Ask the experts: Content readiness in time-deferred workflows


Sudeep Bose TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Sudeep Bose
Issue 79 - July 2013
What are the fundamental considerations that must be addressed to ensure the quality of non-real-time content, whether played out from a broadcasters media server or time-shifted for VOD and other OTT services?

When focusing on the actual content itself, rather than the service, network or other components, the key is the readiness of content to be used. For instance, a piece of media must be syntactically correct in order to ensure that it causes no downstream issues in the workflow and that it will play and decode properly. At the same time, content must be free of artifacts, meeting visual quality standards as well as those dictating the correct resolution and bit rate. Compliance with applicable regulations, such as EBU loudness standards or requirements for closed-captions/subtitles, is also critical. Finally, the media files themselves must meet the requirements of the production and/or distribution workflow. Content must be transcoded properly to assure that it can be fragmented properly for an adjustable bit rate (ABR) workflow. As different as the operations of a studio, post house, broadcast, VOD service provider, or ad insertion facility or department may be, all of these organizations need to ensure that incoming and outgoing content is evaluated and validated according to these considerations.
Why is effective evaluation of non-real-time content so important right now?

Now that file-based workflows have been broadly embraced, facilities have begun working with files in massive volumes in some cases, tens of thousands of pieces of content each month. The numbers keep growing with the explosion of multiscreen services in use and, within those services, the delivery of content to multiple platforms. The emergence of ABR-based service delivery further multiplies the quantity of files necessary, requiring six or seven versions for every piece of content. Given the nearly exponential growth in the quantity of files being handled, it is nearly impossible for media organizations without automated T&M and quality control solutions to maintain not only the quality of content throughout the delivery chain, but also the quality of experience expected by consumers today.

What processing is typical of todays time-deferred workflows?


Typically, the media facility in question is dealing either with natively digital content or with content that has been converted to digital. At beginning of the content ecosystem, content is encoded at a very high resolution, such as 4K. Content creators and owners such as studios then create a mezzanine or house version, bringing content down to 200, 300, or 400 megabits per second for delivery to the next link in the distribution chain. Often, this is an internal department or external post facility that transcodes content to the profiles suitable for service providers such as Netflix, Comcast, AT&T U-verse, DISH Network, and DirecTV. Transcoded from formats such as ProRes or QuickTime, or MXF-wrapped Sony XDCAM or JPEG2000, content is prepared as MPEG-2 or H.264 in a transport stream container that can be transported across the service providers network to the consumer. As this shift in format and bit rate is performed, additional steps may be taken to ensure that the audio mix is correct and that captions are present. If the delivery mode is ABR, than multiple versions in multiple bit rates will be created. Throughout this workflow, on both sides of every handoff, content quality or readiness should be validated.
In terms of maintaining content quality and integrity, what specific challenges does such a workflow present?

One of the biggest pitfalls lies in the transformation of content from 2K or 4K to a mezzanine format, a process by which content is compressed. Encoding via any lossy compression format introduces the possibility that, as a result of data being discarded, images will be marred by blockiness, a loss of sharpness, or unwanted effects caused by disordered referential frames. Such issues may be the result of an encoder/transcoder that is not calibrated properly, or because a certain sequence in the content simply proved too much for the system. In other instances, artistic elements or the rapid motion of live-recorded content may present information that throws off the encoder.

Audio presents a second significant challenge. Frankly, one of the things that our experience and our discussion with customers reveals is that technology has come far enough that handling video is becoming easy. Audio, on the other hand, is the source of many problems. The different ways in which audio must be carried and where the stereo pair or 5.1 channels, in multiple languages, must be situated is itself an issue. More and more audio content is being delivered along with source video, and the post facility must figure out, based on the order form dictating delivery, how to create the appropriate mix with all that content. The manifest may identify the kind of video and target bit rate, resolution, and format, with English stereo pair and 5.1 channels, and maybe also the same in Spanish. As all of this work is done, one critical task is ensuring that all content is there and in the right sequence. If audio elements are not in right sequence, then the facility may have issues downstream. Other factors, such as loudness, low audio, muting, and clipping, also dictate that content be tested throughout its transition to a ready state.

Like audio, ancillary data presents plenty of opportunity for error. Whether it supports customer-facing elements such as captions/teletext/ subtitling or provides signaling info such as time codes, this data must be present and correct if it is to enable the key functions it supports.

With respect to T&M and quality control for timedeferred workflows, what trends are you seeing today?

File-based operations offer many benefits, including greater automation, less user intervention, simpler content delivery, fewer errors, and a less-expensive approach to media storage, processing, and distribution. The migration to file-based operations continues to be a major industry trend. The VOD sector and other OTT services, however, have relied on file-based distribution for quite some time. Whats happening in those operations is a jump in the volume of content being handled.

