AWS Startups Blog

Movidiam: Filmmaking Reimagined

Guest post by George Olver, co-founder, Movidiam

Movidiam AWS use case

Movidiam is a professional creative network and project management application for filmmaking.

We had an exciting launch at AWS re:Invent 2015, and we are continuing to evolve our platform. In this post, we share our backstory, discuss how we’re reimagining the way films are made, and explain how we’ve leveraged AWS to bring our project management tools to life.

How It Started

Movidiam co-founder Alex Vero and I have always been passionate about filmmaking, whether we were brewing coffee in post-production houses, making films for Adidas and Channel 4, or spending months at sea for a Virgin-sponsored documentary. Having produced films at Pendragon Productions for some of the most well-known brands in the world, we came to realize that even at the highest levels of professional filmmaking, we were still encountering challenges in the production process — a sentiment shared by our network of filmmakers and businesses — such as easily finding local or international crews for shoots, efficiently sharing files with clients and managing invoices. So we started building Movidiam to target those pain points and found real and exciting solutions within the context of web applications, cloud computing, and, ultimately, AWS.

What Movidiam Does

Movidiam gives brands, agencies, and filmmakers across the globe the ability to connect, collaborate, and create remarkable films.

Once members sign up, they can instantly create profiles, connect and interact with others, and start collaborating on projects. For example, they can create individual or business profiles with their team; find or be found for new professional opportunities; connect with, organize, and expand their network; and discover and share amazing work.

From our initial discussions about building Movidiam, we knew we wanted to be at the forefront of the available technologies. When faced with the options of using tried and tested frameworks or new and upcoming ones, Amazon Web Services’ combination of the two made them an easy choice, having provided reliable and cost efficient computing services for years, yet still continuing to bring out new, scalable features.

We built our platform using Ember.js, ‘a framework for ambitious web applications’ which allowed us to develop a fully immersive profile and portfolio experience for our members. Back then, Ember was very different to its current state so we’ve also evolved with their technology as it has grown. Our tech stack includes PHP (Laravel), MySQL, Elasticsearch and Ember.js with a custom bootstrap template.

Thanks to the services we use we can develop and deliver features to our community with speed and ease. Our suite of project management tools are specifically designed to streamline the process of making films from start to finish, from creating a project, to managing your team, and then using the many features and tools available, such as assignable tasks, calendars, group messaging, and more. The Revisions feature allows members to upload video edits, annotate them in real time, and share them with the team and clients.

Additionally, our selection of community and search tools allow Movidiam members to find experts with specific skills. For example, if you wanted to promote your new brand, you could use Movidiam to find the best creative agency to bring your next commercial to life.

Due to the visual nature of filmmakers, we have really “doubled down” on design: we’ve spoken to a lot of filmmakers at every stage of our development process because we wanted Movidiam to be a domain where they can be proud to present their work. In fact, some members have noted that their Movidiam profiles make their personal websites look a little dated or unsophisticated in comparison.

Movidiam dashboard screenshot

Using AWS to Do It

Movidiam combines purpose-built proprietary and intuitive software with the latest technology to allow filmmakers across the world to showcase their work and find direct employment from brands and agencies who want to make creative content. To provide this rich experience for our members, we rely on a range of AWS services to keep our infrastructure running smoothly:

Amazon EC2 and Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) — We run web servers on EC2 behind ELB for high availability and scalability. Additional servers on EC2 handle micro services that perform a variety of tasks, such as running scheduled events, sending emails, managing notifications, and generating thumbnails.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Elasticsearch Service, and Amazon S3 — Our data storage is hosted on an RDS MySQL instance with an Elasticsearch index which provides scalable and fast full-text search queries. We use S3 (with versioning) to store and serve the majority of user profile images as well as static website content.

Amazon ElastiCache — We use ElastiCache Redis instances for web-server session data to allow stateless operation and easy scaling by inserting new instances whenever we wish.

Amazon CloudWatch — CloudWatch metrics and alarms allow us to monitor vital service statistics and warn system operations of potential and immediate problems.

Amazon Elastic Transcoder — Our filmmaker users upload their content seamlessly to our revision tool using Elastic Transcoder. It has saved us time and eliminated the headache of having to roll our own. It’s reliable and widely tested, and there’s no need to worry about building new implementations when new codecs arrive. Overall, it means less development time is required to set everything up. Working closely with AWS to keep the codecs up to date has been vital to our wide service offering.

We also use various security features of AWS, such as limited security groups for all types of instances and S3 signatures to ensure that only users who own the content can access it.

One of the most important technical challenges is fully understanding the lifecycle of a technology. Keeping up to date with development blogs gives you perspective of what is happening in the marketplace, and discussions with others solving similar problems are essential if you are facing a development, marketing, or communication challenge. Often just talking to engaged parties can give you more clarity. AWS re:Invent was a great way to meet interesting people, and it inspired so much productivity. We left more informed about marketplace apps that we could have a use case for, too.

AWS tools help us build a scalable, high performance web application with a broad set of features.

The Future

From launching at AWS re:Invent 2015 with Werner Vogels to reaching the semi-final of Web Summit’s Pitch competition in Dublin a month later, it’s been a pretty exciting journey as we’ve onboarded a global community of filmmakers and the brands looking to commission them on our platform.

Movidiam is now a community spanning 178 countries worldwide and counting, filled with blockbuster VFX artists, Oscar-winning filmmakers, international agencies, and top brands. As it turns out, a lot of people are looking for filmmaking happiness.

We are in the process of scaling out Movidiam to an even broader global network of filmmakers, brands, businesses, and agencies that want to work with the most talented filmmakers in the world. AWS helps us keep up with a rapidly expanding community, as we can move to stateless instances and images that allow us to quickly boot up servers and scale at will. AWS services will also continue to provide us with solutions for security and code deployment as we work towards a vibrant ecosystem that supports all elements of production, including peer-to-peer payments and equipment hire. The fully realized vision is for Movidiam to become the homepage of the global web for film and video production.