Green Biz Meets Green SportsUncategorized

Blackbird Video Dramatically Reduces Editing-Related Carbon Emissions


Video editing, especially in this ‘We Need Sports Highlights NOW!’ world we currently inhabit, is very energy intensive.

Blackbird Video, an innovative, nimble UK-based company, offers a patented ‘cloud native’ video editing and publishing platform that is fast, efficient and sustainable.’

How sustainable?

A white paper released last week — a collaboration between Blackbird and sustainability consultancy Green Element — proclaims that its cloud native system is 84 percent more efficient than the current cloud based industry standard and 91 percent more energy efficient than on-premise production. Hannah Mills, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in sailing for Team GB, founder of Big Plastic Pledge, and an EcoAthletes Champions, is an endorser of the white paper. 

GSB recently spoke with Blackbird CEO Ian McDonough about the company’s cloud native system and its potential to disrupt sports video production due to its environmental and performance benefits.

London-based Blackbird, plc is the innovator and developer behind a breakthrough technology that dramatically improves energy efficiency in the video editing process.

The scale of that improvement was made clear in ‘Decarbonizing Video Production,’ a white paper released last week that was produced by Blackbird in collaboration with sustainability consultancy, Green Element. It demonstrated that the company’s cloud native technology reduces carbon emissions by up to 84 percent as compared to cloud based editing and 91 percent versus on-premise editing workflows.

What are the differences between cloud based and cloud native technologies?

“Cloud based means the files are created terrestrially and then are migrated into the cloud where they are then shared,” shared Blackbird CEO Ian McDonough. “That takes an inordinate amount of energy. Cloud native means the files are created in the cloud, which makes it a much ‘lighter’, more efficient process.”

The practical impact of a potential shift at scale to cloud native is likely to be enormous. Per the white paper, the carbon emissions generated by 480 billion hours of streaming worldwide in 2020 would have led to 30,000 square miles of sea ice loss, or roughly the size of Scotland. 

This is relevant for the sports world since it is a big player in streaming, the result of a global fan base that’s between three and four billion strong and an immense content flow. The amount of streamed video highlights is expected to grow exponentially so it’s incumbent on the sports media business to decarbonize. And fast.

According to McDonough, the industry is beginning to catch on.

“Broadcasters for the NHL, the European PGA Tour, the Australian National Rugby League (NRL), and the English Premier League are among our sports clients,” McDonough shared. “Why? First and foremost, cloud native wins on performance: It is very fast, can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time, and the content is top quality. Here’s an example: While our cloud servers are in London, an editor in Sydney can cut a top quality, high-res NRL highlight, and it will be live in 15 seconds. So, Blackbird’s cloud native wins on performance, cost, and the environment. We liken it to a Tesla EV. It wins on performance, and it wins on the environment.”

Ian McDonough (Photo credit: Blackbird video)


A veteran of big media companies from Viacom to Sky to Turner and more, McDonough was so convinced of the cloud native technology’s potential to make a real difference that he put his money where his mouth was when he was asked to run what was then known as Forbidden Technologies in 2018.

“I immediately saw the disruptive and environmental value in the remote, cloud native technology that Forbidden Technologies had developed,” McDonough recalled. “So, I put my own money into the business.”

It’s still early days for Blackbird but McDonough’s bet seems to have a good chance to pay off. 

After all, the move from remote/on-site production to cloud based — an energy efficiency improvement to be sure — is well underway. A recent study from Caretta Research shows that 90 percent of editors have integrated the cloud into their workflows. The result is that, per albert, the BAFTA sustainability consortium, CO2 emissions from one hour of TV production were cut by more than half, from 9.2 to 4.4 tonnes, in just one year (2020 to 2021).

Making from cloud based to cloud native would make an even bigger impact on editing-related carbon emissions.

Hannah Mills, a two-time Olympic sailing gold medalist (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020) for Team GB, has an impeccable Green-Sports resume: Founder of environmental nonprofit Big Plastic Pledge, EcoAthletes Champion, IOC sustainability ambassador and global spokesperson for sustainability for SailGP. She endorsed the white paper, citing the significant climate benefits Blackbird’s cloud native approach brings to editing.

“I’m excited by the potential of new clean technologies that can help reduce waste and emissions at the source – before they become a problem,” offered Mills. “Producing and editing video using cloud native technology is one example of this. By doing more remotely, it reduces the need for travel and outside broadcasts, and therefore the carbon footprint of sports and other live events. I’m happy to see in this white paper that more broadcasters and content producers are moving in this direction and that the benefits are becoming clearer to see. As we move towards a net zero world, adopting green technologies like Blackbird, will become ever more important in achieving our climate goals.”

Hannah Mills (Photo credit: SailGP)

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