SirtNet & Sheridan: Ontario Screen Industry Collaboration

Sheridan College and a consortium of industry partners announced last Friday at xoTO Filmmakers Lounge in Toronto, the full commercialization of SirtNet, a first-of-its-kind in Canada, fibre optic based collaboration network for the Ontario screen industries. The event was attended by over 100 industry representatives, and featured remarks from municipal, provincial and federal government officials, as well as industry partners and Sheridan representatives.

The SirtNet solution, which has already dramatically transformed production and postproduction processes, has been identified for almost a decade as a key means to build a global competitive advantage for the sector. SirtNet was developed as an applied research project by Sheridan’s Screen Industries Research and Training Centre (SIRT) in collaboration with industry associations and leading companies from both the information technology and screen industries sectors. The announcement recognizes the recent commercialization of SirtNet by a consortium of companies including Beanfield Metroconnect, StorageASP, and Netkeepers.

SirtNet logo

“SirtNet was conceived in response to the Ontario screen industry’s need for a secure network that would allow production and postproduction teams to collaborate remotely from the start to finish of a film or television series, creating a more efficient workflow,” said John Helliker, Dean of Innovation and Engagement at Sheridan who spearheaded the initiative. “Research and development for SirtNet was initiated by SIRT in 2013, with the support of all levels of government and driven by committed industry partners.”

SirtNet now connects multiple Toronto studios and has been used in the production of more than four television series, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Vikings, along with numerous feature films. The network’s productivity benefits have played a key role in attracting new productions and studios to Toronto, such as Legend3D’s decision to establish a location in Toronto and create 280 new jobs.

SirtNet is the first commercialized applied research project of this scale at Sheridan. The project harnessed the expertise of numerous student researchers from the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology, the College’s Information Technology team, and  research centres.

“As our industry partners assume ownership of the network, SirtNet completes its evolution from an industry-identified challenge, to a college-based applied research project, and back to the industry-driven tool it was always designed to become,” said Dr. Janet Morrison, Provost and Vice President, Academic, at Sheridan. “We will always be proud of the role that Sheridan and SIRT played in bringing this network to life.”

“Real-time collaboration from sound stage through post-production and delivery is everyone’s dream in the media and entertainment sectors,” said Wayne Kim, Managing Partner of SirtNet. “StorageASP, Beanfield and NetKeepers are excited about continuing to work with the screen industries to expand SirtNet throughout the Province in this next chapter of its growth.”

About the Screen Industries Research and Training (SIRT) Centre:

SIRT was established by Sheridan in 2009 at Pinewood Toronto Studios, in order to support and foster innovation in production and post-production for the film, television and gaming sectors. With partnerships and support from Ontario’s guilds and unions, as well as leading companies and industry associations such as FilmOntario, SIRT is Canada’s leading innovation and technology support centre for the screen industries.

Pictured top right (from left to right): Dr. Janet Morrison, Provost and Vice President Academic, Sheridan; Neishaw Ali, President and Executive Producer, SpinVFX and Co-chair, Computer Animation Studios of Ontario; Councillor Paula Fletcher, City of Toronto; John Helliker, Dean of Innovation and Engagement, Sheridan; Karen Thorne-Stone, President and CEO, Ontario Media Development Corporation; Julie Dabrusin, Member of Parliament, Toronto-Danforth; Arthur Potts, MPP, Beaches-East York, Wayne Kim, Managing Partner, SirtNet; Shaul Swartz, Managing Partner, SirtNet. Photo by Kendall Townend.