloud could hit the big screen in about 12 or 18 months.

Previously, Microsoft has partnered with Sony to bring video games to the cloud.

The two companies are actually archrivals, competing against each other for decades for dominance in the $38 billion video game console market.

But with the internet growing to consume more of people's time, cloud computing is becoming more common. The two companies acknowledged this, and this is why they want to deliver games via streaming service using cloud computing, just like how Netflix does with movies.