can video editing be done on "software as service" model with streaming output?

reputedly, video editing requires very powerful machines, but by its very nature the output of the work can be transmitted via internet at relatively slow speed, well, as streaming video. Big speed isn’t needed because the human editor cannot examine video faster than the normal video speed anyway.

So would it make sense to provide a service of remote access to a server that lets you edit your (non top-secret) video without having expensive latest and great machine? Could this be made to work technically or am I missing some big issues here? Is there much of a potential customer base of hobbyist/student/low salary video editors?

video editing does not require powerful machines anymore. A macbook pro laptop can edit HD video nowadays with decent speed. Applying visual effects is what takes powerful systems.
However for simple editing, the file sizes are large, even with compressed H264 HD camera’s, and streaming it across the internet at a decent speed is not really possible.

You also, seem to be not understand how an editor works, the editor needs to be able to scrub through video at high speed to find the right areas to use. Streaming doesn’t help here, they need to access any part of the total captured video at any time.

So no, I can’t see editing as SaaS makes any sense, bandwidth to local hard disks will always be many times faster than internet and this is one area where disk speed is always the answer.

I’m fairly sure it can be done right now, and I would be amazed if there weren’t services available right now that provide it (I think youtube already allows some rudimentary editing, but I’m not sure).

The big problem is that for good quality video, you need to transfer over 10s of Gb of video for even a shortish film to the server before you can even start to edit it in full. I don’t know about you, but my upload speed is about a 5th of my download speed and it would take something like 8 hours to upload 10 Gb of data. Not worth it if I want to edit a 30 minute video when my 3 years old desktop machine can edit and transcode a few hours worth of video in the same time.

It would work, but only with video that is already on the remote server.

For instance, NASA could make a Google Docs-like application that would have all the video from the space program available on-line, along with the ability to create graphics and text. Students could assemble their own reports, and only download the completed program for burning to DVD. The app could allow scrubbing if the video was stored in a format that facilitated it.

Something similar could be done by using material already on YouTube or any of the other streaming video sites. Maybe there is a business model here.

coremelt brought up “visual effects” above. So would this business/technical model make sense for that? Let’s say the user works on the document specifying these visual effects and watches results of the work as streaming video. Hence presumably he uses up bandwidth but maybe this would allow easily doing things for which an old 500M RAM single processor machine isn’t well suited?

The value of editing over the network like this would be storage and collaboration. Processing power is cheap and accessible enough to keep it local. Video takes a lot of storage, so maybe there might be economies of scale in putting it in the cloud, but then hard drive space is cheap as well.

A very high bandwidth connection would be needed because you need to be able to scan through clips quickly to find what you want. Random access by clicking here and there in the timeline isn’t quite good enough, and any perceptible delay between the click and the image appearing will become very irritating. The whole clip would need to be buffered, and that is the same thing as storing it locally anyway. The video format would be something with low bandwidth but high quality and the ability to step through frame by frame (which flash can’t).

I think there is already a service that will stream the output of an edit system in real time for remote collaboration. A producer can watch what the editor is doing via a remote feed and talk to them though Skype rather than watching a monitor in the edit bay.

Post production facilities usually have a server that stores media and project files which can be accessed by any edit system in the building. One room can be capturing footage while different editors work with the same material in different projects, or share and combine edits from different parts of the same show. The cloud could provide the functionality of the server, but instead connect editors in different locations. Media could be gathered and uploaded from several places, and cut by editors from different cities. As additional material is added to the pool, they would have access to it without needing to ship hard drives back and forth.

Maybe it could be usable with a large, intelligent buffer. As the edit takes shape, the footage used in the cut stays local in the buffer along with clips that are searched often, while other clips that are seldom accessed slip back into the cloud. It would still require better bandwidth than we have now. It could probably be done with the Gigabit internet that Google wants to experiment with.

For effects, putting processing in the cloud might work for rendering. Big effects companies use render farms- collections of powerful computers that share the processing loads between them. The cloud could be a large render farm, maybe there would be a way to have “peer to peer processing”, like the folding at home project, but for graphics. Having the entire application on the cloud however, would probably make a very sluggish user experience.