Cable operators that previously boasted a couple thousand hours of content in their VOD libraries are today offering upwards of 10,000 hours of content even hundreds of thousands of hours. What that means is that this colossal content store must be made ready for use in the providers file-based environments and maintained to ensure ongoing readiness.

Companies such as Amazon and even Intel, which never before were in the business of providing media, have seen the viability of streaming services and have gotten into the game. So have traditional broadcast networks, such as the BBC, which offers the very popular BBCiPlayer TV service. These new and successful business ventures have proved that OTT is not only viable, but also convenient. It doesnt require over-the-air service or a dedicated physical service, but rather can ride over another companys broadband delivery infrastructure and service. These factors are causing the growth of OTT to accelerate. At the same time, streaming technologies have emerged and been refined to address the challenge of providing a quality user experience despite bandwidth limitations and network fluctuations. ABR started with Microsofts Smooth Streaming, and the folks at Apple released HLS technology, and then others distributed their own formats. Now, MPEG DASH is coming into play, looking like the next revolution in this industry. The potential of DASH is a popular topic today, and this was evident at the Entertainment Technology in the Internet Age (ETIA) conference, hosted by SMPTE and Stanford Universitys Stanford Center for Image Systems Engineering (SCIEN), which featured a dynamic and well-attended panel on Internet media delivery formats.

As companies get better and better at distributing higher-resolution content, whether from a broadcast facility at a network operations center or via OTT services over broadband, one truth remains constant: Content is king. At the end of the day, while all the technology enabling these delivery models is exciting not only for the experience it enables, but also because it opens the door to new providers and players it is the content underpinning all these services that drives them forward. People want quality content, and they expect to experience it at a high quality. Automated evaluation and validation of content thus plays an essential role in the time-deferred workflows supporting todays broadcast and OTT service models.


Tags: iss079 | content readiness | file based | workflow | time deferred | digital content | tektronix | quality | Sudeep Bose
Contributing Author Sudeep Bose

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • TSL at IBC2011

    TSL at IBC2011

  • Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • ChyronHego show their PRIME Workflow at IBC 2018

    ChyronHego show their PRIME Workflow at IBC 2018

  • All IP Workflow from Quantum with Xcellis Workflow Storage solutions at NAB 2018

    All IP Workflow from Quantum with Xcellis Workflow Storage solutions at NAB 2018

  • Object Matrix Hybrid Workflow and Artifical Intelligence at NAB 2018

    Object Matrix Hybrid Workflow and Artifical Intelligence at NAB 2018

  • Workflow Solutions from Pronology at NAB 2017

    Workflow Solutions from Pronology at NAB 2017

  • Snell Advanced Media (SAM) 4k workflow at IBC 2015

    Snell Advanced Media (SAM) 4k workflow at IBC 2015

  • LIVEU Workflow solutions at NAB 2015

    LIVEU Workflow solutions at NAB 2015

  • TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk workflow on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Quantels Stream-based Workflows at IBC 2013

    Quantels Stream-based Workflows at IBC 2013

  • TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Reporting Module

    TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Reporting Module

  • TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Systems

    TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Systems

  • TMD at NAB 2013: Content Intelligence

    TMD at NAB 2013: Content Intelligence

  • Streaming Media with Interra Systems at NAB 2017

    Streaming Media with Interra Systems at NAB 2017

  • New CEO and news update from TMD at NAB 2017

    New CEO and news update from TMD at NAB 2017

  • SGL Broadcast at IBC 2015

    SGL Broadcast at IBC 2015

  • Tiger Technology at BVE 2015

    Tiger Technology at BVE 2015

  • ERA - Adobe Anywhere - at BVE 2015

    ERA - Adobe Anywhere - at BVE 2015

  • NETIA at BVE 2015

    NETIA at BVE 2015

  • Dalet at IBC 2014

    Dalet at IBC 2014

  • Pronology at IBC 2014

    Pronology at IBC 2014

  • Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

    Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

  • Quantel deal with AFP at IBC 2014

    Quantel deal with AFP at IBC 2014

  • Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

    Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

    Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

    Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

  • Broadstream Solutions at NAB 2014

    Broadstream Solutions at NAB 2014

  • Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

    Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

  • Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

    Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

  • Dalet at NAB 2014

    Dalet at NAB 2014

  • ERA at BVE 2014

    ERA at BVE 2014

  • ERA Avere at BVE 2014

    ERA Avere at BVE 2014

  • Pixel Power on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Pixel Power on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos talking 4K on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos talking 4K on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Metus on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Volicon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Volicon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Broadstream Solutions on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

