Super Bowl Commercials: Can Cloud Lower Costs?

After the highs and lows of what promises to be an awesome Super Bowl Sunday subside, all we will be left with is what we all really tuned in to watch: The commercials.

Last year’s 30-second commercial spots cost advertisers an average $3.5 million each — and that was just for air time. Super Bowl commercials tend to rely heavily on humor, often communicated in somewhat of a surreal or digitally rendered way.

In the past, animated commercials, or those using aspects of digital enhancements, were developed on in-house clustered computing systems, like SGI mainframes. There has been a large shift for many companies toward a much more cloud-centric approach in terms of how they do their processing. Amazon Web Services has a level of service that is geared toward GPU instances, where users have access to very high end graphics processing engines. A lot of work is being done through those systems to create nigh quality animations.

[ See: The Top 5 Things You Are Probably Doing Wrong In AWS ]

So how does this relate to the Super Bowl?

Not all commercials are digitally enhanced, but many production companies are using cloud tools and compute power to render their films, documentaries, interactive online ads, and commercials faster and cheaper than ever before.

[ See: Advertisers: What Cloud Is Best For You? ]

Cloud has really lowered the bar of entry for productions looking to utilize digital rendering/animation/computer generated effects. You need a lot of computing power to achieve the renderings. A five-minute short might take 1,000 hours of compute time to accomplish, with many of the fully animated sequences using a process called ray tracing (which traces the light paths from objects in the animation to render an image). Each image needs to be rendered individually, and a fully animated feature requires 30 frames per second. It takes hours to create each image using ray tracing method.

By harnessing the next-gen GPUs and massive instances at AWS, companies no longer need to have all the proprietary hardware and tools on site anymore to achieve a high quality, digitally enhanced film. Today, production companies will produce the wire frames from the animations in-house, and then farm out the rendering to the cloud. While not inexpensive, this approach enables a far reduced price point compared to the buying of all the technologies in-house.

So, when you’re thinking about your favorite commercial on Monday, why not say a small thank you to the cloud?

By Jake Gardner

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