Primed for performance

DS speaks to five seasoned experts to get the lowdown on Media Asset Management
Avid, Broadcast, Editshare, MAM, Media asset management, Tedial, UBMS, Vizrt, Analysis, Content management

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The Experts

Richard Lackey, product manager at UBMS

Ian Davies, regional manager, Vizrt

Mounzer Bechara, general manager, Avid Middle East.

Esther Mesas, CSO and CMO, Tedial

Martin Bennett, managing director, EditShare

DS: What trends are you seeing in terms of Media Asset Management?

Davies: We are seeing a similar trend in MAM as we see across the rest of the broadcast industry, which is that broadcasters want to extract greater value out of their investments. This is particularly relevant to the MAM business because the scale of the investment is usually relatively high.

To allow broadcasters to extract the best value out of their MAM investment, they are looking more towards “right-sized” systems, i.e. systems that fit their requirements now but have a potential to expand as their needs grow. This is still future-proofing but in a different way than previously where future growth capacity was built-in from the beginning, and it works out more cost-effective for the broadcaster to add capacity when required.

The practical implications of these trends are a greater focus on virtualisation, cloud technology, and object storage, which are strong focus areas for us to deliver on these cost and scalability requirements.

Lackey: I believe we will see MAM extend outside of a central networked facility to provide additional value add functionality such as browser based editorial tools for content creators, producers and journalists travelling and in the field.

Bechara: The market is asking more and more for Media Asset Management that can replace traditional archive solutions and eliminate manual steps in their current workflows. MAM deployments are on the rise and many clients are looking at deploying this in the near future. People are getting more curious about MAM, are noticing more implementations and are considering this for their own stations. There is a significant investment in the solution which makes the decision.

Bennett: Right now the phrase ‘MAM’ is over used and can mean different things to the broad range of clients in the media and entertainment market. For some it’s the orchestration of business processes and for others it’s pure and simple asset management during the production cycle.

At EditShare our Flow production asset management platform falls into the latter category, and the overriding requirement we hear from clients is to provide flexible collaboration and content access whether it’s between internal departments, 3rd parties or clients who are located half way round the globe. At the heart of this request is the latest technology shift in terms of production infrastructure as media facilities look at retooling for high bandwidth formats such as the forthcoming 4K/UHD explosion. This is forcing media companies to look at how they can use their current technologies they have heavily invested in and new technologies that maybe more cost efficient and flexible going forward. This also means many clients are re-evaluating in-house resources, location planning and how best they can create additional revenues with their customers that add value whilst driving down costs.

So the key trend falling out of this technology and collaborative drive is remote media sharing. The ability to create, manage and deliver content between multiple sites securely is driving content management platforms to provide cloud-based services. Some solutions rely solely on cloud services to hold and share media, but for those facilities with investment in large in-house storage and archive solutions this is not an option. The smart money right now is on ‘hybrid’ technologies that allow a content management platform to securely manage media assets from on-premise storage locations via ‘private cloud’ access and web-based tools, that also use cloud services such as Amazon S3 for deliverables or as deep archive. At EditShare we provide exactly this solution. This blend of technology offers clients the ability to collaborate and securely share media with users outside the boundaries of the facility, a requirement that is essential to a growing number of productions. Clients can upload, download and manage their media content through a standard web browser. Executive producers on the go can keep an eye on projects and view rough cuts and fine cuts on a tablet or smart phone. Producers can hire and collaborate with the best editor for a job, no matter their editing platform or their location, and organisations with multiple facilities can search for and exchange material from any of their sites reducing production and shipping costs. And more interestingly our clients can charge for additional services as part of the production allowing them to see a return on their investment.

Mesas: The new multi-platform, multi-format environment has introduced a number of trends including the introduction of non-linear offerings, which require different services to be managed in parallel; the reduction of revenues from conventional linear channels, which increases output while reducing costs; access to content across multiple platforms; and integration of news and production environments and the business systems that control them.

What do broadcasters and producers expect from MAM now?

Bechara: For it to be more reliable than the past solutions – the solution needs to cater to bespoke needs of each location. It has to be an integrated solution that is easy to use and implement – without a lot of setup and training required and it should be modular.

Lackey: The expectations from Media Asset Management systems are growing more sophisticated, it is no longer just centralised shared storage with ingest of media and metadata to a searchable library and perhaps archival management. It is also about providing a backbone for collaborative workflow across any number of remote sites and locations, as well as anywhere in the field, 24/7 from any device. It is about providing device independent, secure, browser based access to proxy media and even the ability to make rough assembly edits on the go from within a web browser.

Mesas: Broadcasters and producers expect MAM technology providers to be very precise in their use of IT technologies to ensure that the MAM system can evolve to meet the growing demands of the consumer. By selecting the correct media IT solutions architecture, media companies can integrate their entire business from acquisition and production through to packaging and delivery, enabling more efficient operations.