    Oasys Chameleon at IBC 2013

  • Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

    Loft London Solutions with Cubix on the Oasys stand at IBC 2013

  • Tony Taylor from TMD talks about LTFS at IBC 2013

    Tony Taylor from TMD talks about LTFS at IBC 2013

  • Tony Taylor from TMD talks about Mediaflex CI

    Tony Taylor from TMD talks about Mediaflex CI

  • Tony Taylor from TMD talks about Post Production

    Tony Taylor from TMD talks about Post Production

  • Facilis at IBC 2013

    Facilis at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

  • Yospace: Advert Insertion at NAB 2013

    Yospace: Advert Insertion at NAB 2013

  • Vimond Control Center at NAB 2013

    Vimond Control Center at NAB 2013

  • Telestream Vantage v5 at NAB 2013

    Telestream Vantage v5 at NAB 2013

  • Telestream at BVE 2013

    Telestream at BVE 2013

  • Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

  • Tedial at NAB 2012

    Tedial at NAB 2012

  • Marquis Broadcast at NAB 2012

    Marquis Broadcast at NAB 2012

  • Root6 at NAB 2012

    Root6 at NAB 2012

  • Editshare at NAB 2012

    Editshare at NAB 2012

  • TMD at NAB 2012

    TMD at NAB 2012

  • PlayBox Technology at BVE 2012

    PlayBox Technology at BVE 2012

  • Suitcase TV at IBC2011

    Suitcase TV at IBC2011

  • Net Insight at IBC2011

    Net Insight at IBC2011

  • Tedial at IBC2011

    Tedial at IBC2011

  • IPV at IBC2011

    IPV at IBC2011

  • Object Based Storage Solutions from Object Matrix at NAB 2017

    Object Based Storage Solutions from Object Matrix at NAB 2017

  • Tektronix at IBC 2016

    Tektronix at IBC 2016

  • Tektronix at IBC 2015

    Tektronix at IBC 2015

  • Tektronix at IBC 2014

    Tektronix at IBC 2014

  • Tektronix at IBC 2013

    Tektronix at IBC 2013

  • Tektronix at IBC2011

    Tektronix at IBC2011

  • Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013


Related Shows
  • Bubble and Squeak: Live and Loud from Monday at IBC 2013

    Bubble and Squeak: Live and Loud from Monday at IBC 2013


Articles
TV Futures - The Shadowing Experience
Daniel Jones My name is Daniel Jones, and it is no accident that I’m currently studying BSc (Hons) Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth. Since completing GSCE media studies I have been constantly questioning what I watch with questions such as, “Wow, how was that filmed?” or “That looks amazing, I wonder how long that took?” It should come as no surprise that I made it a big focus of mine to get myself some real work experience to give myself some answers to these production questions.
Tags: iss136 | portsmouth university | runner | student | education | training | Daniel Jones
Contributing Author Daniel Jones Click to read or download PDF
BSC Expo 2019 Report
Paul MacKenzie BSC Expo returned to the Battersea Evolution on Friday February 1st and Saturday 2nd. It is a busy and friendly event though this year in need of some temperature control: exhibitors around the entrance area were uncomfortably aware of the wintry conditions outside and the main hall was in need of cooling.
Tags: iss136 | bsc | cinematography | canon | c700 | c200 | cartoni | holdan | blackmagic | peli | panasonic | sennheiser | sony | fs5 | teradek | viten | flowtech | Paul MacKenzie
Contributing Author Paul MacKenzie Click to read or download PDF
Living LIVE at BVE with Ross Video
Jon Pratchett KitPlus’ Jon Pratchett chats to Stuart Russell, Ross Video, in the BVE studio. Covering customer partnerships and loyalty, pain points, growth, industry trends, pace of IP adoption, 12g SDI technologies, UHD / HDR, 8k, AI and we try to get a hint of new products on the horizon...
Tags: iss136 | ross video | 12g sdi | uhd | hdr | ip | bve 2019 | bvexpo | Jon Pratchett
Contributing Author Jon Pratchett Click to read or download PDF
4k and HDR Wireless Camera Transmitters
David Edwards Across the globe, live events represented over 50 percent of the most watched TV programs last year. However, big budget episodic shows are impacting live TV and the way viewers want to see their content. Viewers are demanding the same quality of production for live event broadcasts as they see in pre-recorded TV series and films. Producers of live content are looking to new, immersive and cinematic mobile camera views to better achieve these results. This presents a challenge to live production teams as these new camera views and angles must match the quality of the rest of the production -  the demand for mobility means that the cameras need to be wireless.
Tags: iss136 | wireless | hdr | 4k | transmitter | bandwidth | imt vislink | hcam | David Edwards
Contributing Author David Edwards Click to read or download PDF
Sennheiser Memory Mic User Review
Dr Anthony Willman The Sennheiser Memory mic, adding to the new generation of semi-professional equipment that is helping the need for high quality audio in parallel markets that until now, did not have the budgets to achieve ‘great’ results.
Tags: iss136 | sennheiser | memory mic | doctor | audio recorder | Dr Anthony Willman
Contributing Author Dr Anthony Willman Click to read or download PDF