Making an asset out of archive

New approaches to asset management are changing the way...
Archive, Asset management, Analysis, Broadcast Business

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The advent of multi-platform delivery and the shift to predominantly file-based delivery has rendered many traditional broadcast Digital / Media Asset Management (D/MAM) systems no longer fit for purpose. Ten years ago, DAM was primarily about maintaining control and access to digital assets.

Now, the requirements of DAMs has grown as media management processes become increasingly complex. “Our view is that DAM as a concept is broken,” says Jon Folland, CEO and co-founder, Nativ.

The advent of more business to consumer facing technologies, such as cloud and mobile, are further contributing to the obsolescence of traditional D/MAM systems. Traditional broadcast MAMs tend to be monolithic, on-premise and siloed.

“Broadcasters have eco-systems of file-based workflows which require integrating and maintaining to ensure they are operating at their most efficient,” says Ximena Araneda, VP, Video Workflows, Vizrt. “There comes a point when having too many islands and therefore integrations and connectors makes a system too complicated.”

Folland argues that broadcasters typically require large and risky integration projects and indeed many of these projects are prone to failure due to a lack of clarification of requirements “Often workflow is treated as a very separate concern,” he says. “This is another example of how software solutions are too siloed in the increasingly complex multi-platform world.”

Is it possible or even desirable then for clients to have a one-size fits all MAM platform? Not according to Folland. “MAM requires so many functions and features and so many different use cases from different user types that user interfaces become compromised and one ends up with a one size fits all experience,” he says.

“For applications like special events and new channels, we see requirements for smaller systems that can do everything needed in a production,” says Araneda.

“Our customers want to rely on fewer vendors who can collaborate in a better way to provide the best integrated systems available. The main point is to make sure that the system is scalable.”

Nativ prefers to talk about Media Logistics Platforms as the stage beyond MAM. MLPs, it says, provide a broad range of pluggable services in the cloud with multi-tenanting and reporting. User interfaces can be customised on a per user basis if required, using simple HTML5 technologies.

New MAM approaches such as Nativ’s MLP are intended to drastically lower operating costs by removing manual tasks and running workflows on scalable, commodity IT.

“In many cases, operating costs can be more than halved when switching from manual processes or taking on the risk of big integration projects,” claims Folland.

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“The new approach also implies that workflows should work on the underlying digital files.” The return on investment can generally be recognised either by greater efficiency or increased revenue through the repurposing of content. So how much value is being left on the table by ineffective use of archives?

It varies, of course, but according to Folland, “Many companies do not fully centralise their content, meaning that it’s impossible to know what content is available and where it resides. This can lead to loss of content and inefficient use of content.”

In a matter of months, following deployment of Dalet’s MAM solution in July 2011, Italian broadcaster Mediaset claims it saw productivity increase by a factor of three and the amount of content it was able to broadcast multiplied ten times.

Vizrt says it’s hard to give an exact figure as there will be less need for future infrastructure investment to continue business growth (so savings could be made there). “Many of our clients tell us they would not have been able to grow and scale their operation and production as easily as they did without our software (VizOne),” says Araneda.

Many, of course, are finding it difficult to implement MAMs. That’s a big part of Avid’s industry vision ‘Avid Everywhere,’ says Craig Dwyer, senior director, global centre of excellence.

“This vision is helping guide culture change, not just technology change, in a way that is vital for our customers,” he says. NAB saw the introduction of the Avid MediaCentral Platform that delivers on the Avid Everywhere strategy.

“The platform streamlines and simplifies workflows by tightly integrating all products and services that run on top of it,” says Dwyer. “The platform provides the utmost security and protection, enabling customers to create and deliver content in smarter, faster, and easier ways—with the Avid and third-party solutions they choose to use.”

A new approach to asset management can also breathe new life into archived material. While vintage programming can be transferred into the production server to flesh out a TV schedule, the spread of online distribution platforms has dramatically increased the demand for more diverse content, which broadcasters are under pressure to meet.
What’s more, the intelligent use of archived material from audio and video media to ancillary information such as subtitle tracks can be worked into a significant revenue stream.