By meeting these challenges, broadcasters and content owners can take advantage of a system where new services can be provisioned for new business opportunities and growth areas quickly including: UHD, nonlinear services, multi-platform delivery, scalability, third-generation environments and profitability within media operations. To enable broadcasters and content owners to maximise these opportunities, MAM systems should include key features that further improve flexibility and efficiency.

Davies: The ever-present demands for reliability, performance, low cost, etc. are still relevant and probably more relevant now than ever. Broadcasters fully understand the benefits of properly managing media assets and want to achieve this at all levels of the organisation. This means that the MAM system has to be relevant to different audiences, with different needs, who are often located in different countries around the world, yet they all still need easy access to their media. To allow a MAM system to bridge the islands within an organisation, it needs to adapt to the different workflows of all concerned departments of the organisation, and be accessible from anywhere through a powerful web-based user interface.

Lackey: UBMS is working closely with EditShare, whhich is pioneering some of the technologies I’ve mentioned. We believe there will be a growth in opportunities as production demands become more sophisticated.

What notable projects have you worked on in the past year?

Davies: We have worked on numerous interesting projects this past year, including several with leading broadcasters in the industry that we expect will come to fruition within the near future.

Bennett: EditShare has secured a number of high profile projects. Qatar has been a success story for us with large end-to-end solution projects for Qatar University, Doha Film Institute and most recently the Qatar Supreme Committee (SC).

Outside of our success in Qatar we have provided solutions for a mix of clients from production to news bureaus including Star One in Dubai, World Sports Group and Al Jazeera in Beirut, plus working with German broadcaster WDR with regional facilities in Egypt and Nairobi. With more business already lined up in MENA for the next 18 months, the future is looking is bright.

Lackey: UBMS worked on an Editshare installation for Al Jazeera Beirut.

Mesas: We’ve worked on a number of major projects including: Oman TV, Fox Networks Group (FNG) and NRK.

Bechara: Jordan TV in the past year signed on to buy a MAM Solution.

How have you found business over the past year in the MENA region?

Mesas: This year Tedial is celebrating 15 years of technology. We have a number of key customers in the MENA region and we provide a business driven media workflow that enables them to move forward with new-generation MAM technology. It also allows them to execute global operations and be competitive. The common rationale for all our clients choosing to partner with Tedial is that we take time to understand what they are looking to achieve with the investment in terms of benefiting their overall business. Starting with a business focused approach and to minimise risk, both parties have to work together to achieve a joint outcome. This approach, coupled with a technology platform that is built to be future proof with IT standards on IT standard platforms, either actual or virtual, creates an environment of mutual trust and respect.

Davies: We are seeing a general slowing trend across all segments of the MENA market but despite this, there is a strong interest in Viz One, Vizrt’s MAM system, and the interest is at all levels, from small workgroup asset management systems up to full enterprise MAM installations.

Which countries have performed best for you?

Mesas: The strongest markets for us in the MENA region are Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Davies: Despite the slowdown in the Middle East in general, we are experiencing the strongest growth in Qatar and the UAE.

Bechara: MAM needs are growing throughout Middle East – notably in UAE, Qatar, Jordan.

Which MAM products are selling best from your side?

Davies: Viz One is a modular system built around a scalable core and can be scaled from a single-box workgroup asset management system all the way up to a full Enterprise MAM system. We use plugins to enable additional features, and one of our most exciting plugins right now is Viz Coder, our “faster than real-time” transcoder for broadcast and online. With the growing need to publish content online, Viz Coder is proving to be one of the best-selling components of our MAM product line. Also, we recently introduced Viz Story, which is a web-based online timeline editor for compositing graphics with video assets that are stored in Viz One. This has proved to be incredibly interesting to broadcasters who have a strong interest in New Media, as they previously did not have one tool to handle all of their requirements.

Bechara: There aren’t specific products that sell more than others.

Mesas: Our multi-award-winning Version Factory, the world’s first true media factory workflow and Evolution BPM, the industry’s fastest and most flexible business process management workflow engine. Version Factory won the IABM Game Changer Award 2016 in the System Automation & Control category at the NAB show in Las Vegas. This is the second year running that Tedial has won the Game Changer award picking up the prize in 2015 for its Tedial Evolution platform.

Tedial is a true industry visionary, bringing the most technologically advanced MAM and IT solutions to broadcasters and media companies in all corners of the globe. The company’s multi-site media management with business-driven workflow enables end-to-end integration providing the true benefits of the media factory ideal. Tedial is one of the few systems to deliver on this promise.

How do you see the next 12 months panning out?

Bechara: In general the economic situation in the Middle East is getting a little more conservative. People are being conservative with their cash spending. However, on the other hand, the political situation is driving spending on media so it isn’t a very clear future.

Lackey: We are optimistic about both the demand in the market, and the strength of the solutions we provide.

Davies: The year ahead looks very interesting, with several key projects and opportunities in the pipeline. We expect broadcasters to continue to make investments into key assets, such as MAM, since the benefits, many of which are strategic, can quickly outweigh the costs.

Mesas: Here are interesting opportunities in the region where our expertise can provide an advance Media solution that fulfils the specific needs of this region.

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