blog 2022 7 min read

In conversation with our Head of Cloud Solutions, Niall Thompson

In conversation with our Head of Cloud Solutions, Niall Thompson

We are excited to introduce the very first end-to-end cloud collaboration solution dedicated to the media and entertainment industry. Leading our mission to empower the media and entertainment industry with an end-to-end Cloud platform with improved collaboration for all, is our Head of Cloud Solutions, Niall Thompson. We sat down to discuss the evolution of cloud platforms in media and entertainment and how users of disguise Cloud can benefit from this new solution.

Firstly, let’s talk about you and your career so far. What led you to become disguise’s Head of Cloud Solutions?

I’ve worked across the world in the media and entertainment industry for 15 years. I’m one of the founders of dandelion + burdock, a content production company working with real-time animation for special projects. Through this, I’ve had a history of working on live events, interactive installations and virtual production. In all these endeavours, we have placed a strong emphasis on using technology to empower us as creatives, while also developing custom workflows and software products. In 2015 we created Previz, a previsualisation platform for the web - specifically designed for M&E. Previz enables creative teams to publish and share 3D experiences and streamline their content review process. Late in 2021, Previz was acquired by disguise and became one of the applications in the disguise Cloud Platform, which led me to become disguise’s Head of Cloud Solutions

What is the main mission in your role at disguise?

The aim is to deliver an intuitive cloud-enabled software platform to seamlessly manage technically complex media projects. A cornerstone of our platform is to unlock collaboration between remote teams and create better communication workflows. Another strong aspect that we are focusing on is visualisation. The more we can deliver against this the better we can serve the creative pre-production process. We want to deliver software that has a lasting impact on the way teams approach creative and technical production.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

disguise Cloud is a brand new product category and I feel privileged and honoured to be leading this. It’s been incredibly exciting developing the product strategy to best support production teams. I’m also delighted to continue working with long-time collaborator and co-founder of Previz, Joel Bradbury. Joel joined the disguise team as Cloud Architect and leads the Cloud Engineering team.

What do you like most about the media and entertainment technology industry?

It’s transforming constantly. There’s always a desire to do better than the last production. This means that shows are becoming more ambitious with a heavy reliance on new and innovative technologies, placing a huge burden on the creative studios and technical solutions teams to devise new ways of working. I think we are also starting to see the first successful examples of true hybrid projects where physical and digital mediums combine to reach worldwide audiences.

What are the number one challenges when it comes to collaboration in the media and entertainment industry?

What we’ve seen amongst a large portion of disguise’s user base is that they are jumping from one application to another for different purposes. One app is used for storage, one app is used for preview and one app is used for approval. This results in duplicate files, higher monthly subscription fees and a disjointed workflow. We want to simplify this by launching disguise Cloud, which is the first end-to-end platform for a unified workflow.

Why is disguise launching a Cloud platform?

disguise is, by far, the industry-leading solution for sequencing and playback for the world’s best shows and productions. We know that ambitious and technically complex productions take time to come together so there are longer periods where project stakeholders need to store, preview and review media related to the project. disguise Cloud offers tools to support every aspect of a production.

Our user base is growing and we want to offer more entry points into the disguise ecosystem to better serve the variety of users that are involved in disguise projects."
Niall Thompson, Head of Cloud Solutions, disguise

Why is moving to the Cloud important when it comes to working on a project?

It’s really about collaboration. The media and entertainment industry is already transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure and cloud-based products. We know that it takes a series of teams to put together a successful production and often these teams are in different parts of the world and in different time zones. A cloud-enabled platform unifies these teams. Together, with dedicated applications for the media and entertainment industry, this helps set the foundation for success.

Learn why Cloud is the future of media and entertainment

The first major application of disguise Cloud is disguise Drive. What is the most exciting benefit of disguise Drive?

Every production, whether that’s a show, an installation or a piece of content, has a collection of media attached to it. This rich variety of media can include an array of different file formats, workflow documents and project files. disguise Drive is a brand new way to store, preview and review that media. It becomes the heart of every project, connecting creators, technicians, producers and clients.

How do you envision people will use disguise Drive?

We are not expecting users to change their workflows overnight. disguise Drive is there to complement existing workflows and support them as best as our users see fit. We had a successful beta programme where certain teams used Drive just for client preview and other teams throughout the entire production process. The fact that it can support 3D certainly differentiates it from other platforms and we’ve seen a big speed difference for uploading files when compared to other existing solutions.

How does disguise Drive ensure that files are shared securely?

The disguise Cloud Platform is designed for security and convenience. With the launch of the new platform we are introducing a brand new identity service. The Cloud Login offers flexible, frictionless authentication for all of the Cloud services. We offer Multi-Factor Authentication as standard across all plans as well as letting users authenticate with their preferred, existing, social login credentials. The Cloud Engineering team also commissioned a third-party cyber security service to validate and test our system prior to launch. We passed with flying colours.

What kind of files can it support?

Primarily disguise Drive was built around supporting fairly traditional content like images and video but our goal is to acknowledge the way modern content teams work so we added support for 3D files. We know that 3D is growing as a format whether it’s being used for set designs, character work or animation. disguise Drive today supports .gltf, .glb, .fbx and .obj filetypes. We are also looking into whether we can support .usd which is becoming increasingly popular.

How will disguise Cloud enhance disguise’s overall offering?

We know that today the strength of disguise is in its industry-leading hardware and media server software. disguise Cloud is the first step to building an end-to-end solution - one which supports all aspects of a production. With disguise Cloud, we want to build tools which better serve creatives and producers. Cloud-connected tools offer better opportunities for improved ways of working together as a team. Whether that’s making communication more direct and seamless or offering content production teams a way to visualise their creations throughout the creative process.

What is next for disguise’s Cloud offering?

We’ve built a really talented and efficient team who are all excited about building on top of the Cloud Platform. We have a number of updates to Drive that will be rolling out on a monthly basis and we will be adding other applications to the platform in October. We are very much aware that a lot of our user base is working with real-time engines such as Notch and Unreal so our next R&D project is to look into how best we can support the preview of real-time projects via disguise Cloud.

Sign up for disguise Cloud for free


You may also like