NBC’s (other) Olympics innovation

August 16, 2012, 4:33 PM UTC

It took a lot of heat for its tape-delayed footage, but NBC used some cutting-edge technology to cover the Olympics. Rather than over burdening its own storage space and hardware, the network used file-sharing service YouSendIt to send large video files and cloud-based video editor FORscene to edit its footage.

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YouSendIt reported a huge spike in activity from NBC users as the network moved its production facilities to London for the Olympics. Over the last 30 days, users in the NBC domain exchanged nearly 54,000 files, a total of 4.0 TB in data. That’s almost 40 days of continuous high-definition video coverage. A representative for YouSendIt, Kiersten Hollars says that while NBC isn’t a corporate account, there are several individual users in the company.

While sending files on the cloud isn’t a new phenomenon, editing video on the cloud is. Most broadcast companies have their own video-editing machines or use hardware specific software like Avid (AVID) or Apple’s (AAPL) Final Cut Pro. The machines are expensive and designed for one person to use at a time. Enter FORscene, a cloud-based video-editing platform developed by the U.K.-based Forbidden Technologies.

Using FORscene, teams of NBC editors were able to do frame-accurate editing of HD video from multiple feeds, with the finished products being distributed through YouTube (GOOG). Since its all in the cloud, it allows more efficient collaboration as the project can be accessed from multiple locations. In addition FORscene also offers a built-in chat system for collaborators, a handy tool for getting quick approvals.

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“With the credit crunch, people have to do things more efficiently, instead of using fifty systems,” says Stephen Streater, chief executive of Forbidden Technologies. “Traditional desktop systems don’t allow for quick feedback and real-time editing, we’re providing a whole integrated system.” Streater says the total data edited from the Olympics was 32,800 hours of HD video, about 200 terabytes.

While users are becoming increasingly comfortable putting their files in the cloud (a Gartner report suggest that more than a third of all consumer content will be stored on the cloud by 2016), this is one of the first high-profile live events to actively embrace cloud-technology. NBC’s successful demonstration could spell the end of specialized editing hardware as we know it.