“An asset management system is vital if the user is looking to make their archive profitable through monetising their legacy content,” says Araneda. “Without one, it would take too much time to prepare the content in terms of searching for the right files, adding metadata, converting into the correct format and retrieving for editing, especially if just a partial file restoration is needed.”

If the content is properly archived and accessible with a local or remote proxy version, then the material can be easily repurposed for monetisation through multi-platform delivery. “In addition to making the content accessible you can connect the assets with rights management systems and have auditing and report tools that help to maximise monetisation of the content,” adds Araneda.

Archived material can go a long way to strengthening and refreshing a broadcaster’s inventory to fuel on-demand access, international sales or to enhance new productions. Invariably though, detailed knowledge about the content is unavailable or it is in a state where it cannot be easily unlocked.

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“If assets are stored on disparate hard discs, siloed servers or on shelves as tape, there will be considerable wasted time, effort and cost in locating, retrieving and collaborating on content creation and onward distribution,” says Raoul Cospen, director of marketing and business development, Dalet. “Time to air is impacted and the archive is effectively devalued.

“An archive system used solely for preservation or for legal compliance realizes very little of its true value and barely justifies the ongoing cost of acquisition, documentation and maintenance.”

Dalet’s approach is to consider the archive as a unified repository of assets which is integral to production, content preparation and content delivery workflows. “The starting point has to be the particular needs of the organisation,” says Cospen.

“What do you want the archive to achieve in terms of production and distribution? Is there a need to keep content available for production or to organise it for on-demand and catch up services? Which assets should be considered ‘live’ after transmission to optimise storage?”

Armed with this strategic vision, he says organisations can begin implementation by structuring and generating metadata models. Metadata is the building block of asset management and essential not only for making content searchable but for automating the crucial links between assets.

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Case study: Qatar TV
Faced with the challenge of advancing its existing workflow in order to respond to new business opportunities in Doha, Qatar TV invested in an Avid Interplay MAM system.
Under the patronage of TVSDC, a re-launch of Qatar TV was planned to focus on virtually every interest imaginable, from arts and entertainment to technology, education, events, and celebrity appearances.

To meet this range of challenges, TVSDC built a new production studio, newsroom studio and broadcasting complex at its Doha headquarters in 2012. It features a new set of MAM and media production solutions allowing it to coordinate and perform the myriad of tasks inherent in such a large operation.

Case study: British Pathé
Covering some of the most significant moments of modern history, 85,000 films from the British Pathé archive are freshly available on YouTube in a move the archive hopes will open up new revenue. The 3,500 hour library has been available to view for free on British Pathé’s website since 2009, following digitisation in 2002, but roll out on Google’s network means anyone can now comment on, share and embed the vintage videos.

The bargain British Pathé struck is that newspaper websites get the content for free, while ad revenue (from pre-roll and banner advertising) is divided between between the archive and Google. Munich-based Mediakraft Networks managed the distribution to YouTube and is tasked with repackaging the archive with a contemporary spin.

Case study: ITV
Like many broadcasters and content producers, ITV is under pressure to create quality content, more efficiently than ever. Identified as central to this goal was the simplification of production processes to maximise the benefits of file-based procedures, to eradicate errors and to hand more control to production teams by freeing them from repetitive and mundane tasks.

ITV Studio’s Production Innovation team selected Nativ Mio as the basis for a pilot of its production transformation project. “One of our basic principles was that we didn’t want to build a big, centralised MAM,” explains Martyn Suker, head of production innovation, ITV Studios. “We wanted a system that would work off-the-shelf but is also flexible so that we can configure it to handle our production data and workflows.”

Like many organisations, ITV’s production information is currently spread between disparate systems. “An awful lot of metadata throughout the production chain either gets lost or isn’t captured at all. We need to know where content is, who generated it and when,” Suker explains. “In order to do that, we had to have a technology platform that would enable us to structure and manage the data consistently from greenlighting of a commission, right through to delivery, and one that allows us to gain value from that data in other parts of the organisation.”

For ITV, Nativ partnered with Adobe to allow producers and directors to easily add metadata to their video files directly from within the Adobe product set, but controlled by Mio. With the pilot complete, ITV is scaling up the platform and rolling it out across ITV Studios productions.

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