For years computer network engineers have occasionally drawn a cloud in their diagrams – implying a distant reach of the network; usually somewhere where more storage can be accessed. Today, with reasonably high speed internet widely available, that fluffy thing has achieved front-of-stage importance with a rapid expansion of cloud computing service providers offering both storage and processing in their cloud. Or you can even have your own private cloud if you want.

Note that this is not a data center, requiring your computer to have the processing power and programs (apps) to alter and edit your video or audio. Cloud computing can be highly asymmetric – your computer only has to run a browser and upload video to the cloud, in theory all the rest could be done in the cloud – depending on the tools available and how you want to work.

Typically these clouds are accessed via the Internet and offer access to any amount of your uploaded data from any internet connection. There is a very wide range of services available, such as payrolls, tax returns, sales coordination, etc. Some providers offer specific services for the media industry, specializing in video storage, viewing and editing via their cloud. Uploading newly shot footage and editing can be done from anywhere with an internet connection. Once in the cloud, all those allowed to can access the footage by logging onto the website. This has major benefits for location shoots; not least being able to deliver valuable new footage to a safe place without moving. It also helps with studio productions as all required personnel can contribute to the production and post-production, without having to move from their laptop.

Technically cloud services divide into three recognized types:

Software as a Service (SaaS) is popular as it only requires a modest computer on the ground, which basically just has to support a web browser, because all the software and probably quite a bit of storage needed is in the cloud. So, for example, freshly shot video footage could be stored in the cloud. Then it could be, viewed, edited, and reviewed. Another powerful use is planning and organizing production, so everyone is kept up to date.

With Platform as a Service (PaaS) users can run their own applications, provided that it fits with what cloud service operators offer in terms of platforms. When using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) you can run whatever programs you like on the cloud’s available hardware