The Walt Disney Studios moves to the cloud with new Microsoft partnership

Laurent Giret

The Walt Disney Studios moves to the cloud with new Microsoft partnership

Microsoft announced this morning a new five-year innovation partnership with The Walt Disney Studios, which will lead the American film studio’s StudioLAB technology arm to use Azure for film production and distribution. As big budget movies are sometimes shot by different crews across the world, the movie studio hopes that cloud-based editing will improve the production process in significant ways.

“By moving many of our production and postproduction workflows to the cloud, we’re optimistic that we can create content more quickly and efficiently around the world,” said Jamie Voris, CTO, The Walt Disney Studios. “Through this innovation partnership with Microsoft, we’re able to streamline many of our processes so our talented filmmakers can focus on what they do best.”

In an interview with Variety, Varis also said that one of the reasons The Walt Disney Studios chose Microsoft as its cloud partner is that unlike Amazon or Google, the Redmond giant doesn’t have great ambitions in the media space. Something that Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft US, confirmed to Variety, adding that Microsoft (unlike its competitors) wasn’t interested in using customer data to improve its own offerings.

Voris said that Walt Disney Studios chose Microsoft to kick off its cloud ambitions because some of the company’s cloud competitors weren’t as focused on the media space. Johnson acknowledged that the company was trying to beat the competition in Hollywood. “We like to think of us as the platform cloud for media and entertainment,” she said.

Part of this was due to Microsoft embracing media as a strategic growth opportunity for Azure. However, Johnson also mused that some in Hollywood might be hesitant to work with competing cloud giants that were operating their own media businesses — a not-so-subtle dig at Amazon and Google, which at times have been accused of using some of the data insights they’re getting from partners to supercharge their own businesses. “We just don’t do that,” she said.

If The Walt Disney Studios has already started to integrate Azure into its movie production process, a StudioLAB reprensentative told Variety that we may have to wait between 12 and 18 months to see the first movies that have been fully edited in the Azure cloud.