Media mates

Face to face: Jason Danielson discusses Omneon's tie up with IMT.
Interviews, Broadcast Business


Earlier this year, Omneon partnered with New York’s Tekserve and Hollywood’s Integrated Media Technologies (IMT) to deliver new workflow solutions targeted at the television and motion picture post-production market.

According to the deal, Omneon will build purpose-built storage solutions based on the MediaGrid active storage system to enable efficient and highly scalable editing and repurposing workflows.

We ask Jason Danielson, senior director of Market Development at Omneon about the partnership and what it will mean for the Middle East.

Can you explain very briefly the important aspects of this partnership?

Omneon is now working with these new systems integrators in the two major production markets in the United States. The goal is both to optimise the deployment of the Omneon MediaGrid active storage systems into production workflows today and to learn from the market what is needed so that our R&D is targeted to address workflows in the future.

Does Omneon have any specific solutions that it will now seek to aim at the post production market?

Yes, the MediaGrid system supports two workflows that are used extensively in post-production today. Often, these two workflows are combined into one media operation. Simply put, these workflows can be referred to as shared editing and content repurposing.

Increasingly, television and corporate production is being performed in compressed formats. The acquisition formats from Panasonic (DVCPRO HD and, by the end of this year, AVC-Intra) and Sony (XDCAM HD 422), and the production formats from Apple (ProRes 422) and Avid (DNxHD) are widely used. These formats are all supported for workgroup edit-in-place with the MediaGrid system.

Omneon also added support for MediaGrid edit-in-place with Avid earlier this year and now has several customer installations. These facilities have the freedom to add FCPs to their workgroups because we have made it possible for edit timelines started in Final Cut Pro to be bridged to Media Composer for finishing – a capability that is unique in the industry. Now, shot selection or rough cut editing can be accomplished on inexpensive FCPs, with finishing work completed by a finish editor on a Media Composer. This makes it a lot easier to incorporate Apples into existing Avid edit environments.

In terms of content repurposing, the MediaGrid helps accelerate the post-production workflow. For the last decade, facilities have battled the video format quagmire with slower than real-time transcoding burdening both production and distribution processes. This ultimately has meant that some file-based workflows were less efficient at performing critical steps than were the old tape workflows. Some facilities have solved this problem by purchasing and maintaining local area networking, digital processing, and storage islands, all at great hardware and personnel expense.

Architecturally, Omneon ProXchange is a new concept in post-production infrastructure because all four of the elements needed for rapid repurposing – processing performance, network bandwidth, storage capacity, and transcode software – reside in one system. Combining and fully integrating these functions enables repurposing to be accomplished at rates much faster than real-time. Utilising the MediaGrid system’s CPU power in a grid architecture increases the throughput even more, allowing facilities to experience many-times faster than real-time performance on many real-world transcoding projects.

Has the downturn had any effect on Omneon?

While we have certainly seen a number of projects get delayed as a result of the economic climate, we are also seeing the more strategic projects proceed as planned. For many, the move to a file-based model is a strategic imperative and has an immediate ROI. In addition, regardless of how the market is impacted, we are still experiencing market share gains in each of the market segments we address.

Which markets do you hope to focus on to address some of the shortfalls of say, the U.S. market?

In the last six years, Omneon has become a global company in terms of customers, service, support and sales. In fact, we have always done more business outside of the U.S. than inside. Historically, most of that was in Western Europe. Recently, the Middle East and Asia have come on strong for us and we appreciate that.

How important is the Middle East market for your company and can we hope to see you bring your post-production solutions to this market?

We want to make sure that we will be able to properly support any customer we have, regardless of where they are or in what industry they work. Supporting production is a major initiative for Omneon, and we are currently bringing news and sports highlights production systems into Middle Eastern projects. That is our first step beyond transmission. In addition, we are installing many large production projects worldwide and we want to bring this expertise to the Middle East market as our market presence grows.

Whom will you be working with on this front?

We have our primary loyalties with our current local systems integrators as well as with several of our European SIs and systems vendors who are active in the region.